Qualifications for Elder/Pastor

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by chosen one, Jan 20, 2005.

  1. chosen one

    chosen one
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    I thought since I am new to this site, I would ask my new brothers and sisters there theological views on I.Tim chapter 3 and verse 2 where it talks about the Elder/Pastor being the "Husband of one wife".

    Is this talking about divorce,multiple marriages,or being a "one woman man"?

    Can a Minister who has experienced a divorce from no fault of his own,serve as a pastor?

    What if the woman that he married was not saved and she divorced him?

    This is the subject among SBC churches today.
    How do pulpit committee's address this subject?

    chosen one :confused:
     
  2. gb93433

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    That has been a subject for many years. Each church deals with it differently.
     
  3. ccrobinson

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    I've always believed that it refers to multiple wives and divorce. In this day, multiple wives isn't an issue, and I believe that a divorce disqualifies a pastor from continuing to be a pastor. This would include a pastor who's wife has left him.

    If a man wants to be a pastor having married an unsaved woman, then I think it calls into question his judgment and his ability to be an effective Pastor. I can't imagine how such a man would even be called by a congregation to lead them.

    We don't have the office of Elder in our church, so I'll apply it to Deacons and say that the above applies to them as well.
     
  4. chosen one

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    What about a man who has committed a murder?
    a man who has cheated on his wife?
    A pastor who has committed adultery in his own heart?
    Would these disqualify a person?
     
  5. pastorjeff

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    ccrobinson,

    Your statement asumes the Pastor was saved and married an unsaved woman. What of a man who married before salvation, received Christ, and his wife leaves him because of that. Scripture tells us that man is excused from fault. Is he still unqualified for Pastor (Elder)?
     
  6. mountainrun

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    Chosen one, I am a search committee member and my response would be that the word divorce is used elsewhere by Paul, but not in the qualifications for pastors. The literal translation would be that the pastor must be a one woman man.

    However, our committee would never agree to a divorced pastor because of the passage where he must be able to manage his own family well.
    A divorce shows that he is unable to do so.
    The relevant passage doesn't seem to allow for any excuses, such as adultery or unbelieving spouse,etc.

    MR
     
  7. Jeffrey H

    Jeffrey H
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    I Tim. 3:2 means that a man will be married to one wife and be faithful to her. It prohibits polygamy.

    As far as divorce is concerned, it all depends on the circumstances that caused the divorce. If the pastoral candidate has a divorce in his past that was not his fault (i.e., abandonment or adultery by the wife), then a possible consideration can be made. It's up to the local pulpit committee to make that decision with serious prayer.

    Regardless of the reason, A man with a divorced past will have a very difficult time finding a church to serve as Pastor because the Bible frowns on it and God say he hates it.
     
  8. Dr. Bob

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    Touchy issue. I agree that the "one-woman man" deals with polygamy not divorce. Divorce is a cultural issue (like women wearing slacks, going to movies, smoking) that has been "bought" by many Baptists. Sadly.

    The Bible says "above reproach". Marrying a divorcee is looked upon as a reproach by many. Can't change that. Getting a divorce (even before salvation) is even more of a reproach.

    I would hesitate to have any divorced man (or man married to a divorcee) seek a pastorate. Yep. It is a reproach to me, too.
     
  9. cindig2

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    I have also wondered about this topic. I go to a SBC, and there are no divorced deacons, etc.
    A man that is married to a divorced woman, even though he has never been married before can't be a deacon. I take it to mean "a one woman man".
    If a man has had an affair, etc. he can still be a deacon. It's like it is only a matter or marriage and not morals.
     
  10. ktn4eg

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    My question is this:

    Would an eternally omniscient God ever call in the first place a person to an office whose qualifications His Word says that he cannot keep?

    Yes, I do believe that the Blood of Christ makes our STANDING before the Father as sinless.

    However, one's salvation does not eliminate the consequences one may have to suffer for sinful choices one makes prior to or after one has trusted Christ as his savior.

    That being said, I also believe that a local church congregation (as the espoused Bride of Christ) also has some level of accountability before her Head.

    What that accountability is will have to be determined by that local congregation, knowing full well what I Peter 4:17a says.
     
  11. rjprince

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    Chosen,

    An Elder (Bishop) must be "the husband of one wife" (KJV). The word anar appears 215 times in the Greek NT and is translated as man (156 times), husband (50 times), sir (6), fellow (1), not translated (2). The Greek word guna appears 221 times and is translated woman (129) and wife (92). Either of these words for husband or wife could be understood as referring to any adult man or woman without reference to their marital status (Matt 1:16,19; 7:24,26; 1:20,24; 5:28). In the original Greek manuscripts (apographs), the word translated wife appears before husband. Literally the phrase is "a one-woman man". Because of the fact that gunaikon (wife/woman) is in the emphatic position and is an attributive genitive indicating quality, the phrase would be best translated as "a one-woman kind of man" (Ed Glasscock, Bibliotheca Sacra, Vol 140 #559, Jul 1983, p. 252).

    There are four common views concerning this phrase:
    1. A Bishop must be married.
    2. A Bishop must only have had one wife in his lifetime.
    3. A Bishop may not have been divorced.
    4. A Bishop must be a one-woman kind of man.

    Before looking at these views in order, we should perhaps recall that God often does establish higher standards for his leaders than for the rest of the people. For instance, Ezekiel 44:22 forbids a priest to marry a divorced woman or a widow, unless the widow had been married to a priest before. Every where else in Scripture, the right to marry a widow or a widower is clearly established. Yet here, the priest is not allowed to marry a widow. Under the Mosaic Law, God set a higher standard for His priests than for the general populace. It is God's prerogative to do whatever he chooses to do. However, the fact that God established this standard for the priests of Ezekiel's day, does not mean that the same standard applies to elders in a New Testament church today. The Jews were also under the Sabbath Law (Exod 31:12-18). This was a covenant sign between God and Israel; the church is not part of this same covenant and is not obligated to keep the seventh day (1Cor 16:2; Rev 1:10). We must determine what God has said to New Testament Christians in this regard. It is not appropriate to insist that certain portions of the Old Testament should apply to the church – unless there is a clear link established in the New Testament (Acts 15:1,13,19-21; Col 2:14-17).

    Keeping these principles in mind, we will look at the different views concerning the phrase "one-woman man" in the order listed:

    The first view states that a Bishop/Elder must be married. If the man does not have a wife, how can he be a one-woman man? Some who hold this position also insist that Elders must have children (v. 4) to demonstrate their ability to manage a household and by application the church of God. Some would even go so far as to suggest that the children must be nearly grown so that the parenting skills could be observed in the final outcome. This is a "taste the fruit, to know the tree" kind of mentality. While these ideas may have some advantages and could be argued logically from some standpoints, the real issue is, "Does the word of God clearly say that Bishops/Elders must be married?" If this is the meaning of the phrase, it is in direct conflict with Paul's instructions to the Corinthian church (1Cor 7:7-9, 25-33). Further, if church leaders must be married, what are we to do with the fact that Paul was not married? It may be argued that Paul is not specifically called an elder. John MacArthur convincingly argues that Paul was an elder based on Acts 13:1 and 1Tim 4:14 w/ 2Tim 1:6. Also, since Paul's position as an Apostle was above elders, any standard that applied to elders would most certainly have applied to higher levels of leadership, though it is not necessarily true that the same standards would have been required of lower leadership positions. The qualification of being "apt to teach," did not apply downward to the deacons, but it most certainly fit the leaders of the church who were above the elders (Eph 4:11). It would be inconsistent with the rest of Scripture to insist that God requires Elders to be married while allowing an Apostle to remain single. Based on Paul's singleness, his admonition to remain single for the sake of the ministry, and the fact that the Greek construction and case form suggests a quality of character rather than simply marital status, it is best to discount this first view as inconsistent with the rest of the New Testament. Any specific interpretation must fit the rest of Scripture as well.

    The second view of this phrase allows Elders to have only one wife in a lifetime. The rationale from this view comes from the fact that the text says "one woman" and from establishing a parallel between the Elder and his wife and Christ and the church. Since Christ only has one bride, the church, it is argued that His Elders are only entitled to one bride. Against this position we find the whole of Scripture. The right of a widow or widower to remarry is established without question throughout the entire Bible and confirmed by the Apostle Paul (Rom 7:2). Paul even commands Timothy to encourage the younger widows to remarry (1Tim 5:11,14) rather than remain as widows. Even though there were some limitations and stipulations, the Priests were allowed to remarry in the Old Testament (Ezek 44:22). It is certainly a far stretch to argue for this on the basis of typology between Christ and the Church and an elder and his wife. This view has no basis in the Word of God.

    The third view alleges that a divorced man may not serve as an elder. Some would narrow this to a man who has been divorced and remarried. Some attempt to expand it to include the wife of the elder as well. In this case not only would the Elder have to be a one-woman man, but his wife would have to be a one-man woman, with the assumption that neither could have been divorced and remarried. This is clearly going beyond the words of the text, yet, such forced interpretation is common among many conservative groups.

    Prior to dealing with this third view in detail, perhaps we should note that Paul does not say, "not a divorced man." The concept of divorce nowhere appears in 1Tim 3 or Titus 1. Those who hold this position must infer that it is assumed by mention of the "one-woman" relationship. Yet, we must remember that it is not good practice to assume something that cannot be clearly established in the immediate text or by comparing with other passages.

    Is it possible that a divorced man could be allowed to serve as an Elder? Or, an Apostle? If Paul was a member of the Sanhedrin (Acts 8:1; 22:20) it is likely that he was a divorced man. Members of the Sanhedrin were required to be married and we know that Paul was not married at the time he wrote First Corinthians (1Cor 7:8; 9:5). Yet, this cannot be insisted upon for nowhere is it clearly stated, or even implied, that Paul was divorced. The silence of Scripture cannot be offered as support for either position. All we know from scripture is that Paul was single at the time First Corinthians was written.


    Concerning the issue of divorce and remarriage:
    1. God's original plan was - one man, one woman, one lifetime (Gen 2:24; Matt 19:4-6).
    2. Jesus allowed divorce and remarriage on the basis of "immorality" (Matt 19:3-12; Matt 1:19).
    3. Paul allowed divorce and remarriage on the basis of desertion by an unbeliever (1Cor 7:8-9, 12-15, 39).

    Two further issues must be considered here:
    1. Was the divorce justified, or allowed, according to Biblical teachings on the matter; and,
    2. Was the divorce prior to salvation and has repentance taken place and reconciliation sought? One could also ask, if the divorce was after salvation, is the forgiveness of God less available for the saint than for the sinner? (Rom 5:8-10)

    Some have also argued that the issue of polygamy (having more than one wife) is the subject of this phrase. Though polygamy was not legal under Roman law, there is ample evidence that is was practiced, at least in the outlying provinces of the empire. It is possible that this issue is addressed in the phrase, but not likely, because of the parallel phrase used in 1Tim 5:9 referring to widows.

    The fourth, and most likely the correct view, is that Paul is stating that for a man to be an elder, his moral conduct and attitude must be above reproach. He must not be a womanizer and he must be "utterly single minded in his devotion to his wife. If he is not married, he is not the type who is flirtatious." (MacArthur, Answering Key Questions About Elders, p. 14).
    In Roman culture it was not only common, but considered socially acceptable for a man to have a wife for bearing legitimate children and "mistresses" for personal pleasure. Immorality was a part of pagan worship and was rampant throughout the culture. Both James and Paul charged the Gentiles to avoid moral misconduct (Acts 15:20; 1Cor 6:16-18). This understanding of the phrase avoids the two extremes of making divorce an unpardonable sin for church leaders and of lightly excusing moral lapses of leaders. A single, married, or divorced man must be considered on the basis of where he is in his relationship with God and his wife. The institution of marriage is still held high, yet it is kept in balance with the grace and forgiveness of God.


    What is amazing to me is that the sin of adultery and divorce has become the unpardonable sin in our Baptist culture. Why is it that God can call drug addicts, gang members, and murders to be evangelists and they get top billing, but man who has had a moral failure, and a serious one, is permanently set aside from ministry? IMHO, there is some serious inconsistency in the way this issue is handled in the church.
     
  12. robycop3

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    When Paul wrote, Christianity was new, and many of the first Christians had most likely led a raucous life before they were saved, same as today. In OUR case, however, the Scriptures are available to almost everyone, and I don't know of any North Americans who are totally ignorant of them. In Paul's time, polygamy was common, even though frowned upon a little.

    I believe Paul was referring to polygamy. Who are WE to argue if GOD calls someone to pastorship?
     

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