Romans 16:1

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by following-Him, May 30, 2004.

  1. following-Him

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    We have just had a teaching in our church from Romans 16 and the pastor said he would like to see more women deacons in the church. After consulting The Interlinear NASB/NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English I am finding myself confused about the translation of "diakonon" describing Phoebe as a minister of the church in Cenchrea. How do we understand this translation in the light of the teaching that a man should be the head of the woman which some use as an argument against women in ministry?
    This is something that came to my attention today and I am just wanting to learn. I am not saying that I agree/disagree with women deacons, I am just seeking clarification on the text please.
     
  2. Marcia

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    What I've read in notes, is that it depends on how this word is understood. If it's used to mean a servant, then that is not having authority in the church.

    It also depends on what deacons do in your church. I personally do not think Phoebe had any authority as a pastor or minister, but was a servant to others in the church. So if you're deacons are servants and have no authority, then that is not giving a woman authority over men.
     
  3. Pastor Larry

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    The word "diakonia" means servant or minister. It is used sometimes as the generic word that everyone in the church should be (cf Eph 4:11ff); sometimes it is used as the specific office in teh church (Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 3). In Rom 16, it is the former. Phoebe was singled out probably for her exemplary service, not for the office of deacon. I would like to see more women deacons, in the first sense.
     
  4. Dr. Bob

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    The word in the masculine form (NOT deaconness) refers to the office or official ministry of the "servant" (deacon = servant).

    We have many men AND women as "servants" in our churches, but usually only men with the "office" of deacon.

    Romans 16:1 is clear. Pheobe, a woman, was a "deacon" in the Cenchrea church.
     
  5. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    Interesting thread.

    Because a deacon must be the "husband of one wife" and the roles of the deacon's wives are discussed, I don't see how Phoebe could be in the office of deacon, but instead must have been a noted servant in the church.
     
  6. Tangent

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    ^It's possible that "their [deacons'] wives" in 1 Timothy 3:11 could be rendered "deaconesses." Not being a Greek scholar, I'm not sure which is more likely, but we do know from extra-biblical sources that women sometimes served as deacons in the early church. This was not a position of authority but one of service, unlike the deacons in modern Baptist churches.
     
  7. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    Don't think Tangent's arguement is valid. "Their wives" is contextually in a whole list of requirements for the deacon. It would not make any kind of exegetical sense to throw the role of "deaconess" in there at that point.
     
  8. Craigbythesea

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    I have 225 commentaries on Romans here in my study. When I get some time, I will take a close look at this myself. [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  9. freeatlast

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    I think it need be pointed out that there is no feminine form of the word in the Greek. Also in the church qualifications the office holder needs to be the husband of one wife (KJ translation). No woman can be the husband of one wife (one woman man).
     
  10. Craigbythesea

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    I consulted the commentaries on the Greek text of Romans by Sanday and Headlam, C. E. B. Cranfield, James Dunn, H. A. W. Meyer, John Murray, and Leon Morris. Meyer, Murray, and Sanday and Headlam interpret the Greek word diakonon to be a feminine noun. Meyer quotes an ancient source where diakonon is definitely used as a feminine noun with the feminine definite article.

    Cranfield strongly believes that the Greek word diakonon is used here for the office of deacon, and writes, “We regard it as virtually certain that Phoebe is being described as ‘a (or possibly ‘the’) deacon’ of the church in question, and that this occurrence of [Greek word diakonos] is to be classified with its occurrences in Phil 1.1 or in 1 Tim 3.8 and 12.”

    Sanday and Headlam also see here a description here of a distinct office, that of deaconess, and writes, “From the very beginning of Christianity—more particularly in fact at the beginning—there must have been a want felt of women to perform for women the functions which the deacons performed for men. Illustrations of this need in baptism, in visiting the women’s part of a house, in introducing women to the deacon or bishop, may be found in the Apostolical Constitution (iii. 15, etc.). So much is clear.”

    John Murray writes, “Though the word for “servant” is the same as is used for deacon in the instances cited [Phil. 1:1; I Tim. 3:8-13], yet the word is also used to denote the person performing any type of ministry. If Phoebe ministered to the saints, as is evident from verse 2, then she would be a servant of the church and there is neither need nor warrant to suppose that she occupied or exercised what amounted to an ecclesiastical office comparable to that of the deaconate. The services performed were similar to those devolving upon deacons. Their ministry is one of mercy to the poor, the sick, and the desolate. This is an area in which women likewise exercise their functions and graces. But there is no more warrant to posit an office than in the case of the widows who, prior to their becoming the charge of the church, must have borne the features mentioned in I Timothy 5:9, 10.”

    James Dunn writes, “. . . the fact nevertheless remains that Phoebe is the first recorded “deacon” in the history of Christianity. At the same time it would be premature to speak of an established office of deaconate, as though a role of responsibility and authority, with properly appointed succession, had already been agreed upon in the Pauline churches. We are still at the stage of ministry beginning to take regular and formal shape (Barrett, Käsemann), and the form in each case would depend very much on the context of the needs of particular congregations (the same is true of Phil 1:1, where responsibilities are not even hinted at; but in 1 Tim 3:8-13 the reality of church office has taken clear form; Pliny, Ep. 10.96.8, speaks of two female slaves who were called minstrae in Bithynia—text in Sh).”

    Meyer writes, “The designation by the word [Greek word, diakonissa], not used in classical Greek, is found only subsequently, as frequently in the Constitt. apost. See on these ministrae, as they are called in Pliny, Ep. X. 97, the female attendants on the poor, sick, and strangers of the church. . . .”

    Leon Morris writes that Phoebe was “a servant of the church in Cenchrea. Several translations call her “a deaconess” (as RSV; cf. NEB, “who holds office”). It is not easy to defend that translation, for the word “deaconess” is not found until much later. But Paul’s word, besides meaning “servant”, is the word for “deacon” (it is the word used, e.g., in Phil. 1:1), and it may well be that Paul is describing Phoebe as a deacon of the church at Cenchrea. Some commentators hold that there would not have been female officebearers as early as Paul’s time and thus argue for the meaning “servant” here. But the social conditions of the time were such that there must have been the need for feminine church workers to assist in such matters as the baptism of women or anything that meant contact with women’s quarters in homes. The form of expression here makes it more likely that an official is meant than the more general term “servant”, though in view of the wide use of the term for the general concept of service this is far from being proved. Phoebe is certainly called a deacon; the question if whether this is an official position or general service.”
     
  11. Craigbythesea

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    This statement is inaccurate. See my post above.
     
  12. Craigbythesea

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    I believe that it needs to be observed here that whatever was the role of Phoebe in the church at Cenchrea, she had NO authority over the men in the church. If she had any authority over anyone, it was over other women in the church. Most definitely Phoebe was not the pastor of the church, and for a woman to take the position of pastor of any church does violence to Biblical teachings about the role of women. And if women are to be given the title of “deacon,” it is most important that they have NO authority over ANY of the men in the church.
     
  13. HankD

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    IMO the principle is that women in the Church not usurp (one who acts upon his/her own authority).

    If the male leadership (and the consensus of the local Body of Christ) is agreeable with appointments of deaconesses then the male authority has not been usurped but appointed by the same and it is scriptural.

    My opinion.

    HankD
     
  14. Craigbythesea

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    Lets look at 1 Tim. 2:12 in context,

    11. A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.
    12. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.
    13. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.
    14. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (NASB, 1995)

    I believe that it is very clear here that Paul is not making an off-the-cuff comment that he hasn't thought through. He is deliberately making a point, and he defends it by citing Genesis. Men and women are very different creatures with very different roles in the church. The woman's role is entire submission to the men in the church. And no man in the church, not even the senior pastor, has the authority to give any woman authority over any man in the church. Therefore, any woman who takes on such authority is usurping that authority, and will answer to God for it! And not only that, the effectiveness of the church will be damaged.

    In most Baptist churches, the set up is very simple. There is a pulpit and some pews. In many other churches, however, the set up is much more complicated in order to meet instructions for conduct that are found in the New Testament. One striking addition is the lectern. Only the fully ordained pastors of the church are allowed to speak from the pulpit; everyone else speaks from the lectern. And women are allowed to speak from the lectern only when a fully ordained pastor is standing in the pulpit showing that the woman is in submission to him, and even then she is not allowed any kind of authority over any man in the church.

    The Bible insists that only men serve as pastors, and the reason for it is not cultural—it is spiritual. God is always masculine in the Bible, and the Church is always feminine. The pastor of a church is a representative of God ministering to the church in His stead, and must, therefore, be a man, showing to the congregation the principle that the congregation is in submission to God.

    In the family home, the husband and father is a representative of God, ministering to the family in His stead. Again, this is not cultural—it is spiritual, bearing witness to the principle of submission to God.

    The men are to dress and groom themselves as men; the women are to dress and groom themselves as women. God is not the author of confusion. Neither the man nor the woman is to dress to express himself, rather both are to dress to express the Biblical principle that there is one God, and God is masculine. The little boys are to dress as men to be; the little girls are to dress as women to be. Those who are contentious and disagree need to be firmly told that the church of God has no other custom because these things are a matter of Biblical principle, and Biblical principles never change.
     
  15. HankD

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    The pulpit comes out of the non-reformation churches. The Lectern has its association with Rome. I have never attended a Baptist church with a lectern myself though I wouldn't feel it to be a compromise.

    In the church that I am currently a member women are allowed in the pulpit alone after they are introduced by the Pastor and he gives permission for her to speak (such as the Right to Life representative).

    However, if we would follow 1 Timothy 2:12 along with 1 Corinthians 14:34-35
    Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but [they are commanded] to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
    And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

    to the "letter of the law" then the men should be doing ALL the teaching including Sunday School and Children's Church.

    "as also saith the law" appears to have it's exceptions with Huldah and Deborah:

    Judges 4:4 And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.

    The name of her husband is given.

    2 Kings 22:14
    So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college;) and they communed with her.

    Again her husband's name is given.

    HankD
     
  16. gb93433

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    The following is an excerpt from a sermon I gave in an SBC chruch in 1999.

    The Qualifications of Pastors and Deacons
    I Timothy 3:1-13

    H. (vs.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" or “the woman of a man’s name.” 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.

    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. 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.

    e. The emergence of deaconesses is unclear. But in the third and fourth centuries the office 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)

    f. The relationship between the male and female deacon was that if a pastor wanted to talk with a female in the congregation he went through a male deacon then passed onto a female deaconess then to the female. A pastor never spoke directly to a woman in the congregation. .


    Conclusion
    Most of the qualifications that deacons and pastors must possess are qualifications that most Christians should possess. I believe that there are two reasons for qualifications of a pastor and deacon. One is that God knows the pain that would be inflicted upon an immature pastor and deacon and the pain the immature pastor or deacon would inflict upon others. Secondly it would be a standard and a warning for those who hold the office of deacon or pastor.

    Pastors and deacons must be men of good conduct and sound in their faith. They must be people who prove themselves to be an example, not simply as a position of authority. In the church of God there is only one authority and that is Jesus Christ. He is the head. All of us are merely servants.
     

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