A Commentary by John Stott
1 Timothy 3:1-7. f). His temper and temperament.
The next two qualifications in verse 3 may be taken together: *not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome*. Unlike the false teachers, who were characterized by conceit, quarrelsomeness and strife (6:3ff.), true Christian teachers are above all to be gentle. *Epieikeia* means ‘gentleness’ or ‘graciousness’, and contains within it an element of yieldingness. Matthew Arnold coined the translation ‘sweet reasonableness’ (GT). This was an outstanding quality of our Lord Jesus, so that Paul could appeal to the Corinthians ‘by the meekness and gentleness of Christ’ (2 Cor.10:1; cf.Mt.11:29). Since gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit, it should characterize all the disciples of Jesus, but especially Christian leaders who are the servants of the Lord (Gal.5:22-23; 2 Tim.2:24-25).
Once this positive virtue has been cultivated, the two negative correlatives should take care of themselves. A gentle pastor will be neither *violent (plektes)*, a bully ‘with the tongue or the hand’, nor *quarrelsome*. His patience may be sorely tried by demanding and aggravating people, but like his Master he will seek to be gentle, never crushing a bruised reed or snuffing out a wick that is burning low (Is.42:3 = Mt.12:20).
g). His attitude to money.
Towards the end of this letter Paul will call the love of money ‘a root of all kinds of evil’ (6:10). So it is understandable that a candidate for the pastorate must be *not a lover of money* (end of verse 3), which is what the false teachers were (6:5; 2 Tim.3:2).
Yet throughout history bad men have tried to make money out of ministry. In the ancient world there were quacks who made a good living by posing as itinerant teachers. In the Old Testament Micah fulminated against Jerusalem because her judges took bribes, her priests taught for a price and her prophets told fortunes for cash (Mi. 3:11). In the New Testament Peter urged the pastors to be ‘not greedy for money, but eager to serve’ (1 Pet.5:2), while Paul renounced his right to support and earned his own living in order to demonstrate the sincerity of his motives (E.g. 1 Cor.9:4ff.). In our day there are still some disreputable evangelists who make themselves wealthy by financial appeals, whereas wise Christian leaders publish audited accounts of their enterprise. As for Pastors, although Paul requires them to be paid adequately (5:17f.), their salary in most countries is too low, in comparison with other professions, for them to be tempted to seek ordination for financial reasons.
Samuel was able at the end of his life to challenge Israel: ‘Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the Lord and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken?… Whom have I cheated?…From whose hand have I accepted a bribe…’ ‘You have not cheated or oppressed us,’ the people replied. (1 Sam.12:1ff.). Somewhat similarly, Paul was able to challenge the Ephesian elders: ‘I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions.’ (Acts 20:32ff.; cf.1 Thess.2:5ff.). Would that all of us could make the same claim!
Tomorrow: h) His domestic duties
|The John Stott Bible Study is taken from The Message of 1 Timothy. The Bible Speaks Today John Stott. Used by permission of Inter-Varsity Press UK, Nottingham. All rights reserved.|