The Husband of One Wife and Elder Qualifications Regarding Marriage

by Max Andrews

The Greek translation of a “husband of one wife” (1 Tim. 3.2) has often been misunderstood to meaning “not remarried,” which is unlikely.[1]  Remarriage for divorced women and widows were mandatory under Roman law and the Pastorals specifically allow it (1 Tim. 5.14; cf. 1 Cor. 7.27, 39).  The phrase is much more likely to mean that the leaders of the church were expected to have high moral standards.[2]  This early church, as it is today, is highly influenced by the culture in which the church resides.  The church leaders are expected to have high moral standards with this respect.  Those who attended church ought to have been known to be sexually moral.  For the leaders of the church, it was not enough to be technically faithful because the Greco-Roman culture would allow a man to have a mistress without being guilty of adultery.[3]  In light of this historical background, the grammatico-historical interpretation should be preferred to mean that the leaders of the church should only have sexual relations and marital fidelity with his [one] wife.


[1] David Instone-Brewer, Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible:  The Social and Literary Context (Grand Rapids, MI:  Wm. B. Publishing Co. 2002), 227.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

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One Comment to “The Husband of One Wife and Elder Qualifications Regarding Marriage”

  1. There’s a big debate on whether a man actually SHOULD be married if he’s going to be hired as a pastor. Many single pastors in the Evangelical world have problems finding jobs because they aren’t married. Though I’m not planning on being a pastor, this concerns me as a long-term single. Personally, I’d like to see more single pastors.

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