06 May 2009

Husband

by Frank Turk

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.

I think there was still a lot of mileage to be gotten out of “blameless” because of who we are and how we think in the English-speaking world these days, but I’ll appear to let it lie and move on to the next clause here – “the husband of one wife”.

Those of you reaching for your Greek NT will hastily point out that the ESV does something rather, um, dynamic or functional here rather than literal, for the Greek saith, “μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἀνήρ” – “a one-woman man”. Fair enough, yes? In one sense, I think it’s somewhat unquestionable that Paul is here saying the candidate for Elder is a man with only one wife rather than a practitioner of polygamy.

But I think that Paul is saying something here which, as he is prone, is short-hand for something he spends some time elsewhere saying in a more robust way:
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
Yes: fine. A “one-woman man”. But to Paul, the mystery of marriage is a symbol or expression of the church. Therefore, a man who discharges his duties as a husband rightly is therefore uniquely qualified to lead the church.

Most of the time we fly over these three Greek words as if they are about whether or not a guy has been divorced or remarried or not – but I think (especially given what follows here) that Paul means something so much more theologically and practically brilliant: those who are qualified to lead the church are those who can prove they know Christ’s love by being examples of it in marriage.

Can a guy love one woman as Christ loved the church? Because that’s the guy who should be setting things right in a church like Crete, and a church like the one you are in charge of, dear pastor reader.









84 comments:

Steve Scott said...

Frank,

I think there is an additional layer of dedication in "one woman man." A "husband of one wife" can be a bit flirtatious and maintain his one wife although having slightly more than one woman, which would be a little less Christlike.

Kim said...

Frank, I just knew if I hovered over that graphic, there would be a little "something" in it :)

Yes; you're correct. There's only been one wife.

danny2 said...

great post frank.

often, we lower the standard (for elders or not) to simply the survival of a marriage marking it as successful, instead of the testimony of Christ from that marriage.

if God designed every marriage to display the glory of Christ and His Bride, how much more an elder's marriage?

James David Beebe, Jr. said...

I have, as you put it, flown over that part. I hurriedly think, "that doesn't mean never divorced, just not polygamous..." and I've missed the fuller meaning that you've unpacked here. I'm not a pastor, but thank you for improving my understanding of scripture.

stratagem said...

A good word, Frank.

Yes: fine. A “one-woman man”. But to Paul, the mystery of marriage is a symbol or expression of the church.Frank, I assume you also would mean to communicate "to the Lord," too? Not just to Paul. Correct?

Frank, do you think the Lord also meant that an Elder should not be divorced and remarried? I know the answer to that is controversial (because of the divorce culture; it wouldn't have been controversial 100 years ago), and perhaps you've dealth with that before. But since you've never been one to shrink away from controversy...?

Thanks.

Lisa Nunley said...

The Lord used my husband's living testimony/ example through our 18 month separation in 1998 as a part of drawing me to Himself. He is my hero of faith.

By the grace of God alone and for His glory alone.

donsands said...

Nice post.

Elders marriages need to be strong, and so transparent, especially within the eldership, and this will make the marriages strong. Satan is crafty. He can bring great damage to the church if the elder's marriage isn't a "as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" kind of marriage. A sacrifical loving husband in the manner of Christ to His Church.

Samuel Bostock said...

"those who are qualified to lead the church are those who can prove they know Christ’s love by being examples of it in marriage."

People are asking about divorced men or remarried men, but the above quote seems to exclude unmarried men as well as men whose marriages are not good examples. Are you saying only married men can be elders?

Sir Brass said...

If only married men could be elders, wouldn't that have excluded the Epistle-writer, too? :)

However, I think that a man is not qualified to be an elder if he does not desire marriage but obviously does not have the gift of celebacy, as that would demonstrate his immaturity (and foolishness, as such a stance would only lead him into temptation).

In my honest opinion, it seems that the spirit of the passage would suggest that a single man not be an elder unless he is gifted with celebacy (as Paul was); otherwise, marriage and a demonstration of its strength will be part of what is looked for in an elder-candidate's examination. If marriage is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church, then just as an elder should not be a new believer, neither should he be lacking in demonstrating this picture well (unless the Lord has gifted him otherwise).

I say this as a young, single man, who has NOT been gifted with celebacy.

donsands said...

"Are you saying only married men can be elders?"

"The gift of singleness is more a vocation than an empowerment, although to be sure God is faithful in supporting those He calls." -John RW Stott

Andrew Faris said...

Frank,

I don't disagree with where you go with this passage, but I should say that I think your brief critique of the ESV might be misguided.

Since Greek is a case-based language (unlike English, which is a word-order language), "husband of one wife" is a perfectly literal and fair translation since the first two words are in the genitive case and the third word is nominative. "Of one woman, a man" would be the translation based entirely on word order then, though that itself is no more "literal" since that simply is not how Greek works.

So "A man of one woman" or "a husband of one wife" are both perfectly reasonable, literal translations, since the nouns for "woman" and "man" can equally be read as "wife" and "husband".

Still, great post, and I think you're right where you go with it. May God raise up more men in our churches who are truly committed only to one woman.

For that matter, may God more and more make me a man of my wife and my wife only in an exemplary, God-honoring, Christ-and-the-church-imaging way!

Andrew
Christians in Context

Solameanie said...

Interesting. Reminds me of several years back when a Christian ethicist (think he used to be with Moody) was arguing that the phrase would be better translated "many-womaned man," i.e. an elder should not be a many-womaned man." I'm not a Greek scholar by any means, but that always managed to raise my eyebrows. Part of his argument was that polygamy wasn't necessarily unethical or unbiblical.

I am sure that, for most couples, one spouse is quite enough.

Frank Turk said...

Let's hold off the questions about laundry-list items until we have unpacked Paul's charge to Titus here. Because let's face it: Paul and Timothy were not married.

But broadly, I think it is well-established that Paul is providing a norm here which sets forth the kind of men the church should seek out and not some kind of rigid check list which seems to narrow the field of candidates for Elder to nobody.

olan strickland said...

But to Paul, the mystery of marriage is a symbol or expression of the church. Therefore, a man who discharges his duties as a husband rightly is therefore uniquely qualified to lead the church.As an adulterer saved by the grace of God through the redemption which is Christ Jesus, who was washed, who was sanctified, who was justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God, and who was made an overseer by the Holy Spirit - I have to say that there is no greater privilege than to mirror the relationship of Christ to His Church than is given to husband and wife.

Russ said...

You'll of course delete this as off topic, but since you closed comments on your blind hypocritical trashing of Brother Mark you'd never allow for a friend, and I don't have email contact info (mine's at the top in my name) I wanted to share that someone intelligent, not just gullible, swooning groupies, is willing to remind you that not all are going to fall at your feet or be other than horrified by the ungodly, antiBiblical, self-righteous hypocritical attacks and gossip especially but not only against dear Brother Mark. There's the small matter of Romans 14:4 (Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.) that sadly seems to be missing from your Bible for which you will answer to God and I'd be afraid to hear His dealing with your deranged, bigoted, accusations. Praying for him indeed! What rot only a blind groupie would believe! If you sick gossips spent a fraction of the effort and time pursuing communication/reconciliation with him (e.g. like John Piper) this junk wouldn't be. As a charismatic whose fellowship was similarly attacked by some here, I very well know about being on the receiving end of this diabolical junk and pray God will open your blind eyes.
Sadly the incompetence in spiritusl warfare is telling.
God save us all.
Russ Davis
2Co 10:4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Merlin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Boerseuntjie said...

This is the reason I need more sanctification before thinking I am even able to qualify...

Much more grace is needed and much more humble obedience and love towards my wife...

Frank Turk said...

Russ --

As someone who's e-mail address is in his blogger profile, on his blog, and pretty much available for anyone who has looked, I think you're a self-righteous little snit who's best described as a low-brow legalist.

Here's what I mean by that: back in the ol' fundie days, the definition of a Christian was anyone who didn't drink or smoke (or cuss) and didn't go with girls/guys who do. The new anti-fundie legalism is that anyone who doesn't participate in drinkin' and cussin' and smokin', but instead points out that sometimes those things are actually sinful, or unprofitable for ministry is taken at face value as the brother of the devil and anti-gospel.

That is, of course, ludicrious -- just as ludicrous as old-school hyper-fundie prudery.

Now let's take your comment here line by line:


| You'll of course delete this
| as off topic, ...

Because it is actually off-topic, right Russ? Your comment here is actually off-topic, and Mark Driscoll actually does say things in public which, as a man over the age of 21 by a lot and who is allegedly qualified to be the lead elder of his church, he ought to know better than to say.

See: at some time, you’re going to have to deal with the problem that all of the people on your side of this issue have – the truth. You want to accept some outcome in spite of the truth. You won’t actually lie to make things the way you want them to be, but you will ignore the obvious so that you can have it your way.

It’s an interesting place to try to reason to, morally. Please continue.

| ... but since you closed comments on your
| blind hypocritical trashing of Brother
| Mark you'd never allow for a friend,
| and I don't have email contact info
| (mine's at the top in my name) ...

You should be more specific regarding the “blind hypocritical trashing”. As to my e-mail, you should try looking for it. You know: in my blogger profile where you are certain I can find your e-mail.

You could look – but that would mean you couldn’t grandstand like this in the meta here at TeamPyro – and what good is it to rage on like this unless other people are watching?

| ... I wanted to share that someone
| intelligent, not just gullible, swooning
| groupies, is willing to remind you that
| not all are going to fall at your feet or
| be other than horrified by the ungodly,
| antiBiblical, self-righteous hypocritical
| attacks and gossip especially but not
| only against dear Brother Mark.

Indeed. Again, a link would be nice. Any link. Or a quote.

| There's the small matter of Romans 14:4 (Who
| art thou that judgest another man's
| servant? to his own master he standeth
| or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up:
| for God is able to make him stand.)

I wonder: does that apply to MD as well? Because he has equally taken Dr. MacArthur and Joel Osteen to task for their failings, hasn’t he? Or are you not really informed about what Pastor Driscoll has done and said in the last 12 months?

| that sadly seems to be missing from
| your Bible for which you will answer to
| God and I'd be afraid to hear His
| dealing with your deranged, bigoted,
| accusations. Praying for him indeed!

{yawn}

It’s funny how your ranting gets more and more like hyperfundamentalism the longer it goes on. And how God is going to judge me for pointing out that lewd jokes are, well, lewd and inappropriate, but that somehow he’s not going to judge the one making said jokes on national TV.

All I’m personally asking, mostly over at my blog but in a few instances here, is that Mark Driscoll honestly and earnestly repent of some of the blantantly-foolish things he has done.

How hard would it be for him to say, “You know something? One of the things we as Christians ought to be known for is our respect for God’s boundaries when it comes to what is holy and what is common. And when I made that masturbation joke of Hughley’s CNN show, I crossed the line. I was wrong, I repent, and I ask the forgiveness of God and those I offended. I think there’s a larger discussion to be had regarding the right handling of discussing God’s intention for sex inside the church among adults, but for the crass jokes and scatology I want to come clean and move past those issues with those like John MacArthur whom I honor and respect.”

That’s not asking too much: it is something anyone would do if they did what he did, and he won’t do it. There is where the problem lies, Russ. Failing to call a sin a sin is a grave matter.

| What rot only a blind groupie would
| believe! If you sick gossips spent a
| fraction of the effort and time
| pursuing communication/reconciliation
| with him (e.g. like John Piper) this
| junk wouldn't be.

Yeah: breaks on, Speed Racer. Do you have any first-hand knowledge of the private communications between the ministry at Grace Community Church and MHC? Because unless you do, that is itself at best a baseless accusation; if you do know what has been sent to MD from Dr. MacArthur and Phil, then it’s simply a lie. I have a suspicion it’s simply a tantrum someplace between those two points.

| As a charismatic
| whose fellowship was similarly
| attacked by some here, I very well
| know about being on the receiving end
| of this diabolical junk and pray God
| will open your blind eyes.

Wow. So the defense of Driscoll for you is really a defense of the charismatic position because for some reason you think this is a veiled attack on the Charismatic movement?

That’s simply bizarre.

| Sadly the incompetence in spiritusl
| warfare is telling.

Well, you know, speak for yourself.

| God save us all.
| Russ Davis
| 2Co 10:4 (For the weapons of our
| warfare are not carnal, but mighty
| through God to the pulling down of
| strong holds;)
| Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against
| flesh and blood, but against
| principalities, against powers, against
| the rulers of the darkness of this
| world, against spiritual wickedness in
| high places.

But, apparently, we do not struggle against foul mouths. A foul mouth can be forgiven if one has the right soteriology? The right pneumatology? The right fashion sense? If he appears on Hughley?

Don’t make this into something it’s not, Russ. At some pint, the question of how the Gospel is preached has to be addressed from a Biblical perspective. If MD was preaching the full-reformed Gospel in his boxers, you’d see the problem. You just are overlooking the problem for your own reasons which, frankly, can’t really be discerned because you’re all over the place.

Go take a deep breath, have a glass of water, and feel free to e-mail me (my e-mail is, of course, in my blogger profile, as it has been since 2005) or post one last response here. But don’t pretend that you’re simply a wounded reed and Mark Driscoll is a martyr for some sketchy evangelical cause. You’re verging on cookery here, and I’m being generous by not telling you to buzz off.

Other readers: avoid responding to Russ. Don’t let him goad you into proliferation of his off-topic rant.

stratagem said...

Russ-
That was odd.

Boerseuntjie said...

Russ,

You would well rather to dwell on the Shepherd's Fellowship Blog, where this has been exhaustively discussed:

http://www.shepherdsfellowship.org/pulpit/Posts.aspx?ID=4168

http://www.shepherdsfellowship.org/pulpit/Posts.aspx?ID=4169

http://www.shepherdsfellowship.org/pulpit/Posts.aspx?ID=4172

http://www.shepherdsfellowship.org/pulpit/Posts.aspx?ID=4174

In there somewhere you will find thatI mentioned ROMANS 14 - 15 as a whole.
Please bear in mind the "WEAKER BROTHER", which in this instance I would call MYSELF.

Grace to you.
W

DJP said...

BTW Frank — Russ is a "Reformed Charismatic."

I'm not sure he's ever mentioned that.

And, in other news, Lou Martuneac wrote a book on Lordship salvation. Not sure he mentioned that, either.

Frank Turk said...

DJP --

Oh. OH!

Oh see now -- NOW I have to go and re-write my whole response to him. I didn't know that.

Frank Turk said...

BTW, this was a great post, as most reader of it have already discovered. Let's talk about the post and not about Russ or Mark Driscoll.

DJP said...

hahahahaha, good luck with that!

(Reapplying poultices from yesterday's meta-trainwreck)

Doug Hibbard said...

I'm with you on the kind of marriage that elders need to have. It seems that we try to blend this passage so that it's not too hard, and put Paul in the position of establishing a low-bar to be an elder.

Which doesn't quite fit with the rest of the eldership qualifications, does it?

I think there is a definite call here for the elders at Crete, and also elders anywhere, to have a marriage that is based on a Godly standard, rather than a cultural one. This blocks out polygamy, unfaithfulness in marriage whether by deed or thought, divorce for unbiblical reasons (or, perhaps all divorce, but that's not your point), and marriages that don't live up to the standard in Ephesians.

It's a call to elders to reflect God's ways rather than men's ways in their homes, so that they are better able to instruct God's ways in the church.

Doug

Mark Patton said...

I fail often in my relationship with my wife (mostly in the area of selfishness -- I really like me). I need to do better. This, article, along with the others has been greatly encouraging and rebuking to me. Does my church get a good picture of Christ's love for the church by seeing my marriage? I better go work on that.

Frank Turk said...

I think Doug's comment here has merit, but it seems to me that Paul is not telling us what the exclude: he's telling us what to look for.

you know: when you read a job description for anything, it never says, "we don't want this, and we don;t want that, and this is right out, etc." It says, "qualified candidates will meet or exceed the following requirements: etc."

Paul's overall exhortation here is about what one has got. In that, there are things which are obviously excluded -- because those other things are the opposite of what Paul here requires.

And in that, I want to go back to my point for starting this series anyway: we have laredy covered what the believer should be and do in the church, and now we're covering what the elder ought to be and do in the church.

christianlady said...

On this count my husband would make a great elder then, he's a very patient and loving husband. Never kissed a girl before me either...very faithful. However, because of our background in fluffy churches, I think he'll wait a long time before ever accepting a nomination for elder. Besides, he's still young and is busy raising many children.

Penn Tomassetti said...

I don't have time to read all 28 comments here, but I do want to ask a question concerning how this subject is addressed in this post:

Does that mean that Paul the Apostle was disqualified to be an elder?? Timothy as well, as far as I know?

Penn Tomassetti said...

I don't have time to read all the comments to see if this question was already brought up, is what I meant.

Lisa Nunley said...

*GACK* I put the comment above about my husband on the wrong blog. :-/

{{{embarrassing}}}

Anyway, ummm, this really is an excellent post. :-)

David said...

Great post. This goes along with "blameless", because it refers to a man who has completely taken the gospel to heart. And those of us who are married know that there's no tougher call that loving, forgiving, and being humbly open with our wives on a daily basis.

In other words, the cross to be taken up daily shows up more in marriage than anywhere else. And if you can't do it at home, you'll be faking it leading the church.

Frank Turk said...

AHA!

because it refers to a man who has completely taken the gospel to heart. AHA!!!

Not somebody who knows all about the intellectual contours of the Gospel. Not someone who can talk a good game. Not necessarily an M.Div. or a Th.M.

A man who has completely taken the gospel to heart.

Watch how that works out as we read the rest over the next few weeks.

Frank Turk said...

Penn:

Read the other comments. It won't kill you.

Steve Lamm said...

Lisa,

I think your post about your husband's patience and mercy does fit. Elders would certainly need to not only be faithfully devoted to their wives, but merciful and forgiving as Christ is toward His church if the situation called for it.

Blessings,
Steve Lamm

stratagem said...

I think it is really great that this passage of scripture is being studied piece by piece.
My sense is that for many years, the church Elders in the USA were picked because they were good at fixing the facilities, or counseling people, or other such pragmatic things. This practice persists, in fact, and has allowed false teaching to enter countless churches, since instead of picking Elders who were Biblically qualified (including, able to defend the faith against cleverly subtle false teachers), we picked them because they were "good at fixing the facilities, counseling people," etc.
Now that the church is under siege from every side (and from within) with false doctrine, we are starting to see the foolish results of ever having let Paul's qualifications fall into disuse.

Thank you Frank, for this series.

Rachael Starke said...

Lisa -

Seriously??? Because I was just about to say this:

"Frank made an exellent point I hadn't considered before.

Lisa's comment made me cry (and thank God for a faithful God and a faitfhul husband).

A, um, 'nother commenter made me want to bang my head against the fridge.

And Frank's reply and Dan's remarks made me laugh so hard my 3 y.o. asked me politely to be quieter (so as to not impede her Sesame Street viewing).

And it's not even 10 a.m. here.

This is why I read Pyro every day."

For the record, I think your comment makes the exact, excellent, point Frank was making.

Poetress said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rachael Starke said...

See, Lisa, Steve does too.

Plus, the irony that you would, in attempting to comment elsewhere, make a comment that illustrates Frank's point so well here,

vs. others who make ranty comments here which make sense, well perhaps elsewhere, but not here,

is just delicious.

Lisa Nunley said...

Well thankfully it makes sense in this post even though it was meant for another. God's providence in spite of me having 5 blogs open at once and not having had my coffee yet, eh?

Daryl said...

Was Paul, technically speaking, and elder? Perhaps not? (I don't know...)

But, Paul and Timothy aside, it seems to me that the "husband of one wife" isn't a means to exclude single men, but rather to address the rather significant problem of - How do we even know if this guy can shepherd? - Why, by looking at his leadership of his wife and family.

No wife? Sorry man, we need to know if you can do this job before we name you to it.

At least that's how I see it. I've never really been comfortable with the idea that "husband of one wife" really means "or would be if he had one."

In any case, if we can't love our wives as Christ loved the church, then how can we love the church as Christ loved the church?

Dave Sherrill said...

I don't know anyone who fits these qualifications. If you are above reproach, please let me know. I would love to meet you.

Daryl said...

Dave,

So are you saying that Paul meant "There are to be no elders because you will never be what the office says you must be."?

Zack said...

I just posted about this on my blog, although I went at it a bit differently. Let me know what you guys think.
http://thechristianleader.blogspot.com

stratagem said...

Daryl

No I don't think that's what Dave is saying at all. I think he is saying that the people he knows don't have very much integrity.

You can thank me later for interpreting that for you.

David said...

Dave,

I know a few guys that walk this walk. And they're elders (my elders, praise God, to my knowledge, are in this number). I'm not one of them, even though I've tried to act like one. But my wife knows the difference.

In the mean time, I'm happy sitting under the authority of men who walk this walk. I know, without a doubt, that they're nowhere near perfect, which is a different game than blameless. But they know what repentance is, what humility is, and they believe that the home is the crucible of grace.

Stefan said...

Lisa:

Yes, by God's providence, your comment here is not merely on-topic, but actually went to the very heart of illustrating Frank's point. It was perfect.

David:

I was going to say I agree with your comment, but then Frank said it's a great comment, so now it'll just seem like I'm jumping on
Frank's bandwagon.

"Taking the Gospel to heart" is such a great, great counsel.

Stratagem:

Oh, man! "Pragmatic" is exactly the right word to describe so much of why the North American church is in such dire straits!

Doug Hibbard said...

Frank--

I just reread, and realized that was the point you were making...that Paul is making more of a positive to look for, rather than a checklist to avoid.

Sometimes, a little slow on the pickup. That does make sense. Now.

(waking up to the tornado alarm down here had me a little sluggish.)

Doug

Frank Turk said...

Dave Sherrill --

You should read the whole series.

Sir Aaron said...

< whistles >

Frank! You are on fire, brother!You are serving us up a medium rare porterhouse, but evidently some people are not yet ready for a juicy, delicious steak. I don't know how many times you can answer the same question "I don't know anyone who fits these qualifications. If you are above reproach, please let me know." Really, they can't think of a single person who is qualified to be an elder?

I guess you have to do the same thing I do with my two year old when she wont eat real food. You just have to keep feeding them chicken nuggets and bland chicken soup until they mature.

Daryl said...

Well gee Stratagem, why wait for later when I can thank you right now!

Thanks! I hope you're right.

I guess I read it differently. I'm still not sure if he was tongue-in-cheek or just jumping back to the many objections to Frank's "Blameless post.

Either way, this was another great post. It's great to see the qualifications for office not being glossed over. Harder to take, no doubt, but better for you (I mean us).

The Blainemonster said...

Wow. Excellent point. Excellently put.

stratagem said...

Daryl
Hey, glad I can help. All I was doing was reading what he said literally: I don't know anyone who fits these qualifications. That's not the same as asserting that none of us knows someone who fits the qualifications, only that he doesn't - I guess Dave is just admitting that he makes poor choices when it comes to who he chooses to associate with.

Maybe Dave is looking for Elders in all the wrong places?

Daryl said...

I was reading for authorial intent donchaknow...

I suppose only Dave knows for sure what he meant. Perhaps he'll enlighten us.

I hope he didn't mean either...but that seems unlikely.

Daryl said...

But about the post...

Frank, I think you've hit on something important here. That is, how does Titus find elders in an area so recently evangelized, where there has been no time to mature men, really, nor perhaps even time to teach and disciple men to an "adequate" level.

But look at the new believers for a moment, that one is a good and faithful husband who lays his lofe down for his wife, and his kids respect him, he's worth serious consideration as an elder despite his tender age as a believer.

No?

stratagem said...

I guess the other thing Dave's saying is that none of the Elders at his own church meet the requirements, if we make the seemingly reasonable assumption that he knows the Elders at this church. I wonder how they'd feel about that?

Tad Thompson said...

Good post, as you know we are in the midst of selecting elders, so I have been thinking through these things a great deal.

There is a proper connection to the Ephesians passage and this is strengthened by Ephesians 6:1-4 and its tie to the next phrase in the Titus passage. Paul is obviously speaking to something vitally important to the gospel.

If a husband does not understand marriage, there is no way he can rightly understand the gospel. And if a man doesn't understand the gospel, how can he lead the flock of God?

Here is where divorce and remarriage become important aspects of what it means to be "blameless."

I am in favor of considering men who have been divorced or divorced and remarried for elder, but it is a very rare case these days when these events do not disqualify a man. Divorce and especially divorce and remarriage do damage to the gospel parable, they tell a lie about Christ and his relationship to the church.

Most men who divorce and remarry have not thought through the gospel implications of either. Yes, bad things happen to folks and marriages are tough, but bad things happen in churches and churches are difficult as well.

I guess what I am trying to say is that men who have been divorced, need to demonstrate a consistent pattern in their marriage that has been observable over a reasonable period of time.

I also think it is admirable and noteworthy for a divorced man to stay single and commit to singleness. This man also honors God's design for marriage and by so doing, may be qualified in due time.

The next issue concerning children is also crucial in determining this issue, for what kind of man loves his wife and hates his children?

Penn Tomassetti said...

Thanks Frank, I took part of your advice and did make time to read a few comments, and I found yours that said:

"Let's hold off the questions about laundry-list items until we have unpacked Paul's charge to Titus here. Because let's face it: Paul and Timothy were not married."

Now I feel better.

Gary said...

"Let's hold off the questions about laundry-list items until we have unpacked Paul's charge to Titus here. Because let's face it: Paul and Timothy were not married."

I trust you will address this at length... It's probably the most common question I hear about the passage.

Andrew Faris said...

Frank,

One more thing.

You may have mentioned something like this in one of these previous posts, or in an intro to it, or something like that.

Either way, here's something that troubles me: I recently got a job at a church as the associate pastor. In the interview process, I was asked precisely zero questions about my personal godliness or love for my girlfriend who was becoming my fiancee quite soon.

My church is a good church on the whole and I think God has called me here (whatever you think of God's will, well, that's what I think happened!). But it made me think to myself that should I ever become a lead pastor anywhere, I'll spend most of my time asking potential other pastors about their personal godliness and what they think of their wives, and so on.

Cause give me a bunch of truly godly men, and by golly I think we'll end up with a pretty good church!

Thanks again for the post.

Andrew

Frank Turk said...

Tad --

You're killin' me. STOP MAKING ME HOMESICK YO!

Dave Sherrill said...

Dear Meta-friends,


Frank,
I'll read the whole series.

Strat, Daryl, and the rest of the gang,
I haven't seen anyone here claim to meet these qualifications. I've heard a couple "I know some who do", but no one who says "I fit the bill".

Anyone up to the calling? Or have I been a little less than wise in picking my associations here? (and no, I am not trying to be inflammatory)

Dave Sherrill said...

Dear Pastor Tad,
I read your post concerning your church's current search for elders (assuming that you intend lay-leaders and not a search for several vocational pastors).

You said, "If a husband does not understand marriage, there is no way he can rightly understand the gospel." I hear some applications coming from this, but I don't want to put words in your mouth. This is one of the things I hear, please offer comments as you see fit.

I hear... "If a husband does not understand marriage, there is no way he can rightly understand the gospel. A husband whose marriage has broken down in divorce obviously does not understand marriage nor the gospel. It logically follows that divorced husbands are not saved, since they do not understand the gospel."

Am I over-reaching the practical application that I think I see?

Steve Lamm said...

Dave Sherrill,

I Timothy 3:1 says that it is a noble thing for a man to aspire to become an overseer. He is then told what the qualifications are.

Titus is to appoint men as elders who meet the qualifications Paul lists.

It's apparent that a man would need to be both observed and then confirmed as qualified by others before he could be appointed to be an elder. He cannot simply say that he is by his own measurement.

So, if you want to know if someone is qualified to be an elder, you need to ask other mature believers in his church.

Now, I assume you know this well. So, I'm wondering what's the foundation of your question? Get it on the table in plain view and we can dialogue about it.

Blessings,
Steve Lamm

Dave Sherrill said...

Steve,
I appreciate your insight into the foundation of my questions. It's not so much the foundations that I am trying to explore. It is the application of these truths in the practice of the local church.

I do need to go back and read the previous posts that Frank has given, so please grant me a stay of execution for the time being whilst I pursue the necessary homework.

Please grant me one more indulgence, in a question. Are you an overseer meeting these qualifications?

In Him,
Dave

stratagem said...

Dave:
Strat, Daryl, and the rest of the gang, I haven't seen anyone here claim to meet these qualifications. I've heard a couple "I know some who do", but no one who says "I fit the bill".

That's because Paul's qualification list for Elders was not a "self-assessment" test. He was speaking to persons who would evaluate others for the position.

Dave Sherrill said...

Dear Strat,
My bad. I can see why you think I'm presenting my question as a self-assessment qualification test. That's not what I intended. I apologize for the brevity that has led us to this point. Let me try to expand it a little.

Given that the position of overseer is a noble pursuit which requires extensive, patient, and intrusive examination and observation by qualified believers within the context of the local church, are you an overseer meeting the biblical qualifications?

Dave Sherrill said...

Frank,
Have I mistaken... ???

Starting to read the entire series. I wonder if I've made a 'contextualization' error. Are your comments on the text and the ensuing meta dialogs, focused entirely and solely on vocational pastors? Are the overseers that are to be appointed the equivalent of Rev. So-and-so?

I'm working under the thought that "overseer" encompasses specific leadership positions within the local church that extend beyond vocational pastors.

In my own fellowship, we have an 'overseer board' that includes the pastor and several other mature Christian brothers. I was assuming that the qualifications in this post extended to an audience is at least that broad. Are you working from a different viewpoint, where 'overseer' is the vocational pastor and layman leadership is subsumed under the title of deacon?

Dave Sherrill said...

Frank,
I have read the series, excluding the meta. If replies are posted to my prior questions in this thread, I'll read them but not likely reply. I do not want to derail this like some meta-troll. I believe I have one last post for this string of discussion, which I will leave undone until tomorrow.

As the meta expands to encompass some of the questions of practical application, I am eager to hear what several of you hold concerning divorce/remarriage and the office of overseer.

Thank you for your patience in allowing me a few minutes on the thread today.

Serving King Jesus With You,
Dave

Steve Lamm said...

Dave Sherrill,

Yes, I'm the pastor of my church, and serve full-time in this capacity. We have several other lay elders and together we lead the church.

I believe these men are qualified according to I Tim. 3 and Titus 1. I know they think I am also qualified to pastor the church as an elder as well.

I would like to hear your practical questions regarding eldership. It's one thing to understand what the qualfications are, but the difficulty often lies in the application of those qualifications to the men in each church situation.

I can say this - I have met truly qualified men in a variety of churches, so I know that these qualifications are not merely lofty ideals, but can be practiced.

Blessings,
Steve Lamm

ezekiel said...

Reading all this, I can't help but wonder if some aren't quite handicapped by having all these wonderful, obedient, submissive wives under your rule.

From my perspective, you might miss a better understanding of
Ez 16,23 and Rev 2,3,17,19.

Considering the spritual harlotry/idolatry played out in the wilderness, Samaria, Jerusalem and the church today the insight gained could give you a whole new appreciation for His long suffering and patience.

You might be able to better discern the sons in the house she worships/idolizes, the desire for the name (Christian) without the service and the payment she offers her suitors. You might better understand the warnings in Rev 2-3 and even why the girl in Rev 18 claims to be no widow.

It would prolly get a lot harder to preach "peace peace", and the whitewash would get a lot harder to spread.

One thing for certain, the "Repent" message of all the prophets and the Gospel would start to resonate from the pulpit.

Today, the church is looking a lot more like the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4)than she is the Bride in Rev 19.

Frank and Paul are right. Choose elders based on what it should be and model what it should be. The preaching though should sound a lot like the Samaritan woman.

Joh 4:39 Now numerous Samaritans from that town believed in and trusted in Him because of what the woman said when she declared and testified, He told me everything that I ever did.

He has told us everything we ever did as well. Genesis to Revelation.

Tad Thompson said...

Dave:

One can be regenerate without fully understanding certain gospel implications, this is why we have 1 Corinthians.

But this post is about Elders and Elders must have a good handle on the gospel, and guys who do not know the significance of what it means to love their wives as Christ loved the church have no business being elders.

Elders are those men, either vocational or non-vocational, who are called by the Holy Spirit, and set apart by the local church, to lead, protect, and feed the flock of God.

chrish said...

Tad:
You said, "But this post is about Elders and Elders must have a good handle on the gospel, and guys who do not know the significance of what it means to love their wives as Christ loved the church have no business being elders."

Does this mean that, in your opinion, never-married men are disqualified from being Elders in a church?

Steve B said...

One thing I'd never noticed before in this passage is that if you have children, they must also be Christians, for you to be considered qualified as an elder.

So if you have a Goth daughter with who dabbles in Wicca, or a son whose been in and out of trouble with the law, you have established that, regardless of the strength of your personal relationship with Christ, you have not been able to lead your only children in the Way. And thus, you are not qualified to be a shepherd of believers in a church.

So, it's not just the husband of one wife, but a more holistic view of leadership of the family as a whole.

Daryl said...

Chrish,

I don't know what the others would say, but I think the implication is, unmarried men aren't qualified.

I think Paul says that, and, following the thinking laid out there, how can a man's shepherding ability be tested if he has no family?

Jack said...

The passage doesn't require a man to be married. It requires a man, if married, to be a particular kind of married. Just like it doesn't require him to be a father, but, if a father, to be a good father. Otherwise you have Paul disqualifying himself from the apostolate.

Daryl said...

Jack,

But, don't forget, Paul and Timothy were both chosen by a more direct method. Paul on the Damascus road, and Timothy by prophecy.

Since those two things are no longer in play, we have a fixed standard in writing, by which ti judge. And that standard clearly says "The husband of one wife".

chrish said...

Re: qualification of an unmarried man

I suppose I'm glad that this isn't one of those "non-negotiables" that separates true Christians from heretics. I disagree with the idea that unmarried men are disqualified from Eldership, but I'm not willing to die on that hill.

Van said...

You all sound like a bunch of rabbis trying to nail down precisely what a phrase in scripture means. Jesus reserved His harshest words for those who were so wrapped up in the letter that they missed the intent.

In the context of Paul's letter to Titus, an elder is one who has demonstrated well the command to love one's neighbor as himself. A marriage is an excellent picture of this, especially in light of Eph. 5. Single minded devotion to someone or something other than oneself is a characteristic that can be observed in single men also, merely by observing how they treat other women. Do they display their faithfulness to their (possibly) future wife? Do they respect women as other men's wives, daughters, and mothers? This isn't something that comes naturally to most men, it is something that should come with spiritual maturity. Considering that the norm is for most men to be married at some point in their life, of course Paul would start looking at married men.

I will admit, while I was single I used my singleness as an excuse to remove myself from consideration as a future elder because I didn't believe I fit the overall description of an elder. I doubt is any of us would consider ourselves blameless, even Paul claimed to be the chief of sinners. In his case and ours, God's grace is sufficient to cover our sin and equip us for His calling... and is apparent to those with eyes that are looking for and seeing what God sees.

Daryl said...

Chrish,

No, I wouldn't die there either. And I'm open to being wrong here as well.

Van,

If God had a precise meaning, it behooves us to find out what the is. That's not all there is to the Christian life, not by a long shot, but it is still important.

Jesus didn't reprimand the Pharisees for knowing the Scriptures but for ignoring the rest of the Christian life.

Mike Riccardi said...

Jack: Just like it doesn't require him to be a father, but, if a father, to be a good father. Otherwise you have Paul disqualifying himself from the apostolate./

Daryl: But, don't forget, Paul and Timothy were both chosen by a more direct method. Paul on the Damascus road, and Timothy by prophecy./

One of my pastors is married but has no children. Though I never asked if it was by preference, I doubt it. So, based on that alone (regarding 1Tim 3:4b), is he not qualified?

I think that's a bit much.

Daryl said...

Mike,

It may be. Although I see the "husband of one wife" as a little more direct (ie. You should have one) than "his children are believers".
I don't see him saying "have children" in the same way.

But, as I said, I could be wrong.

Still, it says "If anyone is about reproach [if anyone] is the husband of one wife [if anyone's] children are believers...

I know that's how it's taught, I'm just not sure that the "[if anyone] is the husband of one wife" can be dropped as a qualification.

One pitfall to be avoided I think is the "well he's single but he's certainly got what it takes to be an elder".

How different is that from saying "well she's a woman but she's definitely got what it takes to be an elder."

Not saying it's a one to one thing, mind you, just that it sounds eerily familiar.

Dave Sherrill said...

Dear Frank and all,
Thank you for your replies to my previous posts. This will be my last post in-thread to avoid inflaming what appears to be a topic that many folks have wide-ranging opinions about.

In my original post, I said that I don't know anyone who fits these qualifications. Why say such a thing? Because I see a dichotomy in the Christian life in the following sense.

I have read many wise saints over the years, including Paul (biblical) and several non-biblical folks. It has been repeatedly noted that the nearer a Christian gets to the Lord, the grosser and darker his failings and struggles appear in his own sight. So we elevate Paul for recognizing himself as the chief of sinners, one who struggles to do what he should and who often does what he should not.

Now, place that personal self-evaluation up against the language of this passage. Above reproach? Do you see the dichotomy? We become increasingly aware of our struggles, leading to a realistic self-evaluation such as Paul's; while at the same time we are striving for the position of overseer, including these qualifications of being above reproach, a godly husband, who loves our children, etc.

This dichotomy is what I was aiming at. I was not aiming at the extinction of all elders since we can't measure up. I was not defaming my own dear brothers who serve in my church and pour their lives out for the sake of the body. I was not intending that I'm looking for elders in all the wrong places.

I believe several of you also see the tension here. One solution appears to be, "It is up to others to evaluate you and if they say you're good to go, you're good to go." Does this eliminate the need, deny the value, and cancel out any input that the elder candidate should have? Some here seem to move in that direction. "If the church says I'm and elder, then I must be an elder." This seems unwise at best. If the church examines someone and finds them fitting, but the individual says they are not qualified, does the church turn a deaf ear to their input?

No one here, including me, would take the opposite view that eldership is purely a self-evaluation followed by a proclamation that you are now an elder.

I was trying to grapple with the tension that seems apparent between growth in grace (as you would expect of a qualified overseer) and the incredibly lofty ideals set before each one of us in the passage under consideration.

Why would I bother even starting this specific thread of sub-meta? Because communicating the nuances that must be dealt with in each individual life is difficult, if not impossible, in a medium such as this. I wanted to explore what connections, conclusions, and applications you would reach when pressed beyond what could be understood from five-second text bites that we all offer up in a medium such as this.

It is obvious that this passage, and particularly its application, raises a lot of heat for people. We must find some way to slow ourselves down enough to try to communicate clearly yet with mercy. I believe the 'net and blogs have a place in my discipleship and ministry, but they can never replace the flesh and blood mercy of face-to-face ministry (and not saying anyone here believes it can).

I thank you all again for your current interaction. I benefit from the Pyro's and from all of you fellow posters. I will now resume lurking in the ether.

Belssings In Him,
Dave

Sir Aaron said...

Dave:

The concept of "blameless" or "above reproach" is not difficult IMHO.

John Calvin said "to be blameless means to be free from any notorious fault.” He went on to say "...ought not to be marked by any disgrace that would detract from his authority. There will certainly not be found a man who is free from every fault, but it is one thing to be burdened with ordinary faults that do not hurt a man´s reputation, because the most excellent men share them, but quite another to have a name that is held in infamy and besmirched by some scandalous disgrace. Thus, in order that the bishops may not lack authority, he gives charge that those who are chosen should be of good and honorable reputation, and free of any extraordinary fault. .”

I really don't know how to make it any simpler than that.