1 Timothy 3:11-13
11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
13 For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus
Paul now turns his attention to the deacon’s family. As with the bishop, a deacon must have his family affairs in order. I find it interesting he addresses some traits the wife must have and really never does that with the bishop. Personally, I would want the bishop to have a wife that fits these characteristics as well.
First the wives must be grave. We see this attribute with their husbands as well. They should be serious about things and not given to flighty, useless chatter. You’ve seen the type. Women that go on and on about virtually nothing important. They seem to not be able to stop talking, but fill their mouth with words that will not affect anything. Men do it to, so don’t get me wrong. A deacon and his wife should be people that we can go to and expect an honest, heartfelt comment about any subject we might bring up. Especially when it is a subject of the heart and spirit, something that we are struggling with. They would not make light of it or joke around about it but give it their utmost attention. This is being grave.
They are not slanderers. They do not gossip or backbite other people. Their speech is kind and useful, edifying others with their words on a regular basis. This is a characteristic we all should possess. Gossip and backbiting do no one any good. They are both malicious and destructive. Paul tells us that our speech should minister grace to the person hearing our words (Ephesians 4:29) and too often we do just the opposite. Imagine how the church would be blessed if we would all out aside our petty gossip and complaints! People would flock to us like metal does to a magnet.
The deacons should be husbands to one wife. We discussed this in the previous post on the qualifications of a bishop. This does not necessarily mean he has only been married once, although that is preferred. It talks of the necessity of faithfulness in all things, which is mentioned before this. A deacon must be faithful in his giving, in his attendance, in his service and to his family and job. This is a lost art in today’s world. There is little faithfulness and even less loyalty, which is a product of faithfulness. People bounce from one relationship to the next, from one job to another and from church to church. They have forgotten the concept of being faithful.
But not the deacon! He is faithful in all things. This includes his family. He is faithful to his wife and his children. He does not fail to provide, protect, honor and serve all of them on a daily basis. He can be counted on in good times and bad to keep his composure and not get out of sorts. He is faithful to God, and God is faithful to him, seeing him through every trial and every test. There is never a doubt who he serves and who he loves.
A person who executes the office of deacon well takes a position of high regard from others. This is another way of saying the first part of verse 13. God honors their execution of the office of deacon. He is pleased that they have taken care of their church and themselves well and thus he gives them honor in their circle of influence. Everyone looks up to him as an honorable person. This is what a earning a good degree means.
Paul says the deacon also has great boldness in the faith. Remember, he is not a novice. He has studied the word and used it to make wise decisions. There are not many places in the Bible that tell us we should be bold. Most of the time we should be meek and humble, but Paul says the deacon is bold in the faith. He is able to defend the gospel when someone comes against the truth. He can stand firm in his decisions, like a tree planted by the water that is not moved. This makes him a valuable asset on any church board, and even more valuable in establishing the churches in Paul’s day.
We would all do well to try and emulate the characteristics of a bishop or a deacon. While these criteria are still used today to choose people for church leadership, most of the things listed are traits we should all possess as Christians. If we do, then when the need comes for someone in our church to rise to leadership, we will be ready to fill the role. And we can carry these things to the world as part of our Christian witness. Doing this will certainly purchase us a good degree!