A godly servant, who serves his fellow believers faithfully, is an asset to any local church and brings honor to the Lord. This shows this was the practice at the end of the 1st century in the churches, and deacons did not have an official position. Thus we read of the Peace offering: "He shall lay his hand upon the head of his offering" (Lev. No matter how they serve, Scripture makes it clear that … Ryrie says, "The word here translated "servant" is often translated "deacon", which leads some to believe that Phebe was a deaconess. There is nothing wrong with a pastor discussing church matters with men in his church, but it is unbiblical for a pastor to go to his "church board" in order to carry out his duties as the overseer of his church. First of all, please remember that a lot depends on how one defines the role of a deacon. ", 1 Timothy 3:12-13 "Let the deacons (diakonos - noun) be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. A.C. Gaebelein, The Acts of the Apostles, , Publication Office "Our Hope", New York City, I would encourage them to take the time and study the matter thoroughly and follow the example of the Bereans. These appointed servants of the congregation held an important job in the church, but it was not a position or office of leadership. If the church has mediocre leaders, it will become a mediocre church. It also got more people involved in serving and helping one another. In none of the New Testament lists of gifts that are related to ministering, and leadership in a church are deacons mentioned (1 Cor. These committees could be elected annually, and their terms of service limited to ensuring that they would not become an unbiblical group. It is His assembly, and I must faithfully follow the strict example of the New Testament. This view says if it works, then do it. Our "deacons" (servants) clean the church, do the yard work, cut the grass, do maintenance on the building, and work at handling the church's books, finances, clerical duties and other tasks. The church constitution should have clear instructions for the election and for the removal of men who become disqualified to serve. 1907, p914. 13. Clearly the Lord spoke often of the error of following traditions. In 1 Timothy 3:10 and 13 the phrase, "use the office of a deacon," is translated from one Greek word "diakoneo", being a verb, which is properly translated "ministry" or "service of a servant," denoting the action of the verb. In Acts 6:2, the Apostles called the church together and said, "It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables." Often, smaller churches do not need deacons (elected servants) as the menial tasks are done generally by all the congregation on a volunteer basis. Barclay describes this practice: 4:11). Excerpted from the book "Who Rules the Church," Copyright 2003 by Gerald Cowen. Distributed in multiple copies without my permission. I believe the reason they were not listed is that there was no such "office." We would certainly not call the church member "Grounds Keeper Jones" or "Servant Jones." William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Chicago:University of Chicago, 1957) p183. It is good to do these things openly so there is no question about honesty or unfairness with the use of church funds. In closing, I can find no scriptural precedent for a church to misuse or misapply the ministry of specially appointed servants (deacons) in the local church as many churches are doing today. However, the word office can be used in another sense as "something that one ought to do or must do: an assigned or assumed duty, task, role, or the proper or customary action of something: FUNCTION: something done for another: SERVICE" (4.a-c, "office"). There is no example in the New Testament of an appointed servant functioning as ruling person or having authority in the church over the pastor or church. Spiritual men would properly understand their responsibility; however, in many cases using deacons as a "pulpit committee" eventually ends with the "board" seeing themselves as the ones who "hire and fire" the pastor. Therefore, the task of administering to these widows called for men who were above reproach in character. The Greek word is a verb showing action, whereas the English word "office" is a noun which denotes a position. There is no hint or example of this in the New Testament. Phebe was a servant in her church in the same way any woman can be a servant in their church. They are to lead the church in ministry. The word translated “deacon” literally means servant, which is exactly what deacons do. 2:6, 15 is further evidence that God "hates" (means to detest) those who would seek to establish a hierarchy to rule over the local congregation. They preferred to give their alms for the poor through the synagogue rather than doing it individually. If the New Testament was teaching "elder" rule, the Apostles would have appointed these servants, but that is clearly not how God wanted it done. Many would say, and I agree, that the Acts model and the qualifications listed in 1 Timothy 3 indicate the primary role is ministry, such as visiting the shut-ins and caring for church families. 6 Seven spiritual men of good character were elected, not by the apostles, but by the congregation to look after that business. For they that have used the office of a deacon (diakoneo - verb ) well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.". Note what A.C. Gaebelein says about the matter: "The seven were then set before the Apostles and when they prayed they laid their hands on them. The role of a deacon is one traditional area that has had seen many changes over the years. (1) It is a bad example to the younger members. Kenneth S. WuestThe New Testament, An Expanded Translation William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1959, p494. In the first church I pastured, I ran head-on into the situation where the deacons ran the pastor and the church. Deacons in the Church Today . California - Do Not Sell My Personal Information. (Eisegesis means reading a meaning into Scripture. Just as there is no such thing in Scripture as a board of elders, there is no such thing as a board of deacons. Many times this procedure has ultimately led to deacons ruling over a local church and seeing themselves as having the position of authority over the hiring and firing of their pastor. Although they are "servants" and their ministry is a ministry of service, the fact that they have been chosen demonstrates they are respected by the brethren. God will not and cannot bless error in any form; therefore, a church with an unbiblical use of servants "deacons" cannot expect God's favor or blessings in this area. Thank you. When there is a need for some service a pastor can mention it in a service and get volunteers. This is not the biblical understanding, however, as the very word “deacon” (Gr. Elmer Towns, in his textbook, Theology for Today, also concludes there is an "office" of a deacon by using Philippians 1:1, in which Paul addresses the Epistle to "To all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons." In part one of this series we discovered that the biblical role of a deacon is that of an attendant, servant, waiter, or one who runs errands. It is a common practice in some churches to see their position as being counselors to the pastor or working in the leadership of a church in conjunction with the pastor. Otherwise the apostles would have to "lay down the word of God" in order to serve tables (Acts 6:2). The poor of the community were given enough food for fourteen meals, that is for two meals a day for the week. There is certainly a biblical position in the church of "deacons" or better "servants," but it is not a position of authority in a local church. Acts 6:1-7; 1 Timothy 3:8-13. The verse says, "Phebe, our sister, which is a "servant" of the church which is at Cenchrea." . This sends a wrong message requiring that deacons must be the ones who look for and present to the congregation a new pastor. Towns refers to 1 Timothy 3:1 and 3:11 as using the word "office" of a bishop and deacon respectively. It is always proper in reading and interpreting the Word of God, to see if not elsewhere in the Bible the terms or things to be interpreted are used, so that through them the right meaning can be ascertained. The biblical example is that of deacons being appointed servants to perform a specified service to the congregation. Nowadays, as in the early church, the role of a deacon may encompass a variety of services differing from denomination to denomination. The following are those people: The noun "diakonos" is used thirty times in the New Testament, and in only five of those does it refer to a specifically appointed servant: Philippians 1:1 "Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons (diakonos - noun)", 1 Timothy 3:8 "Likewise must the deacons (diakonos - noun) be grave, not double tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre", 1 Timothy 3:10 "And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon (diakoneo - a verb), being found blameless. The biblical example is that of deacons being appointed servants to perform a specified service to the congregation. Those whom God has giving the talent of teaching can certainly be used in this position. They identified themselves and the assembly with them in their work for which they had been chosen. Two of the men appointed in Acts 6, Philip and Stephen, achieved prominence as preachers. The use of appointed servants in the church is a part of the Lord's stated organization of a local church. All rights reserved. He informed me that in the future if I wanted to present something to the church, I should first consult him, and if he thought it worthy, he would present it to the deacon board. They should help the pastor or pastors with their ministry and help meet the physical needs of the congregation. In Acts 6:1-7, we have the first mention of these servants being appointed by the church to do some specific work that needed being done. It was this practice that the first deacons inherited and performed. It can also be translated worthy or respect, reverent, or serious. For a copy of this article in MS Word format click here. The biblical revelation of the role relationships of men and women, those who are called to the office of pastor, to those who were called to the office of deacon, or elder, or those who serve in a variety of other honorable professions and trades, recognizes the value and worth of every individual. One thing I find common to those who teach the "office of a deacon" idea is that they take a eisegetical approach in arriving at their conclusions. Most churches have the seeds of their distruction sown when they were founded and one seed that could destroy a church is electing men to the unbiblical position of authority as deacons. There is no reason to suppose these were "forerunners" of officials called "deacons" as Ryrie states. Greek scholar, Kenneth Wuest translates the word, "be serving as deacons." No specific, ongoing roles are mentioned in Scripture, probably because service needs change, and so the role of deacons should be flexible. It is incorrect to make the assumption that Charles C. Ryrie does in his Ryrie Study Bible note on Acts 6:2, which says, "The Greek word for "serve" is the one from which we derive "deacon," but these men were deacons only in the sense of being servants. The English phrase "use the office" is a verb and if the Lord had intended to be referencing an official "office" then He would have used a noun. It is absolutely essential for every local church to carefully consider these matters in selecting those who serve in leadership roles. The contention I believe was not founded. The New Testament gives examples of both "appointed" servants elected by the church to specific tasks and of "unelected" servants who served the Lord in a general sense in a local church. By involving the whole church and its leaders, the precedent of congregational rule was confirmed. In studying this matter, I have read the conclusions of dozens of commentators. There are those that view the role of deacons as a governing board over the affairs of the church. In fact, “We have no description in the New Testament of deacons acting as deacons, with the single exception of Acts 6, which, while controverted, is still widely used as a model for the ministry of deacons. Many churches are hampered in their spiritual development because the pastor-elder has "laid down" the Word of God to do other things. By taking this course, I am acknowledging that the Head of the congregation, that I pastor is the Lord Jesus Christ who died for it (Eph. They seem to begin with the assumption, there is an "office" and then base their comments on this conjecture. (Acts 15:6) The apostles, elders and the whole church recognized that this was the proper way to seek counsel in a church. Please note God inspired John to write this almost sixty years after He instituted the institution of the local church. Any time the word of God is ignored or distorted there will be a negative result. The responsibility and position of leadership is established in the use of the word "bishop" which means an "overseer" and other verses of Scriptures establish the place of leadership of the pastor (Acts 20:28, Eph. . The origin of the office is still being debated; however, the traditional view is that it had its beginning in the appointment of the seven (Acts 6), although they are not specifically called deacons.26 This view is widely held because the seven were elected to serve (diakoneo) tables (6:3), and were instructed to serve as deacons (1 Tim. I am showing equal respect for all of our men. The pastor and the church must be careful in setting the position within the biblical example and make sure that it is never changed. Elders and pastors are to “preach the word…reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2), and deacons are to be appointed to take care of everything else. Deacons could serve the congregation in this function based on their ability and willingness to serve, but not on their position as deacons. Deacons are not included because these are the official positions in an assembly that God "gave.". One place this can create a real problem is in giving deacons the position of locating and calling a new pastor. The word, "diakonos," which is transliterated in our English Bibles, "deacon" is simply the Greek word "servant." Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol. 1 Timothy 3:1-16 ESV / 48 helpful votes. Christ was speaking to the whole congregation to commend them or instruct them to turn from the error of their ways. We understand this because the word "diakoneo" simply means "to serve or to wait on tables." To read an email from a hurting church where deacons ruled, go to my Frequently Asked Questions about Deacons Page. Some see the role of a deacon as a stepping stone on the way to being a member of the clergy. A Biblical Look at Deacons A comparison of the leftover elements to the Lord in her church in the church.... One another needed counsel they went to the Lord or ministered as a or. Is more likely used here in an official ruling position serve the and... A young pastor to deal with, and walk Humbly ' today ministered in an church. Standing and great boldness in the early church. established church polity changes. Carnal nature of man concludes that if you can hire and fire pastor... Wrong message requiring that deacons must be a good standing and great boldness in the...., that is not really important to obey Scripture in other words, an Expanded translation William Eerdmans. 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