Female deacons

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by evangelist6589, Feb 19, 2016.

  1. evangelist6589

    evangelist6589
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    Can females be deacons? I have been in churches that held to complementarianism in regarding the role of women in ministry in that they could not hold the office of pastor, Sunday school teacher, nor any position that teaches or preaches to men including the office of deacon and elder. I have been to other churches that argued that women could be deacons, they just could not preach or teach men, and so forth, as each church has their own interpretation of scripture in this regard. My own look at the scripture I would argue that a woman cannot be a elder, nor pastor, nor Sunday school teacher over men, but regarding deacon I am not sure. Are you? What say you?
     
  2. Rob_BW

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    Yeah, it seems to me that the problem comes in when the church has divisions of pastor/deacons instead of elders/deacons.
     
  3. Salty

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    And why is that? ( might want to start a new thread)
    -------

    I Tim 3:11 says "Even so must their wives...."

    So if a woman has a wife.......
     
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  4. Don

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    (yes, I took Evan off ignore about a week ago)

    Seems to me, the question is how you're defining/treating the office of deacon. Most translations use "deacons." Darby rendered it "ministers." The Contemporary English Version renders it "church officers." Another version says "men called to be special servants."

    The word means servant. The context and usage indicate something more. For example, in 2 Cor 3:6, the KJV renders it as "ministers." From the context of 1 Tim 3, there is a sense of leadership--which women are not supposed to have (compare to Paul's statement in the previous chapter: 1 Tim 2:12 I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man).

    As Salty mentioned, all these things together, along with Salty's note, seem to indicate that women as officers of the church is a "no-no."

    If you're using the literal meaning of the word--"servant"--then we should ALL be deacons.
     
  5. Jerome

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    John Yates (TheGospelCoalition Council Member), "St. Paul and Women":

    "Priscilla really had the gift of leadership and discernment. She and her husband were single-handedly responsible for straightening out Apollos, that wandering preacher. A mighty preacher he was, but he didn't quite understand the gospel or the Holy Spirit. Together they straightened him out. Funny how God always seemed to raise up women in the places where [Paul] started churches, strong women who shared with [him] in leadership like Timothy did, and Titus did. There were two in Philippi, Syntyche and Euodias—strong ladies. They had some quarrels between the two of them, but they led powerfully. Phoebe—she was a deacon in the church at Cenchrea—was a tremendous help to [Paul]. Then, in Rome, there were so many women who were in leadership there with the men. There was Persis; there was Tryphosa; there was Tryphena; and so many other women who shared. Then Andronicus and his wife, Junias—they were so gifted in church planning and in leadership that we sort of referred to both of them as apostles together. Although it certainly wasn't customary in those days for women to do anything beyond their traditional roles, it was clear from the beginning that the Lord did intend women and men both to teach, to lead, to organize, to minister together."

    "Many churches have found that having an ordained woman as one of their pastors has strengthened the whole pastoral team greatly. To some, it would feel uncomfortable to have a woman preach or stand at the Holy Table. To others, it would be rather comforting. Listen, a person's gender is not as important as their wisdom and their maturity and their gifts when it comes to ministry."
     
  6. agedman

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    May I suggest that there is a great difference between the role of deacon and that of elder and / or pastor.

    As has already been posted, the word basically means servant.

    I suggest that a church would be wise to choose husbands and wives to serve as a unit in the office of deacon. Too often, the service to the women is nearly neglected, and more often ignored when it comes to matters that matter in the operation and function of the assembly.

    Elders and pastors are to work with the Scriptures, not "run the church."

    If there is a matter of care, concern, physical need be it over the facility the assembly occupies, or the welfare of the assembly ... it is that responsibility of the deacons of the assembly. They represent the people

    If there is a spiritual matter or concern, it is a matter of the elders of the assembly. They represent God.

    Too often the typical Baptist hierarchy is a blend of deacon/elder and pastor/elder. The deacons are to deacon, the elder is to elder. The two don't really mix well without there being excess or neglect in some area.
     
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  7. Jerome

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    Charles Spurgeon's The Sword and Trowel, 1866:

    "the term elder is applied both to bishops and deacons. This might be supposed to prove too much, as though there had been no separate offices in the Church. It goes, in fact, just to the extent we require, that distinct officers were recognized by the Church, but they were lovingly blended together. There was no contention about a name as expressive of an authority, which it would have been sacrilege for others to invade."
     
  8. agedman

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    I think it important that in the passage on deacons in 1 Timothy 3:1-16 the translators use the word "wives." and then the list of qualifications.

    HOWEVER, there is good reason for the translation to use the word "women" rather than wives.

    That would actually be more consistent with the over all statement of the theme on deacon qualifications by Paul.

    So, in effect, Paul was either saying that the wives of the men who are chosen as deacons must also be qualified, or that women may also serve as deacons and must conform to qualifications.

    I have no problem with those that render it as wives or with those that render the passage as women.

    What I have a problem with is the supremacy of authority that some take on when the assembly appoints them as a deacon. No "Lording over" the assembly was ever the roll in the apostles giving permission for the assembly to appoint deacons to serve them.
     
  9. evangelist6589

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    Exactly. Each church has their own interpretation on this matter.
     
  10. evangelist6589

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    So you are saying that churches that allow for female deacons as servants to other women are in the wrong?
     
  11. Don

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    Nope. Kinda saying it depends on how you're defining "deacon."
     
  12. Baptist Believer

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    Sure. We have at least one example of a prominent female deacon in the New Testament, Phoebe (see Romans 16:1), who was commended by Paul to the church in Rome.

    It is believed by many that she carried the letter to the Romans from Paul to the churches in Rome, and may have even publicly read the letter in order to provide the appropriate nuances to the language, although that is not necessarily my opinion.

    For what its worth, my church has had ordained female deacons for more than 30 years, possibly 40 years.
     
  13. evangelist6589

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    And they teach men in Sunday school or by preaching?
     
  14. Salty

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    According to I Timothy, the purpose of a deacon is not leadership or preaching or teaching. Their purpose is too take of the physical needs of the congregation - so the pastors (elders - if you insist) may attend to the spiritual needs of the church.
     
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  15. Baptist Believer

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    The role of deacon has NOTHING to do with teaching or preaching.

    However, some of our female deacons are indeed involved in teaching and preaching, as per the New Testament example.
     
  16. evangelist6589

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    What? So they teach men?
     
  17. Jerome

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    Spurgeon called Lavinia Bartlett his best deacon.

    Her ministry as described in The Sword and the Trowel:

    "Mrs. Bartlett is a remarkable woman. Converted with her whole heart to God before arriving at her teens, she early manifested an irrepressible desire to seek the soul-good of others. While engaged at twelve years of age as a Sabbath-school teacher, her infantile exertions were marvellously seconded by God. She was a spiritual mother even then; and many souls were brought by her to the Saviour. . . . .stimulated by her success in the school, [she] sought to enlarge her sphere of usefulness by journeying from village to village within easy distance of her parents' residence, where she might seek the salvation of neverdying souls. It was tough work to exhort burly farmers and their still more boisterous sons to seek an emancipation from the tyranny of Satan; but is anything too difficult for even a timid damsel, filled with the sufficiency of Jesus Christ?"

    "Mr. Thomas Olney, the venerable treasurer of the Church, invited Mrs. Bartlett to conduct the Bible class in question for one afternoon, there were only three persons present. . . .it has increased its numbers, until the average attendance has now become seven hundred, which sometimes swells to an additional hundred or so."

    "A visitor would probably be struck with those peculiar characteristics of the Sabbath afternoon service. . . .On a recent visit to the class, it seemed to me that there was an undefined something in the prayer alone which robbed one of that calmness of mind so requisite in joining in a public supplication, but filled the soul at the same time with a holy exhilaration and devout expectation which fully compensated for loss of calm. It was a simple, tender, earnest, powerful and prevailing address to a real present Father. If woman can thus approach the Lord in supplication, how much do we not lose, my male friends, by not occasionally hearing her voice?"

    "[Her teaching] was experimental—a woman's vivid fancy calling up scenes of spiritual conflict and cares, coloured with life and beauty. It was doctrinal—founded on the eternal verities of the great I AM. It was chiefly exhortative—recalling God's performances in bygone times of Christian experience, specifying the many sacred privileges of the present, painting bright pictures of coming joys and communions to be realised by faith in the far-stretched future. Better still—it was savoury, full of Jesus. Peculiarly tender and eloquent was her appeal to the unconverted. Convince a sinner of your real anxiety for his eternal welfare, and you have opened a channel in his heart for further communications. Few could resist admiring the exuberant and passionate utterances of this Bible-teacher."
     
  18. Salty

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    I never said a deacon cannot teach - but that is not a purpose of a deacon.
    let me use this example - My boss at the C-store which I work at- her job does not call for her to deliver Pizzas.
    However, on the weekend, she has another job at a pizza joint - and delivering Pizza is her job description.
     
  19. Baptist Believer

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    Yes, I agree with you. I have not disagreed with you in this regard.

    Our friend was asking about things beyond what you and I believe to be the role of the deacon, so I clarified that position and then answered his other implied question.
     
  20. Baptist Believer

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    I imagine men are in some of their classes. I really don't know, since I am not concerned about it.

    We have the New Testament examples of Priscilla teaching Apollos and Timothy being taught by his mother and grandmother.

    We also have a few biblical examples of women preaching and speaking both inside and outside congregational meetings.
     

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