John T. Willis

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Majoring in Minors--Part 3 continued

One matter that some people have considered as MAJOR in the Church of Christ Denomination is that it is unscriptural and thus against the will of God for women to participate orally in a church assembly. This has included (1) sharing thoughts on the Lord's Supper, (2) passing the Lord's Supper, (3) leading singing or music; (4) teaching; (5) preaching; (6) serving as a deacon; (7) serving as an elder; (8) leading the assembly in prayer; (9) baptizing another person; (10) giving a testimony. Depending on an individual and a local church, this list may be much longer.

I. This is based on two New Testament texts: 1 Corinthians 14:33-36 and 1 Timothy 2:8-15. Of course, one is free to study numerous scholarly articles and commentaries and Bible Dictionaries and monographs on these two texts. One will discover a wide variety of interpretations. Only one blog will never cover or satisfy every thinker. Here are only a few ideas for consideration.
    a. 1 Corinthians 11:5 clearly states that for Paul it was perfectly fine for a woman to "pray or prophesy" in the church as long as her head is veiled. To prophesy clearly means to preach. Thus, at the Corinthian Church, women lead public prayers and they preached. Is this a contradiction to 1 Corinthians 14:33-36. Is Paul contradicting himself? It is more logical to recognize that the problem Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians 14:33-36 has to do with speaking in tongues, NOT with leading prayers or preaching. The problem in 1 Corinthians 12-14 is SITUATIONAL or OCCASIONAL. Paul NEVER dreamed that what he was proclaiming was for all churches at all times in all circumstances.
     b. 1 Timothy 2:8-15 is also SITUATIONAL or OCCASIONAL, not an eternal teaching for all churches in all places in all times. Carefully write a list of the instructions Paul gives in this text.
          1. Men should pray, lifting up holy hands. How many churches insist that men lift up their hands when they pray? On the contrary, many people and churches have declared that such a practice is against God's will--against the Bible. How ironic is such a thought!!! Verse 8
          2. Women should dress themselves modestly and decently in suitable clothing--note that what follows clearly has in mind wearing too much clothing as a show. Verse 9
          3. Women should not have braided hair, gold, pearls, or expensive clothes. How many people and churches demand that women not have braided hair, wear gold, pearls or expensive clothes? Verse 9
          4. Women should do good works. Paul does not specify what good works involve. This leaves this idea wide open. Verse 10
          5. Women should learn in silence with full submission. Women should not teach or have authority over men. Women are to be silent. Does this mean that a woman cannot engage in a dialogue with a man in church? What is the real issue that Paul is trying to get at? A simple example might be helpful: Was it a sin for Priscilla [a Christian woman] to teach Apollos [a Christian man] to teach the Way of God more accurately? Acts 18:24-26. Verses 11-12
          6. Women will be saved through childbearing. Is Paul saying that if a woman cannot have a child, she cannot be saved? Verses 13-15.
      c. There are several clear texts in the New Testament which show that Jesus, Paul, and composers in the early church taught that women are to preach, teach, and lead God's people. Here are ONLY a few examples.
           1. The four unmarried daughters of Philip who had the gift of prophecy or preaching--Acts 21:8-9.
            2. Peter announces that when the church is established:
                  God declares: I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
                                            and your sons and YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY,
                                         and your young men shall see visions,
                                            and your old men shall dream dreams.
                                         Eve upon my slaves, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN
                                             in those days I will pour out my spirit;
                                             and THEY SHALL PROPHESY (Acts 2:17-18).
             3. Paul says in Romans 16:1 that Phoebe [a woman] was a DEACON of the church at Cenchrea.
              4. Paul emphasizes the important role of two women in the church at Philippi: Euodia and Syntyche, worked side by side with Paul in the work of the gospel along with some men as well. Philippians 4:2-3.

II. An equivalent biblical teaching from Jesus Himself is that his followers must WASH ONE ANOTHER'S FEET.
     a. Just before the Jewish religious leaders arrested and crucified Jesus on the cross, Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper and during that event, Jesus washed his disciples' feet. Then he said to them: "Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord--and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you." (John 13:12-15). How many individuals and churches follow Jesus' example and commandment in this text? It is inconsistent to make a major issue about women praying and prophesying in the church and not make a major issue about true Christians washing one another Christian's feet.
      b. 1 Timothy 5:9-10 contains this teaching: "Let a widow be put on the list if she is not less than sixty years old, and has been married only once; she must be well attested for her good works, as one who has brought up children, shown hospitality, WASHED THE SAINTS' FEET, helped the afflicted, and devoted herself to doing good in every way." How many individuals and how many churches insist that they help a widow of that widow has washed the saints' feet? It is inconsistent to make an issue about women participating freely in church assemblies and not make an issue about washing one another's feet.

III.  At least five New Testament texts contain the commandment: "Salute or Greet one another with A HOLY KISS--Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26;
1 Peter 5:14.
       a. How many Christian people and churches obey this commandment to salute one another with a holy kiss? They insist that the proper way to greet people is by a hug or a handshake. This is NOT what the Bible teaches. Why do we not follow the Bible on this matter?
       b. It is not consistent to make a MAJOR ISSUE out of the function of women in church assemblies and not make a major issue about the greeting or saluting one another with a holy kiss.

IV. All of this is to say that throughout history, Christian individuals and churches have Majored in Minors. One of these is diminishing the role of women in the church.
       a. The REAL issue is treating all human beings with honor and respect as creature of dignity because every human being on earth is created in the image and likeness of God. Genesis 1:26-27.
       b. It has ALWAYS been common to make mountains out of mole hills, to EXAGGERATE a belief or a concept or an idea and to oppress, mistreat, desecrate, disrespect human beings--whether this be a person of another race, a child, a woman, a blind person, a lame person, etc. The Bible emphasizes this truth consistently throughout all scripture, Old and New Testaments.

Share YOUR ideas and reversals and misgivings and dreams and experiences with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

          4.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Standing on the Solid Ground of Integrity--Psalm 26

The superscription of Psalm 26 contains on the term: "Of [To, For] David." Thus this superscription gives no clue about the historical situation. The composer of Psalm 26 has been falsely accused by his enemies. He begins by pleading with Yahweh to vindicate him so that he will not be "swept away" with sinners, whose devices are evil and who are full of bribes. This psalmist presents four proofs of his innocence. Naturally, Psalm 26 falls into four tiny segments.

I. The innocence of an examined heart. Psalm 26:1-3.
    a. The psalmist wastes no time to address Yahweh: "Vindicate me." He never tells the hearers or readers the alleged crime of which the poet is supposed to be guilty. 26:1a.
    b. The poet's first proof is that he has walked in his integrity, and trusted in Yahweh without wavering. 26:1b-c.
    c. To make sure that he is not hypocritical, he beseeches Yahweh to "prove," "try," "test" his heart and mind. These three verbs come from the practice of putting a precious metal just taken from the ground in a very hot fire so that the alloys may be sluffed off to retain the pure metal, as silver or gold. The same language appears in Psalm 17:3 and 139:1-6. 26:2.
    d. Then the psalmist declares that he is depending only on Yahweh's steadfast love and faithfulness--a major theme occurring throughout the Psalter. 26:3.

II. The psalmist's second proof is that he does not associate with sinful people. Psalm 26:4-5.
     a. The writer of this psalm describes the wicked using four terms. The wicked are worthless and hypocrites. They pretend that they are godly, when in reality they are very evil. 26:4.
     b.  In the next two lines, the poet defines the ungodly as evildoers and wicked. These terms appear often throughout the Psalter. 26:5.

III. The poet's third proof is that he has washed his hands with innocence. Psalm 26:6-7.
       a. The composer affirms that he has performed the ritual acts in the temple prescribed for one accused of his crime. "Washing one's hands" is a symbolic act for innocence. This appears in Deuteronomy 21:6-7; Psalm 73:13; Matthew 27:24. The psalmist declares that he has gone around Yahweh's altar at the temple. He has joined in process with his fellow worshippers (see Psalm 118:27). 26:6.
       b. The author of Psalm 26 sings loudly thanksgiving to Yahweh, and tells the gathered worshippers all of Yahweh's wondrous deeds. 26:7.

IV. Fourth and Finally, the composer professes that he genuinely loves the temple. Psalm 26:8-12.
      a. The psalmist declares that he loves the temple because this is where Yahweh dwells and his glory abides. 26:8.
      b. The poet begs that Yahweh will not sweep him away with sinners, who are full of evil devices and bribes. 26:9-10.
      c. As in verse 1, the psalmist proclaims that he has walked in his integrity. 26:11a.
      d. The psalmist then beseeches Yahweh to redeem him and be gracious to him. To "redeem" means to save a person from the death penalty which his accusers are desiring. 26:11b.
      e. With great conviction, the psalmist concludes by confident feelings: His foot stands on level ground, and he will bless, i. e.,  praise Yahweh, in the great congregation. 26:12.

Share YOUR intentions and shortcomings and dreams and faults and determinations with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Majoring in Minors--Part 2

It is very easy for well-meaning Christian people to focus on a "religious" issue and totally miss the "big picture" of "real life" under God our Father through Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus and many other biblical speakers and composers emphasize this same problem, because this is an ongoing human problem. In the previous blog, we discussed two issues: wealth and beauty. Let us continue here.

3. Speech.
    a. In every generation, many individuals develop eloquent speech. In doing this, they move and persuade large audiences. This is great IF the speaker is genuine and if the message is God-centered.
    b. Jesus addresses the public practice of prayer in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:5-8:
        "And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray
          in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others.
          Truly, I tell you, they have received their reward.
          But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is
                                    in secret;
          and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
          When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do;
          for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.
          Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."
      c. Proverbs 28:9 contains this warning:
          "When one will not listen to the law,
                even one's prayers are an abomination."
      d. Proverbs 15:8 says:
          "The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,
                 but the prayer of the upright is his delight."
          Similarly, Proverbs 15:29 says:
          "The Lord is far from the wicked,
                 but he hears the prayer of the righteous."
     e. Obviously, in God's eyes, what counts in prayer is not eloquent words, but genuine hearts, righteous lifestyle, integrity in daily living. Our emphasis must not be on external eloquent speech, but a godly life and a pure heart.

4. Correctly Performed External Isolated Acts of Religion.
     a. It is well-known that the Church of Christ denomination has emphasized the necessity of baptizing adult people by immersion in order to be saved. Without going into a discussion of this affirmation, two important truths stand out.
     b. First, if a person is baptized by immersion, this is at the very least ONLY a TINY aspect of Christian living. To cite just one example, Paul addressed this very issue in 1 Corinthians 1:14-15:
         "I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that none can say that
          you were baptized in my name."
         Paul emphasizes that what is important in NOT baptism ONLY, but THE WHOLE GOSPEL. He says in verse 17: "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power." Many people in Churches of Christ have been baptized by immersion, and their marriages are in shambles, their lives are corrupt, their ways of life are darkness and not light to a gloomy world.
     c. Second, if anyone carefully studies Jesus' Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, he finds that Jesus calls his followers to "MAKE DISCIPLES" of all nations. Baptism is ONLY the first step of discipleship. What follows baptism is that one must "TEACH all nations to OBEY EVERYTHING that Jesus has commanded." This calls for a lifetime of commitment in heart and life. To submit oneself to go into water and be immersed is very simple. The challenging aspect is to LEARN and to OBEY God through Jesus Christ. 

To be continued

Share YOUR thoughts and shortcomings and reversals and experiences and fears with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis
       




Sunday, November 09, 2014

A Psalmist Prays for Yahweh's Forgiveness and Protection--Psalm 25

Psalm 25 is an acrostic. Each verse begins with the next letter in the Hebrew alphabet: 'aleph, beth, gimel, daleth, he, etc. The superscription contains only: "Of David." No one knows whether this is inspired or not originally. Two themes run throughout Psalm 25: The psalmist asks Yahweh to forgive him for his sins; the psalmist beseeches Yahweh to protect him from all his troubles. Throughout this poem, the composer speaks of himself in the first person singular, but in the last verse, he beseeches Yahweh to redeem all of Yahweh's people. The path through Psalm 25 falls into four parts.

I. The Psalmist asks Yahweh to teach him his ways. Psalm 25:1-5.
    a. The psalmist begins by imploring Yahweh to keep him from SHAME. He begins by declaring: To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. Then he proclaims: in YOU I trust. Then he asks Yahweh: Do not let me be put to SHAME or let his enemies prevail over him. He asks that Yahweh will not let those who WAIT FOR [i. e., trust in] Yahweh be PUT TO SHAME. In contrast, he prays: Let those who are wantonly treacherous BE ASHAMED. 25:1-3.
    b. Since the psalmist WAITS FOR [. e., trusts in] Yahweh, he beseeches Yahweh to MAKE HIM KNOW Yahweh's ways, TEACH him Yahweh's paths, LEAD him in Yahweh's truth, and TEACH him. What an important prayer for all of God's people in every generation!!! 25:4-5.

II. The Psalmist implores Yahweh to forgive him of all his sins. Psalm 25:6-15.
     a. The psalmist turns to address his sins. He beseeches Yahweh for his MERCY and STEADFAST LOVE. This is Yahweh's nature from the very beginning (see Exodus 34:6-7). Because of Yahweh's STEADFAST LOVE, the poet asks him not to remember the sins of his youth and his transgressions. This is not because the psalmist is good or righteous, but only "for Yahweh's goodness' sake." 25:6-7.
     b. The psalmist extols Yahweh's nature to forgive sinners. Yahweh is GOOD and UPRIGHT. Therefore, he alone INSTRUCTS sinners in the way. Yahweh LEADS the humble in what is right. He TEACHES the humble Yahweh's way. ALL THE PATHS OF YAHWEH are STEADFAST LOVE and FAITHFULNESS for those who keep Yahweh's covenant. 25:8-10.
     c. The psalmist then addresses Yahweh. He admits that his guilt of sins is GREAT. Thus he beseeches Yahweh to PARDON his guilt, not for the goodness of the psalmist, but for Yahweh's name's sake. Then he asks: Who are they that fear Yahweh? Yahweh will TEACH them the way they should choose. He seeks Yahweh's guidance all the way. This brings this bold promise that those who follow Yahweh's forgiveness and guidance will abide in prosperity, their children will possess the land, the friendship of Yahweh will be upon them, and Yahweh makes his covenant known to them. Thus the poet concludes with the resolve: My eyes are always toward Yahweh, because Yahweh will pluck his feet out of the net. 25:11-15.

III. The Psalmist beseeches Yahweh to relieve him from all his troubles. Psalm 25:16-18.
       a. The psalmist begins with the simple request: Turn to me, O Yahweh, and be gracious to me. He admits that he is lonely and afflicted. This poem does not go into detail about WHY the psalmist is lonely and afflicted. Clues in this psalm imply that this is because of the danger of his enemies and the feeling of guilt of his sins. But probably, many other issues reside in his heart. 25:16.
       b. The psalmist continues: Relieve the troubles of MY HEART, and bring me out of my distress. The troubles and distress are unclear. This leaves this psalm open to be applied to our personal lives and feelings of heart. 25:17.
       c. The psalmist concludes: O Yahweh, PLEASE consider my affliction and trouble, and forgive ALL MY SINS. The psalmist is greatly troubled, and seeks Yahweh's presence and help. 25:18.

IV. The Psalmist concludes by beseeching Yahweh to deliver him from all his enemies. Psalm 25:19-22.
      a. The poet reveals the fact that his enemies are very serious and dangerous. His enemies are MANY; they HATE the psalmist with VIOLENT HATRED. Obviously, they are determined to destroy the psalmist. Thus, the poet turns to Yahweh for help. 25:19.
      b. The psalmist TAKES REFUGE IN Yahweh. Accordingly, he beseeches Yahweh to GUARD his life against his enemies, DELIVER him from his dangers, and LET HIM NOT BE PUT TO SHAME--thinking back to verses 1-3. 25:20.
      c. The psalmist WAITS FOR [i. e., trusts in] Yahweh, and thus he prays that his integrity and uprightness might preserve him. 25:21.
      d. Finally, the psalmist thinks of his associates--all of God's people. Thus, he beseeches Yahweh to REDEEM Israel out of all her troubles, like he had besought Yahweh to deliver the psalmist. 25:22.

Share YOUR insights and beliefs and shortcomings and reversals and fears with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Majoring in Minors--Part 1

Through the centuries, all churches have been plagued by focusing on matters which are of no significance to God. People always support their views by quoting various texts or explain texts away from what the Bible actually says. The Church of Christ denomination is no exception. In the next few blogs, we will briefly address only some of these issues in which we "major in minors."

I. Wealth.
    a. Like all churches, WEALTH has always played a huge role in the hearts and lives of our churches and institutions. We desire BIG churches. The bigger the church, the better the church. Yes, we explain all this away, using this argument or that argument. But Jesus taught us very clearly that wealth is meaningless in the eyes of God. For example, Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:19-21:
     Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your HEART will be also.
     Universities cater to the wealthy. Their real concern is not in focusing on God, learning and following the Bible seriously, and engaging in difficult issues, but in keeping their constituents content and satisfied. Administration, faculty, and staff meetings rarely discuss difficult heart issues of life. The concern is to have bigger and better buildings, a well-kept campus, plenty of entertainment, food, supplies, etc. But where is the serious thinking and praying and living in the lives of all who attend?
   b. Paul teaches in 1 Timothy 6:6-10:
       Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.

II. Beauty.
     a. Beauty attracts all people. God is the giver of every beautiful person and thing. But it is very easy for all people to focus on external beauty rather than on the heart. When Yahweh told Samuel to go to Bethlehem and anoint one of the sons of Jesse to be the next king of Israel, Samuel brought out the sons of Jesse. The oldest son, Eliab, was tall and handsome, a very good looking individual. Samuel immediately said:
         "Surely the Lord's anointed is now before the Lord. But the Lord said to Samuel, Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart."
     b. A clear example of this principle is the existence of divorces in the United States, and in all the churches. A person often marries another person because that person is handsome or beautiful physically or externally. If one will just take time to learn the heart of that person, many marriages will be averted. God's picture of marriage is Jesus and the church in Ephesians 5:22-33. One must carefully restudy all the aspects of that relationship in this text.


Share YOUR insights and concerns and relationships and shortcomings and thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The King of Glory--Psalm 24

The superscription over Psalm 24 is very brief: "Of David. A Psalm." Obviously, this give no information about the background or purpose of this poem. Psalms 24 is very brief; it contains only ten verses. It naturally falls into three parts. The fundamental theme is "Yahweh is the King of Glory."

I. Everything in the Universe belongs to Yahweh. Psalm 24:1-2.
    a. The poet begins with the proclamation: "The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it, the world and those who live in it. This psalm assumes [like the rest of the Hebrew Bible] that Yahweh rules not just over the people of Israel but over all the earth, including all nations. 24:1.
    b. The proof that everything belongs to God is that Yahweh founded the universe on the seas, and established it on the rivers. This calls to mind the account of creation in Genesis 1. 24:2.

II. Preparing Hearts for Worship. Psalm 24:3-6.
     a. As pilgrims wind their way from their homes to gather at the Jerusalem temple and worship Yahweh, when they approach the gates or doors of the temple, they ask the official priest: "Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand on his holy place?" The Jerusalem temple was built on Mount Moriah at the Threshing Floor of Araunah (2 Samuel 24:18-25; 2 Chronicles 3:1; cf. Genesis 22:1-18). So, all the worshippers had to walk UP the mountain to get to the temple. 24:3.
     b. The priest responds with THREE comprehensive necessities for all worshippers:
         1. Worshippers must have clean hands and pure hearts. A person's heart lies at the center of all life. Proverbs 4:23 says: "Keep your HEART with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life." The hand is the God-given means of carrying out what the heart directs. James 4:8 highlights this truth: "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. CLEANSE YOUR HANDS, you sinners, and PURIFY YOUR HEARTS, you double-minded."
         2. Worshippers must not lift up their souls to what is false. There are many enticements to lure godly people away from focusing on God alone. All such enticements and allurements are false. They lead to nowhere and accomplish nothing. Thus, true followers of God must avoid all such temptations at all cost.
         3. Worshippers must not swear deceitfully. Making promises to God is important and solemn. Each worshipper must choose carefully the decisions he/she makes in life. One must follow true and honest opportunities and  guidelines. 24:4.
     c. When worshippers follow these three powerful, simple instructions, they will receive blessing from Yahweh and vindication for God our Father. This is the company of those who seek Yahweh. 24:5-6.

III. Exalting the King of Glory. Psalm 24:7-10.
      a. As companies of pilgrims carry the ark of the covenant as a symbol if Yahweh's presence as king, they beckon the Most Holy Place of the temple: "Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in." A more detailed picture of this approach of worshippers appears in 1 Kings 8:1-13 [note especially verse 11]. 24:7, 9.
     b. Finally, the worshippers reflect on the identity of Yahweh, saying: "Who is the King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle," and again: "Who is the King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory." This gives the picture of Yahweh as King as commander of the hosts or armies of Israel as they boldly move forward against any enemies to be victorious under the leadership of their heavenly King and Lord. See the similar picture in Numbers 10:35-36;
1 Samuel 4:3-4. 24:8, 10.

Share YOUR experiences and concepts and reversals and aspirations and dreams with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Elders and Deacons--Part 3

The role or function as a deacon is as unclear and ambiguous as is the role of an elder in the church of Jesus Christ as presented in the New Testament. It is not clear at all that Acts 6:1-7 has to do with deacons.

I. The Greek word for "deacon" is "diakonos." Obviously, the English word "deacon" is NOT a translation, but a transliteration. The same is true of the Greek word "baptizo," which is transliterated into English as "baptize." The translation of "baptize" is another matter.
     a. "Diakonos" occurs often in the New Testament, but only very rarely of a person who functions in some capacity in the church. The verb "diakoneo" means "to minister, to serve," cf. Matthew 4:11; 20:28; Acts 19:22; Romans 15:25; and often. Consult a good concordance. The cognate Greek noun "diakonia" means "ministry, ministration, ministering," which also appears often, e. g., Luke 10:40; Acts 11:29; 2 Corinthians 3:7-9; and often. Consult a good concordance. "Diakonos" occurs in many texts which clearly does not mean a designated functionary in a local church--see e. g., Matthew 22:13; John 2:5; 1 Corinthians 3:5; and often. Consult a good concordance.
     b. The ONLY possible understanding of "deacon," therefore, is a person whose capacity in the church is to serve or minister to other people. Where there is a need, there must be a deacon, a servant, a minister.

II. The only text which gives a description of a deacon is 1 Timothy 3:8-13. The qualities described here are almost identical with the qualities of an elder. Two VERY IMPORTANT truths appear in this text.
     a. 1 Timothy 3:11 clearly states that both men and women are to be deacons in the church. The qualities of elders and deacons in 1 Timothy 3 are essentially parallel to the qualities of "widows to be put on the list" in the church in 1 Timothy 5:9-10.
     b. This proves that the quality "be married only once" in 1 Timothy 3:2, 12 cannot be gender specific. This quality has to do with fidelity in marriage whether the individual is a husband or a wife.

III. Romans 16:1 openly declares that Phoebe was a "deacon" in the church at Cenchreae.
      a. Biblically, these texts show that men and women can function as elders or deacons in local churches.
      b. Along the same line, there are numerous texts which emphasize that women are to be preachers in God's Church. Acts 2:17-18 says: "In the last days . . . your sons AND YOUR DAUGHTERS shall prophesy . . . Even upon my slaves, both men AND WOMEN, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy."
      c. Acts 21:9 says that "Philip had four unmarried daughters who had the gift of prophecy."
      d. Throughout the Bible, God raised up WOMEN to prophesy, that is, to preach God's word, including Miriam in Exodus 15:20, Deborah in Judges 4:4, Huldah in 2 Kings 22:14-20, etc.

Summarizing: The role of elders and deacons in the church is to serve God and serve others. They are NEVER ABOVE anyone else  in the church, but humble servants to honor God, the Creator and SUSTAINER of everyone and all creation.

Share YOUR fears and concerns and thoughts and feelings and beliefs with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis