The Office of A Deacon In The Church

Transcript December 08


Weekly Bible Study Tuesday, 8th December, 2020 Topic: The Office of A Deacon In The Church Text: 1 Timothy 3:8-13 INTRODUCTION The word deacon is a translation of the Greek word “diakonos” which is the Greek word for “servant” when it is used in contexts not dealing with church officers. Deacons are mentioned clearly in Philippians 1:1: “To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.” But there is no specification of their function other than to indicate that they are different from the Bishops/Elders/ Pastors. Deacons are also mentioned in 1 Timothy 3:8–13 in a more extensive passage: “ Deacons likewise must be serious, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for gain; they must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then if they prove themselves blameless let them serve as deacons. The women [or ‘wives’; the Greek (gyne) can take either meaning] likewise must be serious, no slanderers, but temperate, faithful in all things. Let deacons be the husband of one wife, and let them manage their children and their households well; for those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (1 Tim. 3:8–13) The function of deacons is not spelled out here, but the qualifications for deacons suggest some functions. For instance, they seem to have had some responsibility in caring for the finances of the church, since they had to be people who were “not greedy nor gain” (v. 8). They perhaps had some administrative responsibilities in other activities of the church as well, because they were to manage their children and their households well (v. 12). They may also have ministered to the physical needs of those in the church or community who needed help. Moreover, if verse 11 speaks of their wives, then it would also be likely that they were involved in some house-to-house visitation and counseling, because the wives are to be “no slanderers.” It would do no good for deacons if their wives (who would no doubt also be involved in prayer and counseling with the deacons) spread confidential matters around the church. But these are only suggestions of possible areas of responsibility hinted at in this passage. The noun deacon is not itself used in Acts 6:1–6, but a related verb (Gk. diakoneō, “to serve”) is found in verse 2: “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.” Here the apostles who ruled over the Jerusalem church found it necessary to delegate some administrative responsibilities to others. In this case, the responsibilities included the distribution of food to widows who were in need. It seems appropriate to think of these seven men as “deacons” even though the name deacon had perhaps not yet come to be applied to them as they began this responsibility, for they seem to be given tasks which fit well with the responsibilities of deacons hinted at in 1 Timothy 3:8–12. There are other texts in which it is difficult to know whether the New Testament is speaking about a deacon as a special church officer or is simply using the word to refer to a “servant” in a general sense. This is the difficulty in Romans 16:1, where Phoebe is called a “servant” or a “deaconess” or “deacon” at Cenchreae. Because Paul’s requirement for deacons was that they be “the husband of one wife.” (1 Tim. 3:12), the translation “servant” seems preferable in Romans 16:1 (diakonos takes this sense in Rom. 13:4; 15:8; and 1 Cor. 3:5). In general, the verses on deacons show that they had recognized offices to “serve” the church in various ways. Acts 6:1–6 suggests that they had some administrative responsibilities, but were nevertheless subject to the authority of those who had rule over the entire church. It is significant that nowhere in the New Testament do deacons have ruling authority over the church exactly as the elders/bishops /pastors do, nor are deacons ever required to be able to teach Scripture or sound doctrine. Nevertheless, Bishops/Elders/Pastors and Deacons have leadership roles in the New Testament Church. The deacons are required to serve as assistants to the elders/pastors/ bishops of the Church. Probably, that is why the Baptist Church as a New Testament church holds that Pastors and Deacons are the two main offices of the new Testament Church. The Deacons are therefore next to the Pastors/Bishops/Elders in the leadership/government of the local Church.

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