Questions: 1 Tim 3 & qualifications for Elder

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CDM

Puritan Board Junior
With our congregational meeting coming soon, the issue of qualifications for the office of elder has come up. It so happens I desire to be an elder in the church and know of many who will be nominating me. So this question has also been foremost in my mind of late.

In 1 timothy 3, we read of the qualifications for overseer and deacons. But there is a portion (in bold) that I need insight and help with:

1This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

2A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

3Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;

4One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;

5(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)

6Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.

7Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Is a man, desiring to be an elder, that has no kids, and no wife, qualified to be an elder?

We assume the Apostle Paul never had a wife so I imagine many will say it doesn't matter if you are unwed. (I would say, you should [normatively] only be unwed if God has given you the rare gift of celibacy.

What happens if that man has been divorced? I am of the belief that if it has been a lawful divorce, this would not exclude him from said office.

If he has no children, how is it shown he can "take care of the church of God"? Do childless men get a *pass* in this regard?

Also, what has been the historical, reformed understanding of this? What is the modern day understanding / practice of this throughout reformed churches?


{Note: I have 4 children and 1 wife, have not been divorced, so this question doesn't relate to me.}

[Edited on 8-3-2006 by mangum]
 

BobVigneault

Bawberator
In the OPC book of order it requites these things of the ruling elders. I believe the emphasis is on being a spiritual father. Paul, Jesus, John spoke of the church as children and in this way they were modeling eldership. They took responsibility for the spiritual nurturing and protection of the church. A man need not be a father of physical children but if he exibits that heart and burden for the welfare of the body then he would be a good elder.


RULING ELDERS

1. Christ who has instituted government in his church has furnished some men, beside the ministers of the Word, with gifts for government, and with commission to execute the same when called thereto. Such officers, chosen by the people from among their number, are to join with the ministers in the government of the church, and are properly called ruling elders.

2. Those who fill this office should be sound in the faith and of exemplary Christian life, men of wisdom and discretion, worthy of the esteem of the congregation as spiritual fathers.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Also, the OPC manual for church planting says this:

III. Family life.
A. Husband of one wife; 1 Tim. 3:2; 3:9; Titus 1:6.*
1. Does not mean you have to be married to be an elder.
2. Does not necessarily mean that a divorced and/or remarried man cannot serve as an officer.
3. A polygamist cannot be an officer in the church.
4. Men who are unfaithful or unchaste cannot serve as officers.
5. Men who have not biblically resolved an unbiblical divorce cannot be an officer.
6. Men who do not love their wives as they ought should not serve as an officer.
B. Manages his household well; 1 Tim. 3:4; 3:12.*
1. A man must be the ruler or manager of his home, not the wife.
2. The man must be able to manage well. Indicators of ruling well are the last two family qualifications.
C. Obedient children; 1 Tim. 3:4-5; 3:12; Titus 1:6.*
1. Does not mean you have to have children or more than one child to be an officer.
2. "Children" refers to those who are still living in the home under the father's authority.
3. Titus 1:6 = "faithful" or "believing."
a. Greek word can mean either.
b. Context indicates "faithful" is the correct translation. For the term is qualified in the second part of the verse. Cf. 1 Tim. 3:4-5.
4. Children need to be under control of the father. They ought to be obedient and submissive.
5. Knight on Titus 1:6b: "Therefore the potential elder's children must not be guilty of "sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties" (1 Pet. 4:3)."
D. Wives must be reverent and not given to gossip; 1 Tim. 3:11 .*
1. Committed to their husbands.
2. Godly. Able to control their tongues and attitudes.
3. Wives can often play a very helpful, active supportive role to their husbands in the diaconate work.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Philip Ryken says this:

To be above reproach, an elder must be the husband of but one wife (v. 2). This does not rule out bachelor elders. Commonly, elders will be married, but remember that Paul himself was single and commended singleness to others (1 Cor. 7:7; 9:5). Some suggest that the phrase means "œmarried only once." This would disqualify widowers and men who have been through a divorce. If this is what Paul meant, however, one might expect him to be more explicit.
 

CDM

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by BobVigneault
In the OPC book of order it requites these things of the ruling elders. I believe the emphasis is on being a spiritual father. Paul, Jesus, John spoke of the church as children and in this way they were modeling eldership. They took responsibility for the spiritual nurturing and protection of the church. A man need not be a father of physical children but if he exibits that heart and burden for the welfare of the body then he would be a good elder.


RULING ELDERS

1. Christ who has instituted government in his church has furnished some men, beside the ministers of the Word, with gifts for government, and with commission to execute the same when called thereto. Such officers, chosen by the people from among their number, are to join with the ministers in the government of the church, and are properly called ruling elders.

2. Those who fill this office should be sound in the faith and of exemplary Christian life, men of wisdom and discretion, worthy of the esteem of the congregation as spiritual fathers.

Thanks, Bob! I am going to check the PCA's position now. :detective:
 

CDM

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by VirginiaHuguenot
Also, the OPC manual for church planting says this:

III. Family life.
A. Husband of one wife; 1 Tim. 3:2; 3:9; Titus 1:6.*
1. Does not mean you have to be married to be an elder.
2. Does not necessarily mean that a divorced and/or remarried man cannot serve as an officer.
3. A polygamist cannot be an officer in the church.
4. Men who are unfaithful or unchaste cannot serve as officers.
5. Men who have not biblically resolved an unbiblical divorce cannot be an officer.
6. Men who do not love their wives as they ought should not serve as an officer.
B. Manages his household well; 1 Tim. 3:4; 3:12.*
1. A man must be the ruler or manager of his home, not the wife.
2. The man must be able to manage well. Indicators of ruling well are the last two family qualifications.
C. Obedient children; 1 Tim. 3:4-5; 3:12; Titus 1:6.*
1. Does not mean you have to have children or more than one child to be an officer.
2. "Children" refers to those who are still living in the home under the father's authority.
3. Titus 1:6 = "faithful" or "believing."
a. Greek word can mean either.
b. Context indicates "faithful" is the correct translation. For the term is qualified in the second part of the verse. Cf. 1 Tim. 3:4-5.
4. Children need to be under control of the father. They ought to be obedient and submissive.
5. Knight on Titus 1:6b: "Therefore the potential elder's children must not be guilty of "sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties" (1 Pet. 4:3)."
D. Wives must be reverent and not given to gossip; 1 Tim. 3:11 .*
1. Committed to their husbands.
2. Godly. Able to control their tongues and attitudes.
3. Wives can often play a very helpful, active supportive role to their husbands in the diaconate work.

Excellent! Thank you again, O great Huguenot of the South!
 

elnwood

Puritan Board Junior
We assume the Apostle Paul never had a wife so I imagine many will say it doesn't matter if you are unwed.

I've read that Paul was probably a widow because he was a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, which likely required members to married at the time.
 
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