A Commentary by John Stott

Titus 1:6. Elders must be blameless in their marriage and family life.

‘As in 1 Timothy,’ Donald Guthrie writes, ‘the home is regarded as the training ground for Christian leaders.’ Mention is made both of the spouse and of the children.

For the five possible interpretations of the expression *the husband of but one wife* the reader is referred to 1 Timothy 3:2 and its exposition above (pp.92-94). The conclusion reached there is that it is not intended to exclude from the pastorate either those who have never married or remarried widowers, but rather the polygamous and those who have remarried after divorce. More generally and positively, ministerial candidates must have an unsullied reputation in the whole area of sex and marriage.

The elder must also be *a man whose children believe and are not open to a charge of being wild and disobedient* (6). ‘Being wild’ renders *asotia*, which literally means ‘incorrigibility’ (BAGD). It ‘combines the spendthrift and the rake, as in the picture of the prodigal son’. It is a solemn thought that parents are held responsible for the belief and the behaviour of their children. And Christian parents whose children go astray in faith or morals experience acute pain. Yet the logic is plain. Parents cannot be expected to manage God’s family if they have failed to manage their own. This principle is made explicit in 1 Timothy 3:4-5, and is also implicit in verse 7 here where the elder is said to be ‘God’s steward’ (NRSV). An extension of the same principle may be that presbyter-bishops can hardly be expected to win strangers to Christ if they have failed to win those who are most exposed to their influence, their own children. It is legitimate to ask for how long the faith and conduct of children remain their parents’ responsibility. The text suggests that Paul has childhood in mind. For, although *tekna* (‘children’) could be used of posterity in general (E.g. Acts 2:39) and occasionally of grown adults (E.g. Mk. 2:5), it usually refers to youngsters who are still in their minority (which of course varies in different cultures) and are therefore regarded as being still under their parent’s authority (E.g. Eph.6:1, 4: Col.3:20-21).

A further application of this principle may be envisaged, especially in cases where candidates are unmarried or childless. Before being accepted for a wider ministry, they should have proved themselves in a narrower one, for example in Sunday School or youth club.

Tomorrow: Titus: 1:7-8. b). Elders must be blameless in their character and conduct.

The John Stott Bible Study is taken from The Message of Titus. The Bible Speaks Today John Stott. Used by permission of Inter-Varsity Press UK, Nottingham. All rights reserved.