I read in Titus 1:6 that a man has to have children who believe in order to be considered for eldership. I take this to mean that his children have to be old enough to be disciples, yet some men have been appointed as elders and their children are under 10 and sometimes under 5. What does "children who believe" mean? -- Janice Smith
Interesting passage. The doctrine that an elder's children must be fellow disciples taught in some Christian groups hinges on a single verse: and a verse that can be translated in two different ways!
"Children who believe" -- assuming this is the correct translation -- is clearly a key concept. Interpretation of the requirement ranges between all one's children being Christians to at least one being a disciple to the children being "faithful" to their parents. The phrase, if this is the right translation, is equivalent to "children who are true Christians" (having repented and being baptized); it would not be referring to belief in general. Following this interpretation, the Bible does not specify explicitly whether every child need be a disciple (yet), discuss the implications of a child leaving the Lord later in life, or other possible exceptions or mitigating circumstances.
Or the Greek word pista may refer to the children's attitude towards their parents. In fact, this seems to be the understanding in many of the older translations. I lean towards this understanding: when the children mind their elders and show proper respect, this shows that the prospective elder has done a good job in parenting -- and in the leadership that was required to build a solid family.
The fundamental point of the passage seems obvious though: the elder must be excellent at building family.
This article is copyrighted and is for private use and study only. © 2003. Reprints or public distribution is prohibited without the express consent of Douglas Jacoby.