Skip to content

OIKEDESPOTEO- “Head of the Household”

OIKEDESPOTEO- “Head of the Household”

The reader may question a wife’s authority to “KEEP the home” in the sense expressed in our last word study (OIKOUROS- “Keepers at Home”) My understanding of a wife’s authority was revolutionized by understanding the meaning of one Greek word in Scripture. Katherine Bushnell lifts the veil on the well kept secret. Quoted from paragraph 368-369 of Lesson 48 :

Men often talk of the father and husband as the “final authority” in the home. What says St. Paul on the point? The Greek word for “despot” (despotes) furnishes us with our English word. Its meaning is precisely the same in Greek as it is in English. It means an absolute and arbitrary ruler, from whom there can be no appeal. It was the title slaves were required to use in addressing the master who owned them as property. Please read all the passages in which this Greek word despotes occurs. It is rendered “Master” in the following places: 1 Timothy 6:1-2; 2 Timothy 2:21; Titus 2:9; 1 Peter 2:18; “Lord” in Luke 2:29; Acts 4:24; 2 Peter 2:1; Jude 4; and Revelation 6:10.

Oikos is a very ordinary word in Greek, meaning “house.” These two words, oikos and despotes, unite to form the word oikodespotes, which, as you can see, means “master of the house,” and it is so rendered, Matthew 10:25; Luke 13:25 and 14:21. Now the Apostle Paul makes use of a verb corresponding to this noun oikodespotes, namely, “to master the house,”oikodespotein. He says, 1 Timothy 5:14, “I will that the younger women marry, bear children, oikodespotein, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.” After the analysis of this word, we can all see how it should have been translated. The A. V., however, translates, “guide the house” the R. V., with a little more justice translates, “rule the household.” Now whom, if anyone, does St. Paul make the “final authority in the home?” The woman. But we believe that Paul would teach that God alone is final authority in a Christian home.

A visit to the online Greek lexicon resource of Tufts University will confirm the definitions exposed by Bushnell some 100 years ago: oikodespot- and oikodespoteō from 1 Tim 5:14 to be master of a house or head of a family, to rule the household

Have you ever heard before that WOMEN are to be “master of the home”/ “queen of the castle”?

Interestingly,  “despot” occurs in the Greek in the context of two passages which are oft cited regarding the “role” of women.   One could make much of the placement of these if one was so inclined.

Below, I have pasted photos of the interlinear version of  Titus 2:9 and 1 Peter 2: 18  where the duty of the Christian toward the “despot” is expounded. (these can be enlarged by clicking on them).  I had some fun meditating upon how it would look for a husband to take with utter seriousness his wife’s  1 Tim 5:14 “role” as the “despot” of the home.

Would his “role” relative to the “despot of the home” be the  Titus 2:9 “bondslave” who is expected to “be obedient in everything, well pleasing, and not speaking contrary”?  and/or that of 1 Peter 2:18 “submissive with all respect to [despot] not only to good and gentle but also to unreasonable”?   The images are from  Click to enlarge. The imperfect red underlining of “despot” is my addition:

1 Pet 2:18


Titus 2:9

But ladies, all daydreaming aside…

This calling is not trivial.  Looking at the other occurrences of oikedespot- I was struck by what a HUGE responsibility the oikedespot= carries.  You can read through other oikedespot- verses by scrolling down here.

%d bloggers like this: