1 Timothy 3:4
One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
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(4) One that ruleth well his own house.—Paul here again turns to the vein of thought first struck in 1Timothy 3:2 : The life of the officer in the Church of God must be a pattern life for those without, as well as for those within the Church’s fold, to copy and imitate. He must be pre-eminent in nobility of life and aims; but the life and the aims must belong to ordinary every day life. His high standard must be no inimitable one; the example must be one that all honest men may follow and copy, if they will. So, first of all (1Timothy 3:2), the Apostle places among the qualities necessary for a governing elder in the Church, the pure home life of the husband; then, after enumerating other points to be sought for in the character of one chosen to rule in the congregation, Paul comes back to this central idea, the home life of the Church official; that home life must present the spectacle of a well-ordered household. This will be at least a good test of a man’s fitness to rule the large family gathered together in the form of a congregation, if his own home is gently yet firmly ruled; the wife, a pattern Christian lady; the children growing up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Having his children in subjection with all gravity.—The Greek word rendered “gravity” occurs in 1Timothy 2:2, where it is translated in the authorised version, not very happily, by “honesty.” The word employed in the original Greek denotes that decorum, that propriety of demeanour, which belongs especially to the pure and chaste, and seems to urge that a peculiar reverence and an especial decorum shall be aimed at in all relations with the young. Maxima debetur pueris reverentia. The child life in the families of these ministers of Christ’s religion must, too, be an example to countless other homes.

1 Timothy 3:4-6. One that ruleth well his own house — That not only rules it, but rules it well, and keeps his family in good order: that rules it so as to promote religion and virtue in all its members; rules it calmly, but firmly; never using harshness where gentleness and love will produce the desired effect; having his children — If he be a father; in subjection, with all gravity — Or seriousness; for levity undermines all domestic authority: and he must thus rule his house both that he may set a good example to other masters of families, and that he may thereby give proof of his ability to preside over the church of God. For if a man know not how to rule his own house — So as to preserve a due decorum in the family where he has such a natural authority; how should he be able to take care of — Or to govern, in a proper manner, that greater and more important society, the church of God — In which there will be such a diversity of characters and dispositions, and over which it will be impossible for him to maintain an equal inspection and influence? Not a novice — νεοφυτον, literally, one newly ingrafted, namely, into the body of Christ, or newly planted, namely, in the garden of his church; that is, one newly converted. Such were not to be made bishops, or presbyters; because, being yet but imperfectly instructed in the Christian doctrine, they were not fit to teach it to others. Besides, as their zeal, constancy, fidelity, and other graces, had not been sufficiently tried, they could have had but little authority, especially with the brethren of longer standing and greater experience. Lest being lifted up with pride — Greek, τυφωθεις, puffed up, with this new honour conferred upon him, or the applause which frequently follows it; he fell into the condemnation of the devil — The same into which the devil fell, or be guilty of the sin of self-conceit and high-mindedness, for which the devil was condemned.

3:1-7 If a man desired the pastoral office, and from love to Christ, and the souls of men, was ready to deny himself, and undergo hardships by devoting himself to that service, he sought to be employed in a good work, and his desire should be approved, provided he was qualified for the office. A minister must give as little occasion for blame as can be, lest he bring reproach upon his office. He must be sober, temperate, moderate in all his actions, and in the use of all creature-comforts. Sobriety and watchfulness are put together in Scripture, they assist one the other. The families of ministers ought to be examples of good to all other families. We should take heed of pride; it is a sin that turned angels into devils. He must be of good repute among his neighbours, and under no reproach from his former life. To encourage all faithful ministers, we have Christ's gracious word of promise, Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world, Mt 28:20. And he will fit his ministers for their work, and carry them through difficulties with comfort, and reward their faithfulness.One that ruleth well his own house - This implies that a minister of the gospel would be, and ought to be, a married man. It is everywhere in the New Testament supposed that he would be a man who could be an example in all the relations of life. The position which he occupies in the church has a strong resemblance to the relation which a father sustains to his household; and a qualification to govern a family well, would be an evidence of a qualification to preside properly in the church. It is probable that, in the early Christian church, ministers were not unfrequently taken from those of mature life, and who were, at the time, at the head of families; and, of course, such would be men who had had an opportunity of showing that they had this qualification for the office. Though, however, this cannot be insisted on now as a "previous" qualification for the office, yet it is still true that, if he has a family, it is a necessary qualification, and that a man in the ministry "should be" one who governs his own house well. A want of this will always be a hindrance to extensive usefulness.

Having his children in subjection with all gravity - This does not mean that his "children" should evince gravity, whatever may be true on that point; but it refers "to the father." He should be a grave or serious man in his family; a man free from levity of character, and from frivolity and fickleness, in his conversation with his children. It does not mean that he should be severe, stern, morose - which are traits that are often mistaken for gravity, and which are as inconsistent with the proper spirit of a father as frivolity of manner - but that he should be a serious and sober-minded man. He should maintain proper "dignity" (σεμνότης semnotēs); he should maintain self-respect, and his deportment should be such as to inspire others with respect for him.

4. ruleth—Greek, "presiding over."

his own house—children and servants, as contrasted with "the church" (house) of God (1Ti 3:5, 15) which he may be called on to preside over.

having his children—rather as Greek, "having children (who are) in subjection" (Tit 1:6).

gravity—propriety: reverent modesty on the part of the children [Alford]. The fact that he has children who are in subjection to him in all gravity, is the recommendation in his favor as one likely to rule well the Church.

One that ruleth well his own house; if he he one to whom God hath given a family, one who hath given an experiment of his conversation and ability to take care of a church, by the care that he hath taken of his family, and his ruling in that lesser society.

Having his children in subjection with all gravity; one that hath not let his children behave themselves rudely, and indecently, and rebelliously, but kept them in order by a grave demeanour towards them.

One that ruleth well his own house,.... His family, wife, children, and servants; and is not to be understood of his body, and of keeping of that under, and of preserving it chaste and temperate, as appears from what follows:

having his children in subjection with all gravity; keeping a good decorum in his family; obliging his children to observe his orders, and especially the rules of God's word; and not as Eli, who did not use his authority, or lay his commands upon his sons, nor restrain them from evil, or severely reprove them for their sins, but neglected them, and was too mild and gentle with them;

1 Samuel 2:23 1 Samuel 3:13 but like Abraham, who not only taught, but commanded his children and his household, to keep the way of the Lord; Genesis 18:19 and so should those act who are in such an office as is here treated of; and should not only rule well in their families, preside over them, go before them, and set an example to them, and keep their children in obedience and subjection; but this should be "with all gravity": not only in the master of the family, but in the children; who as their father is, or should be, should be brought up in, and used to gravity in words and in dress; and in the whole of their deportment and conversation. This may he observed against the Papists, who forbid marriage to the ministers of the Gospel.

One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
1 Timothy 3:4. In the second verse, the apostle touched on the subject of marriage-life; here, he directs how the bishop is to conduct himself in his own house.

τοῦ ἰδίου οἴκου καλῶς προϊστάμενον] Though ἴδιος is used at times in the N. T. instead of the simple possessive pronoun, it is here emphatic, in contrast with ἐκκλησία Θεοῦ, 1 Timothy 3:5.

οἶκος here, as elsewhere, denotes the entire household, including slaves. It is above all important that he should act properly in regard to the children; hence the apostle adds: τέκνα ἔχοντα ἐν ὑποταγῇ μετὰ πάσης σεμνότητος] From a comparison with the corresponding passage in Titus 1:6, it is clear that he is speaking here, not of the father’s disposition, but of that of the children (in opposition to Hofmann). The ἔχοντα ἐν ὑποταγῇ corresponds in sense with μὴἀνυπότακτα in the other passage, and in construction with ἔχονταμὴ ἐν κατηγορίᾳ ἀσωτίας. The bishop is to preside over his house in such a way that the children shall not be wanting in submissiveness. The words μετὰ πάσης σεμνότητος are to be connected with what immediately precedes, and not with προϊστάμενον (Hofmann). If it be right to refer them to the fathers (Heydenrich, Matthies, van Oosterzee), ἔχειν must be explained as equivalent either to tenere (Matthies: “holding the children in obedience”) or to κατέχειν (van Oosterzee). That, however, is arbitrary; besides, the parallel passage in Titus 1:6, where ἀσωτία is the opposite of σεμνότης, is against it. Leo, Mack, de Wette, Wiesinger, are right therefore in referring the words to the children. The idea of σεμνότης does not forbid this reference, if only we avoid thinking of little children; comp., by way of contrast, the conduct of the children of the high priest Eli, in the O. T.

1 Timothy 3:4. τοῦ ἰδίου οἴκου: Although ἴδιος commonly retains in the N.T. the emphatic sense own, yet there can be no doubt that examples occur of the later weakened sense in which it means simply αὐτοῦ, e.g., 1 Corinthians 7:2. We are not therefore justified in insisting on the emphatic sense, own, here or in 1 Timothy 3:12, 1 Timothy 6:1, Titus 2:5; Titus 2:9. See J. H. Moulton Grammar, vol. i. p. 87 sqq., and Expositor, vi., iii. 277, and Deissmann, Bible Studies, trans. p. 123 sq. οἶκος also means household, 1 Corinthians 1:16 and in the Pastorals.

προϊστάμενον: προΐστασθαι is perhaps used, here and in 1 Timothy 3:12, because it would naturally suggest church government. See reff., and Hermas, Vis. ii. 4; Justin Martyr, Apol. i. 65. A different use is found in Titus 3:8; Titus 3:14, καλῶν ἔργων προΐστασθαι, where see note. The domestic qualification, as we may call it, of the episcopus, also applies to deacons (1 Timothy 3:12) and to the Cretan episcopus (Titus 1:6).

τέκνα ἔχοντα: Alford cannot be right in supposing that τέκνα is emphatic. It would be absurd to suppose that a man otherwise suited to the office of an episcopus would be disqualified because of childlessness. The clause is parallel to μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα: if the episcopus be a married man, he must not be a digamist; if he have children, they must be ἐν ὑποταγῇ.

ἐν ὑποταγῇσεμνότητος: with the strictest regard to propriety, see note on chap. 1 Timothy 2:2. Most commentators join these words closely together. The σεμνότης of the children in their extra-family relations being the outward and visible expression of the ὑποταγή to which they are subject in domestic life. This is a more natural reference of σεμνότ. than to the general household arrangements, “ut absit luxuria” (Bengel). On the other hand there is much force in Dean Bernard’s remark that “σεμνότης is hardly a grace of childhood.” He connects ἔχοντα μετὰ πασ. σεμν. This seems to be supported by 1 Timothy 3:8, διακόνους ὡσαύτως σεμνούς and 1 Timothy 3:11. Von Soden takes a similar view.

4. that ruleth well his own house] In distinction to ‘God’s household’ the Church, 1 Timothy 3:5; 1 Timothy 3:15.

his children] Rather, from the emphatic position of ‘children,’ and the absence of the article, the sense is ‘with a household of his own rightly under his rule, with children held in subjection.’

with all gravity] There should be, that is, all propriety of conduct on his part, according to the line ‘maxima debetur pueris reverentia’; so Titus in order to commend his exhortations to the young men to be pure is himself ‘to set an example of propriety,’ Titus 2:7. There should be the same propriety on the children’s part, according to the similar passage in Titus 1:6, that they be ‘not accused of riot.’

Compare St Paul’s eloquent appeal to the Philippians to ‘think thoughts true and seemly, righteous and pure,’ thoughts of truth, morality, righteousness and purity, Php 4:8.

1 Timothy 3:4. Τοῦ ἰδίου οἴκου, his own house) Many men, for instance, are mild abroad, but are the less disposed to restrain their passion at home, which they direct against their wives, etc.—καλῶς προιστάμενον, one who ruleth well) To this ἀφιλαργυρία chiefly refers.—μετὰ πάσης σεμνότητος, with all gravity [propriety]) so that there may be no luxury [ἀσωτία, riotous living]: Titus 1:6.

Verse 4. - One that ruleth well his own house. The ἐπίσκοπος is one who has to preside over and rule (προίστασθαι) the house of God (1 Timothy 5:17; Romans 12:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:12), as the high priest was called "ruler of the house of God" (1 Chronicles 9:11; Nehemiah 11:11). So in Justin Martyr the bishop is called ὁ προεστῶς τῶν ἀδελφῶν ('Apology,' 11) and simply ὁ προεστῶς, and similarly in Hebrews 13:7 the clergy are οἱ ἡγούμενοι ὑμῶν, "they which have the rule over you." How needful, then, is it that he should rule well his own house, and have his own children in subjection! The testimony given in this passage to a married clergy is too clear to need any comment. In subjection (ἐν ὑποταγῇ); as above, 1 Timothy 2:11, where see note. For the sense, comp. Titus 1:6, which leads us to apply the words, with all gravity (σεμνότητος), the contrary to "riot," ἀσωτία), to the children. The children of the ἐπίσκοπος are to exhibit that seriousness and sobriety of conduct which is in accordance with their father's office, μετά, together with, as in 1 Timothy 1:14. 1 Timothy 3:4That ruleth (προΐστάμενον)

Mostly in the Pastorals, but also in Romans 12:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:12. The participle means placed in front. Here in a general sense, but in 1 Thessalonians 1:5 of church authorities, but only functionally, not as a title of specially appointed officers. It is characteristic of the loose and unsettled ecclesiastical nomenclature of the apostolic age.

Having in subjection (ἔχοντα ἐν ὑποταγῇ)

The phrase is unique in N.T. Ὑποταγή subjection is a Pauline word: see 2 Corinthians 9:13; Galatians 2:5. olxx.

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