Prince of Sumba Husband to Many Wives
A Dialog on Polygamy
Thelyphthora Vol. 1
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Posted by: Pastor_Don_Milton on Mar 10, 2005 - 10:24 PM
Many lay people and homespun ministers have tried to say that 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6 are written against polygamy. However theologians throughout history, have not claimed this. The problem with considering 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6 as injunctions against polygamy is two fold.
But finally, a discovery concerning the expression - Husband of One Wife
Paul's intent was not to ban men who were not Husbands
of One Wife from the office of Bishop, Elder, and Deacon but to give them the
honor of an exemption from that duty! When we look at Paul's statement from
the viewpoint of an exemption from duty rather than a ban from eligibility it
sheds an entirely new light on both 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6. In order to understand this
exemption from duty, yes, this privilege, we must
look at two things; the definition of Bishop, Elder, and Deacon AND
Jus Trium Liberorum*. You say, Jus Trium Liber-or-what? Stick with me, now. This is
a point in history that has been long forgotten, and conveniently so, by those
who might have come up with the perfect explanation for 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus
before I have here.
Elder: Those who in separate cities managed public affairs
and administered justice.
Bishop: Investigation, inspection, visitation.
Now, don't get confused. When you look at Strong's Concordance it will list other definitions concerning what functions are performed by such officials in the church. That is exactly my point. The definitions of the words have been changed by various churches but the words still mean what they meant when they were written and they were written before any such offices existed. They were written when the words meant exactly what you read in the definitions I've listed above!
From these you can see that within the Church, an Elder is a
unpaid Sheriff or an unpaid
District Attorney or for those of you in Europe an unpaid Chief Inspector whose function
is to oversee, i.e., police those who are
members of the church. The Elder administers justice. He does NOT administer the
church. And again, at the time of Paul, he was unpaid even though the position
required a huge amount of work. He worked on behalf of the apostle of the
appointed area or on behalf of the
pastors of the area but he did not administer the church!
So what do we have in a church without Elders and Bishops who carry out the true duties of Elders and Bishops? We have unchecked fornication of the kind that has never been seen in the history of the Christian Church. The sins of the Popes, Cardinals, and Friars pale in comparison to the sins of the present day Protestant Church! Need I say, REPENT!
One of the reasons that these offices have not been filled in accordance with Scripture is that they truly are offices that nobody wants. Would you like to go to someone's house to discuss their wayward son's taking the virginity of two of the young women in the church? If you're normal, the answer is no. This is why the Apostle Paul commanded Timothy to do what? To appoint Elders in every city and as you can see from the definition of Bishop, the Bishops were to be under the supervision of the Elder in each city who, as I've already explained, served at the pleasure of either the Apostle for the region or the Pastors in that region.
Deacon: A servant, attendant, domestic, to serve, wait upon.
No more comment need be made on the office of Deacon other than to say, few would want such an office. All of the aforementioned offices would certainly be categorized when properly defined as "inconvenient" to say the least and therefore Paul exempted those with many children from serving in those offices. Certainly Paul did not err in handing out privileges to those who were following God's command to multiply, not to mention that carrying out the duties of Elder and Bishop could be greatly hindered by a large family. (Again, don't get confused with your own definition of Elder and Bishop. An Elder and Bishop could be required to work long hours. Think of how many officials it would take to clean up all the churches in your community of their present state of immorality!)
From the above explanation we can see that half of the function of the Church is crippled. One part of a church's function is evangelizing and exhorting but the other is to maintain discipline within the congregations. That discipline requires the properly assigned Church offices of Elder and Bishop. Clearing up these definitions and explaining Jus Trium Liberorum* not only takes care of explaining 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6 but it also explains 1 Timothy 5:9 for why would Paul say that a widow, in order to be on the widow's list must be the "wife of one man" if not for the fact that the wife of one man would have few children and would not have anyone to take care of her. The wife of more than one man, after the death of the first, of course, would be likely to have many children who could take care of her. Paul further clarifies his point as we see in 1 Timothy 5:16 that it is the relatives who are to take care of their widows so that the church might only take care of those "that are widows indeed."
So we see that 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6 are exemptions, not prohibitions. Paul's point isn't that a man who is not the "husband of one wife" is disqualified from becoming an Elder, Bishop, or Deacon, but that the man with more wives, thus, more children, is exempt from such unwanted duties. As I've already pointed out, prior to Paul's giving this exemption he felt it necessary to explain that even though men who are not "a husband of one wife" (men with lots of children) are exempted from such offices, the taking of such an unwanted office is a good thing and that no man should be ashamed of accepting these positions. Read 1 Timothy 3:1 again:
This [is] a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 1 Timothy 3:1
Again, as I've already said, if such an office were highly sought after, why would Paul need to make such a statement prior to exempting men with many children from the office?
I want to make sure, also, that you understand that neither an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, nor teacher is an Elder, Bishop or Deacon. Whether one could successfully execute both offices is debatable, nonetheless, they are separate and unique functions in the Church.
Before closing I'd like you to consider the following. When
Paul gave his instructions to Timothy and Titus, he was giving them with the
understanding that Timothy and Titus would be selecting officers from their own
congregations. In other words, Timothy and Titus would be selecting from men who
had been baptized in their churches, were receiving communion without
restriction, and were in good standing. Timothy and Titus surely would not have
been so imprudent to do otherwise. If Paul found it necessary to give the
exemption from serving as Elder, Bishop, and Deacon to men who were not "the
husband of one wife" then we know that there were men who were not "the husband
of one wife" within the congregations of both Timothy and Titus, period! If
polygamy was so bad then why in the world would Paul give polygamists special
Note: Pastor Don Milton received his Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics from the University of Washington in 1987, has studied five languages and regularly speaks a language other than his own.
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"No sense of a text in the New Testament, which renders the passage contradictory to, or inconsistent with the Old Testament, can be the true one. Regardless of how it might coincide with popular opinion, or flatter our own preconceived notions of things, it is to be rejected." [Note: "however it may" has been edited to "regardless of how it might" for Modern English readers.]-- Rev. Martin Madan --
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