From: Ben Crick (
Date: Sat Feb 14 1998 - 23:21:02 EST

On Sat 14 Feb 98 (00:31:36), wrote:
> 1Tim 3:2 1Tim 3:12 Titus 1:6

> There seems to be a question as to how this is interpreted. Is this any
> less ambiguous than the English phrase "one wife"? I've heard people
> say that it "obviously" means one wife at a time, but I've heard others
> say that it means not remarried, and still others say never divorced.

> Does the Greek phrase clearly mean one of these to the exclusion of the
> others?

 MIAS GUNAIKOS ANDRA, a one-wife husband. It appears that no Christian in the
 1st century would be permitted to have more than one wife at a time; so it
 cannot be a prohibition of polygamy for Church officers.

 Paul did not oppose remarriage after the death of the existing partner (1
 Romans 7:2-3; Timothy 5:11-14, 4:3; 1 Corinthians 7:9), though he recommended
 the single state because of his fears for the Neronian persecution (1
 Corinthians 7:26, 38).

 So IMHO what we have here is serial monogamy. Celibacy is not intended, else
 how do we explain 1 Timothy 3:4, "one that ruleth well his own house, having
 his children in subjection with all gravity"?

 What is required is one that is "blameless" ANEPILEPTOS. This would rule out
 a polygamist, or an adulterer, or a cohabiting homosexual (1 Timothy 1:10).
 He must be faithful to his one-and-only wife. Some early church fathers
 (Tertullian, Chrysostom) were against remarriage after the death of the
 first spouse; others (Origen, Jerome) put excessive value on celibacy and
 virginity. So from the 4th century to the 16th, clergy in the west had to be
 celibate, until Luther married Catherine von Bora.

 I would like to see Ward Powers respond to this thread. In his book /The
 Ministry of Women in the Church/ he writes "an elder is to be (according to
 the literal meaning of the Greek) 'a one-woman man', that is, a person who is
 loyal to a wife. The expression does not constitute a requirement that a
 prospective elder must be married (that would be worded differently, that he
 'have a wife', or by using the word for 'to be married'). Rather, the
 expression means that he is not to be emotionally promiscuous or flirtatious;
 he must not be a person who is susceptible to becoming involved with other
 woman in the congregation (or elsewhere). He must be a man who is responsible
 and trustworthy in his behaviour with women" (page 133).

 The phrase MIAS GUNAIKOS ANDRA has become very relevant in the controversy
 over women ministers in the church, and homosexuals in the church. So it is
 very much a hot potato. I believe the Pastorals to be genuinely Pauline, and
 therefore written before his death in 63-64 AD. But, these matters are not
 germane for b-greek.

 Revd Ben Crick, BA CF
 232 Canterbury Road, Birchington, Kent, CT7 9TD (UK)

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