"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY" The Lawful Use Of The Law (1:8-11) by Mark Copeland


The Lawful Use Of The Law (1:8-11)


1. A major problem in the early church was a proper understanding of the
   law of Moses...
   a. Some Jewish Christians sought to bind it upon Gentile Christians
      - cf. Ac 15:1-6
   b. Some Jewish Christians continued to observe certain elements of
      the Law - cf. Ac 21:20

2. The issue prompted several epistles from Paul...
   a. To the church at Rome
   b. To the churches in Galatia
   c. To the church at Colosse
   d. To the Hebrew Christians in Palestine (if Paul be the author)

3. It was evidently a problem in the church at Ephesus...
   a. Where Paul left Timothy - 1Ti 1:2-4
   b. Where some strayed as in their use of the Law - 1Ti 1:5-7

4. A similar problem often exists today, where people...
   a. Fail to understand the purpose and limitations of the Law
   b. Use the Law in ways that are not lawful

[But as Paul writes, the Law (of Moses) is good when used lawfully 
(1 Ti 1:8-11).  From his words in this text and elsewhere, let's examine


      1. As Paul wrote later in his second epistle to Timothy - 2 Ti 3:14-17
         a. Referring to the Scriptures Timothy knew from childhood
         b. An obvious reference to the Old Testament, including the Law
            of Moses
      2. Appeal was often made to the Old Testament in discussing the
         nature of salvation
         a. As when Philip preached Christ to the eunuch - cf. Ac 8:
         b. As when James spoke at the conference in Jerusalem - cf. Ac 15:13-17
         c. As when Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome - cf. Ro 4:1-8
      -- We can learn much about our salvation in Christ from the Law!

      1. There is much we can learn about God in the Old Testament
         a. His omnipresence, omnipotence, omniscience - cf. Ps 139
         b. His longsuffering and mercy, His justice and righteous
            indignation - cf. Ps 103
         c. His providential workings in the affairs of nations and men
            - cf. Dan 2,4,5
      2. There is much we can learn about mankind
         a. The origin and fall of man - cf. Gen 1-3
         b. The weakness of man and need for redemption - cf. Ps 51
      -- We can learn much about God and our need for Christ from the

      1. The Law contains principles of righteousness that remain true
         throughout time
         a. Condemning such sins as murder, fornication, homosexuality,
            kidnapping, lying, etc.
         b. When admonishing Christians regarding basic principles of
            righteousness, the apostles often appealed to the Old
            Testament - e.g., Ro 12:19-21; 1Pe 3:8-12; He 12:4-7
      2. The Law reveals much about sin
         a. The nature and spread of sin - Ga 3:19
         b. The condemnation of sin - Ro 3:19-20
      -- We can learn much about sin and its terrible consequences from
         the Law!

      1. As Paul in his epistles to churches in Rome and Corinth 
         - Ro 15:4; 1Co 10:11-12
         a. The Old Testament was written for our learning, that we
            might have hope
         b. The Old Testament was written for our admonition, that we
            might not fall
      2. God's dealings with Israel serves as an example for the church
         a. As God's elect, corporate Israel received the promises, but
            some individuals did not
         b. As God's elect, the church as a whole will be saved, but as
            individuals we must make our calling and election sure - cf.
            1Pe 2:9-10; 2Pe 1:10
      -- From the Law we can learn much about the very real danger of
         apostasy! - e.g., He 3:8-4:1

[Yes, "the law is good if one uses it lawfully."  What then would be some
examples of the Law being used improperly...?]


      1. What Paul described as 'idle talk', the result of ignorance
         - 1Ti 1:6-7
      2. What he described as "foolish disputes, genealogies,
         contentions, and strivings about the law" - Tit 3:9
      -- Have you noticed how often false teachers appeal to the OT to
         promulgate their false doctrines?

      1. This was the error of the Judaizing teachers, who demanded that
         Gentile Christians must be circumcised and keep the Law of
         Moses - cf. Ac 15:1,5
      2. It renders the death of Christ meaningless - Ga 2:21
      -- Seeking justification (salvation) by the Law separates one from
         Christ! - Ga 5:4

      1. Paul evidently had no problem with Jewish Christians (including
         himself) observing various elements of the Law as a personal
         matter while the temple was still standing 
         - cf. Ac 16:1-3; 18:18,21; 21:18-26; 1Co 9:19,20
      2. But he drew the line when attempts were made to bind such on
         Gentile Christians - cf. Ga 2:3-5; Col 2:16
      3. For the death of Christ broke down the Law which divided Jew
         and Gentile - Ep 2:14-16
      -- Some have sought to bind various Jewish feast days, the
         Sabbath, dietary restrictions upon the church; this is an
         unlawful use of the Law!

      1. Some have appealed to the Law to justify various practices in
         their worship
         a. E.g., separate priesthood, special clothing, building of
         b. E.g., burning of incense, instrumental music, even animal
      2. Yet the New Covenant ushered in a more spiritual worship
         a. As Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well - Jn 4:20-24
         b. The worship under the Law of Moses:
            1) Was "symbolic for the present time" - He 9:9
            2) Contained "fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of
               reformation" - He 9:10
      -- To appeal to the Law as authority for any practice in worship
         fails to recognize that the time of reformation has come!


1. As Paul wrote to the brethren at Rome:  "Therefore the law is holy,
   and the commandment holy and just and good." - Ro 7:12

2. Even so, the Law had its limitations...
   a. It was designed to be temporary, until the coming of Christ - Ga 3:19,23-25
   b. It could not provide true redemption from sin - He 9:9; 10:1-4

3. Thus the Law of Moses today is not designed to make one righteous
   (1Ti 1:9), for true justification and sanctification comes only
   through the work of Christ

4. Our understanding and application of the Law must be governed by and
   in harmony with the sound doctrine and gospel teachings of the
   apostles - cf. 1Ti 1:10b-11

Appreciate the lawful use of the Law, and benefit thereby, while being
careful of it's unlawful use...!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Exclusivism and Christ’s Church by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Exclusivism and Christ’s Church

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Churches of Christ (Romans 16:16) have long been demonized for their insistence that all peoples are required to render obedience to the God of heaven, and that this obedience means that people must not tamper with God’s Word by inventing new churches, doctrines, creeds, and religions. They have insisted that the Bible depicts for humanity the religion of God, i.e., New Testament Christianity. Catholicism, Protestant denominationalism, and the plethora of manmade churches that have sprung up over the centuries are departures from “the faith” (1 Timothy 4:1). They have maintained that it is possible—and necessary—for a person to go back behind all denominational creeds and affiliations, and to be simply a New Testament Christian, a member of the New Testament church.
This biblical posture has brought down upon members of churches of Christ a great deal of abuse, ridicule, and antagonism. The revulsion manifests itself in such accusations as: “You think you’re the only ones going to heaven.” Especially with the massive shifting that has taken place in American culture in the last 50 years, with “political correctness” and the “I’m Okay, You’re Okay” mentality having thoroughly saturated national consciousness, anything that smacks of “exclusivity” is immediately demeaned and dismissed as “intolerant,” “mean-spirited,” “judgmental,” and even “a cult.” This mindset has literally infiltrated and infected most Americans. Take, for example, the following statement regarding the name for the church of the Bible:
The truth is that the name “Church of Christ” carries the baggage of an exclusivistic mentality to many people in our culture. “Oh, yeah,” somebody says, “those are the people who think they’re the only ones going to heaven.” One lady said that she never would have come into our building if she had known we are a “Church of Christ.” Once she came in and experienced the presence of God in this body, however, she isn’t about to leave! She and her children—from a very different denominational background—are reveling in the experience of Christ in this community of faith (Shelly, 1998, emp. added).
What does it mean to be “exclusivistic”? The dictionary definition of “exclusive” is “excluding or tending to exclude; not allowing something else; incompatible; not divided or shared with others; not accompanied by others; single or sole; excluding some or most, as from membership or participation” (American…, 2000, p. 620). A simple perusal of the New Testament reveals that the church of the New Testament is the church of Christ. He built her (Matthew 16:18). He gave Himself for her (Ephesians 5:25), and purchased her with His own blood (Acts 20:28). He loves her, nourishes her, and wishes to maintain her holy, unblemished nature (Ephesians 5:25-27,29). Christ’s church is not to be equated with the denominational churches that mere humans have established. This is where the name for the church becomes an important factor. Christ’s church will wear His name. Granted, a church may wear His name and claim to be His church when, in fact, it is not. But a church that identifies itself by some denominational designation that draws attention away from the founder (i.e., Christ) to some point of doctrine or lesser spiritual aspect cannot rightly be said to be His church.
Alas, such reasoning is almost universally rejected in today’s permissive climate of indiscriminate acceptance and toleration. Certainly, to suggest that there is “one church” (Ephesians 4:4a), and that every accountable person is obligated to submit to Christ’s plan of salvation in order to be added to that one church, is to be guilty of “exclusivism.” That is the very nature and essence of truth; it is narrow and exclusionary. But is there any indication elsewhere in the Bible that God’s will is exclusive? Does the Bible teach that the correct approach to life and religion is, in actuality, very narrow, rigid, and restrictive? Does the Bible endorse the current climate of toleration, acceptance, and openness?
Consider one brief illustrative incident. At the very beginning of human history, God placed the first man and woman in a beautiful garden paradise. He gave them wide latitude in exercising their own discretion with regard to daily dietary decisions (Genesis 2:16). However, He placed upon them one restriction: they were to refrain from eating the fruit from one particular tree (Genesis 2:17). Satan took issue with this restriction, and urged Eve to do the same (Genesis 3:4-5). She succumbed to his prodding, and to her own fleshly appetites, and ate of the fruit, encouraging her husband to do likewise. The result? Sin was introduced into the world, and the first family was changed forever and permanently banished from the beautiful garden. Question: was the restriction placed upon Adam and Eve by God exclusivistic? That is, did His instructions to them “not allow something else”? Were God’s directives “incompatible” with what Eve wanted to do? Was God’s command “not divided or shared with others” and “not accompanied by others”? Was God’s “my way or the highway” attitude inappropriate? To ask is to answer.
You “do the math.” Check out instance after instance, example after example in the Bible from beginning to end. Apply the definition of “exclusive” to each biblical account in order to determine if, in fact, God’s requirements are “exclusivistic.” Examine the cases of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:1-8), Noah (Genesis 6:22), Abraham (Genesis 26:5), Moses (Exodus 17:6; Numbers 20:7-12), Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1-3), the Israelites (Numbers 14:20-23; 21:4-9; Joshua 6; 9:14; 1 Samuel 8), Eli (1 Samuel 3:13), Saul (1 Samuel 13:11-14; 15), King David (1 Samuel 21:1-6; 2 Samuel 11; 24), Uzzah (2 Samuel 6:6-7; 1 Chronicles 15:13), Jereboam (1 Kings 12:26-33), Samaria (2 Kings 17:7ff.; 18:12), Josiah (2 Kings 22:13ff.), King Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:16-21), the Jews who returned from exile (Ezra 9-10), Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11). The inevitable, indisputable conclusion to which the honest heart is driven is that God’s instructions to humans have always been exclusivistic.
Make no mistake: no human and no church have a “corner on truth.” Gospel salvation is available to all: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11); “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17). God decides who will be saved and who will be lost. However, He has given us His Word to inform us as to His will and His decisions. He says that He wants everyone to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). He says that He does not want even one person to perish in hell (2 Peter 3:9). But He also says that most people will spend eternity in hell (Luke 13:23-24). He is most certainly inclusive in that He offers salvation to all without partiality. But He is equally exclusive in that he requires a proper response of obedience to His directives (John 14:15).
We would do well to jettison our petty jealousies, pride, and political loyalties, devote ourselves to ascertaining the precise parameters of God’s directives, and then focus on conforming to His will—“bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). He is “the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9). There are only two possible courses in life: “sin unto death, or obedience unto righteousness” (Romans 6:16). Jesus Himself declared that the former approach to life is “wide” and “broad,” and that most people go that direction (Matthew 7:13). He also stated that the latter approach is “strait” and “narrow” (i.e., exclusivistic!), and few people muster the gumption to confine themselves to that rigid, strict course (Matthew 7:14; Luke 13:23-24). Faithful Christians will remain undaunted when demonized as “exclusivistic,” since they are merely teaching and advocating that which God instituted. After all, an objective appraisal of the Bible reveals that Jesus, Himself, was an exclusionist. God is, in reality, the God of exclusivism!


American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language(2000), (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin), fourth edition.
Shelly, Rubel (1998), “What Is Your Church’s Name?” Lovelines, 24[5], February 4.

Examining the “Husband of One Wife” Qualification for Elders by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Examining the “Husband of One Wife” Qualification for Elders

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

The leadership structure of the Lord’s church is spelled out in the pages of the New Testament. Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 1:22-23), which He purchased with His blood (Acts 20:28). In particular localities where congregations of the Lord’s church meet, the inspired text explains that leaders who are called shepherds (or pastors), elders, or bishops are to direct the activities of each individual congregation (Acts 20:17; Titus 1:5; 1 Peter 5:1-4). These terms are used interchangeably to describe the same position of leadership in the local church (Lewis, 1985, p. 14). The multiple terms are used in order to provide a complete picture of what these leaders are to do and be.
In addition, the New Testament provides consistent teaching that each local congregation should strive to maintain a plurality of elders/pastors/bishops. As the late Bible scholar J.W. McGarvey once wrote: “There is no proposition in reference to the organization of the primitive churches upon which scholars and critics are more perfectly agreed than that every fully organized church had a plurality of Elders” (1950, pp. 66-67). McGarvey went on to correctly conclude that there is New Testament authority and example for only a plurality of elders, and no authority for a singular pastor or bishop to rule an entire congregation or group of congregations.
If a plurality of men should be established as the overseers of any given congregation, what qualities or characteristics should these men possess that would enable them to fulfill their duties? Thankfully, the Lord, through the inspired New Testament, has not left us to guess what traits are needed for such a position. There are two very clear lists of qualities that elders should possess in order for them to be appointed to the eldership—1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. It is understood that biblical passages are often complimentary, in which certain passages include additional, supplemental information. With that in view, we will consider these two lists as complimentary, and therefore as one “master” list of the qualities that every elder should maintain.
An exhaustive study of every one of the qualifications for elders is outside of the purview of this article. Additionally, some of the qualifications are so self-explanatory, they call for little (if any) discussion. For instance, in Titus 1:7 we read that one who aspires to be an elder should not be “violent.” The meaning of that term is unambiguous. It simply means that an elder should not be a person who flies into violent fits of rage in which people are physically abused. Again, in the same verse we are told that an elder is not supposed to be “greedy for money.” A simple dictionary definition for the word “greedy” quickly renders this qualification quite easy to understand.
Not all the qualities prescribed for elders, however, are as self-explanatory as the two just mentioned. In fact, there are several that have been at the heart of many heated discussions. One that has often been discussed, and is viewed by many as being difficult to understand, is the injunction that an elder must be “the husband of one wife” (Titus 1:6; 1 Timothy 3:2). It is to this qualification that we will direct our attention.


What does the statement that a bishop/elder/pastor must be the “husband of one wife” mean? Just reading this phrase in any standard English translation certainly leads to some ambiguity. Does it mean that he is only supposed to be married to one wife for his entire life? Does it mean that he is not to be married to two wives at once? If he was married to one wife when he was appointed an elder, but she dies, is he still the “husband of one wife”? If his wife dies and he marries another woman, is he now the husband of two wives? Does it really mean that a man must be married at all, or could it just mean that if he has a wife, he must only have one? Does this injunction mean that women are disqualified from the eldership? These are some of the most often asked questions pertaining to this particular qualification. In order to answer them, we will need to see if the original language clears up any ambiguity that might have arisen through translation.
In Greek, the phrase is mias gunaikos andra. Vincent, in his word study, translates it as “the husband of one wife” (1886, 4:228). R.H. Lenski translates the phrase as “one wife’s husband” (1998, pp. 579-580). William D. Mounce renders the words “‘one-woman’ man” (2000, 46:156). And C. Michael Moss translates it as the “‘husband of but one wife’ (literally ‘one woman’s man’)” (1994, pp. 69-70). What we see, then, is that the original language does not elucidate the phrase as much as we might like. In essence, it leaves us with the same ambiguities as the simple English renderings of the term. Thus, in order to gain a firmer grasp on the concept, we must think through the available options.

Must a Bishop/Elder/Pastor Be Married?

A host of scholarly commentators who have written about 1 Timothy 3:2 have concluded that the phrase “husband of one wife” does not mean that an elder must be married. They contend that the term simply means that if a man is married, then he should exhibit marital fidelity, be faithful to his spouse, and not be polygamous. There are a number of reasons such writers give for arguing that marriage is not a requirement for being a bishop. First, they believe that since Paul was not married, he would not have inserted a qualification that would exclude himself. Mounce summarized well this viewpoint when he wrote: “But the list is not a checklist requiring, for example, that all church leaders be married and have more than one child. Paul and Timothy were not married, nor did they have families (as far as we know), so neither of them could be a “one-woman” man or manage his household well” (2000, 46:156-159). Second, many of these writers believe that women should not be excluded from the eldership.
Those who believe that being the “husband of one wife” (i.e. married) is not a requirement often insist that what is being discussed is the personality and character of the individual, not the life circumstances in which the person finds himself. Thus, these writers argue that the text is simply saying that the proposed candidate for the eldership should have a character that he or she would remain faithful to one spouse. If the candidate’s character appears to be one of fidelity, whether or not the proposed elder actually is married to one wife is of no consequence. This interpretation of the “husband of one wife” is flawed for a number of reasons.
First, we must understand that life circumstances do dictate whether or not a person is eligible to be an elder or bishop. One of the qualifications for an elder is that he is not “a novice” (1 Timothy 3:1), or new Christian. Is it the case that a new Christian might be a very spiritual person? Certainly. Could it be that a new Christian may have an evangelistic attitude, have a close relationship to the Lord, and be walking in the light? Absolutely. Is there anything about the character of a “novice” that inherently excludes him from the eldership? No, there is nothing about his character that would keep him from being an elder. The only thing that keeps such a person from being appointed to the eldership is the fact that he is a recent convert. His life circumstance is such that he is not qualified to be an elder. He is not less valuable to the church. Neither is a novice less spiritual, less evangelistic, or of a lesser moral character than one who is qualified to be an elder. The only reason he is not qualified to be an elder is that God has stated that new converts are not to be appointed to the eldership.
Furthermore, the idea that Paul would not include a requirement to be an elder that would exclude himself carries no weight for a number of reasons. First, Paul interacted with various elders during his ministry (Acts 20:17, Philippians 1:1). He and Timothy wrote to the elders and deacons of the Philippian church (Philippians 1:1). And he instructed both Timothy and Titus (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9) in the way to appoint bishops/elders/pastors. Yet throughout the text, Paul never refers to himself as one who is in the “office” of bishop/pastor/elder. This realization is telling, in light of the fact that we know Paul was not married (1 Corinthians 7:6-9). On the other hand, we see the apostle Peter speaking to the elders of the church, and stating that he was a “fellow elder” (1 Peter 5:1). Since we know that Peter was married and had a mother-in-law (Mark 1:30), this would fit perfectly with the idea that the “husband of one wife” qualification for elders was mandatory. As J.W. McGarvey so clearly stated:
It has been urged as an objection to this conclusion, that it would disqualify Paul himself, and Barnabas and Timothy for the office of Elder although they held offices or positions of much greater responsibility. But this objection can have no force, unless it be made to appear that these brethren were qualified for the Elder’s office, or that the qualifications of an Apostle or an Evangelist include those of an Elder. Neither of the two, however, can be made to appear, and therefore the objection has no force whatever. Indeed, it seems most fitting that men whose chief work led them from city to city and nation to nation, through all kinds of danger and hardship, should be freed from the care of a family, and equally fitting that the shepherd, whose work was always at home and in the midst of the families of his flock, should be a man of family. A married man certainly possesses advantages for such work that are impossible to an unmarried man, and the experience of the world must confirm the wisdom requirement that the overseer shall be the husband of one wife (1950, p. 57).
Furthermore, to conclude that a person does not have to be the husband of one wife in order to be an elder ignores a very straightforward statement found in the context. When Paul wrote to Timothy, he stated: “A bishop then must be…” (1 Timothy 3:2). The phrase “must be” is a mandate that requires all those who aspire to become bishops to maintain the circumstances and characteristics that follow the phrase. The Greek word translated here is dei, which means “it is necessary, one must, or has to” (Glasscock, 1983, 140:245). Surely no one would contend that a man could be appointed as a bishop if he is greedy for money. None would be so careless as to suggest that a person who is violent could be appointed as an elder. Who would contend that a novice be appointed to the eldership? None. And yet each of these qualifications follows the phrase “must be” just as surely as “the husband of one wife.” All of the qualifications that follow “must be” are of equal value and importance and not one of them can be lacking from a prospective candidate for the eldership. The text plainly states that a bishop “must be…the husband of one wife.” To conclude that a bishop does not need to be the husband of one wife is to ignore a clearly worded inspired injunction.
In addition, numerous writers contend that “the husband of one wife” would be better rendered as something like “a one-woman sort of man” or “a man who has the character of fidelity to one woman if he were married” (Glasscock, 140:249-252). Thus, many of them suggest that men or women could be considered for the position of elder if they have a personality of fidelity even if they are not married. A flaw of this thinking is simply that a congregation would have to assume something about a person that there is no possible way of knowing unless the person were actually placed in that exact position. How in the world could it be verified that a person would be faithful to a spouse if that person is not married? In truth, there is no way to know, other than watching the person exhibit such faithfulness in an actual marriage.
To illustrate, suppose that the text stated that any candidate for the eldership must be “one who has taken a beating for Christ without recanting his faith.” If modern scholars were to “characterize” this qualification, they would assert that it means, not that he has been beaten, but if he were to be beaten, he would remain faithful to God. Yet to attribute to a person what he would do in a situation that he has never been in goes far beyond the capacity of human knowledge. Thus, to claim that a person is “a one-woman man,” without having seen that person remain faithful to a spouse, is claiming knowledge that no person can have. We can only know for sure if a man is a “one-woman” man if he has proven it in the testing ground of marriage. To borrow and modify a phrase from the inspired author, James, “show me your marital fidelity without being married, and I will show you my marital faithfulness by being married and remaining faithful.”

Can Women Be Elders/Pastors/Bishops?

A number of scholars contend that demanding that “the husband of one wife” is literal would disqualify all women from the position of elder. They contend that God would not allow men to attain a leadership position that is not also available for women. Thus they insist that the statement “the husband of one wife” cannot be taken literally.
From a general analysis of the inspired writings of Paul, one can see that he certainly was not sexist or gender biased. In fact, Paul penned one of the boldest statements of gender and race equality in all religious literature. In Galatians 3:28, he wrote: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” About this verse, Jan Faver Hailey wrote: “Common exegesis understands Paul here to be advocating that access to God is open to all through faith in Christ, without regard to race, social standing, or gender” (1993, 1:132).
While Paul consistently maintained that men and women are equal in God’s sight, he insisted they have been given different duties and roles. Many religious people mistakenly equate the concept of different roles, with the idea of different status or worth. Even skeptics have falsely assumed such. Atheist Charles Templeton wrote: “In his first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul states unequivocally that men and women have a different status before God” (1996, p. 186). Allegedly, if Paul instructs men to be elders (Titus 1:5-9) and to lead publically in worship (1 Corinthians 14:34-35; 1 Timothy 2:8-15), and husbands to be the “head” of their homes (Ephesians 5:22-24), then he must view women as less able, less valuable, or inferior to men. [NOTE: See Jackson, 2010 and Miller, 2005 for biblical expositions of these verses.]
Is it true that since the Bible assigns different roles to males and females, their status or worth must be unequal? Certainly not. In Titus 3:1, Paul explained to Titus that Christians were supposed to be subject to rulers and authorities and to obey the government. From that statement, is it correct to conclude that Paul views all those in governmental positions to be of more value than Christians? Does this passage imply that, because Christians are to obey other humans who are in governmental positions, Paul sees those in governmental positions as mentally, physically, or spiritually superior to Christians? Not in any way. The mere fact that Christians are to obey those in the government says nothing about the spiritual status or value of either party. It only addresses the different roles that each party fulfills.
Again, in 1 Timothy 6:2, Paul instructs Christian servants to be obedient to their own masters. Does this imply that Paul believed masters to be superior, or to be of more inherent worth than servants? No. It simply shows a difference in roles, not of status. Logically speaking, different roles can never be used to support an accusation that such roles imply different value or status. In Ephesians 6:1-2, Paul instructs children to obey and honor their parents. Does this mean that children are of less worth or value than their parents? This can hardly be the case, especially considering that Jesus described those in the kingdom of heaven as being like little children (Matthew 19:14), commanding His audience to be “converted and become as little children” (Matthew 18:3) in order to be able to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Furthermore, while many are quick to seize on Paul’s alleged sexism in his ordination of men as elders and leaders in their homes, those writers often neglect to include the responsibilities involved in such roles. Husbands are called upon to give their lives for their wives (Ephesian 5:25), physically provide food, shelter, and clothing for their families (1 Timothy 5:8), and to love their wives as much as they love themselves (Ephesians 5:25). While much is said about the “unfairness” of Paul’s instructions, it is productive to ask who would get the last seat on a life boat if a Christian husband and wife were on a sinking ship? The Christian husband gives himself for his wife in such instances. Is that fair that he is called upon to accept the sacrificial role of giving himself for his wife? Is she more valuable than he because God calls upon him to protect and cherish her and die for her if necessary? No. It is simply a difference is assigned roles, not in status or worth. Thus, one must conclude that to establish elders/bishops/pastors as men, each of which is the “husband of one wife,” does not imply gender bias or unfairness. It simply denotes a circumstance that must avail in the life of a person who is eligible to be an elder.

Polygamy, Bigamy, and “the Husband of One Wife”

A number of writers have concluded that the phrase “the husband of one wife” means that the man in view is not a bigamist or polygamist, but is married to “only” one wife. They stress that the force of the instruction lies on the concept of “only” one and not multiple wives. In considering this view, Michael Moss wrote: “Since polygamy was only infrequently practiced in the Greco-Roman world of the first century, is seems very unlikely that Paul would write to condemn a practice among overseers that would not be practiced even among Christians outside the leadership” (1994, pp. 69-70).It would seem prudent to argue, then, that the phrase is not inserted solely to exclude polygamists or bigamists from the eldership. To clarify, however, the condition would exclude polygamists, but would carry as much positive force for a man to be married to one wife as it would negative force not to have more than one. As McGarvey stated: “That he should be the husband of one wife, forbids having less than one as clearly as it forbids having more than one” (p. 56).

Only One Wife His Whole Life?

We have established, then, that the candidate for the eldership must be a man who is literally “the husband of one wife.” Our work is not done, however, because questions still remain concerning the qualification. Does “the husband of one wife” mean that the candidate must currently be married to the only wife that he has had his entire life? If his wife dies and he remains single, is he still the “husband of one wife,” since he was only married to one woman in his life? Or, if his wife dies and he remarries is he no longer the “husband of one wife,” since he has now been married twice to two different women?
First, let us state that the most ideal situation is one in which a man has been married to one woman for his whole life and they are still together during the time of his eldership. This situation would meet every conceivable challenge of the phrase “the husband of one wife.” Of course, stating the ideal does not exclude other possibilities that might be less than ideal but still potentially viable.
Let us then deal with the situation in which a man has been married, his spouse has died, and he is currently in his second marriage. Is this man a candidate for the eldership? Those who suggest that he is not, often refer to 1 Timothy 5:9 where Paul discussed widows who were to be “taken into the number” of the church. In that verse, Paul stated that only a widow who “has been the wife of one man” should be taken in. In light of this, some believe that having only been married to one person in one’s life has some type of spiritual significance, or at least offers a person some type of life circumstance that would be desirable for one who is an elder. Such an understanding seems to leave something to be desired based on the actual wording of 1 Timothy 3:2.
The qualification in 1 Timothy 3:2 states that a bishop “must be” in the present tense. The Greek words dei and eivai combine to form the “must” and “be” so that each of the qualifications is one that must at the present be a part of the potential elder’s life or character. For instance, it would do no good to have an elder who at one time was hospitable, but is no longer such. Nor would it behoove a congregation to have an elder who in the past was able to teach, but currently is not able to do so. Ironically, the present tense force is conspicuously absent from 1 Timothy 5:9, and a widow could not be taken into the number of the church if she was married to a man who was living (for she would not be a widow). Yet the ideal for an elder is for him to be currently married. Thus, it seems an unnatural and tenuous stretch to force the “parallel” between 1 Timothy 3:2 and 1 Timothy 5:9 to mean that an elder cannot be remarried after the death of a spouse. As Glasscock wrote: “First Timothy 3:2 does not say ‘an elder must be married only once’ nor does it say ‘an elder cannot remarry’” (140:247). He further stated that if Paul had wanted to insist that an elder must be married to one woman his whole life, the inspired writer could have written, “having had only one wife.” Since Paul did not make such a statement when it was in his power to do so, it goes beyond the bounds of the phrase “the husband of one wife” to insist that it means “having had only one wife” (140:247).
An understanding of the biblical teaching of marriage adds weight to the idea that a man can be qualified for the eldership, even if he has been married after the death of a spouse. In 1 Corinthians 7:39, Paul stated: “A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives, but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.” Marriage is a covenant that holds sway only as long as a person lives on this Earth in a physical, mortal body. Once a person’s spouse dies, he or she is no longer married to that person.
Jesus elucidated this fact in His discussion with the Sadducees. This particular Jewish sect did not believe in the resurrection of the soul. In order to trap Jesus, the Sadducees concocted a situation which they thought rendered the idea of the resurrection absurd. They presented to Jesus the situation in which a woman married a man, he died, so she married his brother. Subsequently, his brother died, and she married the third brother. Eventually, she lived through seven marriages to seven brothers and finally died. The Sadducees then asked Jesus, “Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife will she be? For they all had her” (Matthew 22:23-28). Jesus explained to the Sadducees that they did not understand the resurrection or the Scriptures. He stated that “in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like the angels of God in heaven” (Matthew 22:30). From Jesus’ teachings, we learn that a marriage contracted on Earth has no force in the resurrection.
Thus, a person who was married to one wife on Earth, when she dies, is no longer married to that person. While she was his wife in the past, she cannot rightly be called his wife now, since the covenant of marriage is over at the point of the death of a spouse. Glasscock summarized this idea when he wrote: “Surely no one seriously believes that if a man’s wife dies that he is still bound to her in marriage; thus if he marries a second time, he still has only one wife, that is, he is truly still ‘the husband of one wife’” (140:247). As J.W. McGarvey stated: “It may be well to add that one living wife is clearly meant, and that there is no allusion to the number of deceased wives a man may have had. If my wife is dead, I am not now her husband” (1950, p. 57).
Therefore, if a man’s wife dies and he becomes a widower, the present tense force of being the “husband of one wife” would seem to exclude him from being qualified for the eldership. We must be careful to insist that such a situation does not make him any less of a Christian, any less spiritual, or any less valuable to the Lord’s cause. It simply is the case that a circumstance in his life has arisen that renders him no longer qualified to serve as an elder at a particular time. To illustrate further, suppose a man was an exceptional teacher, but was in a tragic accident and lost his voice and his ability to communicate his thoughts properly. Could it be that such an accident would render him unable to teach? Certainly. Since he is no longer “apt to teach,” and would most likely not be in the physical condition to serve as an elder, would it be the best course for him to no longer be an elder? Yes. Is he less valuable to God, less spiritual, or in any way less “Christian”? Absolutely not. It is simply the case that a circumstance in his life has rendered him unable to serve as an elder at a particular time in his life. The eldership is a functional role that requires a person to maintain the qualifications throughout the time of his tenure as an elder. On the other hand, if a widower were to remarry after the death of his wife (and the woman he remarried met the qualifications detailed for the wives of elders—1 Timothy 3:11), the present tense force of being the “husband of one wife” would allow him to be considered for the eldership.

Can a Man Who Has Been Divorced and Remarried Be an Elder?

If a man who loses his spouse to death and remarries can be considered for the eldership, the natural question arises, “What about a man who is divorced and remarried?” If the phrase “the husband of one wife,” does not mean “having been married only once in his life,” that would seem to admit the possibility that a man who has been divorced and is remarried to “one wife” could be eligible. Before delving into this, let us restate the ideal. The perfect situation is one in which there is a man who has been married once to the same woman and she is living during the time he serves as an elder. Is it possible, however, that a divorced man who is remarried may still be an elder?
When we look to the teachings of Jesus and the Bible, we see that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16), and that in every divorce sin and selfishness on someone’s part lie at the heart of the broken marriage. When the Pharisees questioned Him about divorce, Christ explained that from the beginning of the human race, God instituted marriage to be between one man and one woman for life (Matthew 19:1-9). In the course of that discussion, Jesus noted that there is only one possible exception in which a person can divorce his wife lawfully in the sight of God. Jesus said: “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexually immorality, and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery” (Matthew 19:9). The sole exception that Jesus gave for dissolving a marriage in the eyes of God is if a person’s spouse has sexual intercourse with another besides his/her spouse. Jesus’ statement implies that if a man divorces his wife for sexual immorality, and he marries another person, he does not commit adultery by remarrying the second person. If a man can be married to a second wife (because he divorced his first wife due to sexual infidelity), and not be considered by God to be committing adultery, then it follows that God must (at least in the innocent party’s case) view the first marriage as dissolved and the covenant broken. Therefore, it would still be the case that a man who divorced his wife because of sexual infidelity and married another woman would/could be “the husband of one wife.”
It would appear logical that a man’s condition upon the death of a wife, or due to a divorce because of marital infidelity, would be the same, and a subsequent marriage would not disqualify him from being the “husband of one wife.” Robert Saucy aptly summarized the situation:
If divorce on the basis of adultery is legal and dissolves the marriage so that the one divorced can marry another, is the one remarried considered to be now “the husband of one wife”? It seems evident that legally such a remarried person is the husband of only one wife. He is not considered to have two wives. If this is true, then technically, he meets the requirements of the language of 1 Timothy (1974, 131:234).

An Additional Consideration

When discussing such “technicalities,” as we have in this article, it is often easy to forget that we are dealing with situations that play out in the real world of human relationships. While it may be true that a person could be technically qualified for the position of an elder, it might also be true that those who he is contemplating leading would not consider him qualified for one reason or another. It may be the case that many members of a congregation believe that a man must have only had one wife his whole life in order to be qualified to be an elder. It might be that a significant number of the members believe that death would dissolve a marriage, but a divorced man could never be qualified as an elder. What is to be done in such situations? The various other character qualities prescribed for an elder in Titus and 1 Timothy would help a Christian man come to the best possible conclusion. Any man who is qualified to be an elder, who is hospitable, wise, experienced, sober-minded, and temperate, will certainly consider more than the “technicalities” of the qualifications for the eldership before he seeks such an appointment. A man who is qualified to be an elder will have, at the heart of any decision he makes, the unity and overall good of the congregation of which he is a part.


Paul states that an elder must be “the husband of one wife.” There are some aspects of this statement that are clearer than others. It can be determined that the phrase necessarily means that only men are to be considered for the office. The exclusion of women from the office of elder does not imply that men are of more value, or that women are less capable. It simply accords with the biblical teaching that men and women have different roles, not different status as Christians. In addition, the phrase “the husband of one wife” is a present tense statement that implies that a man should be currently married to one woman. The candidate for the eldership, about whom there is no question as it pertains to this one qualification, is a man who is currently married to the one and only woman who has ever been his wife, and they stay married throughout the duration of his eldership. A close look at the qualifications, however, would seem to indicate that a man who is remarried after the death of a spouse, or one who is remarried after a divorce caused by his wife’s sexual infidelity, is technically still viewed as the “husband of one wife.”  


Glasscock, Ed (1983), “‘The Husband of One Wife’ Requirement in 1 Timothy 3:2,” Bibliotheca Sacra, 140:244-258, July-September.
Hailey, Jan Faver (1993), “‘Neither Male and Female’ (Gal. 3:28),” Essays on Women in Earliest Christianity, ed. Carroll Osburn (Joplin, MO: College Press).
Jackson, Wayne (2010), “Women’s Role in the Church,” http://www.christiancourier.com/articles/169-womans-role-in-the-church.
Lenski, R.C.H. (1998), Commentary on the New Testament: The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistles to the Colossians, to the Thessalonians, to Timothy, to Titus, and to Philemon(Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).
Lewis, Jack P. (1985), Leadership Questions Confronting the Church (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
McGarvey, J.W. (1950), The Eldership (Murfreesboro, TN: Dehoff).
Miller, Dave (2005), “Female Leadership in the Church,” Apologetics Press,http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2694.
Mounce, William (2000), Pastoral Epistles (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson).
Moss, C. Michael (1994), 1, 2 Timothy & Titus (Joplin, MO: College Press).
Saucy, Robert (1974), “The Husband of One Wife,” Bibliotheca Sacra, 131:229-240, July.
Templeton, Charles (1996), Farewell to God (Ontario, Canada: McClelland and Stewart).
Vincent, Marvin (1886), Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).

Even Jesus Had A Temper by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Even Jesus Had A Temper

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

In most circumstances, Jesus chose to use gentle words and peaceful measures to take care of the Father’s business. But on at least one occasion, aggressive action ruled the day.
From the time of Moses, whenever Jewish men presented themselves to the Lord at the Temple, they were instructed to offer a half-shekel of silver. Exodus 30:13 records: “This is what everyone among those who are numbered shall give: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary.” When Moses issued this decree, the Israelites were a single, cohesive unit that traded with the same form of money. However, that changed as the years passed and the Jews found themselves dispersed into other countries (such as Babylon, Assyria, and Phrygia). Naturally, those Jews who lived in foreign nations began to use as legal tender the money of the country in which they dwelt.
This posed a problem for them when they wanted to present themselves to the Lord at the Temple, because the Law said that they were to present a half-shekel of silver. The priest of the Temple would accept no foreign currency into the sacred treasury. Therefore, greedy moneychangers posted themselves in the court of the temple in order to offer their services. They would exchange foreign currency for a Jewish half-shekel, but in doing so they routinely exacted an exorbitant “commission” on the deal. What was a foreign Jew to do? Where else could he obtain a Jewish half-shekel except in Jerusalem? The moneychangers had a virtual monopoly. Basically, nobody could come to God unless he first went through the moneychangers.
As if that were not bad enough, the moneychangers and Temple brokers also had a monopoly on the sale of livestock suitable for offering to the Lord. Since many of the worshipers who visited the Temple lived so far away, they would purchase livestock at or near the Temple, rather than trying to bring animals on the trip with them. When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were in for a rude awakening because the acceptable livestock was priced outrageously high. They had no choice but to pay the prices, however, since returning home without sacrificing to God was not an option. Once again, the moneychangers and traders came between God and His worshipers.
Upon this scene of fraud and abuse, the Lion of Judah came roaring. In John 2:14-17, the story is told of Jesus experiencing righteous indignation. He formed a whip of cords and reeked havoc on the moneychangers, overturning their tables, pouring out their money, and driving them and their livestock out of the Temple.
Anger and wrath enter the lives of every one of us. But let us learn from Jesus to be “swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath” (James 1:19). Let us also learn that there is a time for righteous indignation. When there are those who stand between God and the true worship that is due Him—whether it be through false doctrine, hypocrisy, or any other vice—let us remember the example of the Lord and “be angry, yet sin not” (Ephesians 4:26).

Elders, Deacons, Timothy, and Wine by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Elders, Deacons, Timothy, and Wine

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Paul’s instructions pertaining to the qualifications of elders and deacons have created misunderstanding regarding the use of alcoholic beverages. Elders are not to be “given to wine” (1 Timothy 3:3), while deacons are not to be “given to much wine” (1 Timothy 3:8). Translations further obscure the matter by their variety of terminology. The ASV has “no brawler” (vs. 3) and “not given to much wine” (vs. 8). The NIV has “not given to much wine” (vs. 3) and “not indulging in much wine” (vs. 8). The NASB has “not addicted to wine” (vs. 3) and “not addicted to much wine” (vs. 8). So the question is: does 1 Timothy 3:8 sanction moderate alcohol use?
The phrase in verse three consists of two Greek words (me paroinos) and, literally translated, means “not beside, by, or at wine” (Vine, 1966, p. 146; Robertson, 1934, p. 613). The phrase is enjoining abstinence, and perhaps even the act of situating oneself in the presence of people and places where the consumption of alcoholic beverages is occurring. The ASV translated the expression “brawler” to emphasize the violent behavior that proceeds from the use of alcohol. Calling for elders to be abstinent is consistent with other terms used in the same listing: nephalion (1 Timothy 3:2)—“free from intoxicants” and “abstinent in respect to wine” (Perschbacher, 1990, p. 284), and sophrona (Titus 1:8)—“of a sound mind, temperate” (Perschbacher, p. 400), “soberminded” (Moulton and Milligan, 1930, p. 622), “self-controlled” (Arndt and Gingrich, 1957, p. 810). Elders must refrain from the use of intoxicants, and they must not associate with places and people who do use them.
In verse eight, the four words used to qualify deacons on this point (me oino pollo prosechontas) are literally translated “not wine much occupied with” (cf. Perschbacher, p. 352; Spain, 1970, p. 64). Does the use of the word “much” mean that deacons may imbibe a moderate amount of wine? At least three alternative interpretations are possible.
First, when Solomon said, “Do not be overly wicked” (Ecclesiastes 7:17—NKJV[“overwicked”—NIV; “overmuch wicked”—ASV]), did he mean to imply that a person can, with God’s approval, be moderately wicked? When Peter noted that pagans do not understand why Christians do not engage in the “same excess of riot” (1 Peter 4:4), did he mean moderate rioting was appropriate? In other words, language can forthrightly condemn an excessive indulgence or great amount of an action without implying that the action is permissible in a lesser amount or to a lesser degree. One cannot assume that what is unlawful in excess is lawful in smaller amounts. We can refer to a person’s frequentinvolvement in a certain activity (e.g., adultery) without intending to leave the impression that a more moderate participation in the action would be proper. Albert Barnes addressed this point succinctly:
It is not affirmed that it would be proper for the deacon, any more than the bishop, to indulge in the use of wine in small quantities, but it is affirmed that a man who is much given to the use of wine ought not, on any consideration, to be a deacon (1977, p. 148).
The word in verse eight translated “given to” (KJV, NKJV, ASV), or “indulging in” (NIV), or “addicted to” (RSV), is prosecho. It is used elsewhere in 1 Timothy (1:4) and in Titus (1:14) to refer to those who “give heed to” (KJV), or “occupy themselves with” (RSV), or “pay attention to” (NASB) Jewish myths. Who would draw the conclusion that Paul intended to encourage Christians to give some attention to Jewish myths, just not too much attention?
Consequently, Paul was spotlighting an individual who is known for drinking freely of alcoholic beverages. He was saying that no such person should be put into the eldership. A parallel would be to make an observation about a person who carouses and parties every night—“do not put such a man into the eldership!” But the speaker hardly would mean that one who parties less frequently, say on weekends only, would be acceptable. Paul no more intended to suggest that leaders in the church who use small amounts of alcohol are suited to their role than Mosaic law would have permitted priests to do so (Leviticus 10:9). Barnes commented: “The way in which the apostle mentions the subject here would lead us fairly to suppose that he did not mean to commend its use in any sense” (1977, p. 144).
A second possibility is that the terminology that Paul used was a loose form of speech (Bacchiocchi, 1989, p. 250). Both Greek and Hebrew manifest such tendencies. For example, “three days and three nights” was a loose form of speech used in antiquity to refer to two days and a portion of a third (Bullinger, 1898, pp. 845-847; Robertson, 1922, pp. 289-291). Later in the same letter, Paul instructed Timothy to “use a little wine” for his stomach and infirmities (5:23). It is not a foregone conclusion that the “wine” Paul commended to Timothy was inebriating, since evidence from antiquity exists to suggest that he was referring to the addition of grape juice to Timothy’s drinking water for medicinal purposes (see Lees, 1870, p. 374). Even if, however, Paul meant for Timothy to add fermented (i.e., intoxicating) juice to his diet, he nevertheless implied: (1) that Timothy had been abstinent up to that point; (2) that the quantity he was now to add to his diet was to be “a little”; (3) that the juice was to be diluted with water; (4) that its use was strictly medicinal in nature—not social, casual, or recreational; and (5) that it took the directive of an apostlefor Timothy to introduce its use into his life and body. [Incidentally, one must not automatically assume that it was the wine that possessed medicinal properties. The wine may have simply been the antiseptic means to purify the polluted water that Timothy had been drinking by killing germs and bacterial organisms, thereby reducing their ill effect on Timothy’s fragile stomach—in which case, Paul was not commending wine; he was commending a method for cleansing contaminated water]. If Paul sanctioned the use of alcohol only on the qualifications that it was in small quantities, and that it was for medicinal purposes, why would he then turn right around and sanction deacons drinking alcohol in larger amounts—avoiding only excess?
The inconsistency of this viewpoint becomes exceedingly apparent when one compares Paul’s instructions to different Christians:
Elders (1 Timothy 3:2-3)—abstain (nephalios); don’t even be near it (me paroinon)
Deacons (1 Timothy 3:8)—drink moderately (me oino pollo)
Wives (1 Timothy 3:11)—abstain (nephalious)
Aged men (Titus 2:2)—abstain (nephalious)
Aged women (Titus 2:3)—drink moderately (me oino pollo)
In view of these inconsistencies, “much wine” must be a loose form of speech intended to express complete restraint in the use of wine.
A third possible interpretation of this verse concerns the meaning of the term “wine.” Unlike the English word (which always connotes an alcoholic beverage), the Greek word oinos is a generic term that includes all forms of the grape (cf. Lees, 1870, pp. 431ff.). The term oinos was used by the Greeks to refer to unfermented grape juice every bit as much as fermented juice. Consequently, the interpreter must examine the biblical context in order to determine whether fermented or unfermented liquid is intended. In light of this realization, some have suggested that Paul instructed the elders to refrain completely from alcoholic beverages, while deacons, on the other hand, were being instructed to engage in a moderate use of nonalcoholic grape juice. At least three lines of argumentation are evident for this interpretation.
First, in the Old Testament, the generic Hebrew term that is equivalent to oinos is yayin. Some passages praise the ingestion of yayin (Song of Solomon 5:1; Psalm 104:15; Ecclesiastes 9:7), while others condemn it (Proverbs 20:1; 31:4). The only plausible explanation is that the former is a reference to grape juice, while the latter is a reference to grape juice that has been transformed into an alcoholic beverage.
Second, only in Timothy and Titus is the word “much” used—as if the secret to pleasing God lies in the quantity of liquid ingested. If fermented juice were intended, the same distinction surely would have been made in the Old Testament. No such distinction is made. But if nonalcoholic grape juice is intended in Timothy and Titus, the intent of the qualification shifts from the level of intoxication to the matter of liquid gluttony. In that case, Paul intended to require moderation in the intake of nonalcoholic liquids.
Third, biblical warnings against the excessive intake of food and liquid are legion (e.g., Deuteronomy 21:20; Proverbs 23:20; 1 Corinthians 11:21-22; Titus 1:12). Solomon even applied the principle to honey (Proverbs 25:27). To understand Paul to be enjoining moderate use of a good gift from God (i.e., grape juice) is consistent with the context that is riddled with references to self-control, temperance, and moderation (e.g., 1 Timothy 3:2,11). It also fits the social conditions extant in Greco-Roman culture in which intemperance was rampant.
In addition to the above considerations, one must keep in mind that even if it could be proved that God sanctioned moderate drinking of alcoholic beverages in the Bible, it does not follow that God sanctions drinking modern “wine,” since the wine referred to in the Bible was unlike the wine of our day. Wine in antiquity was far less potent. One would have had to ingest large quantities in order to receive even minimal alcoholic content. The ancients typically had to add drugs to their drinks to increase their intoxicating potency. In light of all these considerations, the view that maintains that deacons may drink moderate amounts of alcoholic beverages is precarious, dangerous, and biblically unsubstantiated.


Arndt, William and F.W. Gingrich (1957), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).
Bacchiocchi, Samuele (1989), Wine in the Bible (Berrien Springs, MI: Biblical Perspectives).
Barnes, Albert (1977 reprint), Notes on the New Testament: Thessalonians, Timothy, Titus and Philemon (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Bullinger, E.W. (1898), Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1968 reprint).
Lees, Frederic R. (1870), The Temperance Bible-Commentary (New York: Weed, Parsons, and Co.).
Moulton, James and George Milligan (1930), Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament Illustrated from the Papyri and Other Non-literary Sources (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1982 reprint).
Perschbacher, Wesley J., ed. (1990), The New Analytical Greek Lexicon (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).
Robertson, A.T. (1922), A Harmony of the Gospels (New York: Harper and Row).
Robertson, A.T. (1934), A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (Nashville, TN: Broadman).
Spain, Carl (1970), The Letters of Paul to Timothy and Titus (Austin, TX: Sweet).
Vine, W.E. (1966 reprint), An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Old Tappan, NJ: Revell).