Elders & His Children

Titus 1:if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.

I Timothy 3: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? 

Dear Pastor,

“In general, what conduct of one’s children disqualifies one from Church office?”

Joshua in Florida


First, note here the covenantal assumptions. It is not merely the man who is occupying the office but the man as he is connected to his family. Elders, are not to be placed abstracted from their family lives since their family lives reflect who they are.

Second, note that the Timothy passage finds the emphasis being placed upon the Elder as father and his authority to keep order in his household while in the Titus passage the emphasis is placed on the children as submissive to discipline and order.

Third, both passages are not only looking for the children to be of the faith but also examples of the faith. The Titus passage especially focuses on behavior. Elders are to have children who not only are orthodox but also who are practitioners of orthopraxy. The word debauchery can also be translated “riotous.” The emphasis seems to be that self-control is a hallmark of the children of Elders in the Church of the Lord Christ.

Fourth, the prohibition of debauchery (riotous) recalls visions of the prodigal son. Remember in the 1st century world with its pagan Temples and low moral ethic, debauchery would have been a state easily to fall into.

Fifth, this kind of language seems to imply that St. Paul expected those placed as Elders to be men who had grown children. Toddlers don’t typically engage in riotous behavior. It seems we are looking at men who were in their late 30’s onward whom St. Paul envisioned being Elders.

Sixth, the Timothy passage uses the word “dignity,” which can also be translated “gravity.” What is being communicated in the Greek is that the Father in his managing of his household is doing so as one who understands his position before God. He acts with propriety of demeanor in his head of the household responsibilities and that especially in relations with his children.

Putting this all together it seems clear that conduct in older children in the home that would disqualify a man from being Elder would be things like high handed disobedience to the Father as well as a dissolute and rebellious lifestyle. I think we would have to include a obvious lack of self-control that would edge into serious irresponsibility on the part of the child. Children of Elders must not only believe, but they must not be involved in conduct, as a lifestyle, that wars against a confession of faith.

Now obviously, children are going to be children, and so doubtless children will do what we all do and that is sin. As such I think that for a child’s conduct to void a man being an Elder must be a conduct that is routine and unremitting. We are not talking about a one off behavior that is inconsistent with a general pattern of obedience.

Hope that helps Joshua.

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

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