1 Timothy 3:15
But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
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(15) But if I tarry long.—St. Paul felt that dangers were pressing closer and closer—that the hoped-for visit to his loved church at Ephesus might not, probably never would be, accomplished; so these foregoing solemn directions respecting the choice of colleagues in the ministry had been written to Timothy, that, in the event of St. Paul never coming to him again, men (especially the ministers of God) should know how to conduct themselves in the congregation.

That thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself.—The words refer here not to Timothy alone, but rather to Timothy and his colleagues in their church work, concerning whom such particular directions had just been given, and should be rendered, how men ought to behave themselves.

In the house of God.—The image is from the Old Testament, where “the house of God” denotes, in the first place, the Temple of Jerusalem, and, in the second, the covenant-people. It is here used for the congregation of believers among whom God dwells—the true and enduring Church of living souls. Of this great spiritual temple, the corner-stone of which is Christ, the Jerusalem house on Mount Zion, with its marvellous work and its gorgeous and elaborate symbolism, was the poor, perishable, hand-wrought model.

Which is the church of the living God.—The house of God is here plainly defined to be the “Church” (or, congregation) “of the living God,” who was working in its midst actively and personally, in strong contrast to that well-known graven image of the Diana of Ephesus, throned in that fair temple which glittered in its white and lifeless beauty over the roofs of the city where Timothy’s charge lay.

The pillar and ground of the truth.—The imagery is here changed, and the “house of God” which the Apostle had just defined to be the Church, or congregation, belonging to the living God, and in the midst of which He was pleased to dwell, is now defined to be “the pillar and ground” (or, basis) “of the truth.” In the first picture, the Church is painted by St. Paul as a vast congregation, with the living God dwelling in its midst: in the second, the same Church is painted as a massive pillar, holding up and displaying before men and angels the truth—the saving truth of the gospel. In the first picture, the thought of a great company gathered together for God to dwell among is prominent: in the second, the thought of the great redemption-truth alone comes to the front, and the Church of God is no longer viewed as a company of separate individuals, but as one massive foundation-pillar, supporting and displaying the glories of redemption.

This peculiar aspect of the Church, ”the support and pillar of the truth,” was dwelt upon probably by the Apostle as “defining—with indirect allusion to nascent and developing heresies—the true note, office, and vocation of the Church. . . . Were there no Church, there would be no witness, no guardian of archives, no basis, nothing whereon acknowledged truth could rest” (Ellicott).

3:14-16 The church is the house of God; he dwells there. The church holds forth the Scripture and the doctrine of Christ, as a pillar holds forth a proclamation. When a church ceases to be the pillar and ground of truth, we may and ought to forsake her; for our regard to truth should be first and greatest. The mystery of godliness is Christ. He is God, who was made flesh, and was manifest in the flesh. God was pleased to manifest himself to man, by his own Son taking the nature of man. Though reproached as a sinner, and put to death as a malefactor, Christ was raised again by the Spirit, and so was justified from all the false charges with which he was loaded. Angels ministered to him, for he is the Lord of angels. The Gentiles welcomed the gospel which the Jews rejected. Let us remember that God was manifest in the flesh, to take away our sins, to redeem us from all iniquity, and to purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These doctrines must be shown forth by the fruits of the Spirit in our lives.But if I tarry long - Paul appears to have been uncertain how long circumstances would require him to be absent. He expected to return, but it was possible that his hope of returning soon would be disappointed.

That thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself - That is, that he might have just views about settling the affairs of the church.

In the house of God - This does not mean in a place of public worship, nor does it refer to propriety of deportment there. It refers rather to the church as a body of believers, and to converse with them. The church is called the "house of God," because it is that in which he dwells. Formerly, his unique residence was in the temple at Jerusalem; now that the temple is destroyed, it is the church of Christ, among his people.

Which is the church of the living God - This seems to have been added to impress the mind of Timothy with the solemn nature of the duty which he was to perform. What he did pertained to the honor and welfare of the church of the living God, and hence he should feet the importance of a correct deportment, and of a right administration of its affairs.

The pillar and ground of the truth - There has been no little diversity of opinion among critics whether this phrase is to be taken in connection with the preceding, meaning that "the church" is the pillar and ground of the truth; or whether it is to be taken in connection with what follows, meaning that the principal support of the truth was the doctrine there referred to - that God was manifest in the flesh. Bloomfield remarks on this: "It is surprising that any who have any knowledge or experience in Greek literature could tolerate so harsh a construction as that which arises from the latter method." The more natural interpretation certainly is, to refer it to the former; and this is supported by the consideration that it would then fall in with the object of the apostle. His design here seems to be, to impress Timothy with a deep sense of the importance of correct conduct in relation to the church; of the responsibility of those who presided over it; and of the necessity of care and caution in the selection of proper officers.

To do this, he reminded him that the truth of God - that revealed truth which he had given to save the world - was entrusted to the church; that it was designed to preserve it pure, to defend it, and to transmit it to future times; and that, therefore, every one to whom the administration of the affairs of the church was entrusted, should engage in this duty with a deep conviction of his responsibility. On the construction of the passage, Bloomfield Rosenmuller, and Clarke, may be consulted. The word "pillar" means a column, such as that by which a building is supported, and then any firm prop or support; Galatians 2:9; Revelation 3:12. If it refers to the church here, it means that that is the support of the truth, as a pillar is of a building. It sustains it amidst the war of elements, the natural tendency to fall, and the assaults which may be made on it, and preserves it when it would otherwise tumble into ruin.

Thus it is with the church. It is entrusted with the business of maintaining the truth, of defending it from the assaults of error, and of transmitting it to future times. The truth is, in fact, upheld in the world by the church. The people of the world feel no interest in defending it, and it is to the church of Christ that it is owing that it is preserved and transmitted from age to age. The word rendered "ground" - ἑδραίωμα hedraiōma - means, properly, a basis, or foundation. The figure here is evidently taken from architecture, as the use of the word pillar is. The proper meaning of the one expression would be, that truth is supported by the church. as an edifice is by a pillar; of the other, that the truth rests "on" the church, as a house does on its foundation. It is that which makes it fixed, stable, permanent; that on which it securely stands amidst storms and tempests; that which renders it firm when systems of error are swept away as a house that is built on the sand; compare notes on Matthew 7:24-27.

The meaning then is, that the stability of the truth on earth is dependent on the church. It is owing to the fact that the church is itself founded on a rock, that the gates of hell cannot prevail against it, that no storms of persecution can overthrow it, that the truth is preserved from age to age. Other systems of religion are swept away; other opinions change; other forms of doctrine vanish; but the knowledge of the great system of redemption is preserved on earth unshaken, because the church is preserved, and because its foundations cannot be moved. This does not refer, I suppose, to creeds and confessions, or to the decisions of synods and councils; but to the living spirit of truth and piety "in" the church itself. As certainly as the church continues to live, so certain it will be that the truth of God will be perpetuated among people.

15. But if I tarry long—before coming to thee.

that—that is, I write (1Ti 3:14) "that thou mayest know," &c.

behave thyself—in directing the Church at Ephesus (1Ti 4:11).

the house of God—the Church (Heb 3:2, 5, 6; 10:21; 1Pe 4:17; 1Co 3:16, "the temple of God"; Eph 2:22).

which is—that is, inasmuch as it is.

the church—"the congregation." The fact that the sphere of thy functions is "the congregation of the living God" (who is the ever living Master of the house, 2Ti 2:19, 20, 21), is the strongest motive to faithfulness in this behavior as president of a department of the house." The living God forms a striking contrast to the lifeless idol, Diana of Ephesus (1Th 1:9). He is the fountain of "truth," and the foundation of our "trust" (1Ti 4:10). Labor directed to a particular Church is service to the one great house of God, of which each particular Church is a part, and each Christian a lively stone (1Pe 2:5).

the pillar and ground of the truth—evidently predicated of the Church, not of "the mystery of godliness" (an interpretation not started till the sixteenth century; so Bengel); for after two weighty predicates, "pillar and ground," and these substantives, the third, a much weaker one, and that an adjective, "confessedly," or "without controversy great," would not come. "Pillar" is so used metaphorically of the three apostles on whom principally the Jewish Christian Church depended (Ga 2:9; compare Re 3:12). The Church is "the pillar of the truth," as the continued existence (historically) of the truth rests on it; for it supports and preserves the word of truth. He who is of the truth belongs by the very fact to the Church. Christ is the alone ground of the truth in the highest sense (1Co 3:11). The apostles are foundations in a secondary sense (Eph 2:20; Re 21:14). The Church rests on the truth as it is in Christ; not the truth on the Church. But the truth as it is in itself is to be distinguished from the truth as it is acknowledged in the world. In the former sense it needs no pillar, but supports itself; in the latter sense, it needs the Church as its pillar, that is, its supporter and preserver [Baumgarten]. The importance of Timothy's commission is set forth by reminding him of the excellence of "the house" in which he serves; and this in opposition to the coming heresies which Paul presciently forewarns him of immediately after (1Ti 4:1). The Church is to be the stay of the truth and its conserver for the world, and God's instrument for securing its continuance on earth, in opposition to those heresies (Mt 16:18; 28:20). The apostle does not recognize a Church which has not the truth, or has it only in part. Rome falsely claims the promise for herself. But it is not historical descent that constitutes a Church, but this only, to those heresies (Mt 16:18; 28:20). The apostle does not recognize a Church which has not the intermediate; the "ground," or "basement" (similar to "foundation," 2Ti 2:19), the final support of the building [Alford]. It is no objection that, having called the Church before "the house of God," he now calls it the "pillar"; for the literal word "Church" immediately precedes the new metaphors: so the Church, or congregation of believers, which before was regarded as the habitation of God, is now, from a different point of view, regarded as the pillar upholding the truth.

I do not know how God will dispose of me, though I hope shortly to see thee, and therefore I have written to direct thee how in the mean time thou shouldst carry thyself in the affairs of the church, which I have committed to thee, which is a matter of great moment; for the people which constitute the church of him who is not like the gods of the heathens, a dead man consecrated and made a god, nor a being without life, like their images, but one who hath life in himself and from himself, is

the house of God, a people in and amongst whom he dwelleth, and amongst whom he is worshipped; and of whom he hath a great care, and for which he hath a great love, Christ having died for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, Ephesians 5:26; and which (as a man doth by his house) he is daily enlarging, beautifying, and adorning with the graces of his Holy Spirit, that (as there, Ephesians 5:27) he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. Which church is the pillar and ground of the truth, stulov kai edraiwma. We want a good English word whereby to translate the latter of the two words in the Greek, which possibly hath advantaged the great contests about the sense of this text. It comes from edra, which signifieth a star, and a thing to support, and a seat, the place (say some) in which the idol was set in the pagan temples. Thence this word edraiwma is translated, the underpropper, the establisher, any firm basis upon which a thing standeth or leaneth; so that it is much of the same significancy with the former word, which we rightly translate a pillar, the two things signifying in use the same thing, that which underproppeth and holdeth up another thing, as the pillars do the building, and the basis of the image or statue doth the statue. Pillars also were of ancient use to fasten upon them any public edicts, which princes or courts would have published, and exposed to the view of all; hence the church is called,

the pillar and basis, or seal,

of truth, because by it the truths of God are published, supported, and defended, and in it they are only to be found as in their proper seat and place; for to it the oracles and mysteries of God are committed, and in it they are exposed to the notice and knowledge of all, as public edicts are upon pillars. But neither that saving truth, nor the faith which we give to it, is established upon the authority of the church, (as the Romanists vainly pretend), but upon the authority of God the author of it. The church discovers and recommends the truth, but the testimony it gives is not the foundation of its credibility. The universal church (of which the church of Ephesus, over which Timothy had a charge, was a genuine part) is, in the sense before expressed, the pillar and supporter, or seat, of truth.

But if I tarry long,.... Or should long delay coming, defer it longer than may be expected; let it be observed that these things are written,

that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God; that is, the church of God, as it is afterwards explained; called a house, in allusion either to an edifice, it being a spiritual house built of lively stories, or true believers, upon the foundation Jesus Christ, and who also is the door into it; the pillars of it are the ministers of the Gospel; and the windows are the ordinances, and which also are the entertainment in it: or else to a family, as this is sometimes called the household of God, and of faith; the family named of Christ, of which he is the master; and in which are fathers, young men and children; in which ministers are stewards; and which is regulated by good and wholesome laws: and it is called the house of God, because as an edifice, it is of his building and repairing, and in which he dwells; and as a family, is what he provides for. Now the above things were written to Timothy, that he might know bow to order and manage things in this house and family; what became him to do himself, in the character he was; and what persons to direct in the choice of to be officers in it. And of this house it is said,

which is the church of the living God; in opposition to, and distinction from the houses and temples of idols, which are inanimate and senseless creatures; whereas the true God is the living God, has life in himself, essentially, originally, and independently, and is the author and giver of life to others. It is added,

the pillar and ground of the truth; which holds forth the truth to be seen and read of all, as pillars that bear inscriptions; and which supports and maintains truth, as every true church of Christ does so long as it remains so; though truth is the pillar and ground of the church; for if once truth is gone, a church is no more so: rather therefore Timothy himself is here designed; and the sense is, that what was written to him was with this view, that he might the better know how to conduct himself in the church of God, as a pillar and ground of truth, to hold it forth and to secure it: ministers of the Gospel are called pillars, Galatians 2:9 and that with greater propriety than the church itself, which is before called an house: though it may be best of all to understand it of Christ as incarnate, the great mystery of godliness; who as he is the ground and foundation of the church, and all believers, so he is the foundation of all true doctrine; and particularly the doctrine of his person, as truly God and truly man, is the pillar and ground which supports all other truths, and without which they fall to the ground: and so this clause may be read in connection with the following words, thus; "the pillar and ground of the truth, and without controversy, is the great mystery of godliness, &c". And this way of speaking is used by the Jews, both of persons and things; so Zebulun is said (c) to be , "the pillar of the law"; and it is said (d) of

"the great sanhedrim in Jerusalem, they are the root of the oral law; and they are , "the pillars of doctrine"; and from them go forth the statutes and judgments unto Israel;''

and the same is said of things as of persons. Maimonides says (e),

"the foundation of foundations and the pillar of wisdom, is to know that there is a first Being, that gives being to all beings;''

and R. Sangari, another of their writers, says, (f).

"there are two things which are , "the pillars of the law"; the one is, that the law is from God; the other is, that it is received with a faithful (or sincere) heart, from the congregation:''

to which may be added, that it is said (g) that

"the mystery of faith is "amwyqw arqe, "the root and ground" of the world";''

all which may serve to illustrate this passage.

(c) Tzeror Hammor, fol. 152. 1.((d) Maimon. Hilchot Memarim, c. 1. sect. 1.((e) Hilchot Yesode Hattora, c. 1. sect. 1.((f) Cosri, par. 3. sect. 23. fol. 159. 2.((g) Zohar in Gen. fol. 124. 1.

But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the {7} house of God, which is the church of the living God, the {i} pillar and ground of the truth.

(7) The pastor always has to consider how he carries out his duties in the house of the living God, in which the treasure of the truth is kept.

(i) That is, with regard to man: for the Church rested upon that cornerstone, Christ, and is the preserver of the truth, but not the mother.

1 Timothy 3:15. ἵνα εἰδῇςἀναστρέφεσθαι: It is a matter of indifference whether we render how men ought to behave themselves (R.V.), or how thou oughtest to behave thyself (A.V.; R.V. m.). It was Timothy’s duty to carry out the apostle’s directions, directions relating to the life, ἀναστροφή, of the Church. His ἀναστροφή would necessarily react on that of the Church. See the Western interpolation in apparat. crit.

οἴκῳ θεοῦ: the household, perhaps, rather than the house, of God. In view of the prevailing paucity of articles in these Epistles, one cannot lay stress on the absence of τῷ before οἴκῳ, so as to render, a house of God such as is the Church, etc. οἶκος τοῦ θεοῦ is always found elsewhere. The Church is God’s οἶκος, Hebrews 3:6; God’s κατοικητήριον, Ephesians 2:22; a ναὸς ἄγιος, Ephesians 2:21; ναὸς θεοῦ, 1 Corinthians 3:16, 2 Corinthians 6:16; a μεγάλη οἰκία, of which God is the δεσπότης, 2 Timothy 2:20; an οἶκος πνευματικός, 1 Peter 2:5.

The body of the Church, τὸ σῶμα ὑμῶν, is a ναὸς ἁγίου πνεύματος (1 Corinthians 6:19); and the human body of Jesus was a ναός (John 2:21); but it is not in accordance with Scriptural language so to describe the body of any individual Christian.

οἴκῳἥτις: “The noun which forms the predicate in a relative sentence, annexed for the purpose of explanation (ὂςἐστίν), sometimes gives its own gender and number to the relative, by a kind of attraction” (Winer-Moulton, Grammar, p. 206).

θεοῦ ζῶντος: A constant phrase, occurring again 1 Timothy 4:10.

στύλος καὶ ἑδραίωμα κ.τ.λ.: The view of Gregory Nyssen and Greg. Naz. that στύλος here refers to Timothy does not need refutation, although an early reference to this passage in the Letter of the Churches of Lyons and Vienne (Eus. H. E. 1 Timothy 3:1) applies στύλος καὶ ἑδραίωμα to the martyr Attalus. στύλος has of course a personal reference in Galatians 2:9; cf. also Revelation 3:12; but it is childish to suppose that metaphors have a constant value in the Bible. Holtzmann’s suggestion that στύλος is in apposition to θεοῦ is rightly rejected by von Soden.

The clause is, of course, in apposition to ἐκκλησία which is by a kindred metaphor called in 2 Timothy 2:19 ὁ στερεὸς θεμέλιος τοῦ θεοῦ. This latter passage suggests that we should here render ἑδραίωμα ground or basis rather than stay (R.V. m.). ἑδραῖος is rendered steadfast elsewhere. See reff. and especially Colossians 1:23 (τεθεμελιωμένοι καὶ ἑδραῖοι), ctr. Hort, Christian Ecclesia, p. 174.

The truth, ἡ ἀλήθεια, has, as has been already stated, a technical Christian connotation in the Pastorals, and has not a wider reference than the Christian revelation, which is the truth in so far as it has been revealed. The Church, of the old covenant or of the new, is the divinely constituted human Society by which the support and maintenance in the world of revealed truth is conditioned. Truth if revealed to isolated individuals, no matter how numerous, would be dissipated in the world. But the Divine Society, in which it is given an objective existence, at once compels the world to take knowledge of it, and assures those who receive the revelation that it is independent of, and external to, themselves, and not a mere fancy of their own.

Bengel puts a full stop at ζῶντος and removes it after ἀληθείας, making τὸμυστήριον the subject of the sentence, and στύλοςμέγα the predicate.

The mystery, etc., is the pillar, etc., and confessedly great,” μέγα being used as in 1 Corinthians 9:11, 2 Corinthians 11:15, the whole expression being equivalent to πιστὸς ὁ λόγος καὶ πάσης ἀποδοχῆς ἄξιος. He quotes from Rabbi Levi Barcelonita and Maimonides parallel expressions concerning precepts of the Law, “fundamentum magnum et columna valida legis,” and a striking phrase from Irenæus, Haer. iii. 11, 8, Columna autem et firmamentum ecclesiae est evangelium, στύλος δὲ καὶ στήριγμα ἐκκλησίας τὸ εὐαγγέλιον.

15. how thou oughtest to behave thyself] There is little in the Greek words and little in the context to decide us in translating either thus with A.V. and margin of R.V. or how men ought to behave themselves, with R.V. For (1), Timothy himself is in St Paul’s mind throughout; the directions are given for his guidance in seeing to a properly qualified ministry; for (2), presbyters and deacons have just had their proper equipment and behaviour fully detailed. Perhaps the latter is to be preferred from the long phrase (for so brief a style) ‘that thou mayest know how (one) ought to walk’ instead of ‘in order that thou mayest walk’; and from the brevity of the style solving by omission the difficulty of finding a phrase which should include bishops, deacons, and women deacons.

behave thyself] The verb is used by St Paul twice besides, 2 Corinthians 1:12, ‘we have (had our conversation) behaved ourselves in the world’; Ephesians 2:3, ‘we also (had our conversation) lived in the lusts of the flesh’; and the cognate substantive in the next chapter, 1 Timothy 4:12, ‘manner of life,’ and twice besides, Galatians 1:13, ‘my (conversation) manner of life in time past’; Ephesians 4:22, ‘put off concerning the former (conversation) manner of life the old man.’ It was represented exactly by the Latin conversari (conversatio), whence our A.V. ‘conversation’ in its old sense.

the house of God] In O.T. the Temple; cf. Mark 11:17, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ quoted from Isaiah 56:7; and then spiritually God’s household and temple the chosen people, cf. Hebrews 3:6, ‘Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, Christ as a son over God’s house,’ quoted from Numbers 12:7. St Paul had elaborated the metaphor in his letter to Ephesus, Ephesians 2:22; and so in the later Epistles it is natural and appropriate as a title of Christ’s Church; Hebrews 10:21, ‘having a great high priest over the house of God’; 1 Peter 4:17, ‘the time is come for judgment to begin at the house of God.’ See Appendix, K.

which is the church of the living God] The lengthened form of the relative is used to give the characteristic attribute ‘which is, to describe it aright, the Church.’ ‘The Church,’ ecclesia, is used (1) simply for ‘a gathering,’ ‘a calling together,’ i.e. the regular law-court, Acts 19:39; (2) for ‘the congregation’ of the children of Israel, in LXX. constantly; (3) from this, by our Lord twice for His own constituted community, Matthew 16:18; Matthew 18:17; (4) hence, 23 times in the Acts, the first history of that community, 62 times in the Epistles of St Paul its widest organiser, and 23 times in the Epistles and Apocalypse of St John, its venerable champion and prophet; sometimes of the Church at large, as here, ‘holy and Catholic,’ sometimes of one or other of its constituent parts, e.g. in Asia, Galatia, Judæa, Macedonia. See Bp Browne on Art. XIX., who quotes the following among other definitions of the earliest Fathers: ‘Tertullian speaks of the Church as composed of all the Churches founded by Apostles or offsprings of Apostolic Churches, and living in the unity of the same faith and discipline. The Church according to Clement of Alexandria is the assembly of the elect, the congregation of Christian worshippers; the devout Christians being as it were the spiritual life of the body of Christ, the unworthy members being like the carnal part. Origen says, “the Church is the body of Christ, animated by the Son of God, the members being all who believe in Him.” The visibility of the Church he expresses by saying that “we should give no heed to those who say, There is Christ, but show Him not in the Church, which is full of brightness from the East to the West and is the pillar and ground of the truth.” ’

the living God] At Lystra, where ‘the gods’ were thought to have come down in the likeness of men, St Paul besought them to ‘turn from these vanities unto the living God which made heaven and earth and the sea’; so now at Ephesus, where the Jewish and oriental speculations of physical and moral sciences, ‘the endless genealogies of emanations and æons,’ were clouding the simple truth ‘as it is in Jesus,’ St Paul insists on all his teachers being ‘good churchmen,’ holding and teaching the faith in ‘one living God’ manifested in Christ Jesus.

the pillar and ground of the truth] It will be felt unworthy of the rising greatness of the passage to refer this to Timothy or to the teachers; it is the Church penetrated through with this faith which, as the single central column in the chapter-house at Salisbury, supports and sustains and combines all the orb of truth, God’s progressive revelation of Himself in Nature, Art, Conscience. ‘Christ is the centre of mankind, and mankind is the centre of the world. If that be so, we have a central point round which all knowledge groups itself. The physical and the moral sciences have each their part in the building up of the great human temple in which God dwells; and the highest education is that which gives man a complete conception of the world thus viewed as centred in humanity and in Christ, its head.’ Fremantle, The Gospel of the Secular Life, p. 98.

There is no difficulty in a certain shifting of the metaphor, any more than in the above passage, itself a modern undesigned expansion of the phrase. The Church is, first, the house of God, and the Son of the living God its centre; and then this house is itself a centre, the central pillar of a larger house, the world, God’s home.

1 Timothy 3:15. Ἐὰν δὲ βραδύνω, but if I tarry long) Comp. ch. 1 Timothy 4:13, at the beginning.—ἵνα, that) The scope of the epistle.—πῶς δεῖ, how it is becoming) comp. ch. 1 Timothy 4:11.—ἐν οἴκῳ Θωοῦ, in the house of God) God is ὁ δεσπότης, the Master, 2 Timothy 2:12.—ἥτις, which) It indicates the universal Church, not universally, but so far as a part of it was then at Ephesus, committed to Timothy.—ἐκκλησία Θεοῦ, the Church of God) the community of those who are the Lord’s; 2 Timothy 2:19.—ζῶντος, of the living) The Church of the living God is opposed to the temple of Diana of the Ephesians. The life of God, the foundation of our hope (‘trust’), ch. 1 Timothy 4:10, and the fountain of truth, in this passage. The epithet is not added, in the first instance, to the same name (God;—the living God)—it is afterwards added for the sake of Epitasis (see Append.), as in 2 Corinthians 6:16.—Στύλος καὶ ἑδραίωμα τῆς ἀληθείας καὶ ὁμολογουμένως μέγα, κ.τ.λ.) Jac. Cappellus, in his Observations on this passage, says, That this was the original reading of this place, was the opinion of the distinguished men, my beloved colleagues, Andrew Melvin, John Cameron, John Fabricius; and not without good reason. Respecting the same reading or the pointing of the words, I have made some slight observations in the Apparatus, p. 709, 710 [Ed. ii. p. 399, sq.], which I would wish to be carefully noticed; but I have reserved further remarks for the Gnomon here. At 1 Timothy 3:14-15, the apostle evidently concludes the former paragraph, which began at 1 Timothy 3:1, and was brought down to this point, and he now commences a new paragraph, which is continued in ch. 1 Timothy 4:1 in so close connection, that the old interpreters, according to R. Stephanus and others, reckoned a seventh chapter of this epistle from 1 Timothy 3:16, inclusive, to ch. 1 Timothy 4:7. The almost universal opinion of interpreters in the present day, among Protestants, fixes the commencement of the period at the word στύλος. I have quoted a great number of them in the Apparatus; G. G. Zeltnerus and J. C. Herzogius are added. Certainly this clause, στύλος καὶ ἑδραίωμα τῆς ἀληθείας, is not at all advantageously connected with the preceding words, although Lightfoot says that the great Sanhedrim was everywhere dignified with this title; but this same clause is much more inconveniently separated from what follows. For the particle καὶ, καὶ ὁμολογουμένως, is unsuitable at the beginning of a new paragraph. Suppose ὁμολογουμένως to have been written without καὶ, then indeed one might acknowledge it to be a suitable commencement of the new division; comp. 1 Timothy 3:1 and ch. 1 Timothy 4:9, in which passages, for very much the same reason, the sentence is begun thus, πιστὸς ὁ λόγος, without καὶ. Now, when καὶ is in the way (occurs), the words between which it is placed are connected by it; στύλος καὶ ἐδραίωμα τὴς ἀληθείας καὶ ὁμολογουμένως μέγα, κ.τ.λ. The Rabbinical phrases, which are not dissimilar, are usually brought forward, in which the strength and gravity of the subject which comes to be discussed are declared; but the phraseology of the apostle should be considered in the first place. For in this epistle, which is intended to confirm and rouse Timothy, the form of a preface is frequent, by which Paul commends some topic about to be presently discussed by him, as true and good, solid and salutary, and to be laid hold of by all the force of the understanding and the will [the desires]: πιστὸς ὁ λόγος καὶ πάσης ἀποδοχῆς ἄξιος, κ.τ.λ., ch. 1 Timothy 1:15, 1 Timothy 4:9; 1 Timothy 4:6, where πίστεως [1 Timothy 4:6] agrees with πιστὸς [1 Timothy 3:9], καλῆς [1 Timothy 3:6], with ἀποδοχῆς ἄξιος [1 Timothy 3:9]. He expresses that formula, consisting of two members, in this by far the most magnificent passage, through the medium of loftier words, which are to be met with in the writings of the Hebrews; for example, R. Levi of Barcelona gives this reason, why so many memorial signs of the deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage are appointed in the fifteen precepts bearing upon the Passover, because that is the great foundation and strong pillar of the law, as well as of the Jewish religion. And Maimonides says, This is the foundation of the foundation, and the pillar of wisdom, that we may know, etc. Therefore Paul says: στύλος καὶ ἑδραίωμα τῆς ἀληθείας, καὶ ὁμολογουμένως μέγα ἐστὶ τὸ τῆς εὐσεβείας μυστήριον: i.e. This mystery of godliness is the pillar and groundwork of the truth (equivalent to πιστὸν), and is something confessedly great (equivalent to ἀποδεκτὸν). Let us examine the words one by one. These two terms, στύλος καὶ ἑδραίωμα, are equivalent to one word, expressing something very solid, by which is denoted the mystery, exceedingly high (whence στύλος, from στάω) and exceedingly deep (whence ἑδραίωμα, from ἕζω), Iren. I. 3, c. 11. The Gospel is the pillar and ground of the Church. In Hebrew, אמת, truth, and נאמן, πιστὸν, faithful, are conjugates. In like manner, ὁμολογία (whence ὁμολογουμένως) and ἀποδοχὴ, each referring to the heart and the lips, are equivalent; comp. 2 Timothy 2:19; Hebrews 3:1; John 20:28. Hence also πάσης ἀποδοχῆς ἄξιον and ὁμολογουμένως μέγα are equivalent; μέγα is not an epithet which is to be construed with ἑδραίωμα, or with μυστήριον, but is put absolutely, μέγα, a great thing, as in 1 Corinthians 9:11; 2 Corinthians 11:15; in the same way as ἀγαπητὸς, our beloved, Philemon 1:1, is used absolutely. The mystery is a thing great in itself; a thing to be with the greatest earnestness confessed, and embraced with all the force of confession; is a thing, the magnitude of which, in regard to the great salvation, all the sons of truth experimentally know and confess. Paul did not mention τὸ ἀποδεκτὸν without τὸ πιστὸν in this passage, but he praised both; just as τὸ πιστὸν καὶ τὸ καλὸν are commended together. The mystery of godliness is the subject; the remaining words are the predicate. And godliness is joined with truth, as in Titus 1:1. The Gentiles also had their mysteries, but they were distinguished by ungodliness and error. Departure from the faith, lying, and fables, are opposed to the truth (1 Timothy 3:16), a thing which is most especially to be noticed, ch. 1 Timothy 4:1 (the particle δὲ being interposed in 1 Timothy 3:1): in 1 Timothy 3:1-2; 1 Timothy 3:7, the hypocrisy of those who speak lies, and have their consciences seared, is opposed to confession [ὁμολογουμένως, confessedly, 1 Timothy 3:16], in 1 Timothy 3:2 : the dotage of old women [1 Timothy 3:7, γραώδεις μύθους, old wives’ fables] to that which is great [μέγα, 1 Timothy 3:16], and profanity to godliness [1 Timothy 3:16], 1 Timothy 3:7 [ch. 1 Timothy 6:3]. Finally, there is a remarkable Oxymoron [see Append.]: ὁμολογουμένως and μυστήριον, confession and yet mystery. This doctrine of godliness is celebrated in the whole Church, but in the Church alone. Now, reader, read again the text, if you are at leisure, from 1 Timothy 3:14 to 1 Timothy 4:7-8; and consider the subject with an unbiassed and religious judgment.

Verse 15. - Men ought to behave themselves for thou oughtest to behave thyself, A.V. To behave thyself (ἀναστρέφεσθαι); variously rendered, both in the A.V. and the R.V., "to have one's conversation," "to live," "to pass (one's time)," "to be used" (Hebrews 10:33). It is literally "to go up and down" a given place, "backwards and forwards," hence "to dwell in it." The substantive ἀναστροφή, in the thirteen places where it occurs in the New Testament, is always rendered "conversation" in the A.V.; in the R.V., "manner of life," "life," "issue of life," "manner of living," "behaviour," "living." It is a favorite word in the two Epistles of St. Peter, where it occurs eight times. The house of God. This phrase here denotes, as it is explained in the following words, the Church on earth. So Hebrews 3:6, "Christ as a Son over his house; whose house are we," where the reference is to Numbers 12:7, "My servant Moses... is faithful in all mine house." The Church of the living God. Here is again a somewhat remarkable resemblance to the phraseology of the Epistle to the Hebrews, "Ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God.... to the general assembly and Church of the Firstborn" (Hebrews 12:22, 23). However, the phraseology is not peculiar to the Epistle to the Hebrews. Thus we read in 2 Corinthians 6:16, "Ye are the temple of the living God." The phrase, "the living God," occurs seven times in St. Paul's Epistles, and four times in the Epistle to the Hebrews. It occurs three times in the Gospels, once in the Acts of the Apostles, and once in the Revelation. Here it is used by St. Paul to enhance the obligation to a holy and blameless walk in those who have the oversight of his Church. The pillar and ground of the truth. Some apply these words to Timothy himself (Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory Nazianzen, Basil, and others cited by Alford), after the analogy of Galatians 2:9, where James, Cephas, and John are said to be "pillars" (στύλοι), and Revelation 3:12, where it is said of him that over-cometh, "I will make him a pillar (στύλον) in the house of my God." And so, in Venantius Fortunatus, St. Paul is called "stilus ille." But the metaphors of "a pillar" and "a foundation" do not all suit the verb ἀναστρέφεσθαι; and it is well argued that the absence of the pronoun σε is unfavorable to the application of "the pillar and ground of the truth" to the subject of the first clause. It is therefore better to understand this clause as descriptive of the Church of God. The Church is the pillar of the truth. It supports it; holds it together - binds together its different parts. And it is the ground of the truth. By it the truth is made fast, firm, and fixed. The ground (ἑδραίωμα). This word only occurs here at all; ἑδραῖος, common both in the New Testament, the LXX., and in classical Greek, means "fixed," "firm," or" fast." In the A.V. of 1 Corinthians 7:37 and 1 Cor 15:58, "steadfast;" Colossians 1:23 (where it is coupled with τεθεμελιωμένα), "settled." Thence ἑδραιόω in late Greek, "to make firm or fast," and ἑδραίμα, the "establishment" or "grounding" of the truth; that in and by which the truth is placed on a sure and fixed basis. 1 Timothy 3:15I tarry long (βραδύνω)

Only here and 2 Peter 3:9.

Thou oughtest to behave thyself (δεῖ ἀναστρέφεσθαι)

The verb ἀναστρέφεσθαι only here in Pastorals. In Paul, 2 Corinthians 1:12; Ephesians 2:3. The reference is not to Timothy's conduct as the A.V. implies but rather to the instructions which he is to give to church members. Rend. how men ought to behave. See on conversation, 1 Peter 1:15.

House of God (οἴκῳ θεοῦ)

An O.T. phrase, used of the temple. More frequently, house of the Lord (κυρίου); see 1 Kings 3:1; 1 Kings 6:1; 1 Chronicles 22:2, 1 Chronicles 22:11; 1 Chronicles 29:2, etc. Applied to the church only here. Paul has οἰκείους τῆς πίστεως Hebrews householders of the faith (Galatians 6:10), and οἰκεῖοι τοῦ θεοῦ householders of God (Ephesians 2:19), signifying members of the church. Christians are called ναὸς θεοῦ sanctuary of God (1 Corinthians 3:16, 1 Corinthians 3:17; 2 Corinthians 6:16); and the apostles are οἰκονόμοι household stewards (1 Corinthians 4:1). So of a Bishop (Titus 1:7). See also Hebrews 3:6.

Church (ἐκκλησία)

See on 1 Thessalonians 1:1.

Pillar and ground of the truth (στύλος καὶ ἑδραίωμα τῆς ἀληθείας)

Στύλος pillar, in Paul only Galatians 2:9. In Revelation 3:12; Revelation 10:1. Ἑδραίωμα stay, prop, better than ground. N.T.o. olxx, oClass. The kindred adjective ἑδαῖος firm, stable, 1 Corinthians 7:37; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Colossians 1:23. These words are in apposition with church. The idea is that the church is the pillar, and, as such, the prop or support of the truth. It is quite beside the mark to press the architectural metaphor into detail. By giving to ἑδραίωμα the sense of stay or prop, the use of the two words for the same general idea is readily explained. The church is the pillar of the truth, and the function of the pillar is to support.

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