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Bible Q

Does a spouse’s remarriage disqualify you from being a deacon or elder?

The full question was: “Can my husband qualify as a Deacon or Elder? He has only had one wife, me, but I was married once before and divorced when young. So he is the husband of one wife.”

The source verses:

Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. (1 Tim 3:12)

…the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. (Tit 1:6)

So the simple answer is, no, on these grounds, he qualifies. Whether the verse excludes husbands who have had a previous marriage is less clear. On the one hand there’s no direct reference to any of his past history, but on the other hand, there’s my previous answer to the question What does the Bible say about remarriage after divorce?’, and the requirements for deacons/elders are much higher than merely for disciples.

The NET version translator’s comment on 1 Tim 3:2 seems to capture the ambiguity:

Or “a man married only once,” “devoted solely to his wife” (see 1 Tim 3:12; 1 Tim 5:9; Tit 1:6). The meaning of this phrase is disputed. It is frequently understood to refer to the marital status of the church leader, excluding from leadership those who are (1) unmarried, (2) polygamous, (3) divorced, or (4) remarried after being widowed. A different interpretation is reflected in the NEB’s translation “faithful to his one wife.”

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