Deaconess - Scriptural or Not?

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Alex Mullins, Feb 22, 2002.

  1. Alex Mullins

    Alex Mullins
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    I have asked this question before but did not receive a clear answer. I am hoping for a clearer answer to help me settle this.

    Our church is considering appointing Deaconesses and I am really struggling with it. The Pastor is pushing hard, even though it may split the church.

    Our church has a Deacon/Elder sytem of government with both being elected by the membership. Elders really lead all areas of the church, spiritaul and otherwise but the deacons assist. In fact, a deacon sits as the chair(man) of each of the committees and reports to an Elder/Liason. As much as we say deacons are "servants" they are , in reality, in leadership roles in that sense.

    In light of 1 Timothy 2: 12 and the many biblical qualifications for a deacon I am trying very hard to be discerning about what God wants of me and us as a body of believers, in this issue.

    Also, in our church, we have plenty of qualified and willing men, husband of one-wife, etc (which, by the way, is next to impossible for a woman to lay claim to) to serve as deacons so this matter is not being driven by that.

    It is my belief that there is a specific and very special role for women in the church, just as there is a special role for women in a marriage. With society changing those roles, as it is today, could it be that the role of women in the church is changing also?

    My wife is all for it because the church she was raised in and saved in had deaconesses and she thought it was wonderful. That same church married us while we were unequally yoked so I have always viewed it a "liberal" church. That is really a Pastoral issue though, in my humble opinion. For some reason, many people (church members)are much like sheep and are easily lead down any road a Pastor will lead them.

    Can anyone enlighten me and show me where the qualifications for deacons (men) were also meant to be applied to women?

    It is my fear that our church, under current leadership, is taking the high road to modernism. It is evident in our music and worship style also. This issue, if adopted, would be just one more indication of that.

    Thanks for your help and God Bless.

    Alex

    (I am not a male chauvinist, by the way! I think women are great and everyone should own at least one.....just kidding!!
    Couldn't resist it....really, this is a serious question and I appreciate your help)
     
  2. Clint Kritzer

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    Hi Mr. Mullins -

    Some folks interpret the reference to Phoebe in Romans 16:1 to mean that female deacons are scriptural. I am not sure if there are any other references. This is a hot topic so I suppose you will get a myriad of opinions but I am interested in any other scripture on the matter as well.

    May God bless you

    - Clint
     
  3. Dr. Bob

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    Deacon can mean either an official office or simply a servant of that church. Context will help define which is which.

    Can a woman be a deacon"ness" or servant of the church? Of course. And she would have the same authority and power of a male deacon!

    NONE. Think about it. What power and authority does a servant have? What decisions does a servant make?

    Some churches have elevated the office of "deacon" to some sort of "board of governing" or "ruling", an animal totally unknown in the Bible or early church.

    Hope this helps.
     
  4. SaggyWoman

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    I am in agreement here with Dr. Bob, and would like to add that any church that has elevated the deacon position to a ruling position might need to reconsider and revise their church's stance in that it is not biblical.

    Though I have never been a member of a church where we have had so called women deacons, I have been in churches where women have had more of the deacon spirit and served better that those were called deacon.

    The concept of the diakonos is transgendered, in my opinion.
     
  5. SaggyWoman

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    Plus, I would dare say that we always get hung up on this qualification rather than the others, which, in my opinion, are just as weighty, if not more so.
     
  6. Jamal5000

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    Alex,

    In 1 Timothy 3:11 according to my NIV, the wife of a deacon equals a deaconess.

    My church which also utilizes deaconesses clings to this understanding of the position: the wife of a deacon automatically stands as a deaconess.

    I hope this helps a little.

    In Christ, Jamal5000 [​IMG]
     
  7. donnA

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    Alex the verses you mentioned tell us that a decon is a man, a woman does not have a wife, so the decon is a man. And in Acts when they choose the first decons, they specified that they were to be men.
    Women being ordained decons is not biblical, and is modern feminism, which is anti biblical.
    Sure a woman can be a servant, like has been mentioned in an earlier post, but ordaining them is not biblical.
     
  8. Rev. Joshua

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    Our church holds the guiding principle of gender and race issues to be Galatians 3:28, and makes no distinctions regarding gender or race. Nor do we affirm or support slavery.

    Joshua

    [ February 23, 2002: Message edited by: Rev. Joshua Villines ]
     
  9. Speedpass

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    At Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, a predominantly black SBC congregation, they have deaconessess. They are separate body from the deacons, in that they minister to women and children, and serve as ushers. I know this because I have visited that church twice, the latest time being on Thanksgiving last November.
     
  10. Dr. Bob

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    Jimmy, I dare say that MOST Baptist churches have "Deaconnesses" of some sort - ladies who minister to women/children, help with baptisms, set up communion, oversee the nursery, etc. Some times it is simply a part of a Women's Mission or organization, but they "serve" the church.

    Not rule. Not make decisions. Not lord over the flock. But serve.
     
  11. swaimj

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    I think Dr. Bob is correct here in that the greek word for deacon may or may not refer to an office and the context determines this. Contextually, I see no place where the word "deacon" is used on women. I was a member of a large Baptist church until recently and they took the I Tim qualifications for deacons wives and applied it as a qualification for the women who were employed by the church. I think that was a good application of the text.
     
  12. Jonathan

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    Respectfully, Dr. Bob, the weakness in your argument is that there is no Biblical teaching that establishes any authority or power among the diaconate. Removing that argument also removes the argument (on any grounds other than tradition) against ordaining women to servant positions (other than elder/bishop/pastor).

    But, being a Baptist all of my years, I understand the hesitation to step aside tradition on this issue.



    Very good point. Of course, your point also goes to the fact that deacons have no biblical authority or power anyway. Therefore, there is no reason, other than tradition, to oppose the ordination of women for servant roles (other than elder/bishop/pastor).

    [ February 25, 2002, 08:59 AM: Message edited by: Jonathan ]
     
  13. TurboMike

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    I really don't see how anyone could justify a women being a deacon in the church. I understand the servant issue (diakoneo) and how we all are servants, but I think the Bible is clear of the elected "officals" in the church such as the office of Deacon. Especially when in today's church a deacon is more "overseer" than servant.

    1Ti 3:8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
    1Ti 3:9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
    1Ti 3:10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.
    1Ti 3:11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
    1Ti 3:12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
    1Ti 3:13 For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.


    In Acts we see all men were elected:

    Act 6:3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

    I do, however, see women playing vital roles within the church. I have stated before and do so now that without women, homes and churches would NOT exsist.
     
  14. Jonathan

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  15. Jonathan

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    This is an issue that cries out for honesty in translation. My question for the board's resident Greek scholars: What word/words are the KJV's "office of a Deacon" translated from in 1 Timothy 3:10,13?

    [snip]



    Yes there was an election in Acts 6. However, who was elected to what position? Are you sure that these men were the first "deacons" or were they servants chosen for a specific needed task in the Jerusalem church? Further, is this one instance sufficient proof that women cannot be elected to a church servant position? How about having hands laid on them to set them apart for that service?

    So what is your objection (other than holding to long held tradition) to ordaining them to specific areas of service (with the exception of elder/bishop/pastor) in your church?
     
  16. Maverick

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    There was obviously some leadership or authority in the early Church office of deacon.
    The office had some sort of dignity or grade/rank.

    898 bathmos (bath-mos');
    from the same as 899; a step, i.e. (figuratively) grade (of dignity):
    KJV-- degree.


    They were obviously involved in some sort of public dialogue, preaching, teaching or something that would require great boldness.

    3954 parrhesia (par-rhay-see'-ah);
    from 3956 and a derivative of 4483; all out-spokenness, i.e. frankness, bluntness, publicity; by implication, assurance:
    KJV-- bold (X -ly, -ness, -ness of speech), confidence, X freely, X openly, X plainly (-ness).

    These things being in the text would negate a woman since they were to have meek and quiet spirits and not allowed to teach or even ask questions in the Church, but to ask their husbands at home.

    Also, one of the requiremnts is thatthe deacon be the husband of one wife as is the pastor. This is a very hard requirement for a woman to fill as is ruling the house when the husband is to be the head of the house.

    Now, obviously if the pastor or deacon have a immodest dressing, cussing, drunkard, gossiping wife the man's ministry would be greatly hindered. Hence, even if you found a good man, his wife had to have some standards and charcter as well to fully qualifythe man. Behind every great man is a great woman.

    I may be counseling a single woman in the near future and my wife will be present with me during those sessions. Therefore, she has to be quiet about what goes on in the sessions as well as me. So, did the wives assist their husbands or at least support him in the ministry? Yes. Were women made deaconesses? Not in the early church. I believe the first reference to such a positin was after the RCs came into being and basically they prepared women for baptism which is a modesty thing more than a "office."

    Since it was widows being taken care of in Acts, why were men selected and not women if the office was to be open to women? It would seem ideal to pick seven women. Instead, men were selected and Paul clearly states men are pastors and deacons. There is no argument or question. It is just that we wish to be politically correct and are bowing to our culture instead of the Word.

    As to the one lady that "appears" to be a deacon in Scripture, we must remember that a wife of a prophet was often referred to as a prophetess though she did not have the gift nor execute the office of a prophet. With such clear teaching by the same lad that commends this woman it is more feasible to assume the same practice was used the early church calling the wife of a deacon a deaconess rather than assuming she held the office. It is also possible that the widows who prayed and "served" the church as they were supported by the church may have been called deaconesses but did not execute the office of deacon as outlined in I Tim. It is confusing because the word merely means servant and hence even a secular servant could have been listed on paper as a deacon in the house of Apollos.

    I agree that many deacons are really elders or assistant pastors in their functions. In that case, no women would be allowed for sure. Women are called to a great ministry to each other, but many refuse to perform the ministry and many refuse to be ministered to. Older women are to teach the younger how tobe good wives, mothers and have good character. This is sorely needed in the church. If women would do what they are clearly called to do and not not seek ministries they are not called to there would be greater grace, peace and power in the Church as a whole.

    If women are taking positions of authority it is not because God has called them to do so. It only means that we are in deep rebellion and in line for God's judgement. Deborah was doingher thing during a time when every man (and obviously woman) was doing what was right in their own eyes. Sounds a lot like today. Note that Barak is mentioned in Heb 11, bit not Deborah. The Bible records things that happened whether God approved of them or not and it does not look like He saw her as a big heroine as the Feminists do. Also, note how amazingly accurate the description in Isa 3:12 fits us so well and this was when Israel was backslidden not in God's blessing.

    I have done a whole series on the roles of women in the Bible. Even the feminazi in my study group did not argue with me. Her problem was that she thought women were put down in the Bible and after my study she saw that was not true.

    Go to http://home.earthlink.net/~rfbunting/index.html

    Hit the See My Sermons button which will take you to sermoncentral.com

    I have over 80 sermons there.
     
  17. Deitrich B

    Deitrich B
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    A small snippet of Mavericks ramblings:
    Are you serious?
    DB

    [ February 25, 2002, 09:35 PM: Message edited by: Clint Kritzer ]
     
  18. Deitrich B

    Deitrich B
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    Oh great, do you address real issues or is it more female bashing.
     
  19. TomVols

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    I do not find NT support for the office of women as deacons. However, many Biblically faithful congregations do ordain women as deacons. If the women are not elders, so be it.
     
  20. Alex Mullins

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    I really would like to thank all for your responses and they were all helpful to me. I was looking for more scriptural support for the

    It seems to boil down to ones interpretation of scripture , as in most controversial topics.

    In our church we have Elders, elected by the membership for up one, two or three year terms up to a total of six years then, following a one year sabbatical, they can be elected for another six years. At present men are the leaders of the church, elected by the mebers, including women. it has been that way for 75 years and now our Pastor is pushing for a change.

    Deacons are also nominated by a group (Nominating committee) selected from the general membership and elected by the membership. They are "assistants" to the Elders, which is in a sense, a servant role. However, each Deacon sits as chairman of a church committee so, in a different sense, he is in a leadership role, being servant only to his Elder/ liason.

    So it seems to be a logical conclusion, after reading 1 Timothy 2: 12 and 13 and Titus 2: 4 that women should not have authority over men but rather over other women and perhaps children.

    It is obvious that, in this present day, striving for equality and even superiority in some cases, women are taking a more authoritative role in all aspects of society, from the corporate boardroom to the bedroom. It is also apparent that this dominant role is spreading in to the evangelical church at an increasing rate.

    This is, in no way, intended to say there is not a position in the modern church for women. They have an extremely important and special function in the successful operation of the church, in soul - winning, in teaching other women and children, in supporting their husbands who are in leadership positions, etc, etc.

    Just as in a marriage, or a family structure the women has a part to play and the man has a part to play but they cannot both be the final authority. As in a marriage, the man will permit the women to be an integral part of the decision making process, but in a tie decision the man should be the one to decide. God's word clearly spells out what the responsibility roles are for each gender.

    Unfortunately we have too many men that are spiritually and physically inferior to their wives and they have been dominated, beaten, downtrodden, defeated at every turn.

    Thanks again for your input and scripture references which helped me greatly in helping me decide which way to go on this issue.

    God Bless.

    Alex
     

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