I was single when I was senior pastor of a church on the west coast of Canada, and there were all kinds of advantages to that. â¨â¨Have always, even as an unbeliever, been respectable. (Though certainly, based on other passages and this context, he should be not just a monogamist but a godly one. Respectively the first reference refers to the qualifications of a bishop, (pastor or elder), in their marital status. Suppose a Christian witness moves into one of these tribes today, and large numbers of the tribe, including the chief, become Christians. What did it mean to Paul, as guided by the Holy Spirit, is the primary question. Does the fact that he was once a polygamist disqualify him from now being an elder? "So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man." Divorce represents a failure in the home, so that even though a man may be forgiven for any sin involved, he remains permanently disqualified for leadership in the congregation (See verses 4-5; 1 Cor. 23:21). Does the chief of the tribe become chief of the local church? (Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Commentary of the Bible, Online Bible Millennium Edition, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada, Ver. It can be determined that the phrase necessarily means that only men are to be considered for the office. I fully agree. 3:2; Tit. It gets confused because of Ezra and Nehemiah and the putting away if heathen wives, but certainly a persuasive argument can be made that a polygamist who comes to Christ cannot automatically discharge his duties by divorcing a second wife, thereby shaming her and putting her out as “damaged goods” that another man is not likely to marry. There were some disadvantages too. Both in the aristocracy and in the borderlands of the Empire—places like Lystra—polygamy was not all that uncommon. Moreover, it is argued, in the first century, polygamy wasn’t all that common. a man in prison for a crime is not released for being born again), in the church, where regeneration is truly a new start, a man’s past is not held against him. This verse prohibits women from holding this position of service in a local church. Some argue that Paul wasn’t an elder, but since he seems to function over pastors and elders, authoritatively leading them, it’s hard to argue that he was not elder-qualified. The early church took seriously passages such as this: “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature; the old is passed way; all things have become new” (2 Cor. Consider: God speaks of divorce and remarriage (except in certain cases) as a commission of the sin of adultery ( Mark 10:9-12  What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. Clearly this violates this biblical principle of a wife ministering only to her husband. Font Size Titus 1:6. It is also not a characteristic of numerous men who are the husbands of one wife, but have a roving eye. If so, then wouldn’t we need to also extend the same understanding to the other qualifications so they include his distant or pre-Christian past? However, weâre here to serve everyone without cost, so please donât feel obligated to give unless the Lord leads. . (V4) Further they are instructed to be obedient to their own husbands. He has been the husband of two wives, but only one at a time. But this does not seem to be a correct understanding of these verses. For instance, suppose the man, as an unbeliever, had been married to two women, and one of them died or left him twenty-five years ago. There is more I could say, but divorce simply is not what this qualification is about. I don’t think the passage could possibly assume one has always been elder qualified, that he has never in the past violated the character requirements of elders, only that he is presently qualified, as a result of the transforming work of God’s Spirit in the man’s life. So what would Timothy have understood Paul to have meant by μιας γυναικος ανδρα, usually translated “husband of one wife”? Not according to Paul; that is precisely what is ruled out. There are several New Testament principles which help us to understand that this is the correct interpretation. If we are going to say this does not merely mean that the man is “the husband of one wife” (now, presently, and by implication in the past number of years) in the same sense that he should not be a drunkard or lack self-control or be quarrelsome (now, presently, and by implication in the past number of years), then it lays a huge burden of proof upon this interpretation. The Husband of One Wife âOne womanâs man. God does allow separation under some situation for Christian, but not remarriage. He was to be morally irreprehensible in his married life, loyal and true to his wife. Marriage is a holy union that our society has lost the beauty and responsibility of. There is no other evidence to suggest that a man who remarries after his wife’s death could not be a church leader. There is no controversy with the interpretation of the phrase in this passage, meaning that the widow should have only one man. â¨â¨Have always, even as an unbeliever, managed his household well.â¨â¨This would make no sense. Others have understood the passage as meaning a man must be married to be an elder. 23:21-22). Thus, The New English Bible renders the verse in this way, the overseer âmust be above reproach, faithful to his one wife.â The word translated "husband" in 1 Timothy 3:2 is the Greek word "aner" which means man. The fact of the matter is that if they do not meet the requirements set out by the Scriptures, then regardless of their impressive credentials outside the church, they do not have the right to be elders/pastors/overseers within the church. It is clear that Paul wasn’t married, at least at this point in his life, and certainly the Lord Jesus was never married. This is remotely possible, with an historical precedent, since the Sanhedrin—an elder sort of leadership body—required that its members be married, because a married man would be more merciful in his judgment. A significant argument for this is the positioning of the word “one” (mias) at the beginning of the phrase, which often reflects a deliberate authorial emphasis. Nearly all of us would agree that if it happened last month, it’s too soon to be an elder, but if it happened thirty years ago, especially before he came to Christ, most of us would probably agree it isn’t sufficient to keep him from being an elder today. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn." An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, having children who are believers and who are not open to accusation of indiscretion or insubordination. Second, he must be “the husband of but one wife.” In some ways that is the most difficult or disputed qualification in the list. In today’s (March 6) Morning and Evening, after citing John 3, Spurgeon says this of regeneration: It is a change which is known and felt: known by works of holiness, and felt by a gracious experience. For example, a man may have divorced many years ago. One of the reasons is that, in the Bible, marriage is presented not only as a social institution, but a model, a “type,” of the relationship between Christ and his “bride,” the church—and Christ does not have many brides, many churches. I think so. husband of one wifeâ means an elder should be presently married to no more than one woman Some believe this verse teaches that an elder cannot be a divorcé who has remarried. In the past five days, three pastors and an elder have asked me to respond to this question. The second reference refers to the qualifications of a deacon in their marital status. It is literally, order-wise, not “husband of one wife,” but “one wife husband.” This placement of mias, I assume, is why the NIV felt the best translation was “the husband of but one wife.” The NEB puts it that an elder must be “faithful to his one wife.” Thus understood, the phrase “husband of one wife” is a requirement of monogamous fidelity. Note that the instruction includes "keepers at home" which mean they are to care for and work at home taking care of household matters. But does it? Throughout all of the Bible God has given the man the responsibility as the head of the household as Ephesians 5:23 states,. Why would I be addressing a converted man’s life before Christ? (If the woman has also become a Christian, it gets even more complicated; if she leads her husband to Christ, in doing so does she ensure that she’ll be divorced and she and her children abandoned?). In my opinion, this is the most straightforward and obvious meaning. “What does it mean to us?” is the secondary question. 7. That interpretation is highly unlikely. It also presents a pragmatic problem, since virtually no one would be elder qualified, due to past choices and lifestyles stemming from a radically different worldview and heart condition. Had Paul wished to say any elder who was previously married should remain single, he could easily have done so, as he phrases things similar to this in 1 Cor. So God may well be simply saying that a person in that situation should not be a church leader. It requires the fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit in pre-Christian people who by definition did not have the indwelling Holy Spirit. I just don’t see that basis. Was John Newton qualified to be a pastor? If that were the case, I would think Paul might set it aside, not put it second in a long list, coming after and preceding qualifications that are fundamentally different in that they refer to the present and more recent past, while this one (having been divorced) can stretch back fifty years. Answer: As a background, please read our article on the âhusband of one wifeâ phrase in 1 Timothy 3:2,12 and Titus 1:6. This is unlikely too since Scripture is clear that a man whose wife has died is free to remarry. Because andros and gune don’t have the definite article, the construction could be emphasizing character or nature. If you go to Africa today, you discover that in some tribes polygamy is still not all that uncommon. Conclusion: God is presenting the minimum qualifications that an individual or church should use in determining if a man is eligible to be considered for the position of a pastor or deacon. (I’ve put one line of argumentation in footnotes, then at the end I’ve added excerpts from Wayne Grudem and someone else; Grudem’s footnotes are included too): 1) He must presently be married to only one woman, i.e. Husband-of-the-year Tom Cavins braved the winter weather, dug his car out of the snow and went down the road to the grocery store for some corn dogs at Mrs. Cavinsâ request. With this position, the question of when the divorce happened and the reasons for it—and issues of innocence and guilt—are irrelevant. Then he came to Christ. It could be argued that there might be a pragmatic consideration—is it worth it to the man or to the church to have to go through this process of congregational approval? We know it existed in the culture. An overseerâs being âa husband of one wifeâ would also convey the thought of his being innocent of bigamy or adultery. One of the pastors who wrote me said we should focus on authorial intent. It is highly unlikely that this text, therefore, stipulates that an elder be married. . Much controversy has surrounded the elder qualification translated as "husband of one wife" in 1 Timothy 3:2. â¨â¨So, do we believe the meaning is never having been divorced, i.e. In light of that, here are some possible meanings of “husband of one wife” followed by my comments. This view also seems to â¦ It is not a change of my name, but a renewal of my nature, so that I am not the man I used to be, but a new man in Christ Jesus. Let’s be sure we adjust to Scripture, rather than adjusting it to us, to fit our philosophical or pragmatic concerns. The Bible certainly warns against divorce in many ways. âA bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;â King James Version (KJV) One other thought. Then he came to Christ twenty years ago and has been walking with Christ as a loyal husband of one wife. This is conceivably the full meaning of the statement, but at least it is likely the central meaning—the husband of one wife, not more than one. I come back to this question, because I think it is so important. But it is also very important not to make divorce the worst sin on the horizon, the unforgivable sin, the sin against the Holy Spirit. This man may now enjoy a godly marriage, raising children who love the Lord. While the qualification âhusband of one wifeâ may, in some instances, disqualify a divorced and remarried man from serving in church leadership, an even more difficult question is a married man who has never been divorced, but is married to a woman who previously â¦ In the same sense that an elder should not be a recent convert (no matter how genuine his conversion), so he should not be—regardless of how long he’s been a Christian—a recently-transformed drunkard, murderer, fornicator, etc. The meaning of the phrase "husband of one wife" can only be determined when the whole of the New Testament teaching is consulted. Whether having more than one wife, or divorcing one wife for another, or other drama in marital relationships, people were tearing their marriages apart and God considered that as acts of violence. Can a man who has murdered, tortured, raped, and been demon possessed in the past now be qualified as a church leader? Clearly the Bible has something more stringent to say than that. (What textual evidence is there to the contrary?) The Greek text literally reads âa one-woman man.â Paul is not referring to a leaderâs marital status, as the absence of the definite article in the original indicates. To me, the really central question is this: is the “husband of one wife” qualification a reference only to the present or does it stretch back to the remote past, including the pre-Christian past? Obviously I’m referring to his life since conversion, and in particular his more recent and current life, as they reflect Christ’s ongoing work of sanctification.”. If an elder characteristic were stated “must have a job,” we wouldn’t fault Paul for not specifically saying, “cannot be unemployed.” The meaning is the same. The final phrase henos andros gyne means lit. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything he can do to deal with the situation in a Christlike manner. 7, seems significant, since he does not use them here. In a derivative sense, that is where the rubber hits the road for us, too. Adam's spouse was Eve, given to him by God in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2-3). The verse specifically says that women are to be submissive to their husbands in "everything" and certainly that would include in the leadership of the local church. If others who aren’t divorced are available, why bother bringing on a divorced man as elder? (1 Corinthians 7:8-9) Certainly, it God allows widows to remarry then men, or pastor can also remarry. (And if it is possible for him, why not the divorced man?). Is there anything a man can do as an unbeliever that will automatically and permanently disqualify him from being a deacon, elder, or pastor or other Christian leader thirty years in the future? 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