The Husband of One Wife

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This phrase is found three times in the Scriptures (ITi 3:2,12, Tit 1:6) and each time it is a qualification for an ordained man. What does this phrase mean? Does it mean ordained men could not practice polygamy but others could? Or does it mean a brother can’t be ordained if his first wife has died and he has remarried? Or perhaps it means that someone who is divorced and remarried cannot be ordained. I find it difficult to give a definitive answer to what Paul intended when he gave the qualification, “the husband of one wife.” However, I don’t mind sharing a few thoughts, and I will say this; I do not like any of the three suggestions that were given. Take a look at these suggested explanations. When Paul uses the phrase “the husband of one wife” does he mean...
#1. Someone who is divorced and remarried be ordained to leadership in the church? One of the qualifications for leaders is their wives must be faithful in all things. We understand that someone who is divorced and remarried and who is a part of the church would be living celibately. There would be no semblance of “normal” home life or a “faithful wife.” This would automatically disqualify someone who is divorced and remarried from being qualified for leadership in the congregation. I do not think the phrase, “the husband of one wife” was intended to address a divorced and remarried person.
#2. A brother cannot be ordained if his first wife has died and he has remarried? There is no hint in Scripture that remarriage after the death of your wife is a bad thing. Abraham remarried after Sarah died. He was spiritual. The High Priest had a number of restrictions about whom he could marry (Lev 21:13,14), but it does not say he couldn’t remarry after his wife died. It appears like the twelve apostles all had wives. Yet there is no suggestion in the Bible that a leader should not remarry if his wife died. I do not think the phrase, “the husband if one wife” is intended to say that if a man’s wife dies and he marries again, that he cannot be considered for leadership in the church.
#3. Someone who is a polygamist is not qualified to be a church leader? I do not think so. My understanding of history is that Rome did not allow the practice of polygamy over the time of Christ and the apostles. Polygamy would not have been an issue. Also, I believe that First Timothy 5:9 strongly suggests that it is not referring to polygamy when it says “Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man.” The phrase, “the wife of one man,” is not likely referring to a wife practicing polygamy. Therefore, I believe it is very likely that the phrase, ‘the husband of one wife,” is likely not referring to polygamy either.
#4. So, what does the phrase “the husband of one wife” mean? Some commentators suggest the term, “the wife of one husband,” means “having been a faithful wife.” Clark- “ Having lived in conjugal fidelity with her husband; appears to be that most consistent with the scope of the place, and with the truth.” Craig Keener in “Bible Background Commentary” writes, “Husband of one wife” no doubt means a faithful husband...” On “the wife of one man” he says, “many husbands praised wives who had been “one-man wives” meaning faithful and good wives.” This is the meaning I find the easiest to support. I think the context also supports it. “Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.” (1Ti 3:12) It could be said this way; “The deacons should be faithful husbands and should have faithful children.”
God places a premium on men who are faithful husbands and faithful fathers. The concepts of Christian living must first be lived out and expressed in our homes before we are qualified to lead out in the church. What a thorough training ground the home is! We need to be faithful husbands, learning how to overcome the temptations to infidelity, and being faithful to our wife. How important this is for the wellbeing of us, and our wives and our children! Never open the door to immoral thoughts or deeds. Faithful husbands will also love their wives. These special gifts from God will always be appreciated, valued and cherished. He will learn how to manage points of conflict with respect, honor, and compassion. He will endeavor to “hear” what his wife is saying and respond to her need. It is as he develops into the fullness of a faithful husband that the Christian graces will blossom in his life and he will be qualified to be a leader in the church of God.
In the wisdom of God, He created the beauty of the home. Be “the husband of one wife,” a faithful husband who is a blessing to his wife, his children, and to the church and your life will be fruitful, and your reward will be great.