Previous StudyNext StudyUp to Christian Family Contents Page
Return to Pastor's Home Page
Study 3

Part 2 – God’s Plan for Husbands and Wives
Study 3 – Characteristics of a Godly Husband and Wife

1 Timothy 3:8-12

In this study we will examine the requirements for a deacon and see how the characteristics of the husband and wife might apply to not only deacon’s marriages, but all Christian marriages.

(optional question) Look up "deacon" in a concordance or Bible Dictionary and write a brief report on what that office involved.

The deacon was generally the third tier of leadership in the New Testament church. The word means "servant" and this seems to have been their ministry. In Acts when the first seven deacons were chosen, their job was to minister to the physical needs of the people while the disciples continued in study and prayer. We find some deacons were also preachers as in the case of Stephen and Philip. Although most deacons were probably men, in Romans 16:1 Phoebe is called a diakonon which was the Greek word for deacon. In our passage in 1 Timothy the deacons under consideration were men. We will look at Paul’s requirements for these deacons and their wives and see how we can apply them to our own marriage.

8 Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money,

Name the four attributes of the deacon-husband in this verse. Relate how each of the "not" phrases could hinder a marriage relationship. Why is it important for a husband to be reverent? Which one of these four areas do you have the most difficulty with?

Paul gives us four attributes of the husband – reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, and not greedy for money. To have a happy marriage, it really is necessary for the husband to take the lead spiritually. Reverence for God displayed in the family will help overcome many problems. Prayer will give strength for those difficult times. The three "not" qualities can especially be damaging to a marriage relationship. If a husband never means what he says, is "double-tongued," then there will be a lack of stability and trust. We all know the dangers of when a husband drinks too much, and all the harm that can cause. Sometimes husbands can become too focused on finances. A greed for money can keep the husband away from the family for long hours, or it can cause him to place unreasonable restraints on the family spending. Either way, this can lead to marital problems.

9 holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience.

What do you think it means for the husband to have a pure conscience? Explain when guilt sometimes hindered your relationship.

In order for us to have a pure conscience, we need to not do things that are wrong or damaging to the family. Even though husbands (or wives) may try to justify their behavior, they know deep down that what they are doing is wrong. This spills over into bursts of anger or mood swings in the marriage. The best approach is not to do things that you know are wrong. When we have a pure conscience, we will not be nagged by guilt all the time.

10 But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless.

How does God sometimes test husbands? What do you think it means to be found blameless?

Before a person could serve as a deacon, it was recommended that they had been tested, which probably means they had been proven faithful through some difficulty. This was not a job for a brand new believer. In much the same way, husbands need to realize that they are to not act as if they were still single without any responsibilities. Testings may come along, but husbands need to be willing to be proven faithful to their marriage. And they need to be willing to be responsible in their actions. When a husband is blameless and does not do anything that would compromise his marriage vows, he feels better about himself and his relationship with his wife. It is essential that our thought life is under God’s control and that "harmless" flirting is left for the bachelors.

11 Likewise their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things.

Name the four attributes of the wife in this verse. How can not having each of these characteristics hinder a marriage relationship? Which one of these four areas do you have the most difficulty with?

Paul also lists four attributes for the wife – reverent, not slanderers, temperate, and faithful in all things. Just as the husband needs to seek God daily, so does the wife. It takes two people to make a happy marriage, both husband and wife. But really, it takes three – husband, wife, and God. I have always been surprised how easily some women speak poorly of their husbands in public. Putting down your husband, or anyone else, in public will only lead to conflict and arguments. Paul calls on the wives to be temperate, which means to be moderate or steady in all things. It is easy to jump from one extreme to the other. But this will only add confusion and turmoil in the marriage. Finally, Paul calls on the wife to be a faithful wife. A marriage is built on trust, so being faithful in all things is an essential.

12 Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.

What does it mean for husbands to rule their children and their own houses well? What is your area of weakness in leading your children or your household?

Paul is saying that if a wife and children are out of control, it is a reflection on the husband’s love and nurture and discipline of his family. If he can’t rule his own household, how can he expect to do a good job with the church? Having a content and happy family requires much hard work. Husbands must be willing to spend the time and make the necessary sacrifices to see that each member of the family is appreciated and loved and encouraged to reach their full potential. And by the way, this is a 24 hour-a-day, seven days-a-week job. There are no vacations from this. I believe a family will reflect the commitment of the parents. If we are committed to disciplined behavior in our own lives, we will find our children have an easier task understanding the necessity of self-sacrifice. But if we are out of control or self-indulgent, expect our children and our spouse to respond the same way.

1 Corinthians 11:11-12

I thought it would be a good idea to add these two verses from 1 Corinthians to the discussion which show how we are dependent on each other.

11 Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord.

How are you dependent on your spouse? Why did Paul add the phrase at the end "in the Lord"?

Husbands and wives are dependent on each other. We look to each other for love, for affirmation, for a feeling of security. We listen to each other’s advice and we work together to achieve family goals. We can do none of these things by ourselves. We are not two separate persons each going our own independent way. We need to appreciate our inter-dependence instead of resisting it or ignoring it. Of course the key is Paul’s little phrase at the end of the verse, "in the Lord." As long as husband and wife are both serving God, they must learn to depend on each other, because they really are both dependent on God.

12 For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God.

Who should be pre-eminent in the family, the husband or the wife? Why does Paul add the phrase at the end "but all things are from God"?

Both husband and wife have unique responsibilities to help the marriage to be successful. But neither should be pre-eminent. When one spouse begins to think they are more important than the other or that they have more wisdom or more concern for the family, then we are laying a foundation for trouble. God did not bring husband and wife together so that one could lord it over the other. He brings a man and woman together so they may share the love which he has given to all husbands and wives. Let us not forget what Paul says, "all things are from God." Our needs or desires are not more important than our spouse’s. Everything we have is from God, so we should be happy to share with our spouse in all things.

Footnotes:

This Study on God’s Plan for Husbands and Wives 1998 by David Humpal

All scriptures from the New King James Version 1984, Thomas Nelson Publisher

Previous StudyNext StudyTop of Page