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Does 1 Tim. 3:11 refer to wives of deacons, or wives of both elders and deacons?

I believe the reason that the reason deacons’ wives are singled out is because the deacons would ostensibly be concerned with the physical welfare of the church. And as such, their wives would often be privy to the financial exigencies of many of the flock. Hence, Paul does not want them to be gossips or otherwise destructive.

As to whether one can read the text in such a way that the wives are also wives of elders. Frankly, that’s a stretch. If we arrive at this interpretation—driven as it is by pragmatic realities—hoping that we can find something in the text to support it, I think that that’s the backwards way to approach exegesis. At all points, we must ask, “What does the text most likely mean?” rather than “Is this interpretation possible?” The simple fact is that virtually all heresies are based on possible interpretations.

Related Topics: Issues in Church Leadership/Ministry

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