Summary: To be an effective servant for the Lord, we must possess qualities that will be an acceptable testimony of Jesus working in our lives; to be good servants, we should live like good deacons.
Qualifications for Service
I. Dignified Actions (v.8)
a. Practice what they preach (James 1:8)
b. Sober (1 Peter 5:8)
c. Earn what they get (1 Timothy 6:9-10)
II. Clear Understanding of the Faith (v. 9)
III. Tried and Proven (v. 10; 1 Timothy 5:22)
a. Tested in smaller duties
b. Approved by faithful service (Matthew 25:21)
IV. Dignified Women (v. 11)
a. Controlled tongues (James 3:5-12)
b. Calm and collected
V. Managers of the Household (v. 12)
a. Committed (See Wiersbe and McArthur)
b. Manager of resources
The husband of one wife (v. 2b).
All of the qualifying adjectives in this passage are masculine. While there is ample scope for feminine ministry in a local assembly, the office of elder is not given to women. However, a pastor’s homelife is very important, and especially his marital status. (This same requirement applies to deacons, according to 1 Tim. 3:12.) It means that a pastor must not be divorced and remarried. Paul was certainly not referring to polygamy, since no church member, let alone a pastor, would be accepted if he had more than one wife. Nor is he referring to remarriage after the death of the wife; for why would a pastor be prohibited from marrying again, in the light of Genesis 2:18 and 1 Timothy 4:3? Certainly the members of the church who had lost mates could marry again; so why penalize the pastor?
It’s clear that a man’s ability to manage his own marriage and home indicate ability to oversee a local church (1 Tim. 3:4-5). A pastor who has been divorced opens himself and the church to criticism from outsiders, and it is not likely that people with marital difficulties would consult a man who could not keep his own marriage together. I see no reason why dedicated Christians who have been divorced and remarried cannot serve in other offices in the church, but they are disqualified from being elders or deacons.
The husband of one wife. Lit. in Greek a “one-woman” man. This says nothing about marriage or divorce. This issue is not the elder’s marital status, but his moral and sexual purity. This qualification heads the list, because it is in this area that leaders are most prone to fail. Various interpretations of this qualification have been offered. Some see it as a prohibition against polygamy. An unnecessary injunction since polygamy was not common in Roman society and clearly forbidden by Scripture (Genesis 2:24), the teaching of Jesus (Matthew 19:5, 6; Mark 10:6-9), and Paul (Ephesians 5:31). A polygamist could not have even been a church member, let alone a church leader. Others see this requirement as barring those who remarried after the death of their wives. But, as is already noted, the issue is sexual purity, not marital status. Further, the Bible encourages remarriage after widowhood (1 Timothy 5:14; 1 Corinthians 7:39). Some believe that Paul here excludes divorced men from church leadership. That again ignores the fact that this qualification does not deal with marital status. Nor does the Bible prohibit all remarriage after divorce (Matthew 5:31, 32; 19:9; 1 Corinthians 7:15). Finally, some think this requirement excludes single men from church leadership. But if that were Paul’s intent, he would have disqualified himself (1 Corinthians 7:8). A “one-woman man” is one totally devoted to his wife, maintaining singular devotion, affection, and sexual purity in both thought and deed. To violate this is to forfeit blamelessness and no longer be “above reproach” (Titus 1:6, 7)
Issues of divorce should be related to this matter (the management of the elder’s home). A divorced man gives no evidence of a well-managed home, but rather that divorce shows weakness in his spiritual leadership. If there has been a biblically permitted divorce, it must have been overcome by a long pattern of solid family leadership and the rearing of godly children (Titus 1:6)