NOTE: The following non-copyrighted article is reproduced from “BIBLIOTHECA
SACRA,” a Theological Quarterly Published by Dallas Theological Seminary,
Volume 140, July-September 1983, Number 559.
The author, Ed Glasscock, is the Pastor of Bethel Bible Church, Argyle, Iowa.
Bible Bulletin Board has included this file due to the excellence of the
article in dealing with a crucial issue in the “church” today. I apologize
for any errors in spelling or transliterations that may have occurred due to
my inputting the material into electronic media.
Tony Capoccia, Sysop
Bible Bulletin Board
“The Husband of One Wife”
in 1 Timothy 3:2
With the divorce rate in America approaching nearly 50 percent of all
marriages, the church is being forced to deal more frequently with converts
who have divorced and remarried. Can these Christians serve in the Body of
Christ? To what degree does their divorce and remarriage affect their
spiritual activity? The issue of this study questions whether the phrase “the
husband of one wife” (1 Tim. 3:2;cf.v. 12) eliminates from Christian service a
man who has been divorced and remarried, or a man who has married a woman who
Since 1 Timothy 3 provides a list of requirements for those who desire to
serve in the offices of elder (vv. 1-7) or deacon (vv. 8-10), it should be
noted that whatever one concludes about the meaning of the phrase under
discussion, it does not follow that these restrictions automatically apply to
all areas of Christian service but only to these two high offices which Paul
Four Common Interpretations of 1 Timothy 3:2
Among the variety of explanations of Paul’s phrase “mias gunaikos andra” (1
Tim. 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6) four common views will be discussed.
MARRIAGE AS A REQUISITE
Some commentators hold that the phrase “husband of one wife” implies that a
man who wishes to serve as an elder or deacon must be married. If one accepts
the translation “husband of one wife” then this could possibly be a legitimate
view. One who desires the office of elder “must be . . . the husband of one
wife,” “dei . . .einai mias gunaikos andra.” “Dei” is an impersonal verb
meaning “it is necessary, one must, or has to.”1 According to this view only
married men are eligible to serve as elders. Some would also insist that
elders also must have children (1 Tim. 3:4). The reasoning is simple: a man
cannot manage God’s household if he cannot manage his own. By observing the
way a man manages his own family, one can determine whether or not he is
capable of helping to manage the local church. Thus it is argued, a man must
be married and have children in order to be an elder or deacon.
Though this seems to be logical as well as literal application of the
requirement “husband of one wife,” it appears to contradict 1 Corinthians 7:8,
25-33. Paul apparently encouraged celibacy to avoid “present distress” (v.
26) and other concerns which distract one from the Lord’s service (v. 32).
But he also acknowledged the need for marriage and urged that a person not
gifted with celibacy should have his own wife (vv. 2, 7, 9, 17). Some would
argue that Paul’s comments are intended only for the church at Corinth at that
particular time. Luck states, “This phrase directly refers to local
conditions. The Corinthian Christians were facing difficult times of
oppression and persecution.” 2 This, however, may not be the case since the
Lord had already told His followers they would always suffer persecution (John
15:20), and Paul acknowledged that all godly saints would be persecuted (2
Tim. 2:12). History also clearly shows that the church in all ages has lived
in danger and hard times. This writer feels that Calvin expressed the proper
“There are some, however, that view the term ‘necessity’ as referring
to the age of the Apostle, which was, undoubtedly, full of trouble to
the pious: but he appears to me to have had it rather in view to express
the disquietude with which the saints are incessantly harassed in the
present life. I view it, therefore, as extending to all ages, and I
understand it in this way, that the saints are often, in the world,
driven hither and tither, and are exposed to many and various tempests,
so that their condition appears to be unsuitable for marriage.” 3
Furthermore, though Paul does refer to “ten enestosan anagken” (v. 26), there
is no reason to assume that he was referring to the “anagke megale” (Luke
21:23) preceding the Lord’s second coming. Paul used the same term elsewhere
in reference to his distresses (2 Cor. 6:4; 12:10; 1 Thess. 3:7). Paul’s
advice is as appropriate today for many Christians who live in hostile
environments as it was in his own day. Also it seems that 1 Corinthians 7:32
states Paul’s general view that single men have an advantage in serving the
Lord. Paul did not require marriage as essential for Christian service; on
the contrary, he saw advantages in the Lord’s servants remaining single.
Therefore if one accepts the translation “husband of one wife,” he must face
an inconsistency in Paul’s view, for it surely would not be consistent to
“require marriage” to serve the Lord as an elder or deacon (1 Tim. 3:2, 12),
“yet encourage one to stay single” so as not to be distracted from serving the
Lord (1 Cor. 7:32).
Another reason this first view could be rejected is that it is more probable
that Paul was concerned not so much with a man’s marital status as he was with
his character. Also it will shown later that the words “husband” and “wife”
may not be the best translations for “andra” and “gunaikos.”
ONE WIFE IN A LIFETIME
Other scholars point to the numerical requirement of “one wife.” This too may
be a legitimate understanding of the phrase. However, this view goes further
by teaching that the restriction eliminates any man who has married a second
wife for any reason, including the death of his first wife. 4 Besides
restricting a divorced man who has remarried from holding these high offices,
those defending this view add that even widowers who marry a second wife
cannot be elders or deacons.
“A second marriage, although perfectly lawful and in some cases
advisable, was so far a sign of weakness; a double family would
in many cases be a serious hindrance to work. The Church could
not afford to enlist any but its strongest men among its officers;
and its officers must not be hampered more than other men with
domestic cares. 5
Several questions challenge this interpretation. If one assumes that a
widower cannot remarry because of the burden of a double family, what is to be
said concerning the burden a widower has in caring for children without a
mother? Is the widowed elder who cares for his work, his church, and his
children at home not facing a greater burden if he is alone? If it is
considered a weakness to marry a second wife, is it not also out of weakness
that one married his first wife? If God chooses to take a man’s wife from him
through death, where does Scripture teach that God cannot provide a new
helpmate for him?
Another consideration is Paul’s example of a woman’s freedom to remarry after
her husband’s death to illustrate believers’ freedom from the Law so that
they may be bound to Christ (Rom. 7:1-6). Thus if one is set free from the
previous marriage bond by death (7:2) and is free to remarry without guilt or
offense (7:3), it hardly seems fitting to imply that remarriage after the
death of one’s wife would make a man unfit to serve as an elder or deacon.
Certainly a godly widower who marries a godly woman is not committing a sin
nor is he guilty of impropriety.
First Timothy 3:2 does not say “an elder must be married only once” nor does
it say “an elder cannot remarry.” Since the phrase is admittedly somewhat
ambiguous, to place this type of stern restriction on a godly man because of
such an unclear phrase seems quite unjust. One should avoid the Pharisaical
error of binding men with unnecessary and oppressive burdens (cf. Matt. 23:1-
4; Acts 15:10) and should seek to be gracious at every opportunity. Surely no
one seriously believes that if a man’s wife dies that he is still bound to her
in marriage; thus if he marries a second time, he still has only one wife,
that is, he is truly still “the husband of one wife.” If Paul had stated
“eschon mias gunaikos mones” (“having had only one wife”), it would be easier
to argue that Paul meant possessing only one wife in one’s lifetime up to the
point of his being examined. However, he did not make such a statement.
Plummer wrongly felt that Paul was expressing concern about the elder being
hampered with “domestic cares.” Certainly Paul acknowledged that these elders
would have family responsibilities (1 Tim. 3:4), but he was not expressing
concern for their involvement with these household duties. An elder with one
wife may have had, say, eight children, which would mean an extra burden in
domestic cares compared to an elder who was married and had two children. But
Paul was not limiting the number of dependents an elder can support; rather
his concern was only that he manage his domestic affairs well.
The third and perhaps most common view is that Paul was prohibiting divorced
men from being elders and deacons. Those holding this view also say that
remarriage after divorce makes one ineligible to serve in either of these
capacities. The restriction is usually extended to prohibit a man who, though
he has never been previously married, is married to a woman who is divorced
from a previous husband. It is also common to see men in these situations
forbidden to teach Sunday school classes or serve in other areas as well.
One can sympathize with a concern for maintaining a pure testimony in church
ministries, but to expand this phrase to exclude those in other areas of
ministry in the church is adding to God’s word. Some would treat divorce and
remarriage as the unpardonable sin and practically force some genuine, godly
Christians into a life of spiritual exile, treating these forgiven children of
God as though the blood of Christ could not thoroughly cleanse them. How sad
it is that even some good scholars refer to these believers as being “a part
of the garden of God–in shadow,” 6 as though they are not quite as pure as
other Christians. This writer is unaware of any scriptural reference to some
Christians whose former sins keep them “in shadow.” Rather, Scripture
includes all believers as “sons of light” (Eph. 5:8). Scripture does not
justify excluding any born-again member of Christ’s body from active service
in His work so long as that member has been forgiven and cleansed from his
sin. On the contrary, Ephesians 4;16 states that “every joint” is to be
contributing to the body of Christ. Regardless of one’s view of the phrase
being discussed, the qualifications cited in 1 Timothy are not for Sunday
school teachers, committee chairmen, or other church functions. Every member
of the body of Christ has been given “the manifestation of the Spirit for the
common good” ( 1 Cor. 12:7). He did not exclude those who have divorced and
remarried. Even if “mias gunaikos andra” were a prohibition against divorce
and remarriage, the phrase applies only to these two offices and not to other
outlets of service in the church. If the divorce and remarriage view is
assumed here, then the prohibition is not against one who is divorced, but
only against one who has remarried. Along this same line, there is no
prohibition against an elder’s wife having been previously married.
Paul only said that an elder must be a husband of one wife (or a one-woman
man) and yet expansions of the requirement have been expounded to cover a
large variety of areas and conditions. Since the issue of divorce and
remarriage has become such a critical problem, churches should re-evaluate
their positions and seek to avoid exaggerations of biblical qualifications.
As to whether this phrase is actually concerned with a divorced man
remarrying is still highly questionable and dogmatic assumptions should be
guarded. Though it may possibly be a prohibition against a man marrying a
second wife and holding the office of either elder or deacon, there remains
another alternative which seems better grammatically, biblically, and
FAITHFUL TO ONE’S WIFE
This view holds that the translation “husband of one wife” is not the best
understanding of the Greek phrase “mias gunaikos andra,” but that it should be
translated “a man of one woman” or “a one woman man.” This understanding
emphasizes the character of the man rather than his marital status. Thus even
a single man or a man who has been married only once must demonstrate that he
is not a ‘playboy” or flirtatious, but that he is stable and mature in
character toward his wife or other females. A man who demonstrates a
character of loyalty and trustworthiness in such personal relationships is
qualified in this area. He, being a one-woman type of man, can be placed in
this high position and trusted to deal in maturity and with discretion in a
situation involving female members. This view shifts the emphasis away from
an event that took place in a man’s life before his conversion and properly
concentrates on the character and quality of his life at the time of his
consideration for this high office.
Paul’s Emphasis on Character
The importance of understanding what Paul means by a “one-woman man” is
critical. The lives and Christian service of hundreds of Christian men are
affected by one’s view. It may be safer simply to offer an impersonal and
broad judgment forbidding any one who is divorced (or married to someone who
has been divorced) to enter Bible colleges, seminaries, or Christian
organizations, or to hold church offices. But this approach is impersonal and
possibly unjust and comes close to being apathetic toward God’s standards. In
an age when almost half of American marriages end in divorce, each church,
school, and other Christian organization should offer consistent and honest
instruction concerning the role and position of these divorced men who are
brought to new birth by God’s saving mercy, who are cleansed and made new by
Christ’s blood, and who are instructed to serve their Lord. These
instructions must not be based on emotional overreaction to the world’s
immorality, but rather on true grammatical, contextual, historical, and
A ONE-WOMAN KIND OF MAN
Paul’s instruction includes only three words, “mias gunaikos andra,” as one of
several requirements for being an elder (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1;6) or a deacon (1
Tim. 3:12, where the pl. “andres” is used). “Gune” refers to any adult
female, including wives and widows. 7 The King James Version translates it
“woman” 129 times and “wife” 92 times. 8 The noun “gunaikos” is in the
genitive and therefore deals with attribution. It may refer to relationship
or quality, for “the genitive defines by attributing a quality or relationship
to the noun which it modifies.” 9 Dana and Mantey define the genitive as
“the case which specifies with reference to class or kind.” 10 The genitive
here is used to define or describe the noun “aner.”
This should not be considered a possessive genitive, for that would mean that
the word in the genitive indicates one who owns or possesses the noun it
modifies. 11 In that case the translation would be “a man owned by one
woman.” Nor can this be considered as a genitive of relationship (“a man who
has [possesses] one wife”) for there is no indication within the phrase or
context that that relationship is implied.
It is best to understand this “gunaikos” as being a genitive of quality, 12
that is, giving a characteristic to the noun it modifies. The noun being
modified is “andra,” accusative singular of “aner.” “Aner” is translated
“man” 156 times in the King James version and “husband” only 50 times 
(including the passage under discussion). This accusative functions here as
an object of the main verb “be” along with a long list of other accusative
nouns and participles. Stated simply, the clause is “Therefore . . . an elder
must be . . . a man . . .” The words “one woman” modify “man” to explain what
kind, or to qualify the noun by attributing to him this character, Robertson
adds that the genitive of quality (also called attributive genitive).
“expresses quality like an adjective indeed, but with more sharpness and
distinctness.” 14 He also points out that usually the genitive follows the
limiting substantive, “but the genitive comes first if it is emphatic,” 15 is
the case here. Since the other qualification in 1 Timothy 3 deal with the
man’s character and since the grammatical structure is more naturally
consistent with this emphasis, it seems best to understand the phrase as
meaning that he is a one-woman type of man. This point will be further
discussed later in this study.
If, on the other hand, one understands the phrase to mean that he possesses
only one wife (though this does not seem best grammatically), then other
qualifications must be made. First, it must be decided if this means only one
wife in a lifetime or one wife at a time. Since neither the grammar of the
phrase nor any reference in the context implies that Paul was discussing a
once-in-a-lifetime situation, then that idea must not be forced into the text.
As suggested earlier, if Paul had said something like “eschon mias gunaikos
mones,” then one could speak more assuredly that Paul meant having had only
one wife ever. Paul, however, simply said he must “be” (“einai,” present
tense) a man of one woman. If, indeed, Paul was reacting to the problem of
divorce and remarriage as White suggests, 16 it would have been more easily
and clearly said by “me apolelumenon,” even as he did write “me paroinon,”
prohibiting the abuse of wine, and “me plekten,” prohibiting physically
violent men. In prohibiting these men, the negative “me” is used with the
phrase under consideration; however, here Paul was concerned with a positive
character, not with a prohibition. Though this argument does not prove that
Paul was not referring to divorce and remarriage, hopefully it shows that
there is no room for dogmatic limitations based on this verse. One should
guard against enforcing authoritative assumptions.
Another consideration that leads to this view is that the nouns being used are
without the definite article. Some translators feel this anarthrous
construction is important. Wuest explains, “The two nouns [for ‘woman’ and
‘man’] are without the definite article, which construction emphasizes
character or nature.” 17 He concludes, “Thus one can translate, ‘a one-wife
sort of a husband,’ or ‘a one-woman sort of man.'” 18 Though the absence of
the article does not “prove” the translation, it certainly supports it.
Robertson explains that the qualitative force of a noun is “best brought out
in anarthrous nouns.” 19 Dana and Mantey offer this explanation:
Sometimes with a noun which the context proves to be definite the article
is not used. This places stress upon the qualitative aspect of the noun
rather than its mere identity. An object of thought may be conceived of
from two points of view: as to “identity” or “quality.” To convey the
first point of view the Greek uses the article; for the second the
anarthrous construction is used. 20
The context is discussing “the overseer” (“ton episkopon”) and therefore is
definite; so then the absence of the article with the word “andra” can rightly
emphasize the idea of character. In other words what Paul was emphasizing is
the man’s character, not his marital status. In the excessive moral laxity of
the Greek culture Paul was planting young, fragile churches; and during that
period of church development issues which today may be taken for granted had
to be clarified. Getz follows this thought as he offers his understanding of
Paul’s qualification. “In a culture where men frequently cohabited with more
than one woman, Paul needed it very clear that an elder in the church was to
be a ‘one-wife man’ — loyal to her and her alone.” 21 Earle is another
commentator who sees the point of Paul’s phrase as meaning that “the overseer
must be completely faithful to his wife.” 22
FORGIVENESS OF THE PAST
Divorce and remarriage, when committed outside the provisions for them in the
Bible, are sins; but like any other sins, they can be forgiven and the
believer cleansed. Once a person has come to Christ, all sins are forgiven
and to claim that so long as a man stays married to his second wife, he is
still living in sin is to ignore God’s provision of mercy, to degrade the
power of Christ’s work, and to overlook God’s forgiveness. Chafer explains
the extent and power of God’s forgiveness.
It is the taking away of sin and its condemnation from the offender or
offenders, by imputing the sin to, and imposing its righteous judgments
upon Another . . . .divine forgiveness is never extended to the offender
as an act of leniency, nor is the penalty waived, since God, being
infinitely holy and upholding His government which is founded on
undeviating righteousness, cannot make light of sin. Divine forgiveness
is therefore extended only when the last demand or penalty against the
offended has been satisfied. 23
Everyone who has been born into God’s family has experienced this forgiveness
which is based on God’s satisfaction that Christ’s sacrifice was adequate
compensation for the violation of God’s holiness. A person’s second marriage
may have indeed been sin, but after conversion one cannot divorce his second
wife in hope of returning to his first wife, for that would involve a new sin
in itself. Further, it is inconsistent to allow a divorced and remarried man
to become a member of a church on the grounds that his previous sins have been
adequately paid for through Christ and yet forbid him a leadership role
because of his “previous” sins (which Christ removed by His death). If a
church is bound to judge its members on the consequences of their lives before
conversion, who then could meet the majority of the qualifications in 1
Timothy 3? Are churches as quick to forbid a man the office of elder or
deacon because before his conversion he was not “above reproach” or because he
Certainly one cannot attempt to make the qualifications of 1 Timothy 3 apply
to a man’s life before he was saved. If God has forgiven him and made him a
part of His church, why do Christians hold his past against him? When one is
saved, all his sins are forgiven (Col. 2:13); he becomes a member of the body
of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13); his body becomes a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor.
6:19); he receives a new nature created after God’s own holiness (Eph. 4:24);
he becomes a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17); and he becomes a part of God’s
“spiritual house” (1 Pet. 2:5) and “royal priesthood” (1 Pet. 2:9). Before a
man is saved, he is dead toward God and his holy standards. He has no power
over sin, no knowledge of God’s Word or will; thus to judge one’s life before
his new birth is totally unjust. Paul states that even adulterers (as in
divorce and remarriage) were ‘washed . . . sanctified . . . justified”(1 Cor.
Paul’s concern in 1 Timothy 3:1-10 is that if a man desires the office of
elder he must be qualified “at that time,” not before his conversion. For
those concerned with the testimony of the church, let them consider which
glorifies God more — that He takes an unworthy, defiled human and makes him
pure enough to become His own servant (cf. 1 Tim. 1:12-16) or that though God
forgives, he does not let a man’s past sins be forgotten? Even divorced and
remarried Christians can trust the great promises of Psalm 103:12-13 and
Isaiah 38:17. If God has made a man clean, how can the church consider him
unworthy to serve God even on the highest levels? Is the church guilty of
Peter’s prejudice (Acts 10:9-16) so that God must also rebuke believers and
say as he did to Peter, “What God has cleansed, no ‘longer’ consider unholy?”
It does not seem possible that by Paul’s phrase in 1 Timothy 3:2 he intends to
hold a man’s preconversion sins against him.
WAS POLYGAMY BEING OPPOSED?
Some commentators hold that Paul was referring to a man having only one wife
at a time. Though some rigorously deny that polygamy was a threat to the
church in Paul’s day, at least among the Greeks or Romans, yet there is
evidence that it existed in the culture from which the saints were being
saved. Though Plummer rejects the view that Paul was thinking of polygamy,
yet he says, “It is quite true that polygamy in St. Paul’s day still existed
among the Jews.” 24 To substantiate his claim he quotes Justin Martyr in his
“Dialogue with Trypho”: “It is better for you to follow God than your
senseless and blind teachers, who even to this day allow you each to have four
or five wives.” 25 Gentile believers could have easily been misled by Jewish
teaching since both groups studied the same Old Testament Scriptures, which
the Jews used to show the polygamous habits of David, Solomon, and other Old
Another support for defending the polygamy view is that it was the common
interpretation of early church writers. White sums up this argument: “on the
other hand, it must be conceded that the Patristic commentators on the
passage . . . suppose that it is bigamy or polygamy that is here forbidden.”
26 Calvin refers to Chrysostom’s view as the only true exposition on the
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. This corruption was borrowed by them partly from
a sinful imitation of the fathers, (For they who read that Abraham,
Jacob, David and others of the same class were married to more wives than
one at the same time, thought that it was lawful for them also to do the
same) . . . . polygamy was exceedingly prevalent among them; and
therefore with great propriety does Paul enjoin that a bishop should be
free from this stain. 27
Again Calvin stated in his summary, “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.” 28
Even though there is obviously some support for this view and though it would
surely correspond to the idea of a one-woman requirement, this writer does not
believe that polygamy was Paul’s major concern.
Apparently those who prohibit a remarried man from service as an elder or
deacon overlook the obvious point of the list in 1 Timothy 3. Paul’s list
deals primarily with the “character” or “attitudes” of men seeking these high
services in the church. The requirements are based on what the man “is,” not
what may have transpired in his past. Thus Paul wrote, “an overseer, then,
must be ” (“dei oun . . . einai”). He expressed the same idea in Titus 1:6
(“ei tis estin”). Even as “temperate,” “prudent,” “respectable.” and other
qualifications deal with his character, so also a “one-woman (kind of) man” is
a character trait demonstrated by a chaste and mature attitude toward his wife
and other females. Lenski offers a similar explanation: “The emphasis is on
“one” wife’s husband, and the sense is that he have nothing to do with any
other woman. He must be a man who cannot be taken hold of on the score of
sexual promiscuity or laxity.” 29 Lenski points out that converts did not
always immediately withdraw from their pagan customs and become instantly
perfect in sexual purity; 30 thus Paul set up this standard of moral
Indeed, to say that a man’s character means that he is content with his one
wife is not lowering God’s standard; it is putting the emphasis where it
belongs — on the quality of a man’s moral attitudes after his conversion. To
judge a man’s spiritual qualities on the basis of a sin committed before he
was saved, before he was capable of understanding God’s will or Word, and
before he had the power of Christ’s life within him is to create a false
standard that detracts from God’s wonderful grace and which also fails to deal
with the real issue of 1 Timothy 3.
In 1 Timothy 5:9, Paul wrote that before a widow can be added to the official
widow’s list of the church, she must meet certain qualifications, including
“having been” the wife of one man” (“enos andros gune”), the converse of “a
man of one woman.” Plummer insists that this means “a woman who after the
death of her husband has not married again.” 31 Though Plummer may have a
legitimate argument against the polygamy view, this verse does not prove that
a widow could not have remarried for the phrase may be translated as “a one-
man type of woman.” In other words this phrase is just as ambiguous as the
one in 1 Timothy 3:2. Calvin makes a fair point in contrasting the two
phrases by pointing out “in this very Epistle, where he treats of widows . . .
he expressly makes use of the participle of the past tense.” 32 The
participle to which Calvin refers is “ngegonuia” (a perfect participle from
“ginomai”). If it would mean “having become one man’s wife” or “having been a
one-man type of woman.” Obviously this still does not prove that Paul was
saying that she must have been married “only once” in her life. Even if one
insists that it must be translated “having been married to only one man,”
Calvin’s point remains valid. In this verse the issue is governed by a
perfect participle which implies a state that was initiated before her
consideration for the role of genuine church widow, but in 1 Timothy 3;2 the
only verb for consideration is a present tense infinitive (“einai,” be). Thus
the condition in 1 Timothy 5:9 is the widow’s condition “before” her present
consideration, and the condition in 1 Timothy 3:2 is the man’s condition “at
the time of” his consideration. When a man is being considered for the
position of elder, he must be a one-woman man.
However, is “ngegonmia” to be taken with “enos andros gune” or with the first
phrase “me elatton eton exekonta?” If it does belong to the first phrase,
then the requirement is that she, “having become not less than 60 years of
age,” is now to be a one-man woman, having a reputation for good works, etc.
So 1 Timothy 5:9 does not offer firm proof for the meaning of 1 Timothy 3:2.
Any conclusion thus derived is based mostly on assumptions arising from
predetermined ideas. This writer sees no conclusive reason for excluding a
widow who over her many years may have a second husband after her first
husband died. In fact, Paul’s advice to a young woman whose husband died was
that she remarry (1 Tim. 5;14). After a healthy and joyful marriage of many
years, if her second husband died and she was left alone, is she no longer
eligible for the widow’s list because she followed the apostle’s advice?
nothing in Paul’s statement would eliminate her, for she may still have proven
herself to be a “one-man type of woman” (“enos andros gune”).
As one considers the many facets of the arguments related to the phrase “one-
woman man,” it must be admitted that there is no simple absolute answer. One
may “assume” Paul meant to prohibit divorced and remarried men from serving as
elders, but one should honestly admit that Paul did not say “he cannot have
been previously married” or “he cannot have been divorced.” What he did say
is that he “must be” a one-wife husband or a one-woman type of man. Paul was
clearly concerned with one’s character when a man is being considered for this
high office; Paul was not calling into review such a person’s preconversion
If God forgives sin and cleanses and restores lost sinners, if a believer is
made new in Christ, then is this not what the church should stand for? This
writer knows that emotions run high on this issue and there is no desire to
stir up hard feelings with those who may differ with the view presented here.
It is only hoped that each reader will be challenged to consider prayerfully
the facts of this phrase, “mias gunaikos andra.”
1 William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A “Greek-English Lexicon of the
New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature” (Chicago:University of
Chicago Press, 1957), p. 171.
2 G. Coleman Luck, “First Corinthians”(Chicago:Moody Press, 1958), p. 60.
3 John Calvin, “Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians,” in
“Calvin’s Commentaries”, trans. William Pringle, 22 vols. (Grand Rapids:Baker
Book House, 1981), 20:253.
4 This view is clearly presented by Alfred Plummer (“The Pastoral Epistles,”
in “The Expositor’s Bible,” ed. W. Robertson Nicoll [London: A.C. Armstrong and
Son, 1903], 23:120-21).
5 Ibid., pp. 122-23.
6 George W. Peters, “Divorce and Remarriage” (Chicago:Moody Bible Institute,
1970 p. 32.
7 Arndt and Gingrich, A “Greek-English Lexicon,” p. 167.
8 Robert Young, “Young’ Analytical Concordance” (Grand Rapids: Associated
Publishers and Authors, n.d.), p. 72.
9 H. E. Dana and Julius R. Mantey, “A Manual Grammar of the Greek New
(Toronto: Macmillian Co., 1957), p. 74.
10 Ibid., p. 75.
11 John A. Sproule, “Intermediate Greek Notes” (class notes, Grace Theological
Seminary, 1979), p. 66.
12 Ibid., p. 68.
13 Young, “Analytical Concordance,” p. 59.
14 A. T. Robertson, “A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of
Historical Research”(Nashville: Broadman Press, 1934), p. 496
15 Ibid., p. 502.
16 Newport J. D. White, “The First and Second Epistles to Timothy,” in “The
Expositor’s Greek Testament,” ed. W. Robertson Nicoll (Grand Rapids: Wm. B.
Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979) 4:111-12.
17 Kenneth S. Wuest, “The Pastoral Epistles in the Greek New Testament” (Grand
rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1973), p. 53.
19 Robertson, “Grammar of the Greek New Testament,” p. 794.
20 Dana and Mantey, “A Manual Grammar,” p. 149.
21 Gene A. Getz, “Sharpening the Focus on the Church” (Chicago Moody Press,
1975), p. 105.
22 Ralph Earle, “1 Timothy,” in “The Expositor’s Bible Commentary,” ed. Frank
E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1978), 11:364.
23 Lewis Sperry Chafer, “Systematic Theology,” 8 vols. (Dallas Seminary Press,
24 Plummer, “The Pastoral Epistles,” p. 119.
26 White, “The First and Second Epistles to Timothy,” p. 112.
27 John calvin, “Commentaries on the First Epistle to Timothy,” in “Calvin’s
Commentaries,” trans. William Pringle, 22 vols. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book
House, 1981), 21:77.
29 R. C. H. Lenski, “The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistle to the
Colossians, to the Thessalonians, to Timothy, to Titus, and to Philemon”
(Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1961), p. 580.
30 Ibid., p. 581.
31 Plummer, “The Pastoral Epistles,” p. 120.
32 Calvin, “First Epistle to Timothy,” p. 77.
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