John Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

3 (1 Timothy 3:3)

Verse 3

3Not addicted to wine. By the word πάροινον, (56) which 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 (57) As he contrasts with “a striker” one who is not quarrelsome, and with him who is covetous of dishonest gain ( ἀφιλάργυρον) one who is not covetous, so with τῷ παροίνῳ, 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 the 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.” (58) 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 mean and sordid covetousness.

Mild and not quarrelsome He contrasts with “the striker” the man who is “not quarrelsome.” Mild — which, we have said, is contrasted with being “addicted to wine” — is the term applied to him who knows how to bear injuries with a gentle and moderate disposition, who forgives much, who passes by insults, who neither makes himself be dreaded through harsh severity, nor exacts with full rigor. Not quarrelsome, one who avoids disputes and quarrels; for, as he elsewhere writes,

“the servant of the Lord must not be quarrelsome.”
(
2 Timothy 2:24.)

- John Calvin's Commentary on the Bible