Question:

In light of the position you take with regard to Elders and the number of children they should have, I would like to know your thoughts with regard to the following scriptures. We are in the process of studying deacons and elders at the congregation I attend, and I am trying to further prepare for this study. I am confident you are much more educated than I am, but from a layman’s perspective, and considering the contexts in which tekna is used in these scriptures, it would seem that tekna would apply to both the singular and plural in these verses. Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks

Matt 22:24
24 saying: "Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children (tekna), his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother.
NKJV

Mark 10:29-30
29 So Jesus answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children(tekna) or lands, for My sake and the gospel's,
NKJV

Luke 14:25-27
26 "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children(tekna), brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
NKJV

Luke 18:29-30
29 So He said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children(tekna), for the sake of the kingdom of God,
NKJV

Luke 20:28-31
"Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man's brother dies, having a wife, and he dies without children, his brother should take his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. And the first took a wife, and died without children. 30 And the second took her as wife, and he died childless. 31 Then the third took her, and in like manner the seven also; and they left no children (tekna), and died.
NKJV

1 Thess 2:6-7
7 But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children(tekna).
NKJV

1 Thess 2:11
11 as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children(tekna),
NKJV


Answer:

In Must elders have more than one child? I discussed the grammatical rules for determining how many children are under consideration:

  • The word teknon means one or more children.
  • The word tekna when referring to a plural subject means one or more children per individual (multiple children are still involved).
  • The word tekna when referring to a singular subject means two or more children.
  • The word tekna when referring to a "plural by class" (that is a singular subject that implies multiple things) means one or more children per individual (multiple children are still involved).

In other words teknon refers to a single child or multiple children, much like we use "children" in English. Tekna always refers to multiple children, but when we divide the children among multiple people, each person might have one or more children.

Applied:

In Matthew 22:24; Mark 10:29-30; Luke 14:25-27; Luke 18:29-30; I Thessalonians 2:6-7, 11 are all the same. You have a singular subject being discussed using a plural object. It would refer to two or more children, unless it is plural by class.

In Luke 20:28-31, each of the seven left no child. The subject is plural and the object is plural but the object is in the negative meaning doesn't exist. In other words there is a multiple of "no child."

You can argue "plural by class" in Matthew 22:24; Mark 10:29-30; Luke 14:25-27; Luke 18:29-30; 20:28-31 because it is one out of a set. But the children is in the negative. It means each has no child and as a group they have no children. This is most clearly seen in Luke 20:28-31 when it said the first man dies with no children (teknon) and that they all had no children (tekna).

In I Thessalonians 2:6-7, 11 Paul starts out with "we," referring to all the apostles or all those who who preached in Thessalonica, so you could argue plural by class, but we know that the church in Thessalonica had more than one member, so it doesn't matter. The illustration, however, is of a single parent with multiple children.