Q: Is the restriction of “man of one wife” limited to leaders or to a specific set of officers namely Bishops? Are Bishops leaders or are Bishops bishops and Leaders leaders?
Possibly, I think, our use of words that are found in the bible in ways that do not exactly match the meaning of those words in the days that the bible was translated into the English language is responsible for some of the confusions we have today. But these discrepancies can easily be resolved in most cases when one looks at the original languages they were translated from.
For example, would you believe that another way to interpret the word “Deacon” is attendant or errand boy? How about Bishop which means overseer of a church, of something in a church or something for the church. So we have to be careful when we take our modern use of words as the direct meaning of words written in a version of the English language that was in use over 200 years ago. Heavens, the language has changed within the last 10 years!
Now, if we were to attempt to standardize the definitions of all these terms, we might run into denominational conflicts because what a bishop or overseer means in one church denomination might be different from the one next door. But whatever the definitions, the word officer seems to capture them all. So for the purpose of this discourse, an officer would then be anyone who has been ordained or appointed by a congregation or church system to carry out certain tasks.
Then, there are those who were not officially appointed by the church to do anything and yet, they seem to have the capacity to influence others around them. According to John Maxwell, leadership is influence, so let’s call these guys leaders.
Now these might seem stupid questions to ask but do you ever appoint people as officers who are not leaders? Do you appoint a person as an officer without considering whether he has leadership qualities you desire? Do you appoint a person as an officer and then expect him to start developing his previously none existent leadership qualities after his appointment?
Like I said, these are no brainers and the answers are obviously no.
If we are that smart in our human set ups, I would expect the wisdom of God that guides the church to be, at the very least, at par with ours. With that in mind, let us look at the following verses of scripture.
Tit 1:5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:
Tit 1:6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.
Tit 1:7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;
Tit 1:8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;
Tit 1:9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
I hope you noticed that he said to “ordain elders” and then said “for a bishop must be …” Why would the qualifications for bishops be applied for elders? I think it’s because all officers have the same qualifications, maybe not the same skill set but definitely the same qualifications. They must first be leaders with the qualities desired.
Another set of scriptures:
1Ti 3:1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
1Ti 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
1Ti 3:3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
1Ti 3:4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
1Ti 3:5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
1Ti 3:6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
1Ti 3:7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
1Ti 3:8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
1Ti 3:9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
1Ti 3:10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.
1Ti 3:11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
1Ti 3:12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
1Ti 3:13 For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
Same as with the previous set of verses, the qualities required of all the officers are all just about the same which means they are selected from a single pool, the pool of leaders. And it is clear in these verses, that the qualities so desired are not going to be demanded only after being appointed but such would already visible in the lives of the potential officers. For example, it is not after the officer (elder, bishop, deacon, or whatever designation he might bear in your church such as unit leader and so on) has been appointed that he will be checked if he has a good reputation or a husband of one wife; he must already be those things. And if we are all truly leaders, then it is expected that we would all have the qualities that make leaders stand out and make us worthy examples to follow whether we get appointed into an office or not.
These same principles were applied in Acts 6:1-7 when officers were to be appointed over something as carnal as food distribution. The people appointed were to already possess the necessary qualities for church officers. The truth is, once you are an officer of the church, you have to represent the values of the kingdom of God.
Whether you’re an officer of the church or just a floor member, certain standards are expected of you. Looking at the recommendations of the Apostle Paul in the following scriptures, I am sure he will be labelled intolerant, insensitive, legalistic and judgmental in some of our churches today.
1Co 5:1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.
1Co 5:2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.
1Co 5:3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,
1Co 5:4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,
1Co 5:5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
1Co 5:6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
But as we can see, the real objective is not just that one man but the whole church. By the way, the man after being punished as instructed, felt sorry for his error and the whole church was asked to forgive him and restore him to their love and fellowship. See 2 Corinthians 2:1-10.
The final part is still ahead.
Meanwhile, see part 5: http://wp.me/p6rlMY-1q