Question:

I need some advice, sir. Can a man, who meets all qualifications to be an elder, serve as an elder if his wife isn't a Christian? If you don't care, please explain your thoughts and the biblical standpoint. Any advice would be appreciated.


Answer:

In looking for qualified men to be elders, we put so much emphasis on the qualifications of the man that we forget that his wife must also display certain qualities. "Likewise their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things" (I Timothy 3:11). The reason for elder and deacon's wives to have qualifications is because they are involved in the work of their husbands.

The wives of both the deacons and elders are to be "faithful in all things." "Faithful" is a term that refers to a person being a strong Christian. Letters in the New Testament were addressed to the faithful (Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:2). Paul referred to his becoming a Christian as a time when he was made trustworthy (I Corinthians 7:25). Notice the usage of pistos (faithful) in the following passages:

"And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished" (Acts 10:45).

"Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?" (II Corinthians 6:15).

"foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth" (I Timothy 4:3).

"For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe" (I Timothy 4:10).

"Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers" (I Timothy 4:12).

"If any believing man or woman has widows" (I Timothy 5:16).

"And those who have believing masters, let them not despise them because they are brethren, but rather serve them because those who are benefited are believers and beloved" (I Timothy 6:2).

"commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (II Timothy 2:2).

The Greek word pistos means "trustworthy, faithful, or reliable." In common usage, it could be used to describe a servant. A faithful servant is one in whom you have complete trust. He will do his assigned task, even if the master is not standing over him to monitor his every move. To be described as a faithful servant is a great complement to the Christian. The Lord found Paul to be faithful (I Timothy 1:12) and the following men are described as faithful:

  • Timothy (I Corinthians 4:17)
  • Tychicus (Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7)
  • Onesimus (Colossians 4:9)
  • Epaphras (Colossians 1:7)
  • Silvanus (I Peter 5:12)
  • Antipas (Revelation 2:13)

Hence, when Jesus said, "Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Revelation 2:10), he is urging Christians to remain trustworthy as servants of God for their entire life.

Thus, for our discussion, an elder's wife must be not just a Christian, but an exemplary one.