Must Pastors Have Believing Children?
The Text in Three Renderings
Titus 1:6 (KJV) If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly…
Titus 1:6 (Darby) if any one be free from all charge [against him], husband of one wife, having believing children not accused of excess or unruly.
Titus 1:6 (Youngs Literal Translation) if any one is blameless, of one wife a husband, having children stedfast, not under accusation of riotous living or insubordinate–
Titus 1:6 differs in three translations. Someone is confused. How the text is translated will determine whether the text mandates pastors to have believing children in order for them to qualify as pastors.
Berry did a literal rendering that I have found trustworthiest:
“…if anyone is unimpeachable, husband of one wife, having believing children, not under accusation of dissoluteness or insubordinate.”
The Greek word does not give help since it can be rendered faithful or believing with equal ease. The same would be true in Hebrew.
Solving the Mystery
In order to solve the mystery, I knew that I had to look at the words surrounding this section of text. I looked up the word translated riot, excess and dissoluteness (). Thayer stated this:
…(the character of an , i.e. of an abandoned man, one that cannot be saved,… hence prop. incorrigibleness), an abandoned, dissolute, life; profligacy, prodigality…
Next, I looked at the word translated unruly, insubordinate (). Thayer stated regarding this word,
“not made subject, unsubjected … that cannot be subjected to control, disobedient, unruly, refractory.”
One in faith would not be classified with these words. I then checked one more word that was rendered accused or accusation (). Thayer stated that this word meant accusation, charge, and the idea of a formal court accusation was part of the meaning. The accusation, then, was very severe. I was able to arrive at a conclusion from this. This is how I did it.
The King James version said “having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.” This made it sound like the faithful children might or might not be accused as riotous or unruly regardless of whether they were. The words for riot and unruly eliminated the possibility of the children being Saints. Therefore, one could not be a faithful person (in either the secular or the Spiritual sense) and be properly accused of these two things. The faithfulness of the children was not a matter of faith in God (if we accept the King James Version rendering that does not demand that they be in faith, but rather that they only be faithful), but their lifestyle must show the opposite of the repugnant behaviours.
I then considered the Darby translation, “having believing children not accused of excess or unruly.” This translation made it sound like one could be a Saint and yet be accused of the two repugnant behaviours (which behaviours eliminate one from having salvation). This was impossible. If the text referred to believing children (that is, to Saints), they would not be justly accused of things that would prove that they are unsaved. I therefore knew that Darby had rendered the text wrong.
If I were to suppose, however, that Darby understood the Greek to say, “having believing children not [that is, in contrast to being] accused of excess or unruly,” this would fit. I knew that one could be an unbeliever, and still could be a contrast to anyone accused of excess or unruliness. The text, then, would have given only one option: the children must be Saints and they must not be rotten to the core. The other option—that they could be well-behaved children while still yet not being in faith—is not allowed if the two phrases are contrasts to each other. If the text only allows for believing children, and not also for well-behaved unbelieving children, a pastor would have to quit his pastorate if even one of his sixteen children were unsaved no matter how well behaved he (or she) was. Since salvation cannot be commanded into a child by a parent, the calling of the pastor would be rescinded by Yehovah due to the child’s lack of faith. The verse that states, “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Romans 11:29) would prove untrue. Moses, David, Samuel, Noah—none of these men of the Bible would have been able to be a pastor. And whether Paul met the criteria or not in these regards would be left up to extra-Biblical stories.
Moses was a shepherd (pastor) as Isaiah prophesied:
Isaiah 63:11 Then He remembered the days of old, Moses, His people: “Where is He who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of His flock? Where is He Who put His holy Spirit within him, Who led by the right hand of Moses with His glorious arm, dividing the water before them, to make Himself an everlasting Name?
Young’s translation, “if any one is blameless, of one wife a husband, having children stedfast, not under accusation of riotous living or insubordinate,” makes the most sense to me. It does not eliminate any major or minor category or possibility, and it would not rule out most all of the pastors in the Bible.
‘New Testament’ Usage
I then considered the usage of the ‘New Testament’ word translated faithful to see if John MacArthur’s footnote was correct. He states in his footnote,
“Faithful” is always used in the New Testament of believers and never unbelievers, so this refers to children who have saving faith in Christ and reflect it in their conduct. Since 1 Timothy 3:4 requires children to be in submission, it may be directed at young children in the home, while this text looks at those who are older.
The MacArthur Study Bible, Word Publishing, 1997
The following sections show what I found:
Section 1. Texts that Refer to God As Faithful
1 Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Messiah Yeshua our Lord.
God obviously is a believer. The remaining texts of this section are similar:
1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it].
In this text, faithful denotes an action, not a status.
1 Thessalonians 5:24 Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do [it].
2 Thessalonians 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep [you] from evil.
2 Timothy 2:13 If we believe not, He abideth faithful. He cannot deny himself.
Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the profession of [our] faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised…)
Hebrews 11:11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.
1 Peter 4:19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Revelation 1:5 And from Messiah Yeshua the faithful Witness, the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood…
Revelation 3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God…
Revelation 19:11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him is called Faithful and True. And in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
Hebrews 3:2 …Who was faithful to Him Who appointed Him, as also Moses in all his house.
Section 2. Texts that Refer to the Word of God As Faithful
1 Timothy 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Messiah Yeshua came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
The Word of God is also faithful in every way. It cannot be viewed as a “believer,” since a believer refers to one who is a cognizant living being. But the usage of the word must consider such texts. The remaining texts of this section will be similar in nature:
2 Timothy 2:11 [It is] a faithful saying. For if we be dead with [him], we shall also live with [him]…
Revelation 22:6 And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to show unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.
1 Timothy 4:9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.
Titus 1:9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
Titus 3:8 [This is] a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.
Revelation 21:5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
Section 3. Texts that Refer to Saints As Faithful
Acts 16:15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought [us], saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide [there]. And she constrained us.
The word faithful in the above example is modified by to the Lord, which shows that one must know to what or to whom one is faithful. The text writers do not assume that the word faithful is always used of believers, else the modifiers (such as to the Lord) would be completely redundant. The same rule will be noticed in the following texts:
1 Corinthians 4:17 For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in the Messiah, as I teach every where in every church.
Ephesians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Messiah Yeshua by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Messiah Yeshua…
This text implies that there are some who are faithful—but not to Messiah Yeshua. One could be faithful to other things and/or people.
Ephesians 6:21 But that ye also may know my affairs, how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things…
Colossians 1:2 To the saints and faithful brethren in the Messiah which are at Colosse: Grace [be] unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Messiah Yeshua.
Colossians 1:7 As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of the Messiah…
Colossians 4:7 All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, [who is] a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord…
The following texts are not modified (they do not describe to what one is faithful), and the word faithful continues to refer to Saints:
Galatians 3:9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
Avraham is called faithful, and this goes along with they which be of faith. Therefore the word faithful is, in a way, modified.
Colossians 4:9 With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is [one] of you. They shall make known unto you all things which [are done] here.
The term brother is used with faithful, so that both terms are recognized to refer to attributes of a Saint (a believer).
1 Timothy 1:12 And I thank Messiah Yeshua our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry…
This text does not explain in what categories he was found faithful. It is fair, therefore, to assume that Yehovah found him faithful in every category which pertained to ministry and to good reputation with unbelievers (secular faithfulness). If the term faithful means believer or believing, we should be able to replace one of these into this text, and it should make sense:
And I thank Messiah Yeshua our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me believing, putting me into the ministry…
This makes no sense to me. [Note: another wrote, “Why? I see how it could to some. One would need to be believing before being put into ministry…”]
1 Timothy 6:2 And they who have believing masters—let them not despise, because they are brethren, but rather do service because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.
This text, with the next text, produces a problem. The same word is rendered by the King James translators in two different ways in the above verse: “believing” and “faithful”. This is not honest. Joseph Thayer, in his Greek-English Lexicon, rendered the verse as follows:
And they that have believing () masters, let them not despise [them], because they are brethren; but rather let them serve [them], because believing () [ones] they are and beloved who are being helped by the good service.
I was about to commend Dr. Thayer for his consistency, when I checked the next text to see how he rendered it. In the King James, it reads:
2 Timothy 2:2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men who shall be able to teach others also.
Dr. Thayer rendered it this way:
And the things which thou didst hear of me with many witnesses, these commit to faithful () men, such as shall be competent also to teach others.
Why didn’t he render it in the following way?—
And the things which thou didst hear of me with many witnesses, these commit to believing () men, such as shall be competent also to teach others.
Is it because he realized that the issue was faithfulness to the task, and not belief, since all who were being discussed were recognized as being in the faith, but not all were apt to teach? Must not the men not only be faithful (saved), but also be secularly faithful to their responsibilities? If this is the case, the word pistoV does not have to refer only to believers when used in the New Testament.
1 Peter 5:12 By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand.
3 John 1:5 Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers…
This sounds all-inclusive, and covering much more than merely the status of being saved. This word is an adverb rather than an adjective, but the thrust of the word will be the same if it is from the same root.
Revelation 2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer. Behold, the devil shall cast [some] of you into prison that ye may be tried. And ye shall have tribulation ten days. Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
Revelation 2:13 I know thy works and where thou dwellest, where Satan’s seat is. And thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith even in those days wherein Antipas is my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
Revelation 17:14 These shall make war with the Lamb. And the Lamb shall overcome them. For He is Lord of lords, and King of kings. And they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.
This describes believing ones with three different characteristics. Faithfulness is an attribute of the believing one, not the belief itself.
Section 4. Texts that Refer to Those Who are Faithful in Secular Responsibilities
Matthew 24:45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?
This text is one of several that has nothing to do with ‘modern Church’ doctrine, since the ‘modern Church’ (whatever that is) was not yet formed. The faithful and wise servant is faithful and wise in terms of his master’s affairs. The issue of the servant’s faith is not part of this text. The text continues,
Matthew 24:48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, “My lord delayeth his coming!” and shall begin to smite the fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken, the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for [him], and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder and appoint his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
This evil servant is still a servant. The word servant, in this case, obviously does not imply one who is born of God. The faithful and wise servant was put in charge of the entire household to give food to them in the appropriate season. This does not sound like a general description of a Christian or the Christian’s responsibilities. This text is a warning to the Israeli leadership of the End Times regarding doing responsibilities to provide food. (Adopting, or better, stealing Christian theology from texts referring to Israel is a common anti-Semitic Replacement Theological tool.)
Matthew 25:21 His lord said unto him, Well done, [thou] good and faithful servant. Thou hast been faithful over a few things. I will make thee ruler over many things. Enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
Matthew 25:23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant. Thou hast been faithful over a few things. I will make thee ruler over many things. Enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
These texts are a comparison of a man traveling into a far country and the Kingdom of Heaven (or so the added text assumes). The coming of the Kingdom of Heaven, in this case, accompanies a reward for the good and faithful servant and damnation for the evil servant. (This cannot refer to Christian theology since an “earn your salvation” concept is repugnant to salvation by Grace. These texts pertain to Israel in the End Times, which is far beyond the scope of this paper.) If faithful means having saving faith in Christ, the parable-type comparison of the man traveling into a far country and leaving his servants to do his work is ruined, since this would be anachronistic (outside of a right sense of time and timing). The same is true in the next text.
Luke 12:42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom [his] lord shall make ruler over his household, to give [them their] portion of meat in due season?
Luke 16:10 He who is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. 11If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true [riches]? 12And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?
If faithful indicates having saving faith in Christ, this text makes no sense.
Luke 19:17 And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant. Because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.
1 Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
The steward is born of God. Why, then, must he also be found faithful if, by faithful, saving faith in Christ is implied? Is this not saying the same thing twice?
1 Corinthians 7:25 Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord. Yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.
1 Timothy 3:11 Even so [must their] wives [be] grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
If faithful indicates Salvation, this text makes no sense. How can one be “saved in all things”? Can one be partially saved?
Hebrews 2:17 Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto the brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things [pertaining] to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
Yeshua was a faithful High Priest in things of God. The word faithful must not refer to saving faith, since this text would then make no sense.
Hebrews 3:5 And Moses verily is faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after…
3 John 1:5 Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers…
When I put the above evidences together, I was unable to agree with Dr. MacArthur’s footnote regarding this word. I see no proof that an elder or a pastor must have children who have saving faith in Christ. I see much proof that they must have children who are faithful in ways that are the opposite of “dissolute or insubordinate” ().