Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

To: All

From: 1 Timothy 3:1-13

Qualifications for Bishops

[1] The saying is sure: If any one aspires to the office of bishop, he desires a
noble task. [2] Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife,
temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, an apt teacher, [3] no drunkard, not
violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and no lover of money. [4] He must manage
his own household well, keeping children submissive and respectful in every way;
[5] for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he
care for God’s church? [6] He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed
up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil; [7] moreover he must
be well thought of by outsiders, or he may fall into reproach and the snare of the

Qualifications for Deacons

[8] Deacons likewise must be serious, not double-tongued, not addicted to much
wine, not greedy for gain; [9] they must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear
conscience. [10] And let them also be tested first; then if they prove blameless
let them serve as deacons. [11] The women likewise must be serious, no slande-
rers, but temperate, faithful in all things. [12] Let deacons be the husband of one
wife, and let them manage their children and their households well; [13] for those
who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great
confidence in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.


1. “The office of bishop”: as explained in the “Introduction to the Pastoral Epis-
tles”, above, when these epistles were written the titles and responsibilities of
the various church offices had not yet become fixed. The “bishop” (in Greek “epis-
copos” (overseer) was a priest who was in charge of some particular community.
As a minister of the Church, his role was one of teaching (cf. v. 2) and governance
(cf. v.5); his task was a demanding one and called for self-sacrifice, because any
office in a Christian community is essentially a form of service: “The holders of of-
fice, who are invested with a sacred power, are, in fact, dedicated to promoting
the interests of their brethren, so that all who belong to the people of God, and
are consequently endowed with true Christian dignity, may, through their free and
well-ordered efforts towards a common goal, attain to salvation” (Vatican II, “Lu-
men Gentium”, 18).

In spite of the regard in which those “bishops” were held by the faithful, there
seems to have been a shortage of candidates for the office. Hence St Paul’s
stressing that it is a “noble task”—to encourage a generous response by those
who feel the Lord’s call. From the very beginning, both pastors of the Church and
many other members of the faithful have striven to nurture the germs of vocation
which God places in people’s souls. “Beyond question, the society founded by
Christ will never lack priests. But we must all be vigilant and do our part, remem-
bering the word: ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few’ (Lk 10:2). We
must do all that we can to secure as many holy ministers of God as possible”
(Pius XII, “Menti Nostrae”, 36).

2-7. The quality and virtues required for a “bishop” are similar to those for “elders”
given in Titus 1:5-9. In the Pastoral Epistles “bishop” and “elder” (or priest) mean
almost the same thing. In listing qualifications St Paul is not giving a complete list;
he is simply saying that candidates for Church office should have qualities which
make them suited to the work and should be morally irreproachable.

The Church, in its legislation, has always tried to see that suitable people are cho-
sen as ministers. The Second Vatican Council lays it down that before the priest-
hood is conferred on anyone careful inquiry should be made “concerning his right
intention and freedom of choice, his spiritual, moral and intellectual fitness etc.”
(”Optatam Totius”, 6). In other words, a person needs qualifications in the form of
human qualities and ability if he is to live up to the demands of Church office.

“This need for the secular priest to develop human virtues stems from the nature
of his apostolic ministry which must be carried out in the everyday world and in
direct contact with people who tend to be stern judges of a priest and who watch
particularly his behavior as a man. There is nothing new about all this—but it does
seem useful now to emphasize it again. From St Paul to the most recent doctors
of the Church (take the teaching of St Francis de Sales, for example) one finds
this question dealt with. It is none other than that of the contact between nature
and supernature to achieve both the death of that man which must die under the
sign of the Cross, and the perfect development of all the nobility and virtue which
exists in man, and its direction towards the service of God” (A. del Portillo, “On
Priesthood”, p. 12).

2. “The husband of one wife”: this is also a requirement of “elders” (cf. Tit 1:6)
and “deacons” (1 Tim 3:12); it does not mean that the person is under an obliga-
tion to marry, but he must not have married more than once. From the context it
clearly does not mean that candidates are forbidden to be polygamous (polyga-
my is forbidden to everyone); the condition that one be married only once ensures
that candidates will be very respectable, exemplary people; in the culture of the
time second marriages, except in special circumstances, were looked at as-
kance, among Gentiles as well as Jews.

In the apostolic age celibacy was not a requirement for those who presided over
the early Christian communities. However, it very soon became customary to re-
quire celibacy. “In Christian antiquity the Fathers and ecclesiastical writers testify
to the spread through the East and the West of the voluntary practice of celibacy
by sacred ministers because of its profound suitability for their total dedication to
the service of Christ and his Church. The Church of the West, from the beginning
of the fourth century, strengthened, spread, and approved this practice by means
of various provincial councils and through the Supreme Pontiffs” (Paul VI, “Sacer-
dotalis Caelibatus”, 35-36).

From then on all priests of the Latin rite were required to be celibate. Celibacy
is appropriate to the priesthood for many reasons: “By preserving virginity or celi-
bacy for the sake of the kingdom of heaven priests are consecrated in a new and
excellent way to Christ. They more readily cling to him with undivided heart and
dedicate themselves more freely in him and through him to the service of God
and of men. They are less encumbered in their service of his kingdom and of the
task of heavenly regeneration. In this way they become better fitted for a broader
acceptance of fatherhood in Christ” (Vatican II, “Presbyterorum Ordinis”, 16).

6. “He must not be a recent convert”: one of the functions of the “bishop” was to
preside over the community; therefore, it would be imprudent to expose the office-
holder to the danger of vanity and pride. As St Thomas says in his commentary,
it is not wise to appoint young people and recent converts to positions of honor
and responsibility, because they can easily begin to think that they are better
than the others and cannot be done without (cf. “Commentary on l Tim, ad loc.”).

“Fall into the condemnation of the devil” or “fall into the same condemnation as
the devil”: the original text is not very clear. It may mean that it is the devil who
is doing the condemning, in which case it would be the same as saying “fall into
the power of the devil” or “fall into enslavement by the devil”. At any rate it is fair-
ly clear that St Paul wants to warn about the danger of committing the same sin
as the fallen angel, that is, becoming proud and thereby earning damnation.

7. Another function of the “bishop” was to represent the Church to “outsiders”,
that is, non-Christians. All believers should give good example (cf. Mt 5:16; Col
4:5; 1 Pet 2:13; 3:1), but those who hold Church office have a special duty to
avoid giving scandal or providing grounds for gossip.

8-13. Deacons were ministers under bishops and priests. “The origin of the dia-
conate probably goes back to the “seven men of good repute” who were elected
to help the Apostles (cf. Acts 6:1-6 and note); we do know that those men had an
administrative role in aiding the poor and the sick (Acts 6:1); they also preached
(Acts 6:8-14; 8:6) and administered Baptism (Acts 8:26-40). Later on mention is
made of deacons alongside “bishops” in certain important communities (cf. Phil
1:1), which suggests that they were part of the Church hierarchy.

This letter shows them to be ministers subordinate to the “bishop”; in these
verses, which some commentators call “the deacons’ statute”, their specific fun-
ctions are not stated (they probably performed a wide range of tasks); however,
it does appear that, unlike the bishop, they did not represent the Church to out-
siders and they could be drawn from among recent converts

The requirements given here are very like those for the “bishop”: as ministers of
the Church they would naturally be required to live exemplary lives. The Second
Vatican Council is in line with this text when it says that deacons, “waiting upon
the mysteries of Christ and of the Church, should keep themselves free from
every vice, should please God and give a good example to all in everything” (”Lu-
men Gentium”, 41).

10. “Let them also be tested first”: it is up to bishops (then and now) to ensure
that holy orders are conferred on suitable candidates; probably even in St Paul’s
time candidates had to undergo a period of training, in the course of which their
suitability could be checked.

The Church always tries to see that only people who are really suitable are given
Church office, even if that means fewer people are ordained, for “God never so
abandons his Church that suitable ministers are not to be found sufficient for the
needs of the people; provided the worthy are promoted and the unworthy are set
aside” (”Summa Theologiae”, Supplement, q. 36, a. 4 ad 1).

11. The text says so little that it is difficult to work out who these women were.
Many authors, St Thomas among them, think that they were deacons’ wives be-
cause the reference to them interrupts the list of qualifications for deacons. Many
other commentators think that they were women who performed some function
or ministry in the early Church; this would explain why nothing is said about the
wife of the bishop (when the qualifications for bishops are given at the start of this
chapter) and it would also explain why the comportment of the deacons and of
these women is referred to using the same adverb—”likewise”, similarly — in v. 8
and v. 11. We do know (from a fourth-century document, “Apostolic Constitu-
tions”, 2, 26; 3, 15) that some women did help in the instruction of catechumens,
in their Baptism, in care of the sick, etc. In the Letter to the Romans, Phoebe is
described as a “deaconess” (cf. Rom 16:1) though she was not a sacred minis-
ter in the strict sense.

13. “Gain a good standing for themselves”: this may mean that being a deacon
could be a step towards the higher office of “bishop”; or it could mean that the
diaconate itself is a noble position, just as the office of “bishop” is “a noble task”
(v. 1). Perhaps St Paul uses this vague expression because it covers both these
things: it is an honorable ministry and also it can be a step to a higher position
in the service of the community.

“Great confidence”: the original text uses a word which, in classical Greek refers
to the right of free citizens to speak at public assemblies — with full freedom, con-
fident, afraid of no one, with self-assurance, etc. A good deacon should expound
the doctrine of the faith in the same kind of way: he should be well versed in it, he
should stress those aspects which are most apposite at the time, and he should
not be affected by what others may think of him.

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

3 posted on 09/16/2013 7:47:06 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies ]

To: All

From: Luke 7:11-17

The Son of the Widow in Nain Restored to Life

[11] Soon afterwards He (Jesus) went to a city called Nain, and His disciples
and a great crowd went with Him. [12] As He drew near to the gate of the city,
behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother,
and she was a widow; and a large crowd from the city was with her. [13] And
when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.”
[14] And He came and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And He said,
“Young man, I say to you, arise.” [15] And the dead man sat up, and began to
speak. And He gave him to his mother. [16] Fear seized them all; and they glo-
rified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited
His people!” [17] And this report concerning Him spread through the whole of Ju-
dea and all the surrounding country.


11-17. “Jesus crosses paths again with a crowd of people. He could have
passed by or waited until they called Him. But He didn’t. He took the initiative,
because He was moved by a widow’s sorrow. She had just lost all she had, her

“The evangelist explains that Jesus was moved. Perhaps He even showed signs
of it, as when Lazarus died. Christ was not, and is not, insensitive to the suffe-
ring that stems from love. He is pained at seeing children separated from their
parents. He overcomes death so as to give life, to reunite those who love one
another. But at the same time, He requires that we first admit the pre-eminence
of divine love, which alone can inspire genuine Christian living.

“Christ knows He is surrounded by a crowd which will be awed by the miracle
and will tell the story all over the countryside. But He does not act artificially,
merely to create an effect. Quite simply He is touched by that woman’s suffering
and cannot but console her. So He goes up to her and says, `Do not weep.’ It is
like saying, `I don’t want to see you crying; I have come on earth to bring joy and
peace.’ And then comes the miracle, the sign of the power of Christ who is God.
But first came His compassion, an evident sign of the tenderness of the heart of
Christ the man” (St. J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing By”, 166).

15. This mother’s joy on being given back her son reminds us of the joy of our Mo-
ther the Church when her sinful children return to the life of grace. “The widowed
mother rejoiced at the raising of that young man,” St. Augustine comments. “Our
Mother the Church rejoices every day when people are raised again in spirit. The
young man had been dead physically; the latter, dead spiritually. The young man’s
death was mourned visibly; the death of the latter was invisible and unmourned.
He seeks them out Who knew them to be dead; only He can bring them back to
life” (”Sermon”, 98, 2).

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

4 posted on 09/16/2013 7:47:55 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies ]

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson