Qualifications Pt. 4
1 Timothy 3:11
Have you ever noticed this before? Right in the middle of his list of qualifications for deacons, Paul slipped in some requirements for their wives. Many pastors’ wives are quick to point out that he doesn’t do the same for them. Some Bible scholars say that the reason for the difference is that Paul didn’t believe that pastors should be married, but that is contrary to his teachings in other letters. Others say that he was referring to a third group of leaders in the church in addition to pastors and deacons – deaconesses – but the Greek word that he used is gunaikos which means women and can refer to wives. If Paul had been referring to deaconesses, he would have used the feminine form of the word for deacon, but he didn’t. So most likely, Paul was placing these qualifications on deacons’ wives. Why? We may never know the answer to that question, but I have an idea. Maybe there was a specific problem in this church that he was addressing, and I will tell you why I believe this in the final paragraph. Regardless, the wife’s character is as important as the deacon’s because she has an important role to fill as she walks alongside her husband.
So Paul said that she must be reverent just as her husband is reverent (serious in mind and character); not a slanderer/gossiper (the word is actually the plural form of diabolos which is a title frequently given to Satan, the accuser); temperate (possessing self-control); faithful in all things (trustworthy in all aspects of their lives). As you read these qualifications, you see a picture emerge of a woman who loves the Lord and acts accordingly. She is not going to act silly in the middle of serious issues but will rise to meet whatever the needs may be. She is not going to join in or initiate conversations that would defame others, accusing them wrongly. She is a woman of sound mind making wise decisions as she helps her husband serve the church by meeting needs. And she will be dependable every time she is called upon.
Do you want to know the truth? This is not the description of some super-woman. No, these are the character traits of every child of God because we are all called to do the work of the ministry. Because of this fact, I believe that Paul was addressing the same kind of problem he wrote about in chapter 2: powerful women demanding to have their way in the church. This would be an especially difficult problem if these women were the wives of deacons because ministry is about humility – not power. It’s about submission – not demands. And one more thought: no man seeking to do God’s will can be successful unless his wife lives up to these qualifications.