Gamma 17 – The Pastoral Epistles (Study 6)

Study 6




Please look at the questions and discuss the answers. The case histories are designed to let you apply what theoretical knowledge you have gleaned from the study. There are intentionally many more questions and case histories than you can manage in one session but this is designed to cover the many and varied needs of the individuals in the church hence please pick and choose which ones to discuss as long as it gets people sharing and applying the Word to real life situations. Never feel obligated to finish all the questions The answers will be posted on the web the next day.

It means servant and that is the main meaning in most occasions in the New Testament. In only 3 instances, it refers to a particular church office. The second of the two tier leadership structure in the early church.

There were complaints from the Greek speaking disciples against their Jewish cousins because the Greek speaking widows of the church were being neglected in the daily distribution of aid. This caused the added burden to the apostles having to address the issue, and took up their precious time and effort which caused them to detract from their main ministry of preaching and teaching.

The effect of this move was that the ministry of the Word increased, with many converts and even from the ranks of priest who became obedient to the faith.

Phillip was involved in preaching the gospel, healing and casting out of evil spirits. Hence the ministry of the Word whilst it being the main burden and responsibility for the apostles was not limited to them as even the deacons could minister the Word.

From the Acts passage and the fact that the qualifications of the elders must be the ability to teach, it would be safe to assume that the main responsibility of deacons would be to handle every other ministry that would free up the Elders to the main ministry of teaching and preaching the Word.

In 1 Tim 3: 5 the elder was supposed to care for the church. In 1 Tim 5: 17 there are “ruling” elders who teach and preach and finally in 1 Peter 5: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you.

Their functions include “shepherding” and “oversight” and both these terms are evidence of leadership function endowed with authority. Hence in this church structure, it would not be biblical for Jack and other elders to leave the final decision for funding to the board of deacons as well as the overall leadership decisions regarding spiritual direction and leadership training as these are all the functions of the elder.

The ideal church structure would be to have the elders lead and do the Word ministry and to care for the flock. The deacons are to provide the main support in arranging for finance, social ministry in caring for the poor, for community service and care of the facilities.

The requirement to be tested is to ensure they have the integrity of motive and faithfulness to serve in the capacity of a servant (deacon). They, as servant of the King must be committed to the gospel and live righteous lives hence the clear conscience. They are given a task to do and we need to see if they carry out their task with commitment, initiative, enthusiasm, with humility and faithfulness. If there is pride, bickering, blame casting, these will be warning signs the person is not ready. Also church work is replete with lots of criticism, valid or unfair which will be a test for whether a deacon serves for his own self esteem or for His Lord. If it is the former motive he or she will give up at criticism. If it is for the Lord, he will persevere.

Faithfulness is the important quality in Christian character. Marriage is the template which God has given us as a picture of who He is and how He loves and is committed to us. Christ is the head and the church is the body. The covenantal commitment within a marriage is a vital picture of the love and commitment of Christ and the church. So having a leader who is not faithful will betray this vision.

It cannot mean one woman at a time as the person can be a serial divorcer and always breaking the marital covenant.

The Greek word used in this case is “gynaikas” which can mean wife or women. It most likely mean women (women deacons) and not wives simply because if it were to be wives, then Paul would have added the word “auton” which means “his”.

Secondly there is the use of the word “likewise” after both the male deacons as well as “women” (gynaikas). Hence it is reasonable to deduce that Paul is referring to two genders of deacons.

Thirdly the characteristics of the male deacons and female are in general, quite similar.

Fourthly, it would be illogical for Paul to specify the moral qualifications for deacon’s wives whilst omitting any mention to the qualifications of the wives of the elders. Hence if we translate “gynaikas” as women deacons, there would be a consistent trend in the passage that the character qualifications of all office bearers were important enough to be stipulated specifically.

Other NT evidence comes from Romans 16: 1 which describes Phoebe, the deacon from Cenchreae. The word used here is “Diakanos” .The Greek term for deaconess actually came into use in 3rd Century. Here we have evidence of women deacons.

Can you discuss amongst yourselves how we can all serve in our church?