Hospitable.fa50 The “hospitality” here spoken of, is toward strangers, and this was very common among the ancients; for it would have been reckoned disgraceful for respectable persons, and especially for those who were well known, to lodge in taverns. In the present day, the state ofmatters is different; but this virtue is and always will be highly necessary in a bishop, for many reasons. Besides, during the cruel persecution of the godly, many persons must have been constrained frequently to change their habitation; and therefore it was necessary that the houses of bishops should be a retreat for the exiles. In those times hard necessity compelled the churches to afford mutual aid, so that they gave lodgings to one another. Now, if the bishops had not pointed out the path to others in this department of duty, the greater part, following their example, would have neglected the exercise of humanity, and thus the poor fugitives would have been greatly discouraged. fa51
Able to teach. In the epistle to Titus, doctrine is expressly mentioned; here he only speaks briefly about skill in communicating instruction. It is not enough to have profound learning, if it be not accompanied by talent for teaching. There are many who, either because their utterance is defective, or because they have not good mental abilities, or because they do not employ that familiar language which is adapted to the common people, keep within their own minds the knowledge which they possess. Such persons, as the phrase is, ought to Sing to themselves and to the muses. fa52 They who have the charge of governing the people, ought to be qualified for teaching. And here he does not demand volubility of tongue, for we see many persons whose fluent talk is not fitted for edification; but he rather commends wisdom in applying the word of God judiciously to the advantage of the people.
It is worth while to consider how the Papists hold that the injunctions which the apostle gives do not at all belong to them. I shall not enter into a minute explanation of all the details; but on this one point what sort of diligence do they observe? And, indeed, that gift would be superfluous; for they banish from themselves the ministry of teaching as low and groveling, although this belonged especially to a bishop. But everybody knows how far it is from observing Paul’s rule, to assume the title of bishop, and boast proudly of enacting a character without speaking, provided only that they make their appearance in a theatrical dress. As if a horned mitre, a ring richly set in jewels, or a silver cross, and other trifles, accompanied by idle display, constituted the spiritual government of a church, which can no more be separated from doctrine than any one of us can be separated from his own soul.
3.Not addicted to wine. By the word pa>roinon, fa53which is here used, the Greeks denote not merely drunkenness, but any intemperance in guzzling wine. And, indeed, to drink wine excessively is not only very unbecoming in a pastor, but commonly draws along with it many things still worse; such as quarrels, foolish attitudes, unchaste conduct, and other things which it is not necessary to describe. But the contrast which is added shortly afterwards, shews that Paul goes farther than this.
Not a striker, not wickedly desirous of gain.fa54 As he contrasts with “a striker” one who is not quarrelsome, and with him who is covetous of dishonest gain (ajfila>rguron) one who is not covetous, so with tw~| paroi>nw|, him who is addicted to wine, he contrasts one who is gentle or kind. The true interpretation is that which is given by Chrysostom, that men of a drunken and fierce disposition ought to be excluded from the office of a bishop. As to the opinion given by Chrysostom, that “a striker” means one who wounds with the tongue, (that is, who is guilty of slander or of outrageous reproaches,) I do not admit it. Nor am I moved by his argument, that it will be no great matter, if the bishop do not strike with the hand; for I think that here he reproves generally that fierceness which is often found in the military profession, and which is utterly unbecoming in time servants of Christ. It is well known to what ridicule they expose themselves, who are more ready to strike a blow with the fist, and — we might even say — to draw the sword, than to settle the disputes of others by their own sedate behavior. Strikers is therefore the term which he applies to those who deal much in threatenings, and are of a warlike temperament.
All covetous persons are wickedly desirous of gain; for,wherever covetousness is, there will also be that baseness of which the apostle speaks. “He who wishes to become rich wishes also to become rich soon.” fa55 The consequence is, that all covetous persons, even though this is not openly manifest, apply their minds to dishonest and unlawful gains. Accordingly, he contrasts with this vice the contempt of money; as there is no other remedy by which it can be corrected. He who will not patiently and mildly endure poverty will never escape the disease of means and sordid covetousness.