Thanks for visiting Bible Mountain. In this lesson I’m going to look at Titus chapter one verse six and talk about one of the qualifications to be an elder which is to be the husband of one wife. At what point is a man married? At what point does he stop being married, if ever?
Watch the video or scroll down to read a transcript.
Thanks for visiting Bible Mountain. In this lesson I’m going to look at Titus chapter one verse six and talk about one of the qualifications to be an elder which is to be the husband of one wife. Let’s read Titus one verses five through six.
Titus 1:5 For this reason I left you in Crete, in order that you might set in order the things that are lacking and appoint elders in each city as I commanded you, 6 if any man is blameless, the husband of one wife,
I’m going to focus on the husband of one wife. The Greek phrase is three words: heis gunaikos aner. Heis is the greek word for one. Gunaikos is the greek word for woman. Aner is the greek word for man. You may have heard some people say that the requirement here is to be a one woman man. That’s not quite 100% accurate. That is because the first two words are in the genitive case. In the greek language, the genitive case is used to indicate possession.
In the English language, when we want to indicate possession, we either add an apostrophe s to the end of a word, or we use the word of. For example, in the expression the man’s suitcase, the word man has the apostrophe s. That means the suitcase belongs to the man. In the expression the suitcase of the man, the word of indicates the suitcase belongs to the man. In Biblical Greek, they indicated possession by using the genitive case.
Here’s something else you need to understand. In the English language we have the words male, female, man, and woman, indicating gender. Then we have the word husband, which indicates a male who is married, and we have the word wife, which indicates a female who is married. Biblical Greek does not have words for husband and wife. Instead, it uses possession. In Biblical Greek, instead of saying a man’s wife, you would say a man’s woman. Instead of saying my wife, you would say my woman.
Let’s go back to Titus 1:6. It says an elder must be an heis gunaikos aner. Heis and gunaikos are in the genitive case, indicating possession. The phrase one woman man does not indicate any possession, so that phrase is not quite right. The more accurate translation is man of one woman. The word of indicates possession.
Since Greek does not have words for husband and wife there are several correct translations.
Man of one woman, man of one wife, husband of one wife, and husband of one woman would all be correct. The word of must be there because the greek expression uses the genitive case, indicating possession. The New American Standard Bible translates this the husband of one wife.
In order to be an elder, a man has to have a wife and he has to have only one wife. That leads to two questions. At what point is a man married? At what point is a man no longer married, if ever?
Typically, in our culture, we tend to answer those questions based on when the government determines someone is married. When the government says someone is married, we believe he is married. When the government says he is not married, we believe he is not married.
However, as Christians, we should not look at it that way. As Christians we should start with God’s definition of married. When does God consider a man and woman to be married? When does God consider a man and woman to be no longer married, if ever?
Having said that, unfortunately, the Bible does not explicitly tell us when God considers a man and woman to be married. The Bible is fairly explicit about if and when a marriage can end. It’s not all that explicit about when a marriage starts.
To see what the Bible does tell us, let’s go to Genesis chapter two. As you know, this is near the beginning of time. Genesis two tells us about the creation of the woman as a helper for the man. After the woman was created and brought to the man, we read the following.
Gen. 2:23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
Verse 23 is a comment made by Adam. Verse 24 is a comment by the author of Genesis. What we see in verse 24 is the idea that marriage is a man leaving his parents, joining with a woman, and forming their own unit. We see the phrase, they shall become one flesh. That phrase indicates a sexual relationship. If they have a sexual relationship and produce a child, then the two of them have produced a child which is one flesh. We can gather from this that the sexual act is an important part of the process of a man and woman becoming married. We see two steps to being married. First, the man leaves his parents and joins with his wife. Second, the man and woman have a sexual relationship.
What if a man and woman have a sexual relationship, but they don’t join together, live together, and form a separate unit? Let’s take a look at 1 Corinthians 6. Let’s start reading at verse 15.
1Cor. 6:15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! 16 Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.”
When a man joins himself to a prostitute, he’s not leaving his parents and forming a new household with the prostitute. However, Paul referenced the phrase, “the two shall become one flesh”, which was used in reference to marriage. Does this indicate a sexual relationship creates a marriage in God’s eyes? The Bible is not explicitly clear.
Let’s talk about when, if ever, a marriage can end. On this the Bible is much more explicit. Let’s look at Matthew chapter 5 verse 31. This was Jesus speaking.
Matt. 5:31 “It was said, ‘WHOEVER SENDS HIS WIFE AWAY, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE’; 32 but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
Let’s go to Matthew chapter 19.
Matt. 19:3 Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” 4 And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, 5 and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’? 6 “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” 7 They *said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE AND SEND her AWAY?” 8 He *said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. 9 “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
Let’s go to Romans 7.
Rom. 7:1 Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? 2 For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. 3 So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man.
Now let’s go to 1 Corinthians 7.
1Cor. 7:39 A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.
This tells us that once a man and woman are joined together in marriage, they are bound together until one of them dies. The only exception is if they divorce because one of them committed adultery.
How do we put this into practice regarding the requirement for an elder to be the husband of one wife? In order to be an elder, a man has to be married. In a culture that practices polygamy, a man who has multiple wives is not eligible to be an elder. In any culture, if a man is married, and then divorces, and then gets remarried while his first wife is still living, then he is not eligible to be an elder because he is still bound to his first wife, according to the Bible.
If he divorced his first wife because his first wife committed adultery, and the adultery is what led to the divorce, then you have grounds for saying he is no longer bound to the first wife, and he is eligible to be an elder even though he remarried.
What do we do in our culture today where cohabitation without getting married, or having sex outside of marriage is very common? How do we apply this?
Suppose a man starts living with a female, they have a sexual relationship, they never legally get married, they break up, and then the man legally marries a second woman. Is he eligible to be an elder? In that scenario, he meets both of the Genesis 2 requirements for being married with both women, leading to the conclusion that in God’s eyes, he is bound to both women.
What about a man who has had sexual activity with more than one woman, but he never lived with more than one woman, and at least two of the women are still alive? Is he eligible to be an elder? In that case he only meets one of the Genesis 2 requirements with multiple women.
That is a bit of a gray area. While the Bible indicates that having sex with a woman is joining yourself to that woman, in Genesis chapter two the indication is that marriage is when a man leaves his parents and starts to live with a woman.
These are not easy questions to answer. However, here is what is clear and easy to understand. The ideal is for an elder to be a man who has only had a sexual relationship with one woman and that this woman be the only woman he has ever married.
Thanks again for visiting Bible Mountain. If you have already joined my email list, thank you, and please forward this to someone else who would benefit from visiting Bible Mountain. If you have not joined my email list yet, please do so now. My email list is free. This is the best way to make sure you receive all my content. In order to join, go to www.BibleMountain.com, click on email, and that will take you to a page where you can sign up. Your email address will not be sold nor given away. Once again, thank you for visiting Bible Mountain.