In the two New Testament passages describing qualifications for πρεσβυτέρους (commonly 'elders'), each has a phrase relating to children:

1 Timothy 3:4

τέκνα ἔχοντα ἐν ὑποταγῇ

Children - having - in - submission

Titus 1:6

τέκνα ἔχων πιστά

Children - having - believing

Is there an emphasis here on recipients requiring children in order to be elders, or is it more a matter of any children they do have requiring these secondary attributes?

  • 1
    1 Timothy 3:4 actually pertains to ἐπίσκοποι - "overseers" or (KJV) "bishops" (see v.1). The same holds true of Titus 1:6. Presbyters (πρεσβυτέροι) are the subject of, for example, 1 Timothy 5:17-19 and James 5:14.
    – user33515
    Jun 7, 2017 at 15:38
  • @user33515 - I tried to emphasise the Greek term in the question to try and avoid these sorts of tangents. As far as I'm concerned, the Jews didn't have overseers and bishops, and use the term πρεσβυτέρος repeatedly in reference to "elders" (e.g. Mt 15:2). Importing later English terms like 'bishop' won't help us interpret the text here - in my opinion.
    – Steve Taylor
    Jun 9, 2017 at 9:51
  • Steve - I was trying to focus on the Greek terms themselves, but I see now there is an ambiguity in Titus: 1:5 refers to πρεσβυτέροι, but 1:7 mentions ἐπίσκοποι. But 1 Timothy 3:4 uses the term ἐπίσκοποι only - the term πρεσβύτερος is not used at all. This was the source of my comment. Maybe you should rephrase your question, "... qualifications for ἐπίσκοποι and/or πρεσβυτέροι ..." or similar (In addition, you wrote "πρεσβυτέρους", which is the accusative case of πρεσβυτέροι - I think you meant to use the nominative here, no?)
    – user33515
    Jun 9, 2017 at 12:16
  • Also, Jews did, in fact, have ἐπίσκοποι. The term is found in the Septuagint and is rendered in the Brenton translation as "overseer", "captain", "steward", and "superintendent". Example: Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest is overseer (Numbers 4:16).
    – user33515
    Jun 9, 2017 at 12:23

1 Answer 1


Titus 1:6 New International Version (NIV)

An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe[a] and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient.

1 Timothy 3:4New International Version (NIV)

He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full[a] respect

Many of Jesus apostles were not married and did not have children,obviously it is not necessary for an overseer to have children , however if they did have, their children had to be obedient and of full respect.

The entire congregational arrangement, with its apostles, prophets, evangelizers, shepherds, and teachers, served to produce mature Christians, spiritual adults. (Eph 4:11-14; compare Col 1:28, 29; 4:12, 13.) Obviously, then, those serving as shepherds and teachers had to be spiritually mature persons, not babes. However, more than spiritual adulthood was required of one appointed as an overseer or a ministerial servant. (1Ti 3:1-9, 12, 13; Tit 1:5-9) For example, one of the requirements for an overseer was that he be “a man presiding over his own household in a fine manner, having children in subjection with all seriousness.” (1Ti 3:4) Thus, a man could be mature in certain respects from a spiritual viewpoint, and yet, if his children were rebellious and uncontrollable, he would not qualify for the position of overseer.

  • Thanks Nicolas - I'm interested in your hermeneutical approach here. Based on your answer, you appear to assume that an Apostle, an Elder and an Overseer are all essentially the same thing. It would be good to add your basis for making this assumption into your answer, to help clarify your logic a bit. Apart from John I'm not aware of any of the Apostles being considered an "elder" or an "overseer" in the New Testament, and so I'm not sure it's valid to consider him as the rule rather than an exception, right?
    – Steve Taylor
    Aug 21, 2017 at 14:15
  • Steve thank you for you comment, from what I understand from the scriptures, the all do the same thing, that is look after the spirituality of the congregation. Paul I would consider him as an Overseer for he went from one congregation to another to appoint elders (NIV 1 Tim 3:1-7) where as the Elders were to look after their own particular congregation. (NKJV Acts 20:28 and Titus 1:5-9 Aug 22, 2017 at 16:13

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