John T. Willis

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Biblical Female Teachers, Deacons, Elders, Preachers--Part 5

The next term which the Bible uses for FUNCTIONS in the church, the family of God through Jesus Christ, is DEACON. The Bible [the Hebrew Bible and the Newer Testament] gives almost NO INFORMATION about the function of a deacon. Scholars and churches have IMAGINED who a DEACON is, but the Bible does not give us any information at all. Here is the evidence.

I. The verb diakoneo means "to minister." It appears 37 times in the Newer Testament. This verb refers to:
a. Angels--Matthew 4:11; Mark 1:13.
b. Peter's mother-in-law--Matthew 8:15; Mark 1:31; Luke 4:39.
c. Jesus--Matthew 20:28 [2x]; Mark 10:45 [2x]; Luke 22:26, 27 [2x].
d. Any follower of God through Jesus Christ--Matthew 25:44; John 12:26; Hebrew
6:10; 1 Peter 4:10, 11.
e. Many women following Jesus--Matthew 27:55; Mark 15:40-41; Luke 8:1-3.
f. Martha--Luke 10:40; John 12:2.
g. Slaves--Luke 12:37; 17:8.
h. Seven men to wait on tables for the Hebrew women--Acts 6:2.
i. Timothy and Erastus--Acts 19:22.
j. Paul--Romans 15:25.
k. Paul and Timothy--2 Corinthians 3:3; 8:19, 20.
l. "Deacons"--1 Timothy 3:10, 13.
m. Onesiphorus--2 Timothy 1:18.
n. Onesimus--Philemon 13.
o. Prophets in the Hebrew Bible--1 Peter 1:12.

II. The noun diakonia appears 35 times in the Newer Testament. This noun refers to:
a. Martha--Luke 10:40.
b. Judas Iscariot--Acts 1:17.
c. Matthias--Acts 1:25.
d. Any Christian--Acts 6:1; 11:29; Romans 12:7; 1 Corinthians 12:5; 2 Corinthians
8:4; Ephesians 4:12; Revelation 2:19.
e. The apostles in Jerusalem--Acts 6:4.
f. Barnabas and Saul--Acts 12:25.
g. Paul--Acts 20:24; 21:19; Romans 11:13; 15:31; 2 Corinthians 11:8; 1 Timothy
h. The household of Stephanas [composed of men and women]--1 Corinthians 16:15.
i. The message of God--2 Corinthians 3:7, 8, 9 [2x].
j. Paul and Timothy--2 Corinthians 4:1; 5:18; 6:3; 9:1, 12, 13.
k. Archippus--Colossians 4:17.
l. Timothy--2 Timothy 4:5.
m. Mark--2 Timothy 4:11.
n. Angels--Hebrews 1:14.

III. The noun diakonos appears 30 times in the Newer Testament. This noun refers to:
a. Any Christian--Matthew 20:26; 23:11; Mark 9:35; 10:43; John 12:26.
b. The king's servants at a wedding--Matthew 22:13.
c. Servants at the wedding at Cana--John 2:5, 9.
d. Governmental authorities--Romans 13:4 [2x].
e. Jesus Christ--Romans 15:8; Galatians 2:17.
f. Phoebe--Romans 16:1.
g. Paul and Apollos--1 Corinthians 3:5.
h. Paul and Timothy--2 Corinthians 3:6; 6:4.
i. False apostles--2 Corinthians 11:15 [2x], 23.
j. Paul--Ephesians 3:7; Colossians 1:23, 25.
k. Tychicus--Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7.
l. "Deacons" at Philippi--Philippians 1:1.
m. Epaphras--Colossians 1:7.
n. Timothy--1 Thessalonians 3:2; 1 Timothy 4:6.
o. "Deacons" in the church at Ephesus--1 Timothy 3:8, 12.

Gleaning from all these passages, one may reach the following conclusions.
1. The Bible tells us virtually NOTHING about the function of "deacons."
2. The ONLY individual called a "deacon" in the entire Bible is a WOMAN--Phoebe.
3. The Greek word in 1 Timothy 3:11 may be translated "wives" or "women." The text does not make this clear at all. The qualities of a deacon in 1 Timothy 3:12 means: "Let deacons be married only once." See the New Revised Standard Version. In The Transforming Word, page 993, James Thompson comments as follows:
"In the usual sequence, Paul lists deacons (3:8), their wives (3:11 NIV), and then returns to the qualification for the deacon (3:12). This sequence can best be exaplined if we note that the Greek in 3:11 can be rendered either as "wives" or "women." The NIV's reading "their wives" interprets the phrase as a reference to the wives of deacons. The more likely reading in this context is "women" (that is, female deacons). Inasmuch as no requirements are given for the wives of bishops, the reference is probably to women who are appointed to do acts of service alongside the men who do similar deeds."
4. It is quite clear that Phoebe, a woman, was a deacon in the church at Cenchrea.

Scripturally, both men and women were and should be deacons in God's church. A long history of human tradition may prohibit this for some, but the biblical view is that God wants both men and women to serve at deacons. The word "deacon" means "minister," "servant," and the like.

Share YOUR ideas with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis