Question:

In I Timothy 3:11, where it says "Likewise their wives," do you think the word "their" means both elder and deacons wives? Or is this word a specific reference to deacons wives? I ask this because in context this verse falls under the qualification of a deacon.


Answer:

Actually, in the Greek it just says "wives" or "women." The word "their" was added by some translators for clarity. The difficulty is that Greek has one word for both a wife and a woman. It is context that determines which is meant. Since the next verse talks about a deacon being the husband of one wife, the context would dictate that "wives" is the proper translation.

Typically the argument is that since the wife of a deacon must meet certain qualifications, those same qualifications ought to also be applied to the wives of elders since they are also being discussed in the same section.

It has often been noted that the qualifications for both elders and deacons are mostly what you would expect from all Christians. It is no different for the wives, they are to be:

  • dignified - honorable, grave (Philippians 4:8; Titus 2:2)
  • not malicious gossips - false accusers, slanders (Titus 2:3)
  • temperate - sober, not a drinker (Titus 2:2)
  • faithful (trustworthy) in all things

These are qualities all Christians, both men and women are to display. For instance, would anyone argue that a deacon's wife must not be a gossip, but an elder's wife can be?

From the qualifications of the elders, we know that an elder's wife is to be married to one man (I Timothy 3:2), have raised two or more children (I Timothy 3:4), and that those children are to be faithful (Titus 1:6), which indicates she has taught them well (I Timothy 2:15). Both the elder and the deacon's wife is a partner with her husband in the work that he does, so she must show similar qualities in order to aid him in his work.