Fighting Fundamentalist

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Two Offices: Deacon, the Second of Two Offices

For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. (1Tim.3:13)

Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. (Phil.1:1-2)

Without appology, biblical Baptists recognize two offices; the office of pastor, and the office of deacon. These two offices are not really distinctives of Baptists; almost every church has a pastor and deacons. The biblical distinctive is that Baptists have only two offices within the local church*, pastors and deacons. Biblical Baptists recognize no church offices outside of, or over the local church. The aim of this post is to highlight the second of the two church offices of biblical Baptists; that is the office of the deacon.

The Etemology

A. Diakonos

Thayer Definition:
1) one who executes the commands of another, especially of a master, a servant, attendant, minister
1a) the servant of a king
1b) a deacon, one who, by virtue of the office assigned to him by the church, cares for the poor and has charge of and distributes the money collected for their use
1c) a waiter, one who serves food and drink

Part of Speech: noun masculine or feminine

Simply put the word diakonos means servant or minister. English translations of the Bible sometimes translated this word, and other times transliterated this word. The words “servant” and “minister” are examples of the word translated. When it is transliterated the word employed is deacon.

In the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible, the noun deacon only appears twice (see the key verses above). The possible and probable reason for this is that the translators used the word “deacon” when they believed that the context referred to the office of deacon, and “servant” or “minister” when they felt the context indicated a more general use of the word.

B. Diakoneō

Thayer Definition:
1) to be a servant, attendant, domestic, to serve, wait upon
1a) to minister to one, render ministering offices to
1a1) to be served, ministered unto
1b) to wait at a table and offer food and drink to the guests
1b1) of women preparing food
1c) to minister, i.e. supply food and necessities of life
1c1) to relieve one’s necessities (e.g. by collecting alms), to provide take care of, distribute, the things necessary to sustain life
1c2) to take care of the poor and the sick, who administer the office of a deacon
1c3) in Christian churches to serve as deacons
1d) to minister
1d1) to attend to anything, that may serve another’s interests
1d2) to minister a thing to one, to serve one or by supplying any thing
Part of Speech: verb

The verb diakoneo means “to serve” or “to minister” it is thus translated about 30 times in the NT. In 1Tim.3:10 and 13, however, it is rendered “use the office of a deacon”. Here again, the translators of the KJV must have felt that the context dictated a distinction between a servant in general and the office in particular.

C. Diakonia

Thayer Definition:
1) service, ministering, especially of those who execute the commands of others
Part of Speech: noun feminine

The texts we will use for this study contain some form of the Greek word diakonos. These verses (with the probable exception of Acts 6:1-7) do not necessarily speak of the office proper; they do, however, use the same word (or form of it) that is transliterated elsewhere as “deacon”. These passages and their contexts will help us understand what a biblical deacon is and what he does.

Having seen the etymology we are now in a better position to look at the texts on the deacon’s qualifications (or qualities), and his responsibilities. This we will do if God permits in future posts as we continue to focus on the second of the two church offices of biblical Baptists; that is the office of the deacon.

In His fellowship,
Brother John

*Disclaimer: Since these two offices are found in the NT, a local church must have both offices to conform to a Scriptural pattern. That is not to say that it is wrong to have other offices within a local church such as treasurer, trustee, Sunday School Superintendent, as the need arises, but the Bible doesn’t insist on these and they are not to be equated with the two under examination. It may also be presumed, for our purposes here, that these other "offices" are often filled by pastors and/or deacons.


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