Synopsis of the Books of the Bible, by John Nelson Darby, [1857-62], at sacred-texts.com
The apostle next points out to Timothy the qualities necessary for a bishop or a deacon, as well as for the wife of the latter. [See Note #4] He supposes here that there were some who desired to undertake this work. It was a good work. To care for souls and have a vigilant eye upon the walk of believers; to watch over them in order that the members of Christ should answer to His love and lose no christian privilege; to do this by maintaining that happy order and that precious unity which were realised at that time, and to protect the flock of the Lord against the ravaging wolves that were seeking to invade it: this indeed was valuable work, and he on whose heart the Lord had thus laid the souls of His people might well desire to undertake it. The apostle felt this: it was a true and faithful saying; but certain qualities were needed to make any one fit for such a charge. Gifts are not included among them, unless the being "apt to teach" might be so considered; but even this is presented as a quality the man must have 'aptness' [See Note #5] for it not as a gift. Power to use such truth with others was very useful in fulfilling his charge, without saying at all that he taught publicly in the assembly. The essential thing was that which gave moral weight.
Timothy was not left at Ephesus to appoint elders; but these were the qualities necessary to a bishop, and Paul exhorts him to be watchful on this point.
It is not needful to enter into the details of these qualities; they are plain enough, as well as those required for a deacon.
We see what was the subject of " the condemnation of the devil :" he exalted himself at the thought of his own importance. (Compare Ezek. 28) "The snare of the devil" is another thing. If a man is not of good report, he will yield somewhere to the enemy, because he will not dare to withstand him boldly.
It will be noticed that the apostle speaks of the wives of deacons, not those of bishops (except to say that these must be the husbands of one wife only). Bishops had a charge, in which they were occupied with souls and exercised authority in the church, in which women were not to act. Deacons were necessarily occupied with family details and circumstances. In these women might well be concerned and often very useful. In the spiritual cares of elders they had nothing to do. It was requisite therefore that the wives of deacons should possess qualities which would cause their husbands to be respected, and at the same time guard themselves from becoming busybodies and tale-bearers.
Faithfulness in the charge of a deacon the exercise of which in fact is a matter of the greatest delicacy, and requires much christian love and patience was a means of acquiring strength in the work of God. Stephen and Philip are examples of this: their spiritual powers soon carried them beyond their services as deacons.
What was the assembly in those happy days ? That which surely it always is in the sight of God, but then in fact, when love displayed itself in an order maintained by the energy of the Holy Ghost, and when the oneness of the entire body developed itself in the action of all its members, it was the house of God. Thank God, it is so always; yet what a difference since then in its practical condition!
But let us here examine the character which the apostle gives to the assembly on earth. He wrote hoping soon to come, but in order that, in case he might tarry long, Timothy should know how to conduct himself. He then tells us what the assembly is.
In the first place it is the 'house of God'. God dwells in it upon the earth. (Compare Eph 2:22) We understand that it is here viewed as on the earth, because the apostle is speaking of how to behave in it. But this truth is important. It gives a character to the assembly of the highest importance for us with regard to our responsibility. It is not a vague thing, composed of the dead, of the living a thing which we know not where to find, because one part of it is alive on the earth and another part consists of souls in heaven. It isthe house of God here below, in which we have to behave (whatever other position we may hold) in a manner that becomes the house of God. God dwells in the assembly upon earth. We cannot too earnestly remember this fact. Whatever would bring confusion into the presentation of the truth, through the idea that some are dead and that the whole assembly is not here, comes from the enemy and is in opposition to the word. The assembly viewed as subsisting on earth, is the house of God.