Wesley's Notes on the Bible
This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
3:1 He desireth a good work - An excellent, but laborious, employment.
A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
3:2 Therefore - That he may be capable of it. A bishop - Or pastor of a congregation. Must be blameless - Without fault or just suspicion. The husband of one wife - This neither means that a bishop must be married, nor that he may not marry a second wife; which it is just as lawful for him to do as to marry a first, and may in some cases be his bounden duty. But whereas polygamy and divorce on slight occasions were common both among the Jews and heathens, it teaches us that ministers, of all others, ought to stand clear of those sins. Vigilant, prudent - Lively and zealous, yet calm and wise. Of good behaviour - Naturally flowing from that vigilance and prudence.
Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
3:4 Having his children in subjection with all seriousness - For levity undermines all domestic authority; and this direction, by a parity of reason, belongs to all parents.
(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
3:6 Lest being puffed up - With this new honour, or with the applause which frequently follows it. He fall into the condemnation of the devil - The same into which the devil fell.
Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
3:7 He ought also to have a good report - To have had a fair character in time past. From them that are without - That are not Christians. Lest he fall into reproach - By their rehearsing his former life, which might discourage and prove a snare to him.
Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
3:8 Likewise the deacons must he serious - Men of a grave, decent, venerable behaviour. But where are presbyters? Were this order essentially distinct from that of bishops, could the apostle have passed it over in silence? Not desirous of filthy gain - With what abhorrence does he everywhere speak of this! All that is gained (above food and raiment) by ministering in holy things is filthy gain indeed; far more filthy than what is honestly gained by raking kennels, or emptying common sewers.
Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
3:9 Holding fast the faith in a pure conscience - Steadfast in faith, holy in heart and life.
And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.
3:10 Let these he proved first - Let a trial be made how they believe. Then let them minister - Let them be fixed in that office.
Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
3:11 Faithful in all things - Both to God, their husbands, and the poor.
Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
3:13 They purchase a good degree - Or step, toward some higher office. And much boldness - From the testimony of a good conscience.
These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:
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.
3:15 That thou mayest know how to behave - This is the scope of the epistle. In the house of God - Who is the master of the family. Which is - As if he had said, By the house of God, I mean the church.
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
3:16 The mystery of godliness - Afterwards specified in six articles, which sum up the whole economy of Christ upon earth. Is the pillar and ground - The foundation and support of all the truth taught in his church. God was manifest in the flesh - In the form of a servant, the fashion of a man, for three and thirty years. Justified by the Spirit - Publicly declared to be the Son of God, by his resurrection from the dead. Seen - Chiefly after his resurrection. By angels - Both good and bad. Preached among the gentiles - This elegantly follows. The angels were the least, the gentiles the farthest, removed from him; and the foundation both of this preaching and of their faith was laid before his assumption. Was believed on in the world - Opposed to heaven, into which he was taken up. The first point is, He was manifested in the flesh; the last, He was taken up into glory.