03 June 2009

Not Your House

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.

You thought that we had beaten the "above reproach" thing to death already, and maybe we have. Paul doesn't think so because he's about to give you a list of things which are inside the fence for "above reproach", which we will get to next week. But there's this little clause here in this letter to Titus which fascinates me -- because it's something that I think (thus this series) is either overlooked by familiarity or ignored because it is frankly too much to bear: the elder is God's steward in the church.

Now, so what? See: I think some of you are still skeptical about what we have read so far and briefly exposited. For example, that the elder as a husband of one wife and the father of faithful and obedient children ought to be faithful in little things before he is faithful in greater things -- and me putting the fine point on that saying by making it clear that in God's economy, the family is the lesser household, and the church is the greater household.

But here, this is exactly what Paul does with one word. This word here "οἰκονόμον" means "a steward, manager, superintendent (whether free-born or as was usually the case, a freed-man or a slave) to whom the head of the house or proprietor has intrusted the management of his affairs, the care of receipts and expenditures, and the duty of dealing out the proper portion to every servant and even to the children not yet of age". It's a strange word to use for the one left to "set things right", but it turns out it's the scripture word for what the elder must do.

It turns out that the church is not your house, and those there are not your people, but they are in fact the people of your master. You have been put up there, dear pastor reader, not to show us your great gifts -- because you're just a former slave, however trustworthy you might be. It doesn't matter in the least what you want, and it matters exclusively what God wants there. You are put there to be God's steward, and to make sure the proper portion of God's storehouse is dealt out to every servant, every member of the household, even the children who are not yet of age.

And God's storehouse is bountiful, dear pastor: sufficient and even lavish for those to whom it is meant for. You should be a steward of that, and see if it leaves you time for any other petty concern.


donsands said...

".. because you're just a former slave,"

We are all vessels of clay. Differently designed for various functions, but from the same limp of clay nonetheless. That will make us humble.

Yet, the church is to honor elders, and esteem them while knowing this. And elders are to see themselves as pots of clay, and not deserving of this honor, but all honor is to Christ, and His Father, the Potter (Isa. 45:9).

olan strickland said...

It doesn't matter in the least what you want, and it matters exclusively what God wants there.

Amen! And the Scriptures are the only adequate and sufficient guide for knowing and accomplishing what God wants there.

mKhulu said...

We are all essentially only stewards in every area of existence. Even our very breath is only ours for a while. How can it be that some undershepherds actually imagine they own an assembly? Or that a congregation exists for their benefit and service? Pastors, we might serve with biblical authority and attention to our unique duties- but may we never forget that we are just hairy-legged sinners saved by Grace.
Perhaps we should think of our role not as undershepherds, but rather well trained sheep dogs!

pastorharold said...

The Cowboys are my pro football team! However, Jerry Jones owns them.
Arkansas Razorbacks are my team! But the U of A controlls them.
My National Guard Unit is under the command of a Gen.
My church is wonderful!
When I say "MY CHURCH" it does not mean ownership, but belonging to, love for, and something I have great intrest in.
No true pastor thinks the church is his.

Frank Turk said...


I am sure almost all of them would say that. I wonder how many of them mean what you mean when they say it -- because if they all do, then I think many of them are talking to the wrong god.

Mark Patton said...


I continue to be encouraged as you walk through this series.

Mike Riccardi said...

I love the picture of stewardship. It really exalts God and magnifies His greatness, because all things are from Him, through Him, and to Him. He's the beginning, middle, and end. And it means grace for me, becuase He grants what He requires.

I don't think many pastors are going to assert their ownership over their church when confronted with this notion. But practically, not all pastors live in accordance with the implications of God's ownership of all things and the believer's (especially the pastor's) stewardship of whatever God give Him.

What do folks (especially Frank) think are some implications of the fact that ministry is a stewardship? What does it mean for how believers/pastors in Gospel ministry?

Frank Turk said...


I think generosity of spirit, hospitality in the broad sense of church life (not particularly in personal life, which I know seems like a contraddiction), a serious and humble attitude toward one's own short-comings, and a keen understanding that one is stewarding gifts of God for the sake of his people and not an institution would be in my list someplace.

I'd write more, but I've got work to do today.

Anonymous said...

Dear Pyromaniacs,

I love you blog and I have a topic request for you to consider that I think many readers would benefit from. Sorry for leaving this unrelated reply to "not your house," but I don't know any other way to send in my request to you.

I have recently been learning how to defend the faith against an atheist attack and one topic that I don't know how to answer is the claim that the Josephus historical account is false and has been debunked a long time ago.

Many prominent Christians use the Josephus account to prove that Christ was mentioned in the secular historical record and thereby to prove that he is real to Atheists. I have looked up articles on the authenticity of the Josephus account and many of them say the section about Christ and Christians were added at a later date and not written by Josephus himself.

Yet many prominent Christian leaders still quote Josephus, including John MacArthur.

Can you please shed light on the Josephus account and whether it is authentic or not?

Thanks for your consideration!

Mike said...

You last few postings regarding this topic have definitely forced me to look at those little sins in my life I try not to touch. If I'm unable to stay disciplined in my own life, keep my family focused on the right things and behaving as God would want, then what good could I possible offer to the saints? I would certainly not be a role model and more often than not I'd get in the way. Thank you for your insights.

Frank Turk said...

Scrabb --

Since you asked, a good summary of what Josephus is good for can be found here.

The nutshell is this: there is very little doubt among modern historians that [a] there is corruption in Josephus, but [b] not enough to disqualify all his discussion of Jesus as a real person in history. That some people want Josephus either to be inerrant Scripture or complete bosh points to their own inability to reason seriously about historical and factual issues.

Frank Turk said...

Mike --

That's actually the point here. thanks for noticing.


Frank Turk said...

scrabb --

One other thing.

Apologetics to and with atheists -- especially over the internet -- is risky business at best. There will be no evidence that you can present them with which they will not (when it is convenient for them) disregard and pooh-pooh, but when the flimsiest of reasoning fortifies their case, it will be the final word on the subject.

People like these don;t really need an argument: they need the Gospel merely, simply, humbly, and clearly declared to them. Tell them, as Paul told the Athenians, that the time of God's patience is at an end; the judgment is coming, and one man will be the judge -- Jesus, who was resurrected. And then love them seriously and personally so that they know you think that judgment is coming and your salvation from that judgment has made you grateful.

That's what changes the minds of atheists: not arguments.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the article - this is great information - just what I needed. I also agree with you about presenting them the gospel straight and clear. I am not arguing with an atheist at the present, only preparing for the moment when it does happen. I have been listening to many Christian/Atheist debates and trying to determine in my own mind how I would respond to the attacks on Christianity. But you are right, the gospel is key.

~Mark said...

"People like these don;t really need an argument: they need the Gospel merely, simply, humbly, and clearly declared to them. Tell them, as Paul told the Athenians, that the time of God's patience is at an end; the judgment is coming, and one man will be the judge -- Jesus, who was resurrected. And then love them seriously and personally so that they know you think that judgment is coming and your salvation from that judgment has made you grateful.

That's what changes the minds of atheists: not arguments."

Amen and amen.

Your pointing out the role of Steward reminds me of the many times I cringe when I hear pastors talk of "stealing another church's members" or having theirs "stolen". These guys sure don't like being told that the people don't belong to them.

David said...

I look forward to this day every week, Frank, to see what you have to say.

As I think about these instructions, I am reminded what a blessed life they reflect. Not without grave struggle and persecution, but totally and absolutely settled and without fear on this earth.

Dave Sherrill said...

Cent and all,
The concerns I expressed in a prior post remain unanswered.

Not a single one of the evangelical churches I've been in required that an elder must be married.

Not a single one of them required that an elder must have multiple children.

All of the churches affirmed the qualifications of Titus 1:6-9 for elders, yet none of them understand the passage as establishing requirements of marriage and multiple children for their elders/pastors.

Please, can you or some of your readers provide examples of churches or denominations who practice these requirements?

Perhaps commenter Olan S, who pastors a Baptist church, can offer his own church as an example of one who requires these qualifications (along with others). He has commended your treatment of the text. Does his church live it?

Commenter Mark P is a young pastor of a church. Does his church practice these requirements in their examination and approval of their elders/pastors?

Or perhaps David R, who is a church music director, could testify of these requirements in his home church.

Maybe Pastor Tad Thompson knows of some churches who believe and practice these requirements?

Or Phil J or DJP or anyone here? I am not aware of any church or denomination who holds this view. I have not found any commentators who hold this view. I am sincerely asking for your help in understanding these as practiced requirements in the church.

Frank Turk said...

Dave --

I never said they have to have multiple children, did I? In spite of having to reply via phone here, and of course run the risk of having you misread me as you have done already, let me say two things and then you can do with them what you will.

1. I am open to any plausible alternative reading of these sentences you can provide. Let's keep in mind, however, that these sentences aren't allegory or poetry.

2. The best case scenario for those who take an informal or pragmatic view of this passage is that Paul was offering Titus circumstantial advice and not commands. But if that's true, why does he offer the same advice to Timothy, and why do we take some of these demands as necessary criteria and others as mere suggestions? (for example, they must be men)

I think your claim that there are no commentators who read this the way I am reading this is overstated at best. I'll offer you some examples in the morning.

Gary said...

Perhaps you (Frank) should define what you mean by the word "qualify" and its variants. Do you mean that these are "qualifications" that you check off a list and if you have them all then that person can become an elder? Or is it more that this list describe a certain type of man who is "qualified" to be an elder? Or are there other options that you had in mind?

Steve Scott said...

Dave Sherrill:

"Not a single one of the evangelical churches I've been in required that an elder must be married.

Not a single one of them required that an elder must have multiple children."

Dave, I have an answer for you. I don't agree with the interpretation that an elder must have exactly one wife. In the Greek (as I've been told by others who know it) the phrase can be interpreted either as "husband of one wife" OR "one woman man." I prefer the latter, because it is a qualitative character trait as opposed to a quantitative legal status. If you look at all the rest of the qualifications in 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1, you will note that they are qualitative character traits. For a single (or even two) quantitative legal status to be thrown in just doesn't fit with the flow of either passage.

Now as to churches that practice that, I attended one. They taught that an elder had to be married to exactly one wife. One preaching elder had a wife who died, so according to their doctrine, he was immediately disqualified from being an elder, now having zero wives. But he kept on preaching without stepping down and publicly acknowledged that he wasn't supposed to be an elder anymore, but oh, well, he still was and everybody overlooked it. How pathetic. They aren't a church anymore, by the way.

Frank Turk said...

Dave --

I didn't have to look very hard of far to find a commentary that agrees with what I have said here. Calvin's commentary on Titus (especially as it references his commenatry on parallel passages in 1 Timothy) agree with what I have siad here.

I think part of the problem you're having, however, is wooden interpretation of both me and Paul. For example, where did I say that an elder has to have more than one child? I said that the children that he has have to be "faithful" children. If you pressed me, I'd say that an elder who eschews having children would probably not be in the spirit of what Paul says here, but one who has grown children is not disqualified by any means.

Another example: must be married. I think a fellow who is a widower would not be disqualified by this -- he was married, and proved himself (one hopes) to be the kind of husband he ought to have been. Being wife-less because your wife is now with the Lord is not a disqualification. Eschewing marriage, however, seems to be exactly counter-intuitive and frankly contrary to what Paul is teaching Titus here.

And since you're asking, churches that don't require these things are churches which aren't being very careful about their alleged belief in the sufficiency of Scripture.

Now: does that mean that we don't start training guys for the ministry in our local churches prior to them being married and having 2.1 kids? That's a ridiculous over-interpretation of what I have said and what Paul has said -- but factually, training them (which Paul covers in Chapter 2 of this letter, and we will get to eventually) is a different ball park than giving them the keys to the Gospel bus. Elders are to be all of these things. Men being trained to be elders ought to show some sign of being on this track, but they can be work in process.

One's maturity is not a light switch -- you're not "Pete Pewsitter" one day and "Eddy Elder" the next because someone suddenly says, "you're qualified". And doesn't that actually make more biblical sense than sending someone to seminary (and institution never named in the Bible) because they are avid readers (a qualification never listed in the Bible) and then handing them a diploma (an ordinance not demanded by the Bible) so they can send out resumes and interview as if they were trying to job-out in the rat race (a selection process not outlined in the Bible) in order to lead God's people?

I stand by my interpretations and comments. It's funny that when I said the pastor/elder ought to be a "true child of the faith", nobody raised any eyebrows, but when I said they had to be "husbands in the Ephesians 5 sense" and "fathers who have obedient children", the complaints start. These are equally-obvious requirements of the text. you either take them as evident and necessary, or you need to provide an alternative and equally-compelling reading, or you simply have to admit that we do not take scripture to be sufficient and leave what we have the way it is and let 'er ride.

Thanks for asking.

Frank Turk said...

Gary --

I hate it when we have to state the obvious.

The assumptions Paul makes, it seems to me, is that there is something called the "church" which is called out from the world, and that this called out body needs to be "set in order", and that those called out will be of differing levels of maturity, and that those who are more mature will have a certain kind of life, and in that kind of living, some characteristics are most critical in defining who it would be best to choose to "set in order" the called-out body.

Paul did not hand Titus a JDQ or an EEOC form that had to be completed: he was telling titus that the elders of the church must have a certain character as demonstrated by the evidence of their lives.

I know you didn't mean anything ridiculous by your question, but here's what I'm thinking: at the end of this list, paul says plainly that these men also ought to be ones who can teach and faithfully pass on what has been given to them. That qualification doesn't ever seem to be an undefinable characteristic for people to sort of minimize, does it? We don't say, "well, he's a nice guy with a great family, and in theory he is really excited about the Bible, but I've never seen him teach ..." (well, some "churches" do, but that's another story).

If we "get" that a man must be a faithful teacher of God's word, why do we think that the other qualifiers Paul lists here are broad and general rather than clear and descriptive?


Sir Aaron said...

Frank, your 7:03 AM post is right on target. But in earlier posts, the implicit if not explicit point you made was that a man must be married and cannot have chosen celibacy and service to the Lord a la Paul.

Please don't construe this as a direct challenge, because I ask this because I really want to flush this out. Myself and others are a little confused by some of your points and merely seek understanding.

On May 28th, I posed the following statement to you. "But this still, by necessity, requires that an elder be a married man with children (or had children at one time) who are old enough to prove "faithful" (or must remain so as they age). You responded: Aaron:Among other things, I think the answer is yes.

So you did say that an elder must be married, must have children, and they must be faithful. IF you say the text means that an elder must have taken a wife (as opposed to remaining celibate and dedicated to the service of God) then you must also accept that the elder must have had children...plural, since that is what the text says. Implicit in that position is also that the children must be old enough to show signs of being faithful.

With regards to Calvin's commentary, he says "And yet I do not disapprove of the opinion of those who think that the Holy Spirit intended to guard against the diabolical superstition which afterwards arose; as if he had said, “So far is it from being right and proper that celibacy should be enforced on bishops, that marriage is a state highly becoming in all believers.” In this way, he would not demand it as a thing necessary for them, but would only praise it as not inconsistent with the dignity of the office. Yet the view which I have already given is more simple and more solid, that Paul forbids polygamy in all who hold the office of a bishop, because it is a mark of an unchaste man, and of one who does not observe conjugal fidelity. The only true exposition, therefore, is that of Chrysostom, that in a bishop he expressly condemns polygamy.

That certainly does NOT support the proposition that a man must have been married at some time in order to be a bishop or elder.

Furthermore, Calvin also specifically says the children must be "believers" which is not the direction you took with your last post.

Frank Turk said...

In the future, I will not write anything down which leaves any room for doubt to what I am saying, except to the most intransigent of readers.

- Calvin was a paleopresbyterian, so his view is that an infant is rightly baptized, and therefore rightly assumed to be inside the faith and ought to be a believer. I reject the premise of infant baptism he assumes, and you should, too.

- I believe in the command, "be fruitful and multiply", thus I believe in "children". Paul did say "children". But if "ifs" and "buts" were raisins and nuts, we could make a fruit salad, so let's imagine a situation in which a guy has a wife, and they have one child, and then she has [insert medical words here] which prevents her from having any more children -- does that diswualify him because he doesn't have child-plural? Or what if his wife delivers the first child, and she dies -- disqualified? Is that what Paul is tlaking about here?

How many exceptions do we need to go through to prove the rule?

- I have already plainly qualified what I think it means to be "faithful", but since that doesn't quite get it out there, let's try this:

Anyone man who has children who, when reasonably reviewed by an objective observer, are bent on disobeying him and usurping his authority in his household, and bring disgrace to him by their disreputable actions, he is not qualified to be an elder. That makes a LOT more sense than saying, "well, unless he can convince them to go to sundat school and be baptized, he shouldn't be an elder."

And again: anyone who wants to "yeah but" this stuff needs to come across with an alternative reading which makes at least as much sense and not merely "yeah but" as if the choice is either this interpretation or no serious qualifications but merely nice feelings about a person who is willing.

Sir Aaron said...

Ok, that is a very helpful clarification, but still doesn't get to the heart. The argument is not about the rule. I think you and I agree that these rules exist and should be applied. Most men are not chaste and most couples have children or plan to have children.

The discussion is solely about possible exceptions. Several people have made posts, encouraged by your interpretation, that have argued that there are NO exceptions. One such post even addressed the very exception you mentioned. If a couple cannot have children for XYZ medical condition then the post said that the couple MUST adopt children in order to meet the qualifications to be an elder. There are some who take the passage so literally that a death requires that the man become remarried or alternatively cannot remarry because that would disqualify him. Likewise there were people who said that there were no exceptions for unmarried men who chose to remain unmarried (and chaste) for the purpose of serving Christ.

So the confusion doesn't come from the rule that almost all of us here would see applied, it comes from the notion that there are never any legitimate exceptions to the rule. And from where I was sitting, you seemed to be advocating this position. You last post indicated otherwise, so I thank you for clarifying.

Hopefully you can now remove me from your hit list.

Respectabiggle said...

The "pastor as steward" idea reminds me of the Captain of a destroyer I served on. He routinely reminded us that, "This ship is a national treasure that has been entrusted to us by the American people."

There was never a bit of doubt in anyone's mind that it was his ship; he passionately protected her and her crew and he wept when it was time for him to hand over command, but he also never forgot to whom it really belonged.

Frank Turk said...

No offense meant, Aaron, though I am admittedly irked by the searching out of exceptions. Is our goal in receiving Paul's direction here really to find the minimum? Should we be seeking to find men who are only minimally qualified to do this work?

People: we shouldn't be seeking to fulfill the minimum. That's legalism. And making the minimum into a bureaucratic boondoggle so that the minimum is both lacking the spirit of the qualifications and showing no mercy to men like ourselves is flat-out evil -- white-washed tombs and stuff like that, the worst kind of sitting in Moses' (or in this case, Paul's) seat but neglecting the greater demands of the law.

We shouldn't be seeking to excuse ourselves from the commands: we should be urgent to exceeding fulfill what ought to be right. We should be working it out because we serve a great God and savior, and we are grateful, and not because we're trying to "augment" our resumes or whatever.

Sir Aaron said...

No offense meant, Aaron, though I am admittedly irked by the searching out of exceptions.

I understand your frustration. Believe you me, I'd never intentionally irk you.

I can't speak for the others, but it wasn't my intention to seek out various exceptions. I very much believe that the criteria set before us in Titus ought to be rigorously and faithfully applied. But in the metas, some people mentioned specific exceptions that they had to deal with in the local body where they fellowship. When those specific exceptions met with legalistic answers (such as you must adopt children if you can't have any), I became very concerned that these posts were becoming a Levitical checklist.

Your last post cleared that up succinctly and decisively. So I thank you for that and your patience.

Dave Sherrill said...

I appreciate the favor of your replies. I will try to be brief.

In both his commentary on Titus and I Timothy Calvin emphasizes that "husband of one wife" is a condemnation of polygamy, to wit:

"The only true exposition, therefore, is that of Chrysostom, that in a bishop he expressly condemns polygamy, which at that time the Jews almost reckoned to be lawful.

By way of positive affirmation, Paul is actually teaching a negative, namely that an elder must be free from the stain of polygamy. Calvin continues, allowing also a reading to combat a requirement for celibate elders:

In this way, he would not demand it (i.e. marriage) as a thing necessary for them, but would only praise it as not inconsistent with the dignity of the office.

Thus I take Calvin to teach that one who would desire to be an elder must not, if married, be a polygamist. Conversely, marriage is not enjoined on the candidate as a command, but is upheld as not inconsistent with the character of an elder. Calvin upholds the dignity of marriage, but does not require marriage for those desiring to be elders.

I believe you are teaching that marriage is a requirement for an elder/pastor candidate. I do not see agreement between you and Calvin on this. My concern remains but you have allowed me to have my say, for which I am thankful to you. I will not continue to bring it up.

Similarly, my concerns regarding a requirement for child(ren) remain. Again, I will not continue to bring this up.

In case it has appeared as such, I have not been sharing my concerns as a means to identify some kind of minimum list of qualifications, so that we might glory in underperforming in grace. Rather, the language of law (i.e. requirement, command) raised concerns about a form of legalism in areas that are foreign to my understanding and experience.

As an overseer I have exerted myself as co-steward over the flock along with the other overseers in my church, seeking the salvation, benefit, and good of all who have come under my care.

Thank you for the opportunity for interaction.

Frank Turk said...

I think you misread Calvin. He does not disapprove of the idea that the married state is required of the Bishop -- he prefers Chrysostem's view and wholly condemns the view that celibacy should be enforced on a Bishop, and plainly does not disaprove of the idea that the overseer must be married.

Sir Aaron said...

I must have misread Calvin too because I don't see anywhere where he says he doesn't disapprove of idea that bishops must be married.

But then again, I've never heard of Chrysostem so I have no idea what his view was. But Calvin says about this person that the exposition is rightly about polygamy.

Van said...

I have been following Frank's exposition closely the past several weeks, and I have noticed something about the metas. I keep seeing people looking at exceptions, and asking for personal experiences. I thought Frank was reading exactly what it said, and teaching precisely that. I honestly don't care how they do it at any other church assemblies, I want to know what God said via the Bible, and then I want to be conformed to that image.

For those of you that are still frustrated and confused by the children issue, go back and read what Paul called the Corinthian believers. (1 Cor. 4:14-17) As an unmarried man Paul managed to have children who were believers, and he reprimanded them when he heard of their being open to charges of indecency... and they repented of their sin, and got with the program. No asking about other churches, no making excuses, they heard the word of God, applied it to their situation, and repented.

You might notice that he referred to Timothy as his "child in the Lord". As one having spiritual children Paul has met the qualification of not being a new believer. He did not refer to either the corinthians or Timothy as illegitimate children, so I personally infer that Paul's wholehearted commitment to Christ fulfilled his stipulation that an elder be a one woman man. Not many had Paul's gift of singleness though, so as the norm, we see this passage in Titus.

Keep up the good work Frank.

Sir Aaron said...


With all due respect, only one person asked for references about how other assemblies do things. It wasn't me, but the point was in the context that a certain understanding of this passage (i.e. a legalistic one) is not held by nearly every commentator and nearly every local body.

The second half of your post is...well, just off. So we teach that a man should be married and have kids, but then we should look at Paul and understand that he had spiritual children therefore, we can apply that to this passage? Clearly the letter to Titus referred to actual children in the normal sense of the word.

boyd said...

Was it not the custom of the time for a man whose wife had not bore him a child, to take another if he could afford? This temptation could cause problems in the body.

Anonymous said...

As with other discussions, can we not see that Paul's life is irrelevant to this whole thing? He was called on the Damascus road, no one since him was, and so we must obey the qualifications laid out in Scripture.
It is not a stretch to say that a man unwilling to adopt because he can't have his own kids is not ready to be an elder. As Frank has said, it's not about minimum qualifications.
In fact, I would suggest that anyone seeking the minimum qualifications is not qualified.

The text is plain, is it not? "must be the husband of one wife". How clear is that? It doesn't say "can't have more than one" is says (essentially) "must have one and only one".

It reads plainly to me.

Frank Turk said...


When Calvin says this --

And yet I do not disapprove of the opinion of those who think that the Holy Spirit intended to guard against the diabolical superstition which afterwards arose; as if he had said, “So far is it from being right and proper that celibacy should be enforced on bishops, that marriage is a state highly becoming in all believers.”.

Calvin does not disapprove of that.

"That" is the opinion.

"The opinion" is "as if [the Holy Spirit] said something".

"something" is "it is far from right and proper".

"it" is "the enforcement of celibacy; the diabolical superstition."

Sir Aaron said...

see what I mean, Frank? Right back where we started.

Daryl: Nearly every commentator from Paul until now, has interpreted that passage as being an express prohibition against polygamy not as a specific requirement that a man must be married. And you obviously have no idea how difficult and expensive it is to adopt these days.

Let me offer you MAcArthur's commentary on the subject since my own comments are so easily dismissed.

"Some have even said this means no single people can ever lead the church. That's not true either. If you say no single person can lead the church, then Paul is disqualified because he at this time had no wife and in 1 Timothy 4:14 and in 2 Timothy 1:6 he refers to himself as an elder, as a member of the eldership. No.

Some others have said, "Well even if you don't have children, how can you rule your children well if you don't have children, so people with no children can't be in the ministry." Wait a minute. Now we are really getting carried away. The assumption is most men will be married, most men will have families, most men will have children, it is not a penalty to be single and certainly is not a penalty if God doesn't give you children. But if He does, they need to fit within these qualifications

Here's where I got it from so you can read MacArthur's entire sermon on this particular subject.


Sir Aaron said...


I agree that Calvin says he thinks the enforcement of celibacy is wrong. But neither does he say that he would force the Bishops to be married (if they chose of their own accord to be single). Obviously this was a counter to ROme who made the clergy be celibate, which Calvin thought was wrong. (and I agree with Calvin). Nowhere does Calvin say that he endorses the position that men must be married to be qualified for the ministry.

Frank Turk said...

This is Phil's blog, so I'm not going to fisk Dr. MacArthur's statement, but let me say this much about that objection to what I think is pretty plainly evident in the passage:

At some point in time, we have to ask whether the basis for Paul's qualifications for leading the church are the ones we want to apply to the normal local church pastor. If we reject the pentecostal/charismaniac view of the pastorate, the normal local church elder/pastor is not appointed by God through direct divine decree, and Paul was. So Paul, the murderer and legalist, was used by God to establish the church because God said so -- not because Paul met the normal criteria the local church ought to apply when it is selecting elders and not apostles.

The better objection, of course, is Timothy -- but the same rules apply there as well. If you can present to me a credible case that Paul was actually not more spiritually able to discern a "true son in the faith" than you are, or I am, or we are together, then you can run up the idea that the list is not quite what I have cracked it up to be.

Are there exceptions? I am sure we can invent exceptions. I am sure that in 3 billion Christians the actual exceptions exist. But the case for the exception will undoubtedly prove the rule.

To help you out here, I agree with Calvin: the passage here is intended plainly to mean "a guy not guilty of polygamy", even Dr. MacArthur's statement makes the assumption "most men will marry".

I think it's actually a broader assumption than that for Paul: it was somewhat unthinkable not to marry. I am sure someone will 1 Cor me here, but Paul is talking to Titus about the men who are qualified to be Elders and omits the eunich and the unmarried man entirely from his description. Don't you think that if the subtext here is that "most men will be married", Paul would talk about the exceptions who were never married at least a little?

Not to be a legalist, but at least a little -- somehow indicate that being a good father has a counterpart in being single someplace because Paul really meant "men of merely-good (or even exemplary) Christian character".

Sir Aaron said...

We really aren't talking about a lot of exceptions. We are only discussing 2. The first being somebody who has decided to remain chaste and single and dedicates their life to service of God. The second exception relates to children and the medical inability to have more than one child (or any for that matter).

Now you dont' agree that there is an exception for the first part, but you've said that you'd agree to exception for the second. I don't see how you can provide no exception for the first and allow for exception on the second. If you are going to follow the text as a literal set of requirements, then I think you have to accept all of the requirements in that manner. After all, Paul didn't list any exception for a most common experience of not having children. Do you agree or disagree?

I'd agree that the first exception is rare. The second though happens frequently.

Van said...

Sir Aaron,

The description of an elder that Paul wrote to Titus leaves us with a description, a bullseye if you will, that none of us can hit on our own. His description of Cretans on the other hand describes unregenerate me perfectly, apart from geography. It takes an act of God for anyone to come close to the mark of elder that Paul is describing here.

I wasn't as clear as I should have been earlier, let me try again. I referred to Paul's children in the Lord specifically for the exception one, the person who has the gift of singleness mentioned in 1 Cor. 7, that has devoted himself to God as a eunuch, choosing to remain chaste and single so as to have no distractions in their serving God. This path to eldership seems to a very limited path... Paul started as an apostle, and as he demonstrated his singleminded devotion, raised children in the Lord, proved to be above reproach, and acted as a wise steward of the house of the Lord we see him also called elder.

As a Cretan myself, who while single had a great desire for a wife and kids, I fall into the category that Paul is writing to Titus. The church at Crete was composed of new, immature Christians, who obviously needed a Titus to be sent to set things in order, and appoint overseers/elders to keep things in order and to teach the next generation of Christians. In Titus 1:10 Paul says 'For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11 who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain.' (NASB)

Paul specifically starts by calling them 'rebellious', men who were rebelling against the word of God. Paul's antidote against these rebellious folk were elders... and he described them in such definite terms that it is only by the grace of God that any hit the mark. This church needed the same thing my local congregation does... men who are above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. Oh yes, in keeping with this post they must also be above reproach as a steward.