SPECIAL TOPIC: DEACONS (from Philippians 1:1)

This is the Greek term for household servants (diakonoi). Its original etymology was "to raise dust by cleaning." It became a general term for ministry used of

1. Jesus in Mark 10:43-45

2. for Paul – 1 Cor. 3:5; 2 Cor. 3:6; 6:4; 11:15,23; Eph. 3:7; Col. 1:23,25

3. for Apollos – 1 Cor. 3:5

4. for Timothy – 2 Cor. 3:6; 6:4; 1 Tim. 4:6

5. for Tychicus – Eph. 6:21; Col. 4:7

6. for Epaphras – Col. 1:7

7. for Christians in a general sense of servants (like Christ, cf. Mark 10:43-45) – 1 Cor. 11:15,23; Eph. 4:12; 2 Tim. 4:11

It is obvious this word is used in several senses.

1. a ministry of service – Acts 1:17,25

2. a later title of local leadership under the pastor – Phil. 1:1

3. linked to spiritual gifts – 1 Cor. 12:5

4. parallel to koinonia (giving) – 2 Cor. 8:4; 11:8 (cf. Rom. 15:25, by gift of money)

Philippians 1:1 supports two leadership functions in the local church, although older women (widows' rolls) are also mentioned in 1 Tim. 3:11. These terms were originally functions but became titles and offices very quickly (cf. I Clement 42 and Ignatius' Letter to Tralles, 3:1 and Letter to Smyrna, 8:1).

It is often asserted that the first "deacons" were the seven men elected by the Jerusalem church in Acts 6 to help the Apostles.  I personally do not believe this is accurate (see my notes online).  The one item that links the men of Acts 6 to later deacons is that they were servants!  Deacons are servants, not managers!  There should never be a "deacon board of directors"!

The qualifications of "deacons" are listed in 1 Tim. 3:8-13 (see my exegetical notes online, www.freebiblecommentary.org, "Written Commentary").

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