Managing Your House

Manages His Own Household Well

1 Timothy 3:4-5; Titus 1:6; 1 Timothy 3:12


1 Timothy 3:4-5. I have chosen “manages his own household well” from 1 Tim 3:4,5 to identify what apparently is one trait described with three separate but related statements; two pertaining to the elder and one to the deacon. The focus is on being a father specifically and a manager of the family generally. We all know how important the family is in our culture and in the church today; we also know how disoriented family life and roles have become. Evidently family responsibilities were in need of attention in the first century as well.

“Managing” gives the visual picture of presiding over as a governor (προΐστημι meaning to place or stand before; also used to mean appoint or establish). A manager thus is one who has visible authority as he assumes the lead.  The word is used eight times in the New Testament (Rom 12:8; 1 Thess 5:12; 1 Tim 3:4,5,12; 5:17; Tit 3:8, 14). Notable is the reference to the elder who “rules” the church (1 Tim 5:17; 1 Thess 5:12-13). 

This presiding concept is tempered somewhat by the extra-biblical use of the term which conveyed protection and care (Kittel VI 701). This is also seen in 1 Tim 3:5 were the word changes in the last phrase from managing to caring - (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care [ἐπιμελέομαι] of the church of God?). Even in 1 Thess 5:12-13 the point of emphasis is probably on the leader’s ministry and love for the flock rather than their authority. 

So, the combination of these two ideas yields the notion that those who lead Christ’s church are obliged to care for His church. This is one piece with NAS  Luke 22:26 "But not so with you, but let him who is the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as the servant.

Discussion Question: Clearly, the husband must manage the home, not the wife. List some practical ways this management is and is not evidenced.

One of the ways to determine whether a man is managing his house well is by checking out his relationship to his children. If a man has dependent children (not adults), they must be “under control” (NAS). The term is variously translated here, but it is the normal word for subjection (ὑποταγή from upo + tassw meaning to put under. It is a military term – “rank under.” Obedience is a product of subjection. It is also apparent than God has a divine order in the home and children are not at the top with independent rights, contrary to the current movement in the United Nations undercutting parental authority. 

Submission is a common concept used many times in New Testament and LXX. Notable might be Eph 5:21,22, 25; 1 Pet 2:13,18; 3:1,5; Col 3:18; Jam 4:7; Luke 2:51.

Discussion Question: What are negative and positive examples of children being in submission? How does this differ at various age and maturity levels? 

Also, if a man has children, they must be “with all dignity” NAS = σεμνότης). This too is variously translated and can be confusing – ESV, NAS = “with all dignity”; KJV = “with all gravity”; NIV = “with proper respect”; NKJ = “with all reverence”; RSV = “respectful in every way.” It is found elsewhere at 1 Tim 2:2 (dignity); 3:8,11(dignified); Phil 3:8 (honorable); Tit 2:2,7 (dignified). The basic concept is “serious”.  It is synonymous with respectable (kosmion) in 3:2 which we saw meant organized or orderly. However “dignity” refers to a seriousness that goes beyond earth. It inspires respect and reverence. Hence a father described by this term inspires honor or respect from his children (see Trench 344 and Cremer 36, 293).

So, this term first applies to the father and in consequence to the children. Dad must be for real. Something about him must trigger respect from his children. Only in that sense the children are “respectable”. 

Discussion Question: What does a father do or not do to earn the respect of his children? What does a father do or not do to loose the respect of his children?

Verse 5 is a parenthesis that offers an explanation as to why a father must manage his home well. Simply put it says that a man’s lack of understanding regarding managing his own home means he won’t be able to manage the church. This issue is a father’s intellectual knowledge (οἶδα).  What doesn’t he know? All well known translations supply “how” (πῶς); probably because it appears in the second phrase, “…how will he take care of the church of God?” Thus, he has no understanding of the nuts and bolts of managing his home. Another view might be not to supply “how” in the first phrase – “if a man does not know to manage his own household.” Thus, the issue is that he is unaware of the requirement to manage his home! In either case, the bottom line is that he is not actually managing his household. 

Why is this lack of knowledge problematic? Because such any person (indefinite) who lacks this understanding can’t adequately care for the church; which an elder is expected to do. As mentioned previously, the picture changes from managing to caring - ἐπιμελέομαι. The term is used of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:34-35. 

Why is this a necessary conclusion (failure at home means disqualification at church)? Perhaps it is that…

1. The home is a test bed to gauge the prospect’s leadership abilities.

2. The church is very much a family.

3. Many of the dynamics in the church are similar to those in the home.

4. There is an authority structure both in the home and in the church.

5. If a man can’t earn respect from his family he will never earn it from the church. 

Discussion Question: Does this statement of a lack of knowledge about managing a home imply that men need to be trained in the theology and practice of leading his home? If so, what subjects would you want included in such a training program? 

Titus 1:6. This passage focuses on the potential elder’s dependent children rather than on his general management of the home. 1 Tim 3:4 teaches that his dependent children must be in submission to him and that he must engender their respect. Here we learn that he must be a man “…having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion” (NAS). Other translations are ESV and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination; KJV having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly; NIV a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient; NKJ having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination; RSV his children are believers and not open to the charge of being profligate or insubordinate. 

Here is the controversial issue: what does the requirement regarding the children’s faith entail? The phrase is τέκνα ἔχων πιστάμὴ ἐν κατηγορίᾳ ἀσωτίας ἢ ἀνυπότακτα; which literally is “while having pista children not in accusation of debauchery or rebellious.” If pista is active then it can mean believing and presumably Christian belief. If pista is passive then it can mean faithful. Most lexicons consider the passive sense to be the normal sense; thus faithful, dependable, trustworthy, or reliable. 

If so, then salvation is not the issue. The requirement is not that the potential elder’s dependent children are believers; genuine Christians. This makes sense on two counts. First, the context seems to settle the issue. The second phrase “not accused of dissipation or rebellion seems to define what is in mind by the use of pista. The children must not be an incorrigible who is engaged in a reckless immoral lifestyle (as opposed to isolated sins). Nor can they be rebellious (the term is the negative of subjection used in 1 Tim 3:5). 

Second, the divine and sovereign nature of salvation renders improbable the view that the elder’s children must be genuine believers. In fact, I would argue that such a view sets aside the mysterious nature of regeneration and easily leads to false professions. Further, it sets up the situation where a man can be qualified as an elder on the day before his child becomes independent and then disqualified on the day after his child becomes dependent (John MacArthur say age 18). 

A child’s spiritual condition may or may not be directly related to the leadership of the father in the home. One thing is for sure – the father is responsible for the process but not the product. 

1 Timothy 3:12. Deacons must be “…good managers of their children and their own households.”  This requirement for deacons is a restatement of the general obligation to be a good manager of the home incumbent on elders as stated in 3:4. An officer in Christ’s church, whether an elder or deacon, must take the lead in his home. A comparison of 1Tim 3:4-5 and Tit 1:6 with 1 Tim 3:12 reveals several slight differences in expectations. 

1. The deacon is specifically directed to manage his children as well as his home. This is obviously implied but not stated in regards to the elder.

2. No statement is made regarding the submission of the deacon’s children; nor is anything said regarding respect for the father. 

3. Nothing is said about trustworthiness as a trait of the deacon’s children; nor is there any mention regarding what to do about a scandalous lifestyle. 

4. One may argue that the above differences are insignificant. However, the lack of an explanation for the home management requirement in the case of deacons may be significant. Because deacons are not given any authority in the church except that delegated to them by the elders, the rationale, “for if a man knows not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?” is not applicable (3:5).