Summary: A sermon on church leaders wives (Material adapted from Alexander Strauch's book, The New Testament Deacon)
There is a story about 4 preachers discussing the merits of the various translations of the Bible. One liked the KJV best because of its simple, beautiful English. Another liked the American Revised Version best because it was closer to the original Hebrew and Greek. Still another like the NIV because of its up-to-date vocabulary. The fourth minister was silent for a moment, then said, “I like my mother’s translation best.” Surprised, the other three men said they didn’t know his mother had translated the Bible. “Yes,” he replied, “She translated it into life, and it was the most convincing translation I ever saw.”
This verse is often interpreted in different ways. 3 different ideas:
1. This is talking to all women. Yes, these are good character qualities for all women but that is not who is being addressed here. The context is talking about church leadership.
2. This is talking about another office in the church, a deaconess- a woman deacon. This is not supported by the Greek and we do not find this practice in the early church.
3. This is talking about the wives of church leaders. Many translations of the Bible take this view like the NIV, KJV, English Standard Version, and others.
Cannot adequately explain why it is included in qualification for deacons. Deacons are to be tested (vs. 10) and this testing must also include their wives. If they pass the test, then they can be deacons. Most elders start as deacons. Maybe this is the reason, but these qualities are essential for the wives of all church leaders whether they be deacons, elders, or preachers.
Vs. 11 should encourage deacons, for what better help can a deacon have than a faithful wife? When deacons are examined for office (vs. 10), their wives must also be included in the examination process, since they serve as helpers to their deacon husbands. If a prospective deacon’s wife isn’t willing or able to help or doesn’t meet the qualifications mentioned in vs. 11, the prospective deacon isn’t eligible at that time for office.
A woman can make or break a man and this is very evident in church leadership. Because deacons’ wives are helper, Paul requires them to meet qualifications similar to their husbands.
Paul lays down 4 requirements for deacons’ wives in vs. 11 that are similar to others found in 1 Timothy 3: Worthy of respect (exactly as deacons), malicious talkers (find in other qualities but not covered specifically until here), temperate (same word used in vs. 2 for elders), trustworthy in everything (find in other qualities but not covered specifically until here)
Thesis: Let’s examine these 4 qualifications in more detail
Women of dignity, women worthy of respect
As church leaders we should be of the mindset that we are not going to involve our wives in sensitive matters of the church. I think this is good and should be a general rule. Try not to talk about people or situations in detail but if things fester, for my own sanity, I must inform my wife. I want my wife’s input and prayers over this situation. We are a team, a partnership, and if it affects me it also affects my wife.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28, NIV. Christianity emancipated women; it liberated them from a kind of slavery. In the Gentile world a wife was not viewed as a partner but more like a domestic slave. A slave with authority and above the other slaves but still a slave. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Galatians 5:1, NIV. Because of this women are to be dignified. They are not to use their position in an ungodly and unbiblical way.
Not malicious talkers
Generally women talk more than men. I’m not saying that men don’t gossip, they do. However, most women can outtalk most men. If their words are hurtful and full of gossip, they can do much damage to morale and to the church.
I grew up with two younger sisters and it seemed to me that they did battle with their tongues over the course of weeks, while my brother and I did battle with our bodies and it lasted at most an hour. Fighting with tongues can be the more brutal.
“When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:3-8, NIV.