1 Timothy 3:1 If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work
If a man desires to serve as bishop because he wants to learn, serve, and minister, he desires a good work. If a man desires the office of bishop to gratify his pride, his "vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness," then he is under condemnation. (D&C 121:37)
President Francis M. Lyman
Paul says, "This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work." I desire to say that if any man desires any office in this Church he desireth a good work, and yet I believe that no man in this Church should seek after either the office of a bishop or any other office, but yet should be ready and prepared to receive any official responsibility which the Lord has to bestow upon him. (Conference Report, October 1913, Afternoon Session. 33 - 34.)
1 Timothy 3:1 the office of a bishop
Gordon B. Hinckley
We have more than eleven thousand bishops in the Church. Every one is a man who has been called by the spirit of prophecy and revelation and set apart and ordained by the laying on of hands. Every one of them holds the keys of the presidency of his ward. Each is a high priest, the presiding high priest of his ward. Each carries tremendous responsibilities of stewardship. Each stands as a father to his people.
None receives money for his service. No ward bishop is compensated by the Church for his work as a bishop.
The requirements of a bishop today are as they were in the days of Paul... ("To the Bishops of the Church," Ensign, Nov. 1988, 48-49)
Gordon B. Hinckley
I carry in my heart a deep appreciation for our bishops. I am profoundly grateful for the revelation of the Almighty under which this office was created and functions.
...How thankful I am for these men who, without regard for their own comfort, give of their time, of their wisdom, of their inspiration in presiding over our wards throughout the world. They receive no compensation other than the love of their people. There is no rest for them on the Sabbath, nor very much at other times. They are the ones closest to the people, best acquainted with their needs and circumstances.
The requirements of their office are today as they were in the days of Paul, who wrote to Timothy:
A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
Not given to wine, no striker [that is, not a bully or a violent person], ... not a brawler, not covetous" (1 Tim. 3:2-3).
("The Shepherds of the Flock," Ensign, May 1999, 52-53)
1 Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless... of good behaviour
Gordon B. Hinckley
Let me now speak directly to the thousands of bishops who are in attendance tonight. Let me say first that I love you for your integrity and goodness. You must be men of integrity. You must stand as examples to the congregations over which you preside. You must stand on higher ground, so that you can lift others. You must be absolutely honest for you handle the funds of the Lord, the tithes of the people, the offerings that come of their fasting, and the contributions which they make from their own strained resources. How great is your trust as the keepers of the purse of the Lord!
Your goodness must be as an ensign to your people. Your morals must be impeccable. The wiles of the adversary may be held before you because he knows that if he can destroy you, he can injure an entire ward. You must be wise with inspired wisdom in all of your relationships lest someone read into your observed actions some taint of moral sin. You cannot succumb to the temptation to read pornographic literature, to see pornographic films, even in the secrecy of your own chamber to view pornographic videotapes. Your moral strength must be such that if ever you are called upon to sit in judgment on the questionable morals of others, you may do so without personal compromise or embarrassment. ("To the Bishops of the Church," Ensign, Nov. 1988, 49-50)
1 Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be... apt to teach
Boyd K. Packer
Those words apt to teach have special meaning. Apt means "inclined, ready, prepared."
In all the world there is nothing quite like the office of bishop in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Except for parents, the bishop has the best opportunity to teach and to cause to be taught the things that matter most. ("The Bishop and His Counselors," Ensign, May 1999, 57)
Gordon B. Hinckley
You [Bishops] stand as a watchman on the tower of the ward over which you preside. There are many teachers in that ward. But you must be the chief teacher among them. You must see that there is no false doctrine creeping in among the people. You must see that they grow in faith and testimony, in integrity and righteousness and a sense of service. You must see that their love for the Lord strengthens and manifests itself in greater love for one another. ("To the Bishops of the Church," Ensign, Nov. 1988, 50)
1 Timothy 3:4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection
Spencer W. Kimball
How sad if the Lord should charge any of us parents with having failed to teach our children. Truly a tremendous responsibility falls upon a couple when they bring children into the world. Not only food, clothes, shelter are required for them but loving, kindly disciplining and teaching.
I wonder what this world would be like if every father and mother gathered their children around them at least once a week, explained the gospel, and bore fervent testimonies to them. How could immorality continue and infidelity break families and delinquency spawn? Divorce would reduce and such courts would close. Most ills of life are due to failure of parents to teach their children and the failure of posterity to obey.
Of course, there are a few disobedient souls regardless of training and teaching, but the great majority of children would respond to such parental guidance. (Conference Report, April 1965, Afternoon Meeting 64.)
Joseph F. Smith
[Patriarchal] authority carries with it a responsibility and a grave one, as well as its rights and privileges, and men can not be too exemplary in their lives, nor fit themselves too carefully to live in harmony with this important and God-ordained rule of conduct in the family organization. Upon this authority certain promises and blessings are predicated, and those who observe and respect this authority have certain claims on divine favor which they cannot have except they respect and observe the laws that God has established for the regulation and authority of the home...
The necessity, then, of organizing the patriarchal order and authority of the home rests upon principle as well as upon the person who holds that authority, and among the Latter-day Saints family discipline, founded upon the law of the patriarchs, should be carefully cultivated, and fathers will then be able to remove many of the difficulties that now weaken their position in the home, through unworthy children.
The principles here set forth are of more importance than many parents have heretofore attached to them, and the unfortunate position today in the homes of many of the elders of Israel is directly traceable to a want of appreciation of their truthfulness. (Gospel Doctrine: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Joseph F. Smith, compiled by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939], 288.)
1 Timothy 3:8-12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children... well
It is apparent from Paul's epistle that many deacons in the early church were adult men, not twelve and thirteen year olds. This should be neither surprising nor disturbing. The administration of priesthood offices were adapted to the circumstances of the time. Adult deacons were ordained in the days of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. President Young in particular thought the duties of a deacon were appropriate for an adult, "Says [the bishop], 'I dare not even call a man to be a Deacon, to assist me in my calling, unless he has a family.' It is not the business of an ignorant young man, of no experience in family matters, to inquire into the circumstances of families, and know the wants of every person. Some may want medicine and nourishment, and to be looked after, and it is not the business of boys to do this; but select a man who has got a family to be a Deacon, whose wife can go with him, and assist him in administering to the needy in the ward." (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 2: 89.)
Over time, the priesthood organization, under inspiration, was tailored to the needs of the church. This did not happen in an instant. Perhaps few remember that it wasn't until October 1954 conference that the age for deacons was set at 12-13. Before that, the recommended age had been 12-14. ("The Church Moves On," Improvement Era, 1954, Vol. Lvii. December, 1954. No. 12.)
It would be a mistake to assume that every aspect of the current church system was present with the ancients. They did not have mutual on Tuesdays, enrichment night on Wednesdays and primary activity day on Saturdays. That is not what is meant by the sixth article of faith. It is fair to say that administration of church government in their day was not as clearly defined as it is today. Perhaps, their needs required fewer priesthood offices.
In Paul's day, most congregations had bishops, presbyters (or elders), and deacons. "Clement and Ignatius, for example, mention bishops, elders, and deacons in the local structure of church authority." (Ensign, Feb. 1989, 9) The ancient historian Mosheim described the deacons' role as servants of temporal duties:
"That the church had its public servants or deacons, from its first foundation, there can be no doubt... Those young men who carried out the corpses of Ananias and his wife, were undoubtedly the deacons of the church at Jerusalem, who were attending the apostles and executing their commands. (Acts 5:6-10)...
"...the Lord's supper [was] set apart and consecrated by prayer, offered up by the presiding minister alone, the people responding amen. The distributors of the sacred supper were the deacons." (John Lawrence von Mosheim, Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History, [London: M'Corquodale and Co., 6th ed., 1868], 34, 44)
Thus, in the ancient church, both young men and adult men took care of the temporal duties and passed the sacrament as deacons. Paul's advice is that they be men above reproach, not polygamists, for the polygamy of the day was not after the new and everlasting covenant and was not sanctioned by the apostles.
George Q. Cannon
"Why do we ordain boys twelve or fourteen years old to the office of Deacon, when Paul says . . . 'Let the Deacons be the husbands of one wife'?" (1 Timothy 3:12.)
Paul in referring to the branches of the Church as then organized had in mind adults who had been ordained. Probably, in those branches the most of the members, if not all, were newly converted; none had been born in the Church who were at that time old enough to hold the Priesthood. With our Elders even in these days it is a very uncommon thing to ordain, while out in the world, very young men to any office. Mature men are frequently ordained as Deacons and act as such.
The circumstances which surround us here in Zion are entirely different from those which surrounded the Saints in the days of Paul and of which he wrote. There is no impropriety whatever in young men, even as early as at the age of twelve or fourteen years, acting as Deacons. They receive a training that is very valuable to them, and we know of many who have been and are greatly benefited by acting in this position, meeting with the Deacons' quorum and receiving such instructions as are proper to be imparted to them in this capacity. The cases to which Paul refers, therefore, and those that exist in Zion are not at all parallel.
All who have had experience among the young Deacons of the Church are doubtless convinced of the propriety of ordaining our boys early, if worthy, that they may become thoroughly familiar one by one with the duties of the various offices and grades of the Priesthood. (Jan. 15, 1899, JI 34:48-49) (Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon, selected, arranged, and edited by Jerreld L. Newquist [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 189.)
Bruce R. McConkie
It is the practice of the Church in this dispensation - a practice dictated by the needs of the present day ministry and confirmed by the inspiration of the Spirit resting upon those who hold the keys of the kingdom - to confer the Aaronic Priesthood upon worthy young men who are 12 years of age and to ordain them to the office of a deacon in that priesthood. Notwithstanding the fact that this is the lowest priesthood office, it is yet a high and holy one in God's kingdom. In the meridian of time the needs of the ministry were such that adult brethren were ordained deacons. (Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966], 183.)
1 Timothy 3:15 the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth
The church... with Paul, was the foundation, the pillar, the ground of truth, the living church, not the dead letter... We require a living tree-a living fountain-living intelligence, proceeding from the living priesthood in heaven, through the living priesthood on earth. (The Gospel Kingdom: Selections from the Writings and Discourses of John Taylor, selected, arranged, and edited, with an introduction by G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1941], 34.)
Neal A. Maxwell
The true and living Church would need to be sufficiently independent of other mortal institutions doctrinally, financially, and as to its authority... so that God's standards can be objectively applied to world circumstances and to all individuals. C. S. Lewis observed, "Unless the measuring rod is independent of the things measured, we can do no measuring. . . ." (A Mind Awake, p. 36.) No wonder Paul described the Church of the living God as "the pillar and ground of the truth." (1 Timothy 3:15.) The living Church will uphold the Savior's standards when many others shrink from those standards!
The very divinity of the standards that come to us from the living God (and of which we are reminded by the living prophets and the living scriptures) must be taught and administered by the living Church based on a knowledge "of things as they really are and of things as they really will be."
The living Church, an independent church, can perform that service for mankind, but a dying church, or any church based upon the philosophies of men, could have no objective measuring standard outside itself by which human behavior can be gauged and hopefully corrected. Policies or doctrines that mirror the attitudinal majority of a given age become the commandments of men. (D&C 46:7; Matthew 15:9.) Unsurprisingly, the churches of men will inevitably preach the commandments of men, seasoned with some scripture, preferably of modern translation. (Things As They Really Are [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 47-48.)
1 Timothy 3:16 the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit...
Paul defines the great mysteries of godliness. To paraphrase, it is that the God of heaven condescended to earth and took upon himself a tabernacle of flesh, that he was justified and sanctified by the Spirit, that his ministry in the flesh was an object of great interest for prophets and angels, that he had power over death yet condescended to the will of the Father suffering death at the hands of wicked men, that he rose from the dead, appeared to the faithful, and ascended into heaven, that his gospel should be preached not just to the Jews but to the Gentiles and in all the world, being believed not by reason, nor by constraint, but by faith.
The natural man has a difficult time with the idea that God would come to earth as a man, suffer death, and then return to his glorious position with his Father. Why would God do such a thing? It doesn't make sense. This is the mystery. It is by no means mysterious to the faithful, yet is a stumblingblock to the faithless. As the author of an 1843 article in the Times and Seasons wrote:
"We here might refer to the atonement of Jesus Christ-his appearing in human nature-his death and resurrection, ascension and glorification, as being necessary for the salvation of the human family-who can comprehend it? Paul exclaims, 'great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on by the world, received up to glory.' In fact, the whole plan of salvation, from first to last, is of that nature which demands our faith in the word, works, and revelations of God-and without which it would, to us, be entirely incomprehensible." (Times and Seasons, vol. 4 (November 1842-November 1843), Vol. 4 No. 21 September 15, 1843 327.)
With the world things pertaining to eternity are such a mystery that all is left in the dark-left with the mantle of ignorance cast around it. But, God be praised, the vail begins to be thinner, and will be withdrawn for us, if we are faithful. The work that God has commenced in this our day is calculated to remove the vail of the covering from all the face of the earth, that all flesh may see his glory together. And if the principles of the holy Priesthood that we have received continue to be carried out by the people at large, the vail will be taken away, so that we can comprehend that Being who is such a mystery to the great portion of the human family. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 8: 115.)