In Acts 6:1-7, we see that it did not take long for the apostles to get overwhelmed. There was a tension between serving the flock and studying the Word. It is not that the feeding of the Grecian women was not important but it was taxing on the apostles. Between feeding the widows and other pastoral duties such as praying and studying Scripture, there was no more time for them to give. It was beginning to get out of hand.
To help alleviate some of the burden, there were pastoral assistants appointed to help them. These pastoral assistants are called deacons.
The word deacon is a translation of the Greek word diakonos. This is the word for servant.
Deacons are mentioned in Scripture in Philippians 1:1. They are mentioned here because elders and deacons are to work closely together.
1 Timothy 3:8-13 lays out the qualifications for deacons.
vs. 11 is interesting. In regards to the meaning of the verse, there are 3 possibilities.
- Paul may be speaking to women who assist deacons.
- Paul is speaking to the wives of deacons. This is problamatic because there are not qualification for the wives of elders. It is understood that a pastor’s wife not be slanderous or a gossip.
- Paul is speaking to women who are deacons.
We believe the Bible teaches here that a woman can be a deacon, that some female deacons are married to male deacons and female deacons also assist male deacons. This makes perfect sense. If understood this way then this section of Scripture are for both male and female deacons indicated by the word “likewise.”
Those who are against appointing female deacons usually do so by pointing to 1 Timothy 2:12.
In this verse, the word used for authority is a special word used only on this occasion. The teaching he refers to is in reference to the teaching or preaching done during the gathered worship service which is clearly reserved for elders.
Women are permitted to teach in contexts that are not related to the position of elder. In fact, we believe the Bible is clear that a woman can serve in any aspect of the church except in the area of pastor/elder.
More evidence for women deacons:
- Romans 16:1 – Phoebe
- Romans 16:6 – Mary
- Romans 16:12 – Tryphona and Tryphosa
Every church has women in positions of ministry leadership. If a church does not call these women by the biblical title of deacon and hold them accountable according to the qualifications of their leadership, the church then is forced to come up with titles that have no biblical precedent such as “director” or “leader.”
It is significant that nowhere in the New Testament do deacons have ruling authority over the church as elders do, deacons are not higher than the pastor, nor does a pastor work for them. Deacons are not required to teach Scripture or sound doctrine.
The deacons should be the lead examples in teaching the flock to serve.
The elders teach by the word.
The deacons teach by works.