A Few Thoughts About Deaconesses

Updated 22 May 20
Is it Scriptural?
Definition
One who serves the church of God (the believers in Jesus Christ) under the direction of the pastors/elders.
Scriptures
B1 Romans 16:1-2 WEL I commend to you Phoebe, our sister, who is a deaconess of the church at Cenchrea, 2 So you may welcome her in the Lord in a worthy manner as saints and assist her in whatever matter she has need of you, for she has been a helper to many including me.
B2 Other Scriptures mention deacons but otherwise not much is said. It is safe to imply the qualifications of deacon to be applied to deaconess.
Other ancient literature
Even this, they affirmed, they had ceased to do after my edict by which, in accordance with your instructions, I had forbidden political associations. Accordingly, I judged it all the more necessary to find out what the truth was by torturing two female slaves who were called deaconesses.
B2 Likewise a number of times in the Apostolic Constitutions as here:
For let the bishop preside over you as one honoured with the authority of God, which he is to exercise over the clergy, and by which he is to govern all the people. But let the deacon minister to him, as Christ does to His Father; and let him serve him unblameably in all things, as Christ does nothing of Himself, but does always those things that please His Father. Let also the deaconess be honoured by you in the place of the Holy Ghost, and not do or say anything without the deacon; as neither does the Comforter say or do anything of Himself, but gives glory to Christ by waiting for His pleasure. And as we cannot believe in Christ without the teaching of the Spirit, so let not any woman address herself to the deacon or bishop without the deaconess. (ii 26)
Notes
B1 Duties of deacons/deaconess
C1 A helper for their fellow Christians. Phoebe was a helper to Paul and the local church. Note that she was of the church, so probably she was a church recognized church leader.
C2 Assist with financial matters of church, that is, believers.
C3 Assist sick, helpless, homeless, etc.
C4 Teach the Gospel, what we believe (doctrine), and how we should live (worldview and lifestyle). This is according to Scriptures as given by Jesus Christ directly or through the Apostles, prophets, and prophetesses of the New Testament era (only so because the Apostles could authenticate the teaching because they had personally been taught by Jesus).
C5 Evangelize (aren’t we all?)
B2 Qualifications:
C1 Godly character: 1 Timothy 3:8-12 WEL In the same way, deacons must be dignified, not two-faced, not given to lots of wine, not greedy for filthy money, 9 Keeping the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. 10 Let these also first be proven, then, if found blameless, let them have the position of a deacon. 11 In the same way, women must be dignified, not slanderers, free from the influence of wine, totally faithful. 12 Deacons must be husbands of one wife, managing their children and their own households well.
D1 Dignified, that is, of good character.
D2 Sincerity, that is, not two-faced
D3 Not addicted to alcohol
D4 Not greedy, that is, does not have the love of money
D5 Know, acknowledge, be committed to the truth of Biblical Christianity as taught by the Lord Jesus
E1 Knowledge of Bible
E2 Knowledge of Theology
E3 Knowledge of Practical Theology
E4 Knowledge of God’s rules in the New Testament
E5 Knowledge of how to live the Christian life
E6 Knowledge of godly counsel
E7 Knowledge of finances
E8 Knowledge of how to study, apply, live, and teach the Bible
E9 Knowledge of the faith in order to defend the faith
D6 Be tested, that is, not a new Christian, but one who has lived the Christian life for a few years and has faced the trials of life and remained faithful. The Apostles were with the Lord Jesus for 3 years, so was Paul.
D7 If married, the spouse must also be committed to Jesus Christ.
E1 Good character,
E2 Not be a gossiper
E3 Sober (not addicted to alcohol or drugs) God wants us to always have a clear mind, so that we will be alert to make good decisions and to recognize spiritual and physical dangers.
E4 Honest in everything,
E5 Only one spouse
E6 If children, then obedient.
D8 Full of wisdom (not worldly wisdom but Godly wisdom)
C2 Godly wisdom: James 3:17-18 WEL But the wisdom that is from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, approachable, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and without hypocrisy. 18 Moreover, the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.
D1 Pure
E1 Pure has the idea of pure in God’s eyes and opinion. Pure is purged and made clean. The only pure is something that is down by God alone.
F1 Acts 15:9 NIV He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.
F2 Hebrews 9:13-14 NRSV For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God!
E2 It is consistent thinking and acting according to God’s rules. 1 Corinthians 15:58 BSB Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast and immovable. Always excel in the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
E3 It is a purity of thoughts, desires, words, and deeds.
D2 Peaceful, that is, not a bully or trying to start a fight
D3 Gentle Even when needing to rebuke. The object is to have one see the error of their ways, repent, and be restored. We must think like Jesus.
D4 Willingly to yield, instead of being stubborn and pushy for one’s own thinking.
D5 Compassion, that is showing mercy, not giving what one deserves.
D6 Full of good deeds.
E1 This would be helping the brethren with needs. Some examples would be moving, house cleaning, mowing, driving to an appointment, balancing a checkbook, etc. The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod describes their ministry as:
Where do deaconesses serve?
Deaconesses serve primarily in three settings:
Missions — both foreign and domestic;
Congregations — teaching, visiting the sick and imprisoned, or serving in family or other caring ministry; and
Institutions — serving as chaplains in hospitals, prisons, retirement communities, and facilities that care for people with developmental disabilities.
In order for a deaconess to be endorsed as an LCMS institutional chaplain, she first must complete a master’s degree in theology along with four units of clinical pastoral education (CPE). As an institutional chaplain, a deaconess provides valuable spiritual care to those she encounters, complementing the Word and Sacrament ministry of an ordained pastor.
E2 Remember the deacons are to be ready for this, too. If they cannot themselves, they arrange for someone to help.
D7 Free from prejudice. They need to treat all with compassion and according to God’s standard of loving our neighbor.
D8 Free from hypocrisy
C3 Not having earthly wisdom
D1 James 3:14-16 WEL If you have bitter envying and self-ambition in your heart, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This [kind of] wisdom does not come down from above but is earthly, sensual, [and] devilish. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there [is] disorder and every evil work.
E1 Jealous (of others in any way but especially abilities, etc.)
E2 Bitterness (long-standing anger may result in bitterness)
E3 Selfish
E4 Arrogant about one’s own wisdom(?) as compared to God’s wisdom.
E5 Leads to disorder and every kind of evil.
D2 Philippians 3:17-20 GW Brothers and sisters, imitate me, and pay attention to those who live by the example we have given you.18 I have often told you, and now tell you with tears in my eyes, that many live as the enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 In the end they will be destroyed. Their own emotions are their god, and they take pride in the shameful things they do. Their minds are set on worldly things. 20 We, however, are citizens of heaven. We look forward to the Lord Jesus Christ coming from heaven as our Savior.
E1 Their real god is themselves and pleasure.
E2 Pride of what they should be ashamed of
E3 Thinking of things belonging to this world (power, fame, glory)
C4 Full of the Holy Spirit (that is submitted to Jesus Christ and willing to obey the Scriptures at all costs).
D1 Full in the sense of the fruit of the Holy Spirit
D2 Full in the sense of dedication to God, His kingdom, and all His ways (thus God’s character traits, likes and dislikes, attitudes, desires, etc.)
D3 Full in the sense of ministry effect. Is there just emotional dedication and change from their ministry, or is there a life changing dedication and change from their ministry?
Guidelines
B1 Counsel and console
C1 Counsel by the help of the Holy Spirit:
D1 Proverbs 18:4 NLT Wise words are like deep waters; wisdom flows from the wise like a bubbling brook.
E1 They know how to listen, ask wise questions, and evaluate the real intent and problem.
E2 When asked, or occasionally offered, give godly advice.
D2 Proverbs 20:5 GNB A person’s thoughts are like water in a deep well, but someone with insight can draw them out.
D3 Proverbs 8:12-14 NIV I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion. 13 To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. 14 Counsel and sound judgment are mine; I have insight, I have power.
D4 This would include financial, emotional, spiritual, etc.
D5 The so-called Biblical Counseling is abusive. A true deacon/deaconess will avoid it.
C2 Console
D1 This is prophesied of the Messiah Yeshua, but the Holy Spirit gives a measure that all of us can do the following. God gives the grace. A deacon/deaconess will have a greater ministry in this area because of the graces given by the Holy Spirit. Isaiah 61:1-2 NIV The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn.
D2 Philemon 1:7 GNB Your love, dear brother, has brought me great joy and much encouragement! You have cheered the hearts of all of God’s people.
C3 Counsel believers regarding any afflictions, situations, difficulties, and questions that they may have.
C4 Counsel believers on financial matters that the Bible teaches about.
B2 Be church administrator, be responsible for church finances, and other helps in the church.
B3 Work in and for the church/assembly/congregation. Philippians 4:3 NKJV And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.
Objections
B1 No Bible verse explicitly mentions the office of deaconess.
C1 Roman 16:1 is highly suggestive of it, plus verses speaking of women who have helped in the furtherance of the Gospel. Phoebe is addressed officially.
C2 The word “servant” used here is diakonos and is used in the letters that Paul wrote consistently referring to church officials.
C3 The word their is not in the Greek. Likewise, refers to both a deacon and a deaconess; they are parallel.
B2 The passage in 1 Timothy 3 refers to men only (husbands of one wife).
C1 So? The argument from silence that is, since it is not mentioned means it is wrong is possible.
C2 Again the word “their” as in “their wives” is not in the Greek. If it is their wives, then why aren’t the wives of elders mentioned?
C3 Wilbur Pickering notes:
That’s what the Text says, just ‘women’—no article and no possessive pronoun. Because Paul returns to the deacons in verse 12, most versions take the reference here to be to their wives, but the grammatical construction of verse 11 is parallel to that of verse 8, which is parallel to verse 2. I take it that the grammar obliges us to see a third office in the congregation, one filled by women—deaconesses, or something of the sort. Counseling women can be dangerous for a man; certain matters are best handled by a mature, sanctified woman; if she has an official standing in the congregation, so much the better.
C4 I might add that women do understand women better than men.
B3 1 Timothy 3 was written late in the first century, so there can’t be deaconesses? Huh?
Articles
B1 Deacons and deaconesses by Gregory Brown
B2 This article has much information, but as always beware. Why Have Women Deacons?
B4 For further reading how the deaconesses minister is here.
Conclusion
B1 Christian women can be deaconesses.
B2 It is practical.
B3 It is spiritual for meeting the needs of the saints.
A Few Thoughts About Deaconesses
Posted by Choco at 14:39
Labels: Deaconess, Woman’s ministry

 

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