Chapter 4. One
In the Strong’s concordance we find one of the Greek words for one is heis (#1520), which is defined as “a prim. numeral; one: - a (n, -ny, certain), + abundantly, man, one (another), only, other, some.” In Ephesians 4:14 where it says there is one body and one Spirit the word heis is used. Where it says one Lord in Ephesians 4:5 this same word is used. Where it says “one God and Father of all” it is again the same word. It means the numeral one.
However, in I Timothy 3:2 where it says the husband of one wife, the word translated ‘one’ is not the word heis, which is a number as in only one. It is instead the word mia (#3391, an irregualr feminine form of heis), which is defined in the Strong’s as “one or first: -a (certain), + agree, first, one, x other.”(1)
The passage in Titus 6:6 which says the husband of one wife is again the same word. This certainly could back the idea that when the Scripture says the bishop, overseer, or elder, must be the husband of one wife, it really means at least one wife, or a first wife. It may not, as most believe, mean a limit to one wife. (2)
Having a household (wife or wives) and children gives one experience in how to rule or manage or govern. If he cannot rule or manage or govern his own house, how can he rule or manage or govern the house of God? A young single man with no experience was then a questionable person and therefore thought to be unsuitable to place in a position of responsibility and authority.
So the Bible might not be saying that the bishop (overseer) and deacon must have only one wife. It actually says they must have at least a first wife. This is quite different than it is taught in most western tradition and cultures. As the Bible says in Mark 7, the traditions of man makes the word of God of none effect.
When I first came to this subject, seeing through my ethnocentric (3) eyes I thought “this is an easy question. Of course God means each man to have only one wife.” This is what I had always been taught. This is all I had known, and anyone who thought differently must be off on some strange cultish tangent.
As I studied what the Bible actually said, I had to gradually come to the point of realizing I was wrong! How many marriages in other lands have been destroyed because we in the West with our Western culture and arrogant feeling of superiority have gone and demanded that others must divorce all but one wife to be saved? God only knows.
How many women have gone with no power (authority) on their heads because we have failed to study to show ourselves approved unto God, rightly dividing the word of truth? God only knows.
How many women in Western cultures suffer loneliness as well as the attacks in the mind by the adversary saying “they are not good enough to be married” because our men have been taught that they can only have one wife? God only knows.
Why is the marriage vow that we dutifully read out of some religious book for marriage ceremonies never included in the Bible? Because some of those vows are not Scriptural! Vows that require the husband to say “I will be devoted only to thee as long as we both shall live” or similar things are unscriptural. The Scripture says “The woman is under the law as long as her husband liveth but if her husband be dead, she is free to marry whom so ever she will, only in the Lord.” (I Corinthians 7:39). In Romans 7:2-3 it says:
The Scripture never says this of the husband as regards the wife because he may acquire another wife. The Hebrew word for adultery is na’aph, 5003 in the Strong’s Concordance: “a prim. Root; to commit adultery; fig. To apostatize:-- adulterer (-ess), commit (-ing) adultery, woman that breaketh wedlock.”
For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
Moral Values & Laws
A society’s laws reflect its moral values. The laws in the United States against plural wives was based on Christians’ sincere (but wrong) belief that this is what God requires. It is compelling to note how many values and subsequent changes in laws or overlooking enforcement of certain laws have changed as the adversary has gained ground in the minds of the nation’s people.
Murdering unborn babies has now been the law of the land for over 25 years. Over 30,000,000 of these unborn babies have been murdered since then. It has even progressed to the point where some doctors will turn the baby around in the ninth month to deliver it feet first, leaving only the head inside the womb. Then the take a syringe (needle) and suck out the baby’s brain before allowing the head to be removed to keep it from being born alive.
Several times congress has passed bills to stop these so called “late term” abortions. Each time our president who dares to claim himself to be a Christian has vetoed the bill and allowed the carnage to go on. This is pure “legalized” murder. The law allows this but it doesn’t allow plural wives, which God never condemns.
Shortly after the forty second president of USA was elected, he instituted a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy for the military. This essentially legalized homosexuals being admitted to the armed forces. Homosexuality is an abomination before God. See Leviticus 18:22 and Romans 1:22-28.
Yet our public schools paid for with our tax dollars are advocating this sin as an alternative lifestyle. Anyone coming against it is told that they are bigoted and acting in a way that is the same as bigoted whites did against blacks during the civil rights movement in the 1960s in the United States. Many people, not wanting to be labeled as bigots, don’t say anything, and the sin grows and appeals to more and more young people. Yet plural wives, which occurred before the flood, after the flood, before the law, during the law and is never condemned by God even under grace, is against the law in the United States.
Fornication (sexual relations outside of marriage ) has become an accepted thing. Movies promote heroes who can have casual sexual intercourse with one female after another with no commitment to any of them. Schools teach children how to use condoms by placing them on bananas and even having kids blow them up like balloons.
It is now assumed that they will fornicate, so the schools should just teach them how to avoid getting pregnant. Then in many states if a girl gets pregnant a counselor will take them to an abortion clinic (murder chamber) to kill the unborn baby and never notify the parents of the young teenage girl. These same counselors would balk at offering an aspirin or any other medicine to an under age child without permission.
Although some states still have laws on the books indicating the illegality of an underage girl being involved in sexual intercourse, such laws are rarely enforced, thus giving every appearance of legality and acceptability. Yet if a man had two wives the whole town will be shocked and the prosecutor will feel compelled to prosecute such a deed.
When a man marries more than one wife he is required to love, support, and protect them. This is an ongoing requirement and responsibility. This is far more preferable to having casual sex with numerous women and having no obligation to them. Yet few prosecutors in the United States would consider indicting a man having casual sexual relations, but many would consider prosecuting a man who openly had two or more wives, since “bigamy” (two wives) and “polygamy” (many wives) are against the law.
Problems Facing Plural Wife Marriages
Even in Old Testament biblical times when plural wives was the common and accepted thing, there was jealousy between wives. Sarah became jealous of Hagar and her son Ishmael. There were tensions between Leah and Rachel. Hannah (Samuel’s mother) was tormented for a long time by her husband’s other wife Peninnah because Hannah was barren.
In cultures today where plural wives are acceptable there is often tension between wives. So anyone considering being involved in a plural wife marriage should be aware of the potential tensions and problems. It would seem that the women involved in such a marriage would need to be very Godly women, mature in the Lord to be able to love one another in the Lord and all submit to one husband.
I’ve been told that in countries where plural wife marriages are acceptable, that there is often the spread of venereal diseases amongst the partners in such a marriage. It would seem that blood tests before the marriage of both the husband and any wife added would protect against this. Then obviously faithfulness of the wives to only their husband and faithfulness of the husband to only his wives should keep venereal diseases out of the marriage.
Jealousy Among Children
There could be jealousy or envy amongst the children, but often times there is jealousy amongst children of households with one husband and only one wife. A wise husband and Father would avoid showing favoritism amongst his children even as he would avoid showing favoritism amongst his wives. Jacob (Israel) showed his special affection for Joseph, and that plus Joseph’s visions of his rising to a superior position caused his brothers to hate him.
I’m not saying that because of these potential problems plural wives marriages are wrong. However, I am saying one should certainly consider these things before being involved in a plural wives marriage and even then only as one feels led of the Spirit of God to do so.
“For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and be joined unto his wife and these two shall become one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:31; cf. Gen. 2:24, Matt. 19:5, Mark 10:7)
This is a New Testament passage that many would say points to the one man, one wife rule. However, lets look a little deeper. The next verse goes on to say “This is a great mystery but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” Why is it a great mystery? Flesh has more than one meaning. Sometimes flesh means the physical body. In sexual intercourse a man and a woman join together and become one. However, if that is what it means -- the physical bodies coming together -- that is no great mystery.
It must mean more than that. Flesh also means the soul or carnal nature of the soul. Galatians 5 says the works of the flesh includes envy, strife, sedition, etc. Two souls joining would be a great mystery. This must be what it means because he goes on to say “I speak concerning Christ and the church.” Christ does not physically join with the church. This is a spiritual joining. In this spiritual joining the wife takes on the characteristics of the husband. The weaker vessel (wife, church) takes on the characteristics of the stronger (the husband, Christ).
The woman alone who is a weaker vessel is vulnerable to fallen angels. The fallen angel seeks to attack and engulf the woman.
For this cause shall the woman have power (authority) on her head because of the angels (1 Cor 11).
The fallen angel cannot easily take advantage of the woman under authority. She is one with her husband and essentially takes a spiritual shot of testosterone (male hormone) which makes her stronger. This happens when the husband & wife contract is consummated through the intimate act of sexual intercourse, which is the consummation of the marriage where the blood covenant is made. Christ is joined to the church, and these ‘two’ become one.
But the church is a many membered body of people. So everyone that Christ is joined to gains the power (authority) of Christ. The head of every man is Christ (I Cor 11).
Man is the glory (and type) of Christ. (I Corinthians 11). So just as each man under authority is covered by Christ and empowered by Christ, so is the woman covered by the man and strengthened by her husband. This is true if there is one wife or several.
(1) Use of the “+” and “X” signs in the Strong’s Concordance according to the definition of signs employed:
“+ (addition) a rendering in the A.V. of one or more Gr[eek] words in connection with the one under consideration.
x (multiplication) denotes a rendering in the A. V. that results from an idiom peculiar to the Gr[eek].”
(2) Some scholars believe the word mia in these passages should be translated as the article “a,” however, these scholars also agree that this passage does not limit the husband to only one wife.
(3) Ethnocentrism is the belief that one’s own culture is better than others.
 Technically-speaking a married man can fornicate with an unmarried woman too when he has refused to take marriage vows - fornication is not just between unmarried persons. However, a married woman cannot fornicate, only commit adultery is she sleeps with a man she is not married to. (SBSK)
First created on 27 September 2001
Updated on 20 June 2016
Copyright ©1999 Andy Nonymousman
Reproduced by permission and with thanks by HEM, 2001
Endorsement of this book by HEM does not necesserily mean
endorsement of the author's other publications or views.