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"The Husband of One Wife" Requirement in 1Timothy
AUTHOR: Glasscock, Ed
PUBLISHED ON: May 6, 2003
DOC SOURCE: CCN
PUBLISHED IN: Bible Studies

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”

Requirement

in 1 Timothy 3:2

——————————————————————————

Ed Glasscock

——————————————————————————

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

was divorced.

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

named specifically.

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

view.

“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.

NO DIVORCE

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

logically.

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

theological grounds.

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 [13]

(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

was “pugnacious”?

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.

6:9-11).

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

Testament heroes.

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

issue.

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

character.

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”).

CONCLUSION

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

life.

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.”

NOTES

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

Testament”

(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.

18 Ibid.

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,

1974), 2:270-71.

24 Plummer, “The Pastoral Epistles,” p. 119.

25 Ibid.

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.

28 Ibid.

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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