Deacon qualifications

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by gators_2006, May 3, 2012.

  1. gators_2006

    gators_2006
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    Our annual deacon letter just went out. Some of us were talking about the qualifications that is set forth in Acts 6:1-6 and 1 Timothy 3:1-13. There were several comments made about the list of qualifications that are laid out in Timothy.

    The main question that came up was divorce. While 1 Timothy 3:2 says that they are to be "husband of but one wife", what was meant by that. Was this a statement of the times as common practice of that era was multiple wifes or did it mean that they are to only have one wife period?

    Then there was the question of, what if the divorce was a result of an unequally yoked marriage as discribe by Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:12-16. What if the man accepted that the wife was an unbeliever but due to her unfaithfulness, divorced her and is now married to a wife who is a baptized believer? Would such a person be disqualified?

    We had a pretty lenghty discussion on this and I think we had more questions than answers by the time it was over with.
     
  2. gators_2006

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    And here is the other question. People, including the church use 1 Timothy 3:1-13 as the qualification list. If we are talking about deacons only, why are verses 1-7 included in the list.

    3 This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop,[a] he desires a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

    Since everyone has always wanted to take everything so "to the letter", depending on which version you look at, verse one clearly says "bishop" or "overseer".

    8 Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, 9 holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. 10 But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. 11 Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13 For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

    Should we stricly talk about verses 8-13 since verse 8 clearly, no matter what version you use, says "deacon".

    I know the qualifications are the same in both groups of verses but, strictly talking about deacons, why is verse 1-7 included?
     
  3. mont974x4

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    This is a hot issue and you can find many debates on it in any Christian message board. The phrase "husband of one wife" means he is to be a one woman man. In a society known for having many wives, an elder is to have one. The Bible does give two reasons to allow for divorce. They are sexual immorality and when a non-believing spouse wants to leave a believing spouse. 1 Cor 7 goes on to say that the believing spouse is no longer bound, meaning they are free to remarry. An elder can be divorced and remarried. God allowed for His grace to work in people and bring us out of sin, giving us repentance, and restoring us to serve in His will. We should note Peter and Jonah are prime examples of this.

    As to 1 Tim 3 and which verses should be included in application of deacons note that verse 8 starts with the word "likewise" which means that just as elders are to meet the qualifications of verses 1-7 so should the deacons.
     
  4. Yeshua1

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    Think Paul was refererring to the pagen culture/practice of pologomy, so wanted to have the deacon/elder be a "1 woman man!"

    divorce/remarriage would have to be considered form the position of IF it was done on a "biblical basis" or not!
     
  5. Salty

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    I condend that if Paul meant Divorce - he would have said divorce.

    The old Baptist joke is that a church will forgive a pastor or deacon if they kill their wife, but will never forgive if they divorce their wife.
     
  6. saturneptune

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    Another way to look at it, if one has gotten a divorce, he did not do very well in managing his own household. If it was totally the wife's fault from cheating, or just meaness, then he did not use good judgement in picking her as a wife.
     
  7. mont974x4

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    Possibly, but not always. I am divorced. I met my first wife in church. When she got pregnant things changed. She was a totally different person. She was violent and verbally abusive. She ended up cheating on me and wanted out. Per 1 Cor 7, I let her leave and gave her the divorce she wanted. Paul wrote in 1 Cor 7 that the believer is free. It's Scripture, so God said that I am free. We are not in a position to them say the person is free, but with the condition that they cannot remarry. Since our divorce she has claimed to be Buddhist. She also remarried, and last fall left her second husband for another guy.

    Also she has since been diagnosed as bipolar. I am not sure but I think in some cases the hormone changes of pregnancy can cause such things.

    Now, I know that I sinned. I have repented of not loving her the way I am commanded to in Scripture. I also know that she made her choices and I am not responsible for them.

    I got remarried in 1997 and have been loving my bride more and more ever since. We had some rough times. We have both sinned in various ways. While we are not perfect things are way different since we decided to be responsible for our own actions. Instead of trying to force her respect I focus on being the husband God calls me to be and she focuses on being the bride she is called to be.
     
  8. saturneptune

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    Personally, like in your case, I have no problem with a person being a deacon. My post just said it was another way to look at it. I feel that strict rules serve no purpose in this case without prayer and looking at each case by a local church.

    Just to broaden the principle, sometimes we as Baptists assign certain mistakes or sin to a life time ban on a ministry or a vocation. We do not really believe in Christ's ability to make a person new, or to bring one back to a close walk with the Lord if already saved. If we found a staff member at a church looking at pornography, should that person be banned from ever working in a local church again after repentence and restoration.

    On the secular side, there was a high school teacher that had been involved in x rated movies 15 years ago. She had long since quit, gotten married, was raising a family, and teaching school for years. No one knew about her past, not even her family. Well, do not ask me how, but some of the high school kids got old of some of the film clips (how out of the thousands that are made each year I do not know, and where were the parents), but the kids turned her in. She was fired. I thought it unjustified, given the turnabout and lenght of time. Again, some feel it is a lifetime ban. I do not. I believe Jesus changes people.

    Getting back to the deacon question, we have a man now serving as deacon in our local church who is a Christian with a walk as close to the Lord as I have seen, and much closer than me. Well, for years he would not serve as a deacon, not because he had been divorced, but because his wife had. He finally changed his mind, and is a wonderful, Godly deacon. We lost several years of his ministry.

    If one wanted to go by the letter of only one wife, I can make a case for this person being eligible. If a person gets a divorce, even if he is the guilty party, he can remain a deacon until he marries again, because he is still the husband of one wife until he does remarry.

    The whole thing can get way off what I believe God intended. Maybe we through prayer should be focused on the character presently of the man, and use the qualifications as byproducts of that character, not a list to check off. It reminds me of the Pharisees praying to get attention. It is about the relationship of the deacon with the Lord, his love for God, and his fellow man, his compassion, his humbleness, and wanting to serve his church and pastor. It is not about a set of rules that any heathen can mimic.
     
  9. mont974x4

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    Yes, Jesus changes us all. I see the qualifications for elders and deacons as a whole. We look to the whole character of the man. In one area or another we are all weaker than the others. The overall character is what matter. We see an example of this in that in the letter to Timothy one requirement is they must not be a new convert. We do not see that in the letter to Titus.

    I would suggest that we are in agreement on this.
     
  10. Ryan.Samples

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    Any reference to Acts is necessarily tenuous. There is no direct indication that the seven set apart were actually "deacons." You can look to that passage for an example of what a deacon might do, but that isn't listed as a deacon's duties because these individuals are not referred to as deacons.

    I see no mention of divorce in any of the relevant texts. It rather amuses (and saddens) me that especially Baptists choose to single out one sin while ignoring so, so many others.

    If you're going to focus in one the term "deacon," then make certain you look at the Greek term behind it. I find it very, ahem, curious we render Pheobe's διάκονον as servant but our I Tim 3 Διακόνους as deacons.
     
  11. Tom Butler

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    Over the years I have softened my stance on deacon eligibility. At one time I felt that any divorced man was not eligible, but have been moving toward your position. I've really been rethinking even that stance. I think there is room for the view that a deacon should not have more than one wife at a time. Paul is dealing with a culture where polygamy was the norm.

    Now, there's more to it than that. But both Moses and Jesus allowed for divorce and remarriage under certain conditions. Both Moses and Jesus set forth the Biblical ideal, but both also dealt with reality, and Jesus set specific limits on when divorce is permitted.
     
  12. seekingthetruth

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    Polygamy? It is my understanding that both Roman law and Jewish tradition forbade polygamy during Paul's lifetime. Correct me if I am wrong.

    If, it was indeed against the law and not a common practice then what was Paul talking about?

    While I do agree that Paul gave two distinct biblical reasons for divorce, it does not nullify the qualifications for a deacon. Elders are held to a higher standard than most because of the example they must set.

    We can use all the logic we want to justify divorced elders serving, but what we should be doing is just simply obeying the scripture.

    Elders are held to a higher standard!!!!

    John
     
  13. seekingthetruth

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    Consider the qualifications to be a Christian.

    Now consider the qualifications of an elder as stated in 1 timothy.

    It is not hard to see that elders are held to a higher standard than the rest of us. Just because a Christian is given the ok to divorce doesnt mean that it is ok for an elder.

    John
     
  14. saturneptune

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    Of course, you know me and my wife quite well, and know we have only been married to each other for over thirty five years. I try and put myself in other's shoes. I was not saying I agree that a person should remain in office if a divorce occurs, but was making a point for those who go by the letter of the law as an example for every case, because technically, he is the man of one wife until remarriage. I think it takes prayer for each case along with the guidelines.

    I got the idea about divorce from one of our pastor some time back I had never thought of, again to consider on a case by case basis, and that is that divorce might be a sign that one's household in not under control of the person being considered for deacon. Again, to me, that would be in a consideration in light of prayer on a case by case basis.
     
  15. glazer1972

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    It is our belief that if one was divorced it would make them not eligible.
     
  16. freeatlast

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    The passage is dealing with character not the number of marriages. The Greek says one woman man, not husband of one wife. A person could be the husband of one wife and not a one woman man. If he is a flirt or other women catch his eye he has no business as a deacon. His wife is to be the apple of his eye and no other women is ever considered.
     
  17. OldRegular

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    I believe that if a divorce occurs before conversion that is passed over and the man is free to remarry and meets that qualification for deacon.

    I believe there is only one reason for divorce of a Christian in which he/she is free to remarry, that is infidelity. I am not sure that in the case Paul discusses in 1 Corinthians 7 the individual is free to remarry
     
    #17 OldRegular, May 5, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2012
  18. seekingthetruth

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    In Paul's letter to the Corinthians he said that Christians are free to remarry in the case fo infidelity. But in Timothy he made no such exception. And he never once said that what happened before conversion doesnt matter.

    Where do we get those teachings from? Tradition? They are certainly not in the Bible.

    It is clear that the general teachings on divorce and the requirements for being an elder are seperate issues, and that an elder is held to a higher standard.

    Paul said that an elder must be a family man...."Husband of one wife"

    And that he should have only one wife. A person that has been divorced. and is remarried is the husband of two wives, whether it happened before conversion is not specified.

    "One that ruleth well his own house"....again, a family man.

    Some have said that a divorced deacon can serve as long as he doesnt get remarried. In that case, his divorce would make him no longer a "husband of one wife", and no longer a family man.

    An elder must be a "husband", which means a man that is married....not a woman or single man.

    Have only one wife.....divorced and remarried would make two.

    And rule his house well. Which a divorced man certainly struggles with.

    Why is this even a debate in our churches today? The Bible says it, so we should obey it, and not make excuses to get around it.

    The Bible holds our elders to a higher standard. I believe it is because they are to set our example for Christlike living.

    And also, how can a single man, a divorced man, or a man that can't rule his own house, counsel families?

    John
     
    #18 seekingthetruth, May 6, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2012
  19. saturneptune

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    By watching the Dr. Phil show. LOL
     
  20. Steadfast Fred

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    In Bible days, it was common to see people with more than one wife. The husband is supposed to see to his wife's needs, so it would make sense that Paul would instruct Timothy that the deacon (as well as the Bishop/Pastor/Elder) was to have only one wife. Many wives meant more attention would be given to those wives and less attention to the physical needs of the congregation.

    The reason for the divorce would play a major role on whether a man was qualified to be a deacon or not. If he was abusive toward his wife and because of that she divorced him, then no... he would not meet the requirements. If she was an unbeliever and chose to leave him, he could still be disqualified.

    Romans 7 tells us that a woman that divorces and remarries while her first husband is still alive is an adulteress and the man that marries her is an adulterer. She shall be known as an adulteress as long as her first husband is living, but if he is dead she is no adulteress even though she is married to another.

    Conversely, the man that marries a divorced woman who has a living husband would be an adulterer.

    Now, Paul told Timothy that the deacon "MUST BE" the husband of one wife. Must be is an imperative. He must be married.

    If the man has been divorced and remarries while his first wife is still alive, he is committing adultery and is therefore disqualified to fill the office of deacon. If the first wife is dead and he remarries, he has not committed adultery and meets that particular requirement of being the 'husband of one wife.'
     

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