1 Timothy 3:8-13
Qualifications for Deacons 8 i Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, 1 j not addicted to much wine, k not greedy for dishonest gain. 9 They must l hold the mystery of the faith with m a clear conscience. 10 And n let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11 o Their wives likewise must 1 be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, p faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons each be q the husband of one wife, q managing their children and their own households well. 13 For r those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
1 Timothy 3:8-13
8 Διακόνους ὡσαύτως σεμνούς, μὴ διλόγους, μὴ οἴνῳ πολλῷ προσέχοντας, μὴ αἰσχροκερδεῖς, 9 ἔχοντας τὸ μυστήριον τῆς πίστεως ἐν καθαρᾷ συνειδήσει. 10 καὶ οὗτοι δὲ δοκιμαζέσθωσαν πρῶτον, εἶτα διακονείτωσαν ἀνέγκλητοι ὄντες. 11 Γυναῖκας ὡσαύτως σεμνάς, μὴ διαβόλους, νηφαλίους, πιστὰς ἐν πᾶσιν. 12 διάκονοι ἔστωσαν μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρες, τέκνων καλῶς προϊστάμενοι καὶ τῶν ἰδίων οἴκων. 13 οἱ γὰρ καλῶς διακονήσαντες βαθμὸν ἑαυτοῖς καλὸν περιποιοῦνται καὶ πολλὴν παρρησίαν ἐν πίστει τῇ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ.
Show the gospel by serving Introduction : We are called to serve, and thus follow in Jesus' service. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matt 20.26-28) If we truly obey the law of love, it leads us not into constant friction so much as into selfless service. You are a minister of the gospel. World, flesh, and devil work against this way of living. Everyone likes the ideal (in abstract) of 'service'. But in practise it is despised. 1. A deacon is a proven gospel servant Diakonos originally waiter at table. Diakonein service of a social kind. So deacons specialising in practical administration and ministry, even if Acts 6 not the historical origin. I think it is as undefined as it is because that is the nature of service. Practical and social needs/ministries take numerous different forms. Different to eldership, which is the rudder and umbrella. E.g., caring for widows; what if we had a ministry to care for refugee women in the church? Or lots of orphans following a terrible disaster? Teaching english and helping to enable such a ministry? etc. Elders lead, deacons enable, members do. dignified, stately not double-tongued. Not a gossiper, consistent in what they say. not greedy of gain. Ie motivated by God's glory, not gain - nb there are many types of gain. significance of v9? holding the mystery of the faith in clear conscience. Stott: 'but the requirement of v9, that the deacons have a strong and steadfast grasp of the revealed faith, sugests that they were expected to teach it, which was the chief responsibility of the overseers. So then, rather than distinguishing deacons from overseers as social workers from teachers, it is perhaps better to think of the deacons as assisting the overseers in their ministry'. -but contra Stott; building too much on v9. Could simply be that if someone is going to be recognised formally, they must have a good grasp on the Christian gospel [impossibility of the contrary] approve after testing. I.e., recognised and then formalised. If they are beyond reproach. v13 'those who deacon well'. A good step/stage/stone/foundation. Standing in the sight of God? Or, reputation and influence of the deacons in the congregation? 2. A deacon can be a man or a woman Linguistic evidence I really don't want to undermine the ESV, which is a good translation, but let me try to explain the nitty gritty underneath the English words on our pages. 1 Tim 3.11 the greek does not have 'their'. cf 1 tim 2.9 we don't translate as 'their wives', yet it is the identical language. So it could mean, 'women, likewise', or 'wives, likewise'. It doesn't really help matters to add 'their' into the verse. And it is hard to know what's being communicated if Paul is suddenly addressing all wives. Phoebe Romans 16 clearly a woman and a deaconness, even though 'servant' in ESV, following KJV. In addition, v8 and v13 talk about 'deacons' - seems strange to have inserted a separate category in between for 'their wives'. Very surprising that Paul would make a qualification of a deacon's wife, and not for an elder's (v1-7). Theological reflection It’s only possible to have deacons in the right place if eldership (and membership?) is also biblical. For conservatives (like us!), the quite legitimate concern is that women as deacons means women with authority over men within the church - which contradicts 2v12. However, this makes the assumption that deacon is an office of authority. Whilst this is the case in various church traditions (eg, very clearly within Anglicanism - deacon is a 'B team' vicar in training, or a lady treasurer making key financial decisions), we actually don't have Biblical evidence of deacons/deaconnesses holding authority. In fact, the word means 'servant', comes from an original meaning someone who waits on tables - something which all Christians are called to be. The formalising of 'servant' into 'deacon' represents the recognition of what is already taking place, rather than the award of an authoritative office. 'If it quacks like a duck, it's a duck' Church history Whilst this must not sway our judgement, it is significant that some of the 'great' theologians were clearly persuaded that the NT affirmed female deacons in the churches - e.g. B.B. Warfield and John Calvin. Perhaps more important is the evidence from the early church of deaconnesses - widespread. Clement of Alexandria and Origen (2nd century) referred to the ministry of deaconnesses. Pliny the Younger (2nd century) refers to two deaconnesses whom he tortured to find out information about Christians. Fourth century church fathers accepting women deacons include Gregory of Nyssa, John Chrysostum (who had a good friend called Olympias, a deaconness), Basil of Caesarea, Epiphanius of Salamis. Didascalia of the Apostles, a 3rd century doc, urges women as deacons for the sake of enabling ministry to women. Emperor Justinian in the 6th C issued legislation about deacons, mentioning men and women in parallel. What does this mean for TCC? We have no immediate plans to formalise a diaconate. Our priorities have been membership, and then eldership. At this stage, we're simply teaching on this, since it has come up in our series. We believe the NT teaches that, whilst we are all called to be servants, that some people in churches will be recognised as particularly gifted in a particular area of service. These people, in due course, should be called 'deacons', which is a formal way of recognising and endorsing what is already the case. These can be men and women. Being a deacon won't come with authority over other people, but rather the recognition that you are exemplary in an area of service. The practical responsibilities of deacons are not as extensively talked about in the NT (compared to elders). So this is how we understand the principles best being applied at TCC. We don’t envisage deacons being super servants who therefore have influence in lots of different ministries by default. We certainly won't make anyone a deacon against their will! But equally we should recognise that if you excel in serving, as we are called to, people will want to recognise and commend that - and so, to a certain degree, you can't prevent deacons or deaconnesses from 'emerging' in practice, even if not called such. If it quacks like a duck, it's a duck. We want to make sure that the structures we're establishing are as faithful to the Bible as possible. We want the Bible to form our view on church life, not our church experiences (good and bad). For those who don’t feel comfortable with female deacons it may take time (weeks, months) to work through what the Bible says (and doesn’t say). That’s fine and we want to give people the space and the opportunity to do that. Please come and talk to us if you have concerns! Show the gospel by serving, since... God is a servant God, happy to wait not only on tables but to wash our feet and be nailed down to death for us. His suffering service shows his glory. FCF - we do not want to serve. Even the discussion about deacons/deaconnesses becomes mired in assumptions around an 'office', and titles, and positions. Jesus - he is the true deacon. Washes our feet. Feeds the crowd. Jesus - his work was a work of service. Laying aside his own glory for our sakes. In Jesus, I can serve because I have been served and I am served. In serving I show my god-li-ness.