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Does An Elder Have To Be Married?

We will address this subject in conjunction with the previous study. This will eliminate dealing with the translations and meaning of the phrase "the husband of one wife" again.

Returning to 1 Tim. 3, we read that, "An overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, . . . . ." We have already concluded that the phrase, "the husband of one wife," is correctly translated and might be paraphrased, "the husband of only one wife." Some would suggest that another possible translation could be, "a one-woman man." I would agree with this, for the Greek word `gune' is more often rendered 'woman' (95) than 'wife' (72) and could be translated either way.

But some would also say that this passage might be better paraphrased as follows, "If he is married, he must show his faithfulness to his wife." The continuing thought is, "If he has a household, he must manage it well," and, "If he has children they he must be under control, . . . . ."

First of all, we must admit that a "one woman man" indicates no reference to the man's marital status. This is a quality that he possesses in relation to his attitude concerning women. He may have once been a faithful husband who has lost his spouse for one reason or another. Because he no longer has a wife, is he now considered to have lost this characteristic? I am convinced that he is still a "one woman man."

But I do have some problems with the idea that we can place an "if" before his other "household" qualifications or qualities.

(1) The word 'if' never appears. It has to be assumed. It's very dangerous to assume
      anything concerning Scripture.

(2) He must have a child or children (This is to be dealt with in another lesson). He
      must He must meet all of the qualifications.

It is my conviction that if I say the man does not have to be married, I am going to have great difficulty in dealing with verse 5 of our text.

1 Tim 3:5, "(but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?)" (NAS).

This passage seems to indicate that their is a call for an overseer's experience in family matters when it comes to handling matters in the church. After all, the church is the family of God. The indication is that at some time he has had a wife and children, and that he has managed the affairs of the family in a manner consistent with God's will. If he hasn't, how will he be expected to do any better in the affairs of the church?

Again, the passage indicates that the experience that a man achieves as he raises a family will greatly affect his achievements in the church. For this reason, I am convinced that a man who aspires the work of an elder must have had a wife and children at one time in his Christian life. Although those conditions may have since changed.

Edited September 1, 2005