Here is a trustworthy saying:
If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach , the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?). He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgement as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap.
1 Timothy 3:1-7
An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer is trusted with God's work, he must be blameless - not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
The questions I have are:
- Does an elder have to be married? I've been part of churches where single and engaged men have been elders or nominated to be elders. Christians seem to interpret 'husband of but one wife' differently. Some see it as saying that IF an elder is married, he should only have one wife and not be a bigamist. Others see it as that an elder must be a married man with just one wife.
- Is Scripture saying that an elder's children must all be believers? I've seen instances where an elder has adult children, some who are believers and some who are not. Or is it only concerning children who still live at home? What about elders who have babies or toddlers who aren't old enough to understand the gospel yet? Can a childless man be an elder? I know some Christians who think that a man with only child should be excluded from being considered for eldership because the passage says 'children'.