A Pastor/Elder and Deacon - Qualities of First Timothy 1, Ruling his own house well.
We will now continue on in our thought concerning the pastor/elder and of the deacon as we find it in 1st Timothy chapter 3, and verse 4 and 5, “One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?).” I cannot stress how important that this quality and again I stress the belief that it is a quality is for the offices of both the pastor/elder as well as the deacon. Especially as these two offices are “intertwined” in their service with one another, and in their service to the church body.
We read in Acts 21:8-9, “And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.” Notice if you will that a pastor/elder and a deacon must be a family man. This was not Philip the apostle, but the very same Philip that we find who was chosen and set aside by the church for the apostles or elders to lay their hands on in order to fill the first office of a deacon in Acts 6:5. If we are to believe our historical accounts this happens about twenty years after this Brother Philip was ordained to the office of deacon. Without a doubt, we can say that he was indeed a FAMILY MAN! We can see that in Acts 8:5, some years later that he was set aside, leaving the office of deacon, to the office of an elder. We know this because he preached Christ to people in “the city of Samaria.” It was at this time that he had his experience with the Ethiopian eunuch, who was returning from worshipping in the temple at Jerusalem on the road to Gaza. However, I want to emphasize that Philip was a MARRIED MAN…he was a FAMILY MAN! Again I am not saying that a pastor/elder or a deacon MUST be married, but I am saying that it must be shown…proven that he has the quality of being a family man. Do you see what I am trying to say here? Remember Paul asks the question, “For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?” In addition, this question must be answered before anyone is set into an office in the service of the church of the Living God. Beloved how many times have we, as members of the Primitive Baptist Church visited in the homes of the families of such precious pastors/elders and faithful deacons while we traveled away to meetings? I know that I have been thus blessed on many occasions.
Marriage and the home are of Divine origin. God created man by a direct act of creation, He breathed life into his nostrils and the man became a “living soul.” Moreover, unlike the beast of the field he came into the union of one man and one woman, as a picture of the relationship between Christ; the Bridegroom, and the church, His Bride. If this admonition goes unheeded, the effectiveness of the man’s pastorship/eldership or deaconship will be greatly diminished.
And we find that in 1 Tim. 3:11-12 that we are to consider the wives of such men, for the Apostle Paul also tells us a little something about their wives, he writes “And even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.” Keep in mind that the offices of a pastor/elder and a deacon are intertwined by God’s design. Now, this most certainly excludes the possibility of any women being placed in the office of a pastor/elder and a deacon, because it is impossible for her to be the “husband of one wife.” However, it is also equally clear that the wives of the pastor/elder and deacon should enter into the responsibilities along side of their husbands and share in the sweet promises of their office in support of their husbands without being publicly set apart by the church in an ordination service.
However, does this mean that having a wife is a prerequisite for being a deacon? Moreover, I would be quick to say that the answer is no, it does not mean that at all. Nevertheless, this scripture most certainly does teach us that he must be the husband of one wife; that is…IF HE IS ALREADY MARRIED. The emphasis is without any doubt upon the fact that there must only be one wife. It is safe to say that a man; pastor/elder and deacon must not have two legal wives according to the laws of God…that is to say living wives. In addition, it does not matter what men may tell us, our confidence does not lie with man, but in the word of God. That is to say that if he is divorced, this must have met with the requirement that are set forth by our Lord Jesus Christ who said, “except a man put away his wife for other than fornication’ (that is to say sexual sin) ‘he causes her to commit adultery, and any man who marries such a one commits adultery.” Therefore, any man or woman who divorces for any other reason, and if they remarry they must be considered to have more than one living, legal wife, especially in the eyes of God, and therefore they ought never to be considered for ANY office in the church. In addition, for that matter if such were found to be within the membership of the church body, it would become necessary for the church to deal with him. Moreover, any such who holds an office and fall into such a state should be removed from that office.
However, by now you are not doubt asking yourself, “Well Brother Thomas, what about an unmarried man? Can an unmarried man be called to the office of deacon?” My answer to that question would be “yes.” But it should be understood by this man that if he is chosen by the church, that before he accepts the office, that if he were to marry that he abide according to the scriptures as in 2 Cor 6:14 “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” He ought to not go aside of the church and into the world to seek his wife, and why not? Well, simply because this action is liable to become the cause of confusion within the church that he is serving. Before he marries, he must first consider the office to which God has provided for him to serve, to which the church has placed him in. He must consider whether the person he wishes to marry will accept without any reservation the primary obligations of his office. He must, and this with must prayer, consider the question of “What will his prospective bride bring to his office?” Will she bring the things that God expects, and the church must have in order to insure the proper function in the blessings of God? Will she live the life of a deacon’s wife? He must ever be mindful that his sacred vow was made first to God and before the church, and that this vow is for life. Moreover, because of the sacredness of his obligations to his calling he must consider all of these questions to know what his marriage will mean to his service to God and His elect children in the House of God.
The woman who is considering become a deacon’s wife, she must also prayerfully consider something too. To start out with, the very fact that this man is a pastor/elder or a deacon will affect the kind of home that he MUST have. Is she thus willing to live in the manner that is required in order for her to be able to support him in his God called ministry? She must be willing to do so, or not enter into this union. As she considers these questions, let me say a word of encouragement here, his office will have both a demand on, as well as a wonderful contribution to the home that she will have. If she and her husband live faithfully in accordance with and in the manner of good stewards before the church of Christ, I am certain that God will bless their family with His untold blessings. And so with these things in mind she should very carefully, and with much prayer consider what it means to be a deacon’s wife, along with the things that her husband is expected to do as a man who is to be of service to God and His elect children in the Church Kingdom of Heaven. She should read and meditate on the passages found in 1 Tim 3:11 asking herself, "Am I willing to be a wife who is grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things,” and especially the latter part of the verse, “faithful in all things?” All of these things should be considered before he enters into the union of marriage.