In Titus 1:6-9, Paul gives Timothy a set of qualifications for the office of elder. Paul does the same thing for Timothy in I Timothy 3:1-7.
One of the more controversial qualifications that has been debated regarding it’s meeting is found in Titus 1:6 – “children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.”
View 1 – Some say this means the children of elders need to be saved and until that happens a man may not serve in the office of elder. This would also mean that if that elder’s children prove their lack of knowing Christ as their Lord and Savior at any time during an elder’s tenure, that elder must resign his office.
View 2 – Others say this doesn’t mean that an elder’s children must be saved, but they must be faithful or submissive or generally obedient to their parents.
In my opinion, the latter view is best, and here are 5 reasons why I believe this:
- The immediate context in vs. 6 is that of “insubordination.” That is a lack of submission or rebellion.
- Elders cannot control the behavior of their children. We can instruct them, discipline them, warn them, etc. But, ultimately an elder cannot be held responsible if his child rejects or accepts Christ. It seems unfair to hold him accountable for such a reality.
- The context of these elder qualification is that of character and not salvation. The closest we get to seeing an elder needing to be “saved” is that he should not be a new believer (I Tim 3:6). Other than that, it is character “across the board.” Why would the standards for an elder’s children be any less?
- The Greek word for children here is usually used for those children who are being managed. In other words, those children are the ones who are being actively parented or in the home. When a child moves out of the home, that child’s behavior wouldn’t be a reflection on how his parents oversee him.
- One of the qualifications listed in I Timothy 3:4-5 is this: “He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” The vocabulary in this passage clearly refers to being submissive and not saved. And even though this was written around the time Paul was writing to Titus, and even though Titus would not have been privy to this Scripture in I Timothy, it still is good to be reminded that Scripture never contradicts itself. There is continuity between I Timothy 3 and Titus 1.
In conclusion, an elder’s children must be trustworthy, living faithfully under their parents’ authority, and not be recklessly insubordinate.
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