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            The biggest problem in the issue before us is pride. We are not going to give up on what we have been taught because we would have to admit we are wrong. All the wimpy men followers would have to took their tails under and run from their doctrinal dictators and taskmasters like scalded dogs. God forbid they should study this issue through for themselves! We have also seen pastors that not only reject counsel, but also openly rebuke counsel. A man that will not take counsel is a fool that is right in his own eyes (Proverbs 12:15). Most men openly reject the whole counsel of God on the issue before us choosing instead to take the counsel of great men. The fear of men bringeth a snare. Great men are not always wise. In many of our Independent Baptist churches, we have become promoters of men instead of promoters of the Lord Jesus Christ. Many Independent Baptist pastors have taken a peacock’s stroll down lover’s lane walking hand-in-hand with themselves. We have put unholy and wicked Doctors into our pulpits who are into self exaltation and consider themselves to be above rebuke and all the while forgetting the warning and counsel of Job and Jeremiah:

Job 32:21-22
21 Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man. 22 For I know not to give flattering titles; in so doing my maker would soon take me away.

Jeremiah 9:23-24
23 Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: 24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.

What that tells us is that we are to neither give flattering titles or receive flattering titles. To do either is SIN. Many of these doctors have become the priest class in our Baptist churches who seek the highest seats and honours in the synagogues. A case in point is the following advertisement quoted verbatim from the back page of the August 31, 2012 edition of that Independent Baptist bastion of humility, the “Sword Of The Lord”:

There is not a man alive who has personally won more souls to Christ than DOCTOR Bob Gray, Sr. He has been in the ministry for 39 years and daily wins souls. Last year he personally led 404 souls to Christ, with 107 of those following the Lord in baptism. He has been used of God to see 1,116,887 souls come to Christ while pastoring the Longview Baptist Temple of Longview, Texas. It grew from a low of 159 to averaging 2,046 the last year he was pastor, with high days over 10,000. They ran 40 bus routes and had a large Sunday School program. He led the church to give $9,328,835.69 to missions. I want you to come hear this man of God who can help you.

DOCTOR Russell Anderson

            Wow, what vainglory! There is nothing like a vain attempt to steal the glory from God! That is enough to make us want to puke! Bob Gray has received his reward in the praise of men. We would be ashamed to have such unadulterated worship published concerning us. Not only would we be ashamed, we would not allow it. Shame on the “Sword Of The Lord”. We cannot believe that the “conservative, fundamentalist” “Sword Of The Lord” would publish such vainglory! Uh, uh, uh we retract that statement. A search of the August 2012 issue of “The Sword” reveals that Independent Baptists are very fond of the title DOCTOR. It appears no less than 105 times in the 24 pages of “The Sword”. Just in case you have forgotten the sinner’s prayer they also include it with a copy of a decision form that may put your converts on the road to confirmation. There is also an equally effusive trip down glory road in the endorsement given to “Pastor” Terrell Hopkins on the back page. This whole paper reeks of the filthiness of the flesh and the vileness of self-esteem and self-exaltation. There is definitely no glory left there for the Lord Jesus Christ. Maybe they need to rename their newspaper “The Independent Baptist Glory Corner”. It is definitely not the sword of the Lord because in its pages man is high and lifted up. God forbid that we should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Hallelujah! Hallelujah!


            The next to the last issue we will deal with in this chapter is the situation where God commanded the Levitical priests to put away their pagan wives. This drives to the issue of whether divorce disqualifies men from ministering in the service of God. In Ezra 10 and Nehemiah 13 we have the record of the cleansing of the priesthood that included putting away their strange (pagan) wives. These events are recorded in Ezra 10:2-3, Ezra 10:10-11, Ezra 10:18-19, and Nehemiah 13:27-30. These Scriptures state:       

Ezra 10:2-3

2 And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing. 3 Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.

Ezra 10:10-11

10 And Ezra the priest stood up, and said unto them, Ye have transgressed, and have taken strange wives, to increase the trespass of Israel. 11 Now therefore make confession unto the LORD God of your fathers, and do his pleasure: and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives.

Ezra 10:18-19

18 And among the sons of the priests there were found that had taken strange wives: namely, of the sons of Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren; Maaseiah, and Eliezer, and Jarib, and Gedaliah. 19 And they gave their hands that they would put away their wives; and being guilty, they offered a ram of the flock for their trespass.

Nehemiah 13:27-30
27 Shall we then hearken unto you to do all this great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying strange wives? 28 And one of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was son in law to Sanballat the Horonite: therefore I chased him from me. 29 Remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the priesthood, and the covenant of the priesthood, and of the Levites. 30 Thus cleansed I them from all strangers, and appointed the wards of the priests and the Levites, every one in his business;

What about that?! A commandment from God to the people and the priesthood to divorce (put away) their pagan, unbelieving wives. If you study all of Ezra chapter 10, you will find that not only had the people corrupted themselves with pagan wives but that priesthood had also. When the priests defiled themselves by taking profane (strange or pagan) wives they disqualified themselves from the priesthood according to Leviticus 21:7 which says:

Leviticus 21:7
7 They [the priests] shall not take a wife that is a whore, or profane; neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband: for he is holy unto his God.

It was therefore necessary that they put away (divorce) their pagan wives so that they might be ceremonially clean for service in offering up sacrifices unto the LORD. Nehemiah makes it plain that the priests were cleansed from all strangers before they were appointed into wards. This cleansing was the subject of all of Ezra chapter 10 where the divorces were commanded and carried out. So, if divorce disqualifies a man from service unto God, then why did God command the divorces of the priests and then return them unto service in the Temple? If you teach that divorce disqualifies a man from the ministry, then you are going to have a hard time reconciling that doctrine with Ezra 10 and Nehemiah 13. You cannot explain it away dispensationally. You cannot explain it away as being a difference between law and grace. We close this section with a statement that we quoted earlier:

A divorced and remarried priest can serve - the only restriction we find is that he may not marry a divorcee. A priest does not have to be married except for the High Priest on the Yom Kippur service. This is derived from Leviticus 16:6: "He shall atone for himself and his home" - where 'home' implies he has a family (see Mishna Yoma 1;1). They also could have multiple wives since this is forbidden only rabinically. Ezekiel 44 contains more of the basic laws of priests - prophetically described in the Third Temple, but Leviticus 21 is the main source. [From Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld  aishrabbi@aish.edu ]

Note that the priests in this quote were allowed to have multiple wives. Could that give us some insight into the necessity for the use of the phrase “husband of one wife” by the Holy Ghost in 1 Timothy 3:2?


            Our final question is: Is a divorced and remarried man disqualified from being the pastor of his home? While on the surface this might seem to be a ridiculous question, it really is not because many men have been put in situations where they are in remote locations where there is no established church and they must pastor their families. Are you going to try to tell us that they should forego any assembly for the purpose of worship, preaching, and teaching because the father in the family has been divorced. The Lord Jesus Christ said in Matthew 18:20: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them”. That is given in the context of a church. As a reminder, a church is an organized assembly of baptized believers. That assembly does not have to take place in a church building. That is a definition that applies to families in locations where there are no churches or no scriptural churches. Are you going to tell us that a family cannot meet the commandment “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together”? The charge has been given to the husband to be the spiritual leader in the home regardless of whether he is divorced. Are you going to tell us that that divorced man cannot preach to and teach the members of his family? Are the family members any less church members because they are not assembled in a church building? The rate at which the wicked, apostate, heretical church is falling away there will come a time when people will have to hold church in their homes. In many locations, that is already an absolute necessity. We would remind you that many of the early churches were organized in homes. We are not here advocating families pulling out of good Bible believing churches. This paragraph is yet another illustration of how utterly unscriptural the doctrine is that permanently disqualifies a divorced man from being a preacher, pastor, evangelist, missionary, or deacon. That doctrine is an affront to “rightly dividing the word of truth”. Put bluntly, it is heresy.



We strongly state the following disclaimer on the quotes that follow: We in no way endorse the doctrine or theology of most of the individuals we quote below. Many of them are Calvinists and Roman Catholics. In fact, most of them we would disagree with on some major point of doctrine. They are only quoted here to show the breadth of opinion and interpretation of the phrase “husband of one wife”.


Albert Barnes: (Presbyterian; born 1798): Polygamy: (1) It is the most obvious meaning of the language, and it would doubtless be thus understood by those to whom it was addressed. At a time when polygamy was not uncommon, to say that a man should “have but one wife” would be naturally understood as prohibiting polygamy. [Albert Barnes, Notes, Explanatory and Practical, on the Epistles of Paul: To the Thessalonians, To Timothy, To Titus, and to Philemon, Harper & Brothers, 1845, Page 162]

Ambrose: And the Apostle has established a law, saying: “If any man be without reproach the husband of one wife.” So then he who is without blame the husband of one wife comes within the rule for undertaking the priestly office; he, however, who has married again has no guilt of pollution, but is disqualified for the priestly prerogative. [Philip Schaff, Henry Wace, A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church: St. Ambrose: Select Works And Letters. Christian Literature Company, 1896, Page 466]

Joseph Benson: (Methodist; born 1748): Polygamy: The apostle’s meaning, therefore, in these canons, is, that such persons only were to be intrusted with sacred offices who in their married state had contented themselves with one wife, and with one husband at a time; because thereby they had showed themselves temperate in the use of sensual pleasures; through the immoderate love of which the Asiatic nations universally practised polygamy. [No Locate On Reference]

William Burkitt: (Anglican; born 1650): Polygamy And Divorce: The husband of one wife; that is, one at a time; not guilty of the sin of having many wives, or of putting away the wife by divorce, as the Jews frequently did for frivolous causes. [William Burkitt, Expository notes, with practical observations, on the New Testament, Volume 2 ,1832, Page 522]

John Calvin: (Calvinist; born 1509 ): Polygamy: The only true exposition, therefore, is that of Chrysostom, that in a bishop he expressly condemns polygamy, (50) which at that time the Jews almost reckoned to be lawful. [John Calvin, Commentaries on the Epistles to Timothy, Titus and Philemon, Calvin Translation Society, 1856, Page 77]

John Chrysostom: “A Bishop then,” he says, “must be blameless, the husband of one wife.” This he does not lay down as a rule, as if he must not be without one, but as prohibiting his having more than one. For even the Jews were allowed to contract second marriages, and even to have two wives at one time. [John Chrysostom, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church: Christian literature Company, 1889, Page 438]

Adam Clarke: (Methodist; born 1760): Polygamy: Second - must be the husband of one wife. He should be a married man, but he should be no polygamist; and have only one wife, i.e. one at a time. [Adam Clarke, The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: Volume 2, Peter C. Smith, 1831, Page 612]

Thomas Coke: (Methodist; born 1747):Polygamy And Causeless Divorce) the husband of one wife; that is, “one who has not causelessly divorced his wife, and married another;” much less ought he to have more than one wife at a time. [No Locate On Reference]

Stanley L. Derickson: A Divorced Man Is Disqualified: One other possibility has been taught in recent years. “Not a loose type man,” or “a one woman at a time man,” which of course allows for divorce and remarriage of elders. This is a recent addition to the menu of excuses to skirt Scripture and allow people the freedom to do as they please rather than as the Lord directs. [Stanley L. Derickson, Derickson’s Notes On Theology, Copyright 1992, Page 1061]

Jameson, Fausett, and Brown: (published 1871): No Divorced Men: Though the Jews practiced polygamy, yet as he is writing as to a Gentile Church, and as polygamy was never allowed among even laymen in the Church, the ancient interpretation that the prohibition here is against polygamy in a candidate bishop is not correct. It must, therefore, mean that, though laymen might lawfully marry again, candidates for the episcopate or presbytery were better to have been married only once. [Robert Jamieson, Andrew Robert Fausset, David Brown J. B. A Commentary, Critical, Practical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments, Volume 2, Names & Company, 1882, Page 434]

Arno C. Gaebelein: (Methodist; born 1861) Polygamy: “He must be the husband of one wife.” This has been explained as excluding all who had been married twice. This is incorrect. It may refer to those who were as pagans married to more than one woman, for polygamy was practiced among the heathen in that day, as it is still. [Arno C. Gaeblein, The Annotated Bible, Publication Office “Our Hope”, 1917, Page 162]

John Gill: (Baptist; born 1697): Polygamy And Unscriptural Divorce: The husband of one wife; which is not to be understood in a mystical and allegorical sense of his being the pastor of one church, since the apostle afterwards speaks of his house and children, that are to be ruled and kept in good order by him, in distinction from the church of God; but in a literal sense of his conjugal estate; though this rule does not make it necessary that he should have a wife; or that he should not marry, or not have married a second wife, after the death of the first; only if he marries or is married, that he should have but one wife at a time; so that this rule excludes all such persons from being elders, or pastors, or overseers of churches, that were “polygamists”; who had more wives than one at a time, or had divorced their wives, and not for adultery, and had married others. [John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testament]

W. B. Godbey: “The husband of one wife;” i.e., polygamy prohibited. [W. B. Godbey, Commentary On The New Testament, Volume 3, Ephesians-Philemon, Page 190]

Matthew Henry: (Presbyterian; born 1662): No Polygamy And No Divorce: He must be the husband of one wife; not having given a bill of divorce to one, and then taken another, or not having many wives at once, as at that time was too common both among Jews and Gentiles, especially among the Gentiles. [Matthew Henry, An Exposition of the Old and New Testament, Volume 6, Bell and Bradfute, J. Dickson, and J. McCliesh, 1791, Page 674]

Jerome: (Roman Catholic): To what does all this tend, you ask. I reply; you remember the question that you proposed. It was this. A Spanish bishop named Carterius, old in years and in the priesthood has married two wives, one before he was baptized, and, she having died, another since he has passed through the laver; and you are of opinion that he has violated the precept of the apostle, who in his list of episcopal qualifications commands that a bishop shall be “the husband of one wife.” I am surprised that you have pilloried an individual when the whole world is filled with persons ordained in similar circumstances; I do not mean presbyters or clergy of lower rank, but speak only of bishops of whom if I were to enumerate them all one by one I should gather a sufficient number to surpass the crowd which attended the synod of Ariminum. [Philip Schaff, Henry Wace, A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church: St. Jerome, Christian Literature Company, 1893, Page 142]

Jerome: (Roman Catholic): The text quoted by the objector, “a bishop must be the husband of one wife,” admits of quite another explanation. The apostle came of the Jews and the primitive Christian church was gathered out of the remnants of Israel. Paul knew that the Law allowed men to have children by several wives, and was aware that the example of the patriarchs had made polygamy familiar to the people. Even the very priests might at their own discretion enjoy the same license. He gave commandment therefore that the priests of the church should not claim this liberty, that they should not take two wives or three together, but that they should each have but one wife at one time. [Philip Schaff, Henry Wace, A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church: St. Jerome, Christian Literature Company, 1893, Page 144]

Jerome: (Roman Catholic): “The husband of one wife.” Concerning this requirement I have spoken above. I will now only warn you that If monogamy is insisted on before baptism the other conditions laid down must be insisted on before baptism too. For it is impossible to regard the remaining obligations as binding only on the baptized and this alone as binding also on the unbaptized. [Philip Schaff, Henry Wace, A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church: St. Jerome, Christian Literature Company, 1893, Page 147]

Leo The Great: [Caution: this was the first Roman Pope!]: A man who has married twice or a widow is not eligible as a priest....For it is well known that the husbands of widows have attained to the priesthood: certain, too, who have had several wives, and have led a life given up to all licentiousness, have had all facilities put in their way, and been admitted to the Sacred Order, contrary to that utterance of the blessed Apostle, in which he proclaims and says to such, “the husband of one wife,” and contrary to that precept of the ancient law which says by way of caution: “Let the priest take a virgin to wife, not a widow, not a divorced woman.” All such persons, therefore, who have been admitted we order to be put out of their offices in the church and from the title of priest by the authority of the Apostolic See....But if all the requirements of the holy Fathers are found in them, and if they have observed all that we read the blessed Apostle Paul to have enjoined on such, viz., that he be the husband of one wife, and that she was a virgin when he married her, as the authority of GOD’s law requires, [then ordain them]. [Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Second Series, Volume XII Leo the Great, Cosimo, Inc., Jun 1, 2007, Page 3]

Frederick B. Meyer : (Baptist; first pastorate 1870): Polygamy And Unscriptural Divorce: Such was the facility of divorce among the Jews that it was a common thing for a man to have more than one woman living who had been his wife: but by Paul’s ruling this would debar him from holding office, unless his divorce be for cause as provided in Matthew 19:9. [Meyer, Frederick Brotherton, Commentary on 1 Timothy 3, Through the Bible Commentary, 1914]

Matthew Poole: (Presbyterian; born 1624): Polygamy: The husband of one wife; none who at the same time hath more wives than one, as many of the Jews had; nor was polygamy only common amongst the Jews, but amongst the other Eastern nations; but this was contrary to the institution of marriage. [Matthew Poole, Annotations Upon the Holy Bible, R. Carter and Brothers, 1852, Page 779]

Pulpit Commentary: (Published 1890): Polygamy And No Divorce: It seems, then, to mean that the pastor was to be “the husband of one wife,” avoiding the polygamy that was then so common among the Jews, and the system of divorce still so common in that age, and remaining faithful to the wife of his choice. [ H.D.M. Spence and J.S. Exell, Henry Donald M. The Pulpit Commentary, 1 Timothy, ed. by Spence- Jones 1887, Page 58]

A. T. Robertson: (Southern Baptist, born 1863): Polygamy: Of one wife [mias gunaikos]. One at a time, clearly. [A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Volume 4, CCEL, 1930, Page 659]

Charles C. Ryrie: Interprets No Divorced Pastors: “husband of one wife (may mean only one wife ever, since the Greek is the same as in 1 Ti 5:9 and since polygamy was unknown among the Greeks and Romans, or it may bar those who remarry after divorce)”. [Charles C. Ryrie, A Survey of Bible Doctrine, Moody Publishers, June 8, 1989, Page 88]

C.I. Scofield: (Congregationalist; Published The Scofield Bible in 1909): He avoids the issue of “the husband of one wife” entirely in his notes. It is important to note that he was a divorced pastor and that he was Dwight L Moody’s pastor and Moody knew he was divorced.

Charles Spurgeon: (Baptist; born 1834): Seemed To Interpret of Polygamy: “For there were many converts there who had two or three wives. Whatever position they might be permitted to occupy in the church, they could not become officers, they must keep in the rear rank”. [Charles Spurgeon, Tabernacle Pulpit Volume 41, Page 728, Exposition of Titus 1 and 2) The phrase “husband of one wife” occurs but twice in all of Spurgeon’s published works: the one in Volume 41 and the one Sword And Trowel, Volume 5, Page 138].

John Trapp: (Anglican; born 1601): Polygamy: The husband of one wife] sc. At once. The Egyptian priests were forbidden also polygamy. [John Trapp, Commentary on 1 Timothy 3, Trapp Complete Commentary,1865-1868]

John Wesley: (Methodist): Polygamy And Divorce: This neither means that a bishop must be married, nor that he may not marry a second wife; which it is just as lawful for him to do as to marry a first, and may in some cases be his bounden duty. But whereas polygamy and divorce on slight occasions were common both among the Jews and heathens, it teaches us that ministers, of all others, ought to stand clear of those sins. [John Wesley, Notes On The Whole Bible, The New Testament, Page 693]

Daniel Whedon: (Methodist; born 1808): Polygamy: Polygamy, in St. Paul’s time, was usual with both Jews and Gentiles. It was demoralizing both races. Rabbis had four and five wives. Converts to Christianity involved in polygamy would often present themselves for admission to the Church, and the peculiarities of their case might be considered in the instance of private Christians; but Paul forbids any such entanglement for an elder. Alford admits that the early commentators, Theodoret, Chrysostom, Theophylact, each made the text forbid only polygamy. [Daniel Denison Whedon, Commentary on the New Testament, Volume 4, Hunt & Eaton, 1903, Page 423]

Wayne Gruden: However, the following reasons cause most interpreters to reject this view. First, this view ignores the over all context of 1 Tim 3, which emphasizes post conversion character rather than preconversion sins. “All the other qualifications listed by Paul refer to a man’s present status, not his entire past life. For example, 1 Timothy 3:1-7 does not mean ‘one who has never been violent’ but ‘one who is not now violent, but gentle.’ It does not mean ‘one who has never been a lover of money’ but ‘one who is not now a lover of money.’ It does not mean ‘one who has been above reproach his whole life’ but one who is now above reproach.’” If we made these qualifications apply to one’s entire past life, then we would exclude from office almost everyone who became a Christian as an adult, for it is doubtful that any non-Christian could meet these qualifications.” [Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine Zondervan, 1994, Page 917]

John Rice says in his Book, DR. RICE HERE ARE MORE QUESTIONS, pgs. 339-340;

“I believe that any of these major sins (wrong divorce, drunkenness, murder, etc.) can be forgiven and are forgiven when there is honest repentance. Then when God has forgiven and when one has done all he can do to repudiate and undo the sins of the past (which of course, can never be undone entirely and sometimes not at all), and when he has taken time to live it down and proved himself a dependable, trustworthy Christian so that his usefulness is not hindered by the past, then he might do whatever God calls him to do and whatever God’s people trust him to do....I do not believe in passing a rule that one who has ever been drunk can never be a deacon or preacher; likewise, I do not believe in passing a rule that one who has ever been divorced cannot be a deacon or preacher. And my reason is very simple; there is no such rule in the Bible.” [John R. Rice, Dr. Rice, Here are More Questions ..., Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1973, Pages 339-340]

Stanley A. Ellisen gives a few good thoughts from his book DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE:

“..One’s past history may not necessarily portray his present character. It is possible to have a good marital history of single marriage and have a ‘cat-calling’ character of wandering affections at the same time...On the other hand, it is also possible to have a sorrowful marital history of a broken marriage while having a personal character that is above reproach. The tragedy may not have been of his own making, as noted with the prophet Hosea...The passage in 1 Timothy 3:2....puts the emphasis where Jesus put it, on the heart and present character, rather than on outward record of marital history. The emphasis is not so much on what a man ONCE was, but what he NOW is.... [Stanley A. Ellisen, Divorce and Remarriage in the Church (Grand Rapids, 1980), p. 83]

J. Vernon McGee says in his book QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:

“Can a man who is divorced and remarried still be eligible for a position, such as deacon or pastor?” Answer: “...If the deacon (or pastor) has scriptural grounds on which he got a divorce, and the circumstances are pretty generally known, then I see no reason for his not occupying the office of deacon (or pastor).” [J. Vernon McGee, Questions and Answers, Published by Thomas Nelson Inc, 1991]

M.R. Dehaan says in his book, DEAR DOCTOR, I HAVE A PROBLEM, pg. 109);

“If a man is saved after making the mistake, and sees and confesses his fault, I would be the last one to put up a hindrance to his ministry.” [M. R. DeHaan, Dear Doctor: I Have a Problem, Answers to Bible Questions Volume Two, Published by Zondervan, Grand Rapids MI, 1961, Page 109]

H.A. Ironside says in his book WHAT IS THE ANSWER? (question 36);

Is it permissible for a man who has been twice married, the first wife having been divorced because of immorality....to hold the office of a deacon (or pastor)?” Answer: “....in the case such as you mention, the first wife has been divorced both legally and scripturally, ....the man is qualified for the office of a deacon if the life is otherwise right.” [H.A. Ironside, What Is The Answer? (Question 36), Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervon, 1944]


Husband of one wife. (On Titus 1:6) The traditional and most widely accepted view of Bible-believing, soul-winning preachers has been that a pastor must not be divorced and remarried. History has shown it almost never works for a pastor to be divorced. If he cannot rule his own house how can he rule the church? [Ed Hindson, King James Version Commentary Thomas Nelson Inc, Sept. 20, 2005] [Note from the author of this book: So, if you think that it is okay for a divorced man to be a pastor, then you are not a soul winning preacher?? Incredible !!]

Polygamy was not practiced in the Roman world outside Palestine, though illegal bigamy and certainly adultery were. “Husband of one wife” no doubt means a faithful husband and presupposes marriage; such a man would be helpful in standing against the false teachers who opposed marriage (4:3). (The injunction that married leaders be used would not apply to all situations; cf. comment on 1 Cor 7:8.) “Husband of one wife” refers to one’s current marital status and behavior; validly divorced people who remarried were considered married to one spouse, the second one, not to two spouses. [The IVP Bible Background Commentary : New Testament on 1 Timothy 3:2]

husband of one wife — confuting the celibacy of Rome’s priesthood. Though the Jews practiced polygamy, yet as he is writing as to a Gentile Church, and as polygamy was never allowed among even laymen in the Church, the ancient interpretation that the prohibition here is against polygamy in a candidate bishop is not correct. It must, therefore, mean that, though laymen .might lawfully marry again, candidates for the episcopate or presbytery were better to have been married only once. [Jamieson, Robert; Fausset, Andrew Robert ; Brown, David J. B. A Commentary, Critical, Practical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments, Volume 4, page 200]

The husband of one wife (v. 2b). All of the qualifying adjectives in this passage are masculine. While there is ample scope for feminine ministry in a local assembly, the office of elder is not given to women. However, a pastor’s home life is very important, and especially his marital status. (This same requirement applies to deacons, according to 1 Tim. 3:12.) It means that a pastor must not be divorced and remarried. Paul was certainly not referring to polygamy, since no church member, let alone a pastor, would be accepted if he had more than one wife. Nor is he referring to remarriage after the death of the wife; for why would a pastor be prohibited from marrying again, in the light of Genesis 2:18 and 1 Timothy 4:3? Certainly the members of the church who had lost mates could marry again; so why penalize the pastor?

It’s clear that a man’s ability to manage his own marriage and home indicate ability to oversee a local church (1 Tim. 3:4–5). A pastor who has been divorced opens himself and the church to criticism from outsiders, and it is not likely that people with marital difficulties would consult a man who could not keep his own marriage together. I see no reason why dedicated Christians who have been divorced and remarried cannot serve in other offices in the church, but they are disqualified from being elders or deacons. [Be Faithful (1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon): Warren W. Wiersbe, Jan 1, 2009 Page 48]

Husband of but one wife, literally, a “one-woman man.” This ambiguous but important phrase is subject to several interpretations. The question is, how stringent a standard was Paul erecting for overseers? Virtually all commentators agree that this phrase prohibits both polygamy and promiscuity, which are unthinkable for spiritual leaders in the church. Many Bible students say the words a “one-woman man” are saying that the affections of an elder must be centered exclusively on his wife. Many others hold, however, that the phrase further prohibits any who have been divorced and remarried from becoming overseers. The reasoning behind this view is usually that divorce represents a failure in the home, so that even though a man may be forgiven for any sin involved, he remains permanently disqualified for leadership in the congregation (cf. vv. 4-5; 1 Cor. 9:24-27). The most strict interpretation and the one common among the earliest commentators (second and third centuries) includes each of the above but extends the prohibition to any second marriage, even by widowers. [Roy B. Zuck David C. Cook, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, Volume 1, 1983 on 1 Timothy 3:2, Page 736]

Husband of one wife: it does not mean “one at a time” (polygamy was unknown among Greeks and Romans); he has not been divorced and remarried. [Paul P Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology, Moody Publishers, Feb 1, 2008, Page 367] (Note from this author: That this statement from the Moody Handbook Of Theology is not accurate can be ascertained from statements by the Jewish historian Josephus, from statements by Jerome rebuking the Jews for having multiple wives, and by the fact that multiple wives for Jewish men did not become formally prohibited until about 1,000 A. D.)

* See the important discussion by Homer A. Kent, Jr., The Pastoral Epistles , rev. ed. (Chicago:

Moody, 1982), pp. 122–26. Kent discusses the variant views and concludes Paul is prohibiting remarriage after divorce. The argument on divorce usually centers on the exceptive clause of Matt. 19:9. For a careful, biblical study of the entire subject of divorce see J. Carl Laney, The Divorce Myth (Minneapolis: Bethany, 1981). Perhaps the most important book that has been recently written on the subject is William A. Heth and Gordon J. Wenham, Jesus and Divorce: The Problem with the Evangelical Consensus (Nashville: Nelson, 1984). They conclude that the common suggestion that Jesus allowed the “innocent party” to remarry after divorce is a recent view first espoused by Erasmus and is biblically deficient and erroneous. No study of the subject will be complete without consulting this important work. [Paul P Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology, Moody Publishers, Feb 1, 2008, Page 380, on 1 Timothy 3:2] [Note from this author: This is inconsistent with the fact that D.L. Moody’s pastor, C.I. Scofield, was a divorced man. We have no idea who Homer A. Kent is, but Paul nowhere mentions divorce in 1 Timothy and Titus. It is once again read into the passage by someone who has an unscriptural agenda]

The qualifications for the elders are spelled out in great detail in 1 Timothy 3:1–7 and Titus 1:5–9. The former passage (which is the more detailed one) lists them as follows: blameless (not open to criticism), husband of one wife (may mean only one wife ever, since the Greek is the same as in 1 Ti 5:9 and since polygamy was unknown among the Greeks and Romans, or it may bar those who remarry after divorce) [Charles C. Ryrie, A Survey of Bible Doctrine, Moody Publishers, June 8, 1989] (Note from this author: That this statement from “A Survey Of Bible Doctrine is not accurate can be ascertained from statements by the Jewish historian Josephus, from statements by Jerome rebuking the Jews for having multiple wives, and by the fact that multiple wives for Jewish men did not become formally prohibited until about 1,000 A. D.)

It has, indeed, been inferred from 1 Timothy iii. 2, where the Apostle says, a bishop must be “the husband of one wife,” that a private member of the Church might have more wives than one. But this is in itself a very precarious inference; and being inconsistent with Christ’s express prohibition, it is altogether inadmissible. The meaning of the passage has been much disputed. What the Apostle requires is that a bishop should be in all respects an exemplary man: not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; the husband of one wife, I. e., not a polygamist. This no more implies that other men may be polygamists, than his saying that a bishop must not be greedy of filthy lucre and not a brawler, implies that other men may be covetous or contentious. According to another and widely accepted interpretation of the passage in 1 Timothy iii. 2, and the corresponding passage in Titus I. 6, the injunction of the Apostle is that a man who has been married more than once, must not be appointed a bishop or presbyter. If this be the true meaning of the Apostle, his language affords still less ground for the argument drawn from it in favour of the lawfulness of polygamy in church members. If even second marriage was forbidden to presbyters, a fortiori must polygamy be regarded as inconsistent with the law of Christ. [Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 1871, Page 388]

Husband of one wife: A one-wife kind of man, not a philanderer (doesn’t necessarily rule out widowers or divorced men). [Lawrence O. Richards, David C Cook, Bible Teacher's Commentary, 2002, Page 973]

“The husband of one wife.” This can be interpreted two ways. It could mean that he ought to be married. I feel that Paul had this in mind. You may say, “Well, Paul was not married.” I take the position that Paul had been married and his wife had died. He could not have been a member of the Sanhedrin without being married. He simply had not married again, perhaps because of his travels as an apostle.

When I first became a pastor I was not married and I was frequently kidded by a friend who said I had no right to be a pastor if I wasn’t married. Using this verse, he would say, “You should be the husband of one wife.” However, I think that the primary meaning here is that the bishop or elder should not have two wives. Polygamy was common in Paul’s day, and bigamy was certainly prevalent. The officer in the church should be the husband of one wife. [J. Vernon McGee, 1 Corinthians through Revelation, J. Vernon McGee, Thomas Nelson Inc, Jan 6, 1984, Page 441-442 on 1 Timothy 3:2 ]

A. T. Robertson on Matthew 19:9: Except for fornication.... Those who deny Matthew’s report are those who are opposed to remarriage at all. Jesus by implication, as in 5:31, does allow remarriage of the innocent party, but not of the guilty one. Certainly Jesus has lifted the whole subject of marriage and divorce to a new level, far beyond the petty contentions of the schools of Hillel and Shammai. [A. T. Robertson, The Gospel According to Matthew and the Gospel According to Mark, Kregel Academic, April 1, 2003, Page 163]

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