John Smythe and women deacons

Discussion in 'Baptist History' started by jonathan.borland, Nov 17, 2008.

  1. jonathan.borland

    jonathan.borland
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2008
    Messages:
    1,154
    Likes Received:
    0
    I read an article recently about John Smythe, the figure most modern Baptists include in their history, ordaining both men and women to be deacons. Was this a radical view in his day? What is the history of ordaining women to the diaconate? What is the present consensus among Baptists on this issue?
     
  2. Jim1999

    Jim1999
    Expand Collapse
    <img src =/Jim1999.jpg>

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2002
    Messages:
    15,460
    Likes Received:
    0
    If you read enough about John Smythe, you will find that he never was a baptist. In fact, he poured water on his own head and then on the heads of others and called that baptism.

    Read 1 Tim 3: 8-13 to learn about deaconesses in the NT church. Phoebe was a servant (diakonos...deacon) in the church at Cenchreae (Rom 16:1

    So there is ample evidence that women did serve as deacons in the New Testament.

    I might draw the line at pastor, but even then, I would't get too uneasy if it happened.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  3. webdog

    webdog
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2005
    Messages:
    24,691
    Likes Received:
    0
    It's clear when you compare Romans 16:1 with 1 Timothy 3 that Phoebe was a servant in the church, not the office of deacon mentioned in 1 Timothy and Titus. A leader has to serve...a servant doesn't have to be a leader. Husband of one wife doesn't leave much wiggle room (unless you live in Massachusetts). Pheobe would be like a children's worker, deaf signer, greeter, cleaning, hospitality, etc.
     
  4. gb93433

    gb93433
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2003
    Messages:
    15,496
    Likes Received:
    6
    1 Tim. 3:11 The women have qualifications too
    1. Who are the women? Look at the verses before and after.
    a. We know that Phoebe in Rom. 16:1-2 is called a diakonos
    Rom. 16:1 2 _ "I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea; that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well."

    She obviously was a servant in the church. Paul refers to her as a servant, a diakonos, the same word used for deacon. As we look at Paul's writings he does not emphasize the office, but rather the function.

    b. In Hebrew there is no word for wife. The way it was expressed was "the woman of him." This very same expression is used in the NT. In Greek there is only one word for woman and it can mean either woman or wife.

    Of the 215 uses of the word for woman, only one seems to be controversial in its translation.

    Explain "wife" - the woman of him
    - the woman of a man's name

    It is clear from the context that it is someone’s wife that is being talked about.

    "Woman" - always clear from the context

    c. In the Greek text there is not a definite article before women or at least a genitive pronoun following the word "woman". This would lead one to translate that word "women" and not "wives"

    d. Another point is this: if Paul did mean wives of deacons, then why did he not include a corresponding set of qualifications for the wives of pastors?

    e. You might ask "if Paul meant deaconess, why didn't he use that word?" At that time there was not a word for deaconess.

    f. There is plenty of evidence that the early church utilized women in ministry. There were women whose responsibility was to work with other women and children. They performed pastoral work with the sick and the poor and helped at baptism. From the earliest times deaconesses visited the sick, acted as door-keepers at the women's entrance to the church, kept order among church women, taught females in preparation for baptism and acted as sponsors for homeless children. They also carried official messages. There was a clearer line drawn between the sexes than there is today. Women deacons were not on the same level as men deacons. They could not teach and minister to mixed groups of people or men, and they were not ordained.

    For the first 1200 years of Christianity there is loads of evidence of woman deacons in the church. However, the Western Roman Catholic church never had them. Whereas the eastern church did

    Almost every country outside of the U.S. has women deacons in Baptist churches.

    g. The emergence of deaconesses is unclear. But in the third and fourth centuries the office of deaconess developed greatly. In a letter dated 112 A.D. Governor Pliny wrote a letter to the emperor Trajan. 'In it he mentions a couple of deaconesses. (Book X, XCVI, 8, 289)

    That would leave out Jesus, Paul and many others.
     
  5. Crabtownboy

    Crabtownboy
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    Messages:
    16,634
    Likes Received:
    158
    It is funny how translaters use the word deacon in other places, but translate the same word as servent for Phoebe.

    It is the same word, so all the deacons were also servants ... same meaning. Thus Phoebe was a deaconess or servant. You are totally worng in limiting Phoebe's role to that of a modern woman in a fundamentalist church.

    The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says:

     
  6. KeithS

    KeithS
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2004
    Messages:
    186
    Likes Received:
    0
    Umm...Paul called himself a diakonos in several other letters. Also, when the office of deacon was instituted in Acts, the leaders of the church called themselves diakonos. I think we don't fully understand how the early church and leadership used the term.

    And Paul seemed to coin a number of "new" words in 1 Timothy that were not extant at the time. At the very least he rebranded very old words no longer in use. I think if he wanted to add diakona to the list he would have. Finally, the husband of one wife argument is very difficult to circumvent. Especially in light of Paul's earlier teaching in Timothy regarding the role of women and why they have that role.
     
  7. webdog

    webdog
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2005
    Messages:
    24,691
    Likes Received:
    0
    No it woldn't, as they were not elders of deacons. Jesus was the Christ, and Paul an Apostle, evangelist...servant of the new church.
     
    #7 webdog, Nov 18, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2008
  8. webdog

    webdog
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2005
    Messages:
    24,691
    Likes Received:
    0
    So you take issue with a leader having to be a servant, but a servant not having to be a leader?
     
  9. Crabtownboy

    Crabtownboy
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    Messages:
    16,634
    Likes Received:
    158
    The word for deacon or deaconess, diakonos is used in Romans 16:1 and many other places. Thus, for reasons of their own some translators use the word "servant" when speaking of Phoebe while others use the word deacon or deanconess.

    Here is Strong's definition

    So, if a person is a diakonos, regardless of gender they have the responsibilities that is implied in the definition as well as of being a leader.

    Paul calls Phoebe a diakonos so she was a deaconess.

    If we read the New Testament carefully we find women in many roles that some would deny them of today.
     
  10. Jim1999

    Jim1999
    Expand Collapse
    <img src =/Jim1999.jpg>

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2002
    Messages:
    15,460
    Likes Received:
    0
    Here, here! Crabtownboy, I think you are bang on. Women were leaders throughout the scriptures and many just refuse to accept it.

    What is that old saying about missions: Here am I, Lord; send her.....

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  11. webdog

    webdog
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2005
    Messages:
    24,691
    Likes Received:
    0
    Nobody claimed women weren't leaders "throughout Scripture"...women were not elders or deacons as outlined in 1 Timothy and Titus.
     
  12. webdog

    webdog
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2005
    Messages:
    24,691
    Likes Received:
    0
    You are confusing the responsibilities of a servant and a leader. There are differences. Context dictates when servant should be used, not the translators' own agenda.
     
  13. Crabtownboy

    Crabtownboy
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    Messages:
    16,634
    Likes Received:
    158
    Your argument is with the Bible and Paul. Paul calls Phoebe a deaconess. I accept hid words. to do otherwise ia taking a liberal interpretation of the bible.
     
  14. webdog

    webdog
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2005
    Messages:
    24,691
    Likes Received:
    0
    No, he called her a diakonos...greek, not english. If you weren't aware, greek words hold numerous meanings and for us who speak english, need the context to determine the meaning.
     
  15. Jerome

    Jerome
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Messages:
    5,629
    Likes Received:
    45
    Romans 16:1
    "I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cen'chre-ae,"
     
  16. KeithS

    KeithS
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2004
    Messages:
    186
    Likes Received:
    0
    Interestingly, when Paul calls himself a "servant", he usually uses doulos if he calls himself a servant of God, but diakonos if he calls himself a servant of the church. Does this mean that Paul was a deacon as some seem to be implying?
     
  17. webdog

    webdog
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2005
    Messages:
    24,691
    Likes Received:
    0
    No, he was a servant of the churches by being an apostle. He outlined the requirements of an elder / deacon, and did not include himself in the requirements, actually disqualified himself from those positions in the church.
     
  18. webdog

    webdog
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2005
    Messages:
    24,691
    Likes Received:
    0
    Romans 16:1
    "συνιστημι δε υμιν φοιβην την αδελφην ημων ουσαν διακονον της εκκλησιας της εν κεγχρεαις"
     
  19. KeithS

    KeithS
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2004
    Messages:
    186
    Likes Received:
    0
    I agree...but a few seem to be implying that use of the word is all that is necessary to justify the title of the office. Are they willing to say that since Pheobe was a deacon that Paul also was a deacon? If so, to which body of believers? They have logical inconsistencies to overcome if their only support of a deaconess is Phoebe.
     
  20. webdog

    webdog
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2005
    Messages:
    24,691
    Likes Received:
    0
    Since this thread was started with debate in mind, it should probably be moved out of the fellowship forum into a debate forum.
     

Share This Page

Loading...