Question:

Is it necessary for an elder to have children faithful in the church? If yes, then how many?

Answer:

"Having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion" (Titus 1:6).

"He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity" (I Timothy 3:4).

The purpose of this requirement is stated in I Timothy 3:5, "but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?" It is an extension of the principle that how a person behaves with little things is directly related to how he will behave in larger matters (Luke 16:10).

The question frequently arises, "What if a couple was unable to have children or they only had one child?" The wording of Titus does not allow for a childless couple to qualify; the requirements in Timothy gives us the reason: without children, a man is unable to demonstrate his ability to manage others. I do not see where the qualifications require the children must be biologically his own. A couple raising adopted children would still qualify. The Greek word is in the plural sense, indicating more than one child. As most parents know, every child is different. Being able to manage one child does not demonstrate the ability to handle a range of personalities. Again, adoption is a way to have more than one child if the couple finds it physically impossible.

The behavior of a man's children is a visible demonstration of his ability to oversee the souls within a congregation. "Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you" (Hebrews 13:17). If a man cannot encourage his own children to believe and live obedient to Christ, how could we expect him to manage those in a congregation?

A man's children must be faithful, believers, or trustworthy. In the New Testament the faithful are those who are Christians (Acts 10:45; 16:1; II Corinthians 6:15). The children are not just Christian in name, but they have shown themselves to be steadfast followers. By requiring the children to be faithful, the implication is that the elder has successfully raised children through all their stages of growth. Therefore, the elder has demonstrated consistency in overseeing his own household that has lasted for many years.

The children must not have charges against them of behaving like worldly people or unwilling to live by the laws of Christ. Such is expected of all Christians (I Peter 4:1-5; II Thessalonians 3:6) and an elders children must be able to show their ability to live the life of a Christian. The children should be obedient to their father was well as to Christ (Ephesians 6:1-3). They should demonstrate a dignified respect for their father; a respect that is sincere and honest, and not one that is done simply for show.

September 8, 2011