The position of this solitary charge, respecting deacons’ wives, in the midst of regulations concerning “deacons,” is, of itself, almost decisive against the translation of the English version, adopted also by Luther and many others. The question naturally occurs—why are deacon’s wives especially referred to, while nothing has been said respecting the wives of presbyters? Then, again, why should the choice of Timothy in the matter of his selection of a deacon be hampered with any special requirements in the wife of the candidate for the holy office? The literal translation of the Greek words would be, Women in like manner must, These women, St. Chrysostom and most of the ancient expositors affirm, were deaconesses.

Should 1 Timothy 3:11 be rendered as "the women" or "their wives"? Is it referring to deaconesses?

  • The Greek reads gunaikas tos autos, which literally means women of theirs. The preceding text speaks of the house (i.e., family) and children of elders or overseers; it's not clear why this would exclude their wives.
    – Lucian
    Oct 24, 2019 at 0:45
  • Immediate context makes it have to be deacon's wives. A better proof text for 'deaconesses' is Romans 16:1 Mar 8, 2020 at 12:31

1 Answer 1


Should 1 Timothy 3:11 be rendered as “the women” or “their wives”? Is it referring to deaconesses?

Paul is referring to the wives of the overseers and deacons and not to deaconesses. In chapter 1 Timothy 1-13 Paul is listing the requirements of overseers and other ministerial servants, also wrote about the qualities required for the wives of those seeking such positions in the congregation . He wrote : " Likewise also their wives must be dignified, not slanderous, temperate, faithful in every respect." 1 Timothy 3:11 (NET Bible)

Within the congregation Paul wrote that only mature men be appointed to minister:

" I allow no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to remain in quietness and keep silence [in religious assemblies]".1 Timothy 2:12 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

Such men were to be mature, have good knowledge of the scriptures , be able to teach and correct matters when they got out of hand. Paul also wrote:

1 Timothy 4:16 (NET Bible)

16 "Be conscientious about how you live and what you teach. Persevere in this, because by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you."

2 Timothy 4:2-3 (NET Bible)

2 "Preach the message, be ready whether it is convenient or not, reprove, rebuke, exhort with complete patience and instruction. 3 For there will be a time when people will not tolerate sound teaching. Instead, following their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves, because they have an insatiable curiosity to hear new things.."

The Greek word "Gynaikas" - Γυναῖκας - " Usually translated as "women" can also be translated as "wives" and in the context of Paul's writings the latter is more appropriate.

1 Timothy 3:11 New Living Translation

In the same way, their wives must be respected and must not slander others. They must exercise self-control and be faithful in everything they do.

1 Timothy 3:11 NKJV

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

1 Timothy 3:11 (NASB)

11 Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things.

1 Timothy 3:11 Berean Study Bible

In the same way, the women must be dignified, not slanderers, but temperate and faithful in all things.

  • 1
    To say that γυναῖκας more appropriately refers to wives over women "in the context of Paul's writings" is too broad. Context dictates, but "Paul's writings" is too broad. Context must be case-by-case, as to whether the "woman" (definition of γυνὴ) is also a "wife" (connotation based on context, e.g. is the γυνὴ married?) Example: in 1 Corinthians 7:34, if I should say that the γυνὴ is a "wife" because the context is "Paul's writings", I would be ignoring the plain context of "καὶ ἡ γυνὴ ἡ ἄγαμος ..." and the unmarried woman. Suggest being careful with broad statements about context. Mar 7, 2020 at 17:07

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