Husband of One Wife

1 Timothy 3:2, 4-5

The single main requirement is that the man should be “Blameless” (vs. 2a, 10).

This means that the Pastor and Deacon must be above reproach. The Greek word “must” lets us know it is an absolute necessity. The fact that Paul stressed these qualities in a negative way lets us know that the leadership at Ephesus was not of the highest caliber.

The word “blameless” means “not able to be held.” There is nothing for which to accuse him. This doesn’t mean sinless, but not marred by an obvious sinful defect in character that would not allow him to be an example to follow. There is nothing in his life that will hinder the work or ruin his witness.

Is it fair to demand higher standards of Pastors and Deacons? When a man accepts the office, he accepts the standards of that office. The men in these offices understand they are examples for others to follow, and that the demands are higher.

Because of this they will be targets for Satan. There is greater harm to the body of Christ if they were to fall morally. They are a pattern of holiness for the congregation, and if they fall and are restored too soon, the standard for the entire church is lowered. They have greater knowledge of the truth and are more accountable.

“The husband of one wife” has many interpretations. Some believe he is not to be a polygamist. Polygamy was not an issue in the church of Ephesus that Paul was addressing. Some believe not ever divorced. Some believe he must be married.

Some believe if his first wife dies he can’t remarry. Some believe he must be faithful to his wife that he is married to at the time.

While it’s true that a man can remarry if his wife dies [1 Tim. 5:14; 1 Cor. 7:39; 2 Cor. 6:14-16; Rom. 7:2], or she is unfaithful to him [Matt. 19:9], it is not clear if his spouse was an unbeliever and wants out that he/she is free to remarry [1 Cor. 7]. Others believe if the bond is broken then remarriage is implied [1 Cor. 7:15, 39-40].

I go back to the overarching requirement of blameless and faithful in marriage [1 Tim. 3:2b, 5].  A divorce or unfaithfulness shows he can’t lead his home [v. 5].

1 Tim. 5:9 gives us insight to what the husband of one wife means where Paul gives directions to giving support to true widows in the church. Paul says that a widow indeed [v. 3] that was to be helped by the church must meet certain criteria:

  1. The first responsibility belongs to the family [v. 4].
  2. She is a godly woman [v. 5].
  3. She must be 60 and above in age [v. 9a].
  4. She is known for her good works and a servant’s heart [v.10].
  5. She is the wife of one husband [v. 9b].

“Wife of one husband” means her husband had died and she has not remarried, thus qualifying for support from the church. If the “wife of one husband” means she was married only once [1 Tim 5:9b] then the “husband of one wife” must mean the same in 1 Tim. 3:2a.

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