Why “Husband of One Wife” is better than “One-Woman Man”


Rick Brannan

The few regular readers of these pages are aware that I’m working on revising some old work on the vocabulary of First Timothy and incorporating new work on the balance of the Pastoral Epistles. Here’s an excerpt on the phrase “husband of one wife” found in 1 Tim 3:2.

(image from http://focusmagazine.org/the-husband-of-one-wife.php) (image from http://focusmagazine.org/the-husband-of-one-wife.php)


Many debates on the role of women in the fellowship have turned on this one phrase. The phrase in the Greek is simple; it is the words for “one”, “woman” and “man” (in that order). The words for “one” (εἷς) and “woman” (γυνή) agree in case, number, and gender.[1] The word translated “man” is ἀνήρ, which most generically represents an adult male. This has led many to translate this phrase in a substitutionary manner as “a one-woman man”.

As is the case with many simple and seemingly literal interpretations, there is more to this situation than…

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