the qualifications of an elder...?

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Puritanboard Doctor
The situation is that we have started a small church here we have 30+ attending service which is only every other sunday right now.
we have 3 men leading the church at the moment, but after christmas there will at one point be an election of elders from the church body.
It seems that most people se the 3 men as the only likely candidates for elders.
One of them is now thinking whether he will accept, because he has an unbelieving son, and thus might be disqualified from eldership.
One of the other men asked me to look into the question and the below are my findings thus far from different commentaries and 2 bible texts.

I also did a word study on the word "pistos" used in the Titus text as believers, but in logos it looks like the word is more often translated faithful or trustworthy
if this be the case and seeing it in the light of the 1 tim text I have begun to wonder and thus would like to ask you brother, what say you.

P.S. The unbelieving son in question is grown up and does not live at home.

findings thus far:

“Having faithful children” (v. 6b). Faithful means “believing.” The bishop’s children should be Christians. After all, if a servant of God cannot win his own children to Christ, what success can he expect with outsiders? This is the same principle Paul emphasized to Timothy (1 Tim. 3:5)—Christian living and Christian service must begin at home. The children in an elder’s home must not only be saved, but must be good examples of obedience and dedication. To be accused of “riot” [wild living] or disobedience [“unruly,” unable to be ruled] would disqualify their father from the eldership. This applies, of course, to children still at home, under the authority of their father.
Too often, new Christians feel a call to the ministry and want to be ordained before they have had a chance to establish their families in the faith. If the children are small, the problem is not too great; but mature children go through a tremendous shock when all of a sudden their household becomes “religious”! A wise father first wins his own family to Christ and gives them a chance to grow before he pulls up stakes and moves to Bible school. We would have fewer casualties in the ministry if this policy were followed more often.1

And, as to his children, having faithful children, obedient and good, brought up in the true Christian faith, and living according to it, at least as far as the endeavours of the parents can avail. It is for the honour of ministers that their children be faithful and pious, and such as become their religion. Not accused of riot, nor unruly, not justly so accused, as having given ground and occasion for it, for otherwise the most innocent may be falsely so charged; they must look to it therefore that there be no colour for such censure. Children so faithful, and obedient, and temperate, will be a good sign of faithfulness and diligence in the parent who has so educated and instructed them; and, from his faithfulness in the less, there may be encouragement to commit to him the greater, the rule and government of the church of God. The ground of this qualification is shown from the nature of his office (v. 7)2

Having believing children. Seeing that it is required that a pastor shall have prudence and gravity, it is proper that those qualities should be exhibited in his family; for how shall that man who cannot rule his own house—be able to govern the church! Besides, not only must the bishop himself be free from reproach, but his whole family ought to be a sort of mirror of chaste and honourable discipline; and, therefore, in the First Epistle to Timothy, he not less strictly enjoins their wives what they ought to be.2
First, he demands that the children shall be “believers;” whence it is obvious that they have been educated in the sound doctrine of godliness, and in the fear of the Lord. Secondly, that they shall not be devoted to luxury, that they may be known to have been educated to temperance and frugality. Thirdly, that they shall not be disobedient; for he who cannot obtain from his children any reverence or subjection—will hardly be able to restrain the people by the bridle of discipline.3

As far as the elder’s children are concerned, Paul insists that they ‘believe’ (NIV). In other translations these children are described, not as believing, but as faithful—faithful in the sense of submissive or obedient to their father’s will. This is a preferable understanding. What is in Paul’s mind is not belief but behaviour. He is not saying that an elder’s children have to be Christians. But he is insisting that they be under their father’s control and ‘not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient’. In his first letter to Timothy the apostle makes the same point: ‘The overseer … must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect’ (3:4). Then follows the reason: ‘If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?’ (3:5). If a man cannot look after his own household it cannot be expected that he will be able to take care of God’s church. Failure in the one area will lead to failure in the other.4

Titus 1:
5 oThis is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and pappoint elders in every town as I directed you— 6 qif anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife,3 and his children are believers and not open to the charge of rdebauchery or insubordination. 5

1 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to wthe office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore xan overseer1 must be above reproach, ythe husband of one wife,2 zsober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, ahospitable, bable to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but cgentle, not quarrelsome, dnot a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity ekeeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for wGod’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may fbecome puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 6

πιστός pistos faithful
πιστός, ή, όν a trusting: 31.86 b trustworthy: 31.87 c sure: 71.17


Puritanboard Doctor
Yeah that was my thoughts, but what if God wants to disqualify a man from becomming a bishop, in OT he did it with physical deformities.
I admit it seems harsh, but it would be very visible


Puritan Board Graduate
The qualification in Titus 1:6 requires that the children of an elder must be trustworthy. The exact same Greek word πιστά is used in Acts 13:34 which reads "And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: 'I will give you the sure (πιστά) mercies of David.' That the word in Titus 1:6 refers to trustworthy children is born out by the parallel reference in 1 Tim 3:4 where it is said that they must be "in submission".


Puritan Board Junior
If having a child that didn't believe disqualified you from being an elder, then you would be disqualified every time your wife became pregnant. It means not rebellious.


Puritan Board Junior
There are many a godly minister who have had unbelieving children. Is he present and faithful in his directing of his household? Is he living up to his responsibilities? If he is then I think he's qualified in that aspect. The children's response may not be great to it and they may not be saved but if hes doing all he can then he's met this scriptural requirement.

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
I say you have to ask two questions:

1. Is the son's unbelief due to the father's negligence or poor spiritual oversight at home?
2. Is the son's behavior such that it brings public reproach on the father that will, in turn, publicly shame Christ's church? (not so likely in our culture as in Paul's, but it's the reasoning Paul gives for all this so we have to ask)

If the answer to either of these is "yes," then the man is not qualified. If "no," and if the man's handling of his family demonstrates effective and godly leadership, he may stand for election. His son's unbelief may still enter into consideration of his ability to shepherd the flock. But I don't read Titus as automatically disqualifying him, especially if the son no longer lives at home and under his father's authority.
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