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Within the context of a discussion of the qualifications men must meet in order to serve as elders and deacons in the local church, the apostle Paul writes, "Likewise their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things" (1 Tim. 3:11, NKJV).
It has often been said that behind every good man there is a good woman. While that saying may be true in many cases, it absolutely must be true in the case of those who serve as elders and deacons.
It would be easy to think of a wife's behavior as irrelevant when considering whether or not a man is qualified to serve as an elder or deacon, because after all, she is not the one who is going to be appointed to the work. But the reality of the situation is such that the responsibilities of elders and deacons demand, in the wisdom of God, that each man serving should have a supportive, godly wife by his side. It is obvious from the qualifications of church officers' wives listed in the above passage of Scripture that a man may be disqualified from serving as an elder or deacon simply by virtue of having an unqualified wife. A man who desires to serve as an elder or deacon in the local church may meet all of the personal qualifications given in Scripture (see 1 Tim. 3:1-13 and Titus 1:6-9) and yet be unfit to serve due to some spiritual deficiency in his mate. No doubt, many good men have been held back in their service to the Lord by wives who did not share their level of commitment and faithfulness.
Any study of the qualifications of elders and deacons is incomplete if not
accompanied by a study of the qualifications that must be met by their wives.
According to 1 Tim. 3: 11, in addition to meeting all of the other qualifications
given in the New Testament, men who wish to demonstrate that they are qualified
to serve as elders and deacons must have
wives who are characterized by the following criteria:
1. Their Wives Must Be Reverent: -- The Greek word employed here is semnos,
which means, "to be venerated for character, honorable" (Strong's
Dictionary). The reverent
woman conducts herself in a way that causes others to respect her. The kind of women who would be considered reverent are those who have learned "to love their husbands,
to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the Word of God may not be blasphemed" (Titus 2:4,5). A woman is reverent if her attitude toward God and His Word is what it should be and her actions follow her attitude. Other members of the church will not respect a wife who shows a lack of interest in spiritual matters, who fails to manage her house well, who has obvious moral faults, or who otherwise displays immaturity. And irreverent wife disqualifies her husband from serving as an elder or a deacon.
2. Their Wives Must Not Be Slanderers: -- The English word "slanderers" in this passage is derived from the Greek word diabolos, which is the same word that is used in Scripture to refer to the Devil. In other words, wives of elders and deacons must not behave like the devil by engaging in the spreading of false statements that are harmful to the character or reputation of another. She cannot be one who is known to engage in the spreading of gossip (Prov. 26:20), or in backbiting (2 Cor. 12:20). If a man's wife does not control her tongue, then that man is not qualified to serve as an elder or deacon.
3. Their Wives Must Be Temperate: -- "Temperance" originally carried
the meaning of abstinence from intoxicating drink. However, the word conveys
a broader meaning than
that, including the idea of a calm, self-controlled demeanor. Notice that in this respect, the elders' wives are to be like their husbands (1 Tim. 3:2). An unstable woman who is prone
to lose her temper and say vicious things in a fit of anger would disqualify her husband from serving as an elder or deacon.
4. Their Wives Must Be Faithful In All Things: -- This qualification demands
that these women display faithfulness to God in all areas of life. A woman who
(1 Tim. 2:9,10), refuses to submit to her husband as head of the family (Eph. 5:22,23; 1 Tim. 2:12), who doesn't regularly attend the Bible study and worship services of the church
(Heb. 10:25), or who otherwise fails to behave like a Christian (Gal. 5:19-23), is the type of woman who will disqualify her husband from serving as an elder or deacon.
CONCLUSION: -- It is clear that many good women meet these qualifications; however, their husbands do not meet the qualifications required of either an elder or a deacon. On the other hand, it is also sometimes the case that good men meet all of the qualifications required of either an elder or a deacon only to be prevented from serving due to an unqualified wife. It is important to understand that both husbands and wives must live up to the Lord's expectations in order to fulfill God's plan for the local church with regard to elders and deacons.
By David Dann in Truth Magazine, Vol. 51, No. 7, July, 2007.
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