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1 Timothy 3:11 - Deaconesses

2 Timothy 3 warns about wrath or ORGE which breaks out when women perform rituals. The deception means WITCHCRAFT or ENCHANTMENT almost always performed with magical songs. Click to Read this chapter

Here are a few more questions/concerns that are not addressed in your response regarding women deacons... Your church bylaws reference two scriptures that clearly describe MEN as deacons, reading the plain sense of the passage:

Specifically...(Acts 6:3 NIV) Brothers, choose seven MEN from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit...

(1 Timothy 3:8,12 NIV) Deacons, likewise, are to be MEN worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. A deacon must be the HUSBAND of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well.

NOTE: 1. The capitalization is mine. 2. The NASB uses the same words that I've capitalized above.

What follows is a well-articulated contemporary understanding of the authority for the Deaconess which was posted on a web page:

A: Let me explain my view on these passages as they impact on women serving as deacons.

The Acts 6 passage is historical narrative. We discussed this in the Biblical Interpretation Class that historical narrative doesn't teach anything, it merely illustrates. The Acts 6 passages does not say anything about women deacons which merely means that the first deacons were men. It does not mean that women were never made deacons at a later time.

The 1 Timothy 3:8-13 passage is the key teaching passage on deacons. It clearly mentions women (verse 11 is literally "In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect..."). As you indicate further down, there is debate among Biblical scholars as to whether this means women deacons or wives of men deacons.

There is no Greek word that specifically means "wives," so the word in 1 Timothy 3:11 could mean either women deacons or wives of men deacons. This debate cannot be settled from this passage, because the passage itself gives us no clue which is meant -- it just says "the women." (Of course, Timothy and the church knew what was intended, since they were already living the practice in the church.).

We offer the following suggestions to help understand why adding the word "diakonos" to 1 timothy 3:11 would conflict with Paul's clear teachings and the normal translation of the passage.

First, the historical debate was not over the "deaconess" because the word did not exist at the time. The debate never went far beyond (at least not for long) whether the title of the female deacon could be assigned to "the widow in need" who was pledged to remain unmarried, or to an in-need virgin pledged to remain unmarried. They never held "ecclesiastical" offices but were an "order" much like later nuns to be a "buffer" between the exclusively-male clergy and female church members.

The passage which is retranslated to allow the "office" of the deaconess is sandwiched between two verses dealing with the deacons. It goes into this passage discussing the deacon and comes out discussing the deacon. No doubt there would be debate if the Holy Spirit injected the Deaconess in the middle where the antecedent is clearly the deacon and then--

  1. the deacon's qualifications,
  2. his wife's qualifications and
  3. his wife limited to just one (or just once married).

If "the women" can be projected backward to define the deaconesses' qualification as "likewise" or "in the same way" then why cannot she be projected forward to demand that she have "one wive" (tongue in cheek) or "one husband?" However, we have already noted that never in early church history was the "widow or virgin in need" ever permitted to be married!

From the following chart it is easy to see that if Paul introduced the role of a female functionary into Christianity he hid it well enough to fool the translators.

Deacons as a Group

And let these (deacons) also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. 1 Timothy 3:10

Deacon's Wives or "Deaconess"


Even so must their (deacons) wives (gune g1135) be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. 1 Timothy 3:11 (wives NIV, KJV, NKJV, LIV, NAS, NSV)


Each Deacon One sober Wife

Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife (gune g1135), ruling their children and their own houses well. 1 Timothy 3:12

If the Holy Spirit intended to introduce the "Deaconess" when there is no Greek word for a female deacon, He might have been advised to have said "Even so must the Woman Deacons be sober." But Paul uses the word wife or woman but not diakonos.

On the other hand, the same word for wife is used earlier as Paul demanded that:

A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife (gune g1135), vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 1 Timothy 3:2

1. If gune means "Deaconess" in verse 11 why wouldn't gune mean "Elderess" in verse 2? The phrase "in the same way" is used by some to authorize female "elders."

2. If we follow the lead of the modern interpretation of the office of Deaconess then the passage should have been translated:

Even so must the Deaconess (diakonos g1249) be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. 1 Timothy 3:11

However, this would mean that there is no qualifications for the wives of elders or the wives of deacons. They must simply rule over them to keep them under control as he does his children!

(The Elder must be) One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity 1 Timothy 3:4

3. Furthermore, the "deacon" is named by his function. The word "diakonos" is not applied to the "wives" or "women." The word "wife" or "woman" does not define an ecclesiastical function. Therefore, the word "wife" does not qualify these women to be "ministers" in the official sense.

One writer defends changing "wife" to "deaconess" by noting that:

Also the Greek for "even so" (the same as for "likewise," 1Ti 3:8, and "in like manner," 1Ti 2:9),

That the term LIKEWISE gives the deaconess the same qualifications as the deacons and, if reason prevails, the same responsibilities (except the husband of one wife?) must apply to women. In the history used to authorize the deaconess, the deacon, with experience, is allowed to teach and pray.

However, Paul demanded:

I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. 1 Timothy 2:8

In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamedfacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; 1 Timothy 2:9

We have seen the phrase "in like manner" used to prove that the "women pray every where" or in an official sense of the church assembly. This is not true of all women, but if it is true of the Deaconess then we don't see any reason why it would not apply to the Eldress.

These are definitions of two gender-specific rules for the collective assembly:

The men who pray must have holy hands to lift up. This is not a definition of posture but of character! An unholy man cannot, with God's authority, lift up any kind of hands in public prayer!

The women in the assembly must dress in keeping with righteous women and not dress and adorn like the community prostitute.

We might project the men downward in the passage and insist that he not braid his hair or even go to the hairdresser. However, this would be silly: Paul is at least as bright as we are and defined the character for the public prayer and the character of the women who will, by definition, remain quiet.

Again look at the somewhat parallel passages dealing with the deacon's wives and the elder's wives:

Deacon's Wives Means "Deaconess"

Even so must their (deacons) wives (gune g1135) be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. 1 Timothy 3:11 (wives NIV, KJV, NKJV, LIV, NAS, NSV)

Then Elder's Wives Means "Elderess"?

In like manner also, that women (gune g1135) adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamedfacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; 1 Timothy 2:9

4. This would mean that the "women in like manner" lift up holy hands in public prayer but that they must be sober. Again:

If "in like manner" in 3:11 means "Deaconess" then

"in like manner" in 2:9 allows public prayer by the women? However, there is no church history to defend this view of women performing "liturgical" functions. Therefore, church history which authorizes the appointment of the deaconess deprives the modern woman of doing anything in the public assembly. For instance, neither the care of the poor and sick, or assisting in baptism would occur in the "church house" nor during "worship service."

Therefore, the women in 3:11 are the wives of the deacons and the women in 2:9 are the wives of the elders -- just as the translators understood it.

5. Furthermore, if "in like matter" in 2:9 gives the women the same right to liturgical functions "in church" as the men, then Paul was clearly confused and contradicted himself when he said that women should likewise dress herself--

But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. 1 Timothy 2:10

Widows must be: Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work. 1Ti.5:10

This was always the qualifications for the "widow or virgin in deed and in need" when her "ministering" was later translated as "deaconess."

Let the woman learn in silence (quiet, sedantary) with all subjection. 1 Timothy 2:11

But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 1 Timothy 2:12

This is a triple-whammy:

The women must not fidget, gossip but remain sedentary
The women are to learn in silence
The women are
not to usurp authority over the men. Silence is:

Esuchia (g2271) hay-soo-khee'-ah; fem. of 2272; (as noun) stillness, i.e. desistance from bustle or language: - quietness, silence.

Esuchios (g2272) hay-soo'-khee-os; a prol. form of a comp. prob. of a der. of the base of 1476 and perh. 2192; prop. keeping one's seat (sedentary), i.e. (by impl.) still (undisturbed, undisturbing): - peaceable, quiet.

Peter clearly understands that men are not going to be impressed if their newly-liberated wives use their Christian liberty to perform priestly functions over them. This is not an issue for "Christians" who understand that subjection is one of the new natures of a believer.

When the Father spoke to the Son, the Son remained submissive and spoke only what the Father told the physical Son to say. In the same way the elder is to "teach the Word as it has been taught to him." In a properly ordered church this involved reading the Word and making comments only when there was a question. This followed the order of the synagogue and ideally involved no "preaching" or allegorizing or fitting it to the age.

Therefore, if the elders obeyed the Son as the Son obeyed the Father then a quiet, sedentary position was required for the "flow of information" to go from God to the elder or "pastor-teacher" to all of the other men and women:

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. 1 Peter 2:24

For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. 1 Peter 2:25

LIKEWISE, ye wives (gune = specificially a wife), be in subjection to your own husbands; that,

if any obey not the word, they also may

<>without the word
be won by the conversation (conduct) of the wives; 1 Peter 3:1

While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. 1 Peter 3:2

Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 1 Peter 3:3

<>But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible,
even the ornament of a
meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. 1 Peter 3:4

Doesn't Peter interpret Paul and define the "women" as wives of elders and deacons; not "deaconesses?"

6. And again if Paul is confused in chapter three then what he said of the Deacons must also apply to the Deaconess--

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. 1 Timothy 3:13

First note that Paul included only the work of the deacon without including the "in the same way" women who would support her husband as an indispensible aid.

Boldness is from the Greek:

Parresia (g3954) par-rhay-see'-ah; from 3956 and a der. of 4482; all out-spokenness, i.e. frankness, bluntness, publicity; by impl. assurance: - bold (* -ly, - ness, -ness of speech), confidence, * freely, * openly, * plainly (- ness).

Parresiazomai (g3955) par-hray-see-ad'-zom-ahee; mid. from 3954; to be frank in utterance, or confident in spirit and demeanor: - be (wax) bold, (preach, speak) boldly.

But this would conflict with 2:11-12 and 1 Peter above who defined-away any "outspokeness or boldness or publicity" by the women!

And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: Acts 6:5

These men gained boldness and out-spokeness by their ministry and Stephen and Philip were later called "evangelists" which means traveling preachers. As Paul often equates the mysteries of the faith or the Words of Christ to Spirit or the Mind of Christ,

He said that the Deacon that he must be:

Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 1 Timothy 3:9

If the men in Acts were deacons then "full of the Holy Spirit" meant "holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience." This would agree with Jesus who said: "My words are Spirit and Life." John 6:63. And Jesus demanded that "worship" be in spirit and in truth.

After the deacons have proven themselves and then perform the work of the deacon then we repeat:

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. 1 Timothy 3:13

A "good degree" does not mean that being a deacon automatically qualifies them for the next step in the pecking order as "elder." Rather, degree means:

Bathmos (g898) bath-mos'; from the same as 899; a step, i.e. (fig.) grade (of dignity): - degree.

This means that the deacon who must hold the deep mysteries of the faith and have a clear conscience about what he knows will grow in knowledge and:

May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; Ep.3:18

And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Eph 3:19

Paul said that women could not "teach over" the males. However, the word Deacon specificially defines a male who is a Bible scholar with character and who is a minister or teacher:

Diakoneo (g1247) dee-ak-on-eh'-o; from 1249; to be an attendant, i.e. wait upon (menially or as a host, friend or [fig.] teacher); techn. to act as a Chr. deacon: - (ad-) minister (unto), serve, use the office of a deacon.

However, his experience would advance him to the role of teacher because of his knowledge of the Scriptures. Because an elder must be a competent teacher (if not then he is not qualified in any sense) the proven deacon might be singled out as an elder due honor because, in Lenski's words, he is "already laboring to the point of exhaustion in preaching and teaching."

Because the elder's wife is to remain quiet in the public teaching process (and gain her unbelieving husband by her very unique, Christian silence more than by her speaking out) this would further demand that the deacon's wife is to be silent in the public proclamation sense.

This would totally eliminate "nonsedentary" or stand up - speak out roles while "preaching with a tune."

In reality, the "higher" one progresses in God's service the "deeper" they sink into the depth of God until they as a person become invisible as modeled by Paul and which must be imitated by anyone who presumes to lead the church.

Because the elders were the pastor-teachers and the deacons only gradually acquired the depth of spiritual knowledge and the women must not be "publicity teachers" and not allowed to teach this would absolutely prohibit young men and women from stand up, speak out and authority-over roles as clergy musicians or singers "preaching with a tune."

Matthew Henry notes:

Observe, 1. In the primitive church there were but two orders of ministers or officers, bishops and deacons, Phil. 1:1. After-ages have invented the rest.

The office of the bishop, presbyter, pastor, or minister, was confined to prayer and to the ministry of the word;

and the office of the deacon was confined to, or at least principally conversant about, serving tables.

Clemens Romanus, in his epistle to the Christian ( cap. 42, 44), speaks very fully and plainly to this effect, that the apostles, foreknowing, by our Lord Jesus Christ,

that there would arise in the Christian church a controversy about the name episcopacy,

appointed the forementioned orders, bishops and deacons.

2. The scripture-deacon's main employment was to serve tables, and not to preach or baptize. It is true, indeed, that Philip did preach and baptize in Samaria (Acts 8), but you read that he was an evangelist (Acts 21:8), and he might preach and baptize, and perform any other part of the ministerial office, under that character; but still the design of the deacon's office was to mind the temporal concerns of the church, such as the salaries of the ministers and providing for the poor.

3. Several qualifications were very necessary, even for these inferior officers: The deacons must be grave, etc.

4. Some trial should be made of persons' qualifications before they are admitted into office in the church, or have any trust committed to them: Let these also first be proved.

5. Integrity and uprightness in an inferior office are the way to be preferred to a higher station in the church: They purchase to themselves a good degree.

6. This will also give a man great boldness in the faith, whereas a want of integrity and uprightness will make a man timorous, and ready to tremble at his own shadow. The wicked fleeth when no man pursueth, but the righteous are bold as a lion, Prov. 28:1. Matthew Henry

The following note defines the "Deaconess" as she has ever been defined in the church -- as the widow in deed and in need:

The Dordrecht Confession of Faith

This confession or creed does not prescribe any public worship role for the aged widows (60 or over) and would have condemned women serving as "pastor-teachers" in a musical ministry:

That they should also see diligently to it, particularly each among his own over whom he has the oversight, that all places be well provided with deacons (to look after and care for the poor), who may receive the contributions and alms, in order to dispense them faithfully and with all propriety to the poor and needy saints. Acts 6:3-6.

And that also honorable aged widows should be chosen and ordained deaconesses, that they with the deacons may visit, comfort, and care for, the poor, feeble, sick, sorrowing and needy, as also the widows and orphans, and assist in attending to other wants and necessities of the church to the best of their ability. I Tim. 5:9; Rom. 16:1; Jas. 1:27.

Furthermore, concerning deacons, that they, especially when they are fit, and chosen and ordained thereto by the church, for the assistance and relief of the elders,

may exhort the church (since they, as has been said, are chosen thereto), and labor also in the Word and in teaching; that each may minister unto the other with the gift he has received of the Lord, so that through mutual service and the assistance of every member, each in his measure, the body of Christ may be improved, and the vine and church of the Lord continue to grow, increase, and be built up, according as it is proper.

There is no church history of the deaconess which violates the demand of Paul that women not perform the role of teaching, preaching or solo or group singing which is preaching with a tune.

Richland Hills Church of Christ and the Deaconess

The Deaconess - Rubel Shelly is

Huldah - Prophetess - Librarian?
Ezekiel 13 - Women in Ministry - Rubel Shelly
1 Timothy 3:11 - Deaconesses
Deacon in The Catholic Encyclopedia
Deaconess in the Catholic Encyclopedia
Deaconesses in the Council of Nicea A.D. 325
Women Deacons (Deaconesses) - Didascalia
Women Deacons (Deaconesses) - Tertullian
Women in Worship - Deaconesses - Lifting Holy Hands

Kenneth Sublett

The Church Index

Musical Worship Index

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