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.
2. The existence of Church organization and presbyters at Ephesus is presupposed (1Ti 5:17, 19). The institution of Church widows (1Ti 5:3-25) accords with this. The directions here to Timothy, the president or apostolic delegate, are as to filling up vacancies among the bishops and deacons, or adding to their number. New churches in the neighborhood also would require presbyters and deacons. Episcopacy was adopted in apostolic times as the most expedient form of government, being most nearly in accordance with Jewish institutions, and so offering the less obstruction through Jewish prejudices to the progress of Christianity. The synagogue was governed by presbyters, "elders" (Ac 4:8; 24:1), called also bishops or overseers. Three among them presided as "rulers of the synagogue," answering to "bishops" in the modern sense [Lightfoot, Hebrew and Talmudic Exercitations], and one among them took the lead. Ambrose (in The Duties of the Clergy [2.13], as also Bingham [Ecclesiastical Antiquities, 2.11]) says, "They who are now called bishops were originally called apostles. But those who ruled the Church after the death of the apostles had not the testimony of miracles, and were in many respects inferior. Therefore they thought it not decent to assume to themselves the name of apostles; but dividing the names, they left to presbyters the name of the presbytery, and they themselves were called bishops." "Presbyter" refers to the rank; "bishop," to the office or function. Timothy (though not having the name) exercised the power at Ephesus then, which bishops in the modern sense more recently exercised.
blameless—"unexceptionable"; giving no just handle for blame.
husband of one wife—confuting the celibacy of Rome's priesthood. Though the Jews practiced polygamy, yet as he is writing as to a Gentile Church, and as polygamy was never allowed among even laymen in the Church, the ancient interpretation that the prohibition here is against polygamy in a candidate bishop is not correct. It must, therefore, mean that, though laymen might lawfully marry again, candidates for the episcopate or presbytery were better to have been married only once. As in 1Ti 5:9, "wife of one man," implies a woman married but once; so "husband of one wife" here must mean the same. The feeling which prevailed among the Gentiles, as well as the Jews (compare as to Anna, Lu 2:36, 37), against a second marriage would, on the ground of expediency and conciliation in matters indifferent and not involving compromise of principle, account for Paul's prohibition here in the case of one in so prominent a sphere as a bishop or a deacon. Hence the stress that is laid in the context on the repute in which the candidate for orders is held among those over whom he is to preside (Tit 1:16). The Council of Laodicea and the apostolic canons discountenanced second marriages, especially in the case of candidates for ordination. Of course second marriage being lawful, the undesirableness of it holds good only under special circumstances. It is implied here also, that he who has a wife and virtuous family, is to be preferred to a bachelor; for he who is himself bound to discharge the domestic duties mentioned here, is likely to be more attractive to those who have similar ties, for he teaches them not only by precept, but also by example (1Ti 3:4, 5). The Jews teach, a priest should be neither unmarried nor childless, lest he be unmerciful [Bengel]. So in the synagogue, "no one shall offer up prayer in public, unless he be married" [in Colbo, ch. 65; Vitringa, Synagogue and Temple].
vigilant—literally, "sober"; ever on the watch, as sober men alone can be; keenly alive, so as to foresee what ought to be done (1Th 5:6-8).
of good behaviour—Greek, "orderly." "Sober" refers to the inward mind; "orderly," to the outward behavior, tone, look, gait, dress. The new man bears somewhat of a sacred festival character, incompatible with all confusion, disorder, excess, violence, laxity, assumption, harshness, and meanness (Php 4:8) [Bengel].
apt to teach—(2Ti 2:24).