This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you - if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
So the last time we left off with the question, "cent: as a Dad, I did all that -- and my son (or daughter) decided to do what was right in his own eyes. I thought he was a Timothy, and he's a Demas -- or worse. It kills me -- I can't express what it is to be a father with a child who has fallen out of the faith. But as I read what you say Paul is saying here, should I step down as an elder? Are you saying my child has disqualified me?"
See: we all get hung up on that phrase in the ESV which says "his children are believers". Let me suggest something which Justin Taylor needs to go back to Crossway about in future editions of the ESV: maybe they need to reconsider how that passage is translated.
Now, before anyone gets all, "cent's a liar! He says he knows Greek when he doesn't know Greek!" on us, I don't know from Greek. But what I do know is that the word here which the ESV translates as "believers", the NET Bible translates as "faithful" -- and to clarify, they give this translators' note:
Or “believing children.” The phrase could be translated “believing children,” but the parallel with 1 Tim 3:4 (“keeping his children in control”) argues for the sense given in the translation.That is, the sense that the man qualified for eldership is able to keep order in his home, therefore he demonstrates he can keep order in the church.
There's also the matter of how this word is commonly used in the NT. For example, Mt 25:21, Luke 12:42, Acts 16:15 (and about 50 other places) all use this word to indicate reliability or trustworthiness or obedience. So it seems, especially given the NET translators' note, that Paul is here not talking about a man who has somehow procured the election of God for his children (thus my frustration with last week's comments about this passage), but about a man who can train others up to be trustworthy or reliable members of his household.
And in that, an adult child who has run away from the faith is a tragedy, but he is a tragedy the church can then deal with as with all adult tragedies of the same stripe. And if he has abandoned the faith, it is on his head and not his father's.
But consider it, dear pastor reader: does your family qualify you for the role of elder? Have you trained up your children in the way they should go, and seen them follow your leadership in the home? If we abide by the notion that those who are first faithful in little things can then be faithful in much, your family is your first calling and the place where you show that you can lead well.
Think on it.