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Flashcards in The Church Week 2 Deck (92):

the unity of the church

affirming the unity of the church means affirming that the church, which is endowed with oneness, pursues the

goal of perfect unity by working diligently to maintain its unity


the foundation of unity

the church is united because

its triune God exists eternally as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—not three gods but three persons, each of whom is fully God, in the unity of the Godhead, so God is one


as this reality is the source and template of ecclesial unity, the church must embrace a similar unity in _________; again, this unity is not _________




Jesus Christ strongly advocates the unity of his people (John 10:14-16; Eph. 2:11-3:6; John 10:20-23

1. the biblical vision for church unity is that its members

2. negatively, Scripture rebukes

3. the Holy Spirit is the

1. “live in harmony with one another” (Rom. 12:16), “being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind” (Phil. 2:2)

2. any and all obstacles to church unity (Gal. 5:19-21) 8/15 works of the flesh have to do with disunity in the church

3. creator and sustainer of the church’s unity (Eph. 4:3)


this unifying work of the Spirit is surrounded by seven commonalities that further join and hold together the church (Eph. 4:4-6)

1. the “one body” (Eph. 1:22-23)
2. the “one Spirit” (Eph. 2:18, 22)
3. the “one hope” to which the church is called (Titus 1:2; 3:7)
4. this hope is set on “one Lord” (1 Tim. 4:10; 2:5-6)
5. the “one faith”
6. the “one baptism” (Gal. 3:27-28)
7. finally, the “one God and Father of all”

because all Christians have these seven elements in common, the unity of the church is fostered


other factors that unify it or express its unity

1. the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 10:17)
2. the church assembled together (Rom. 15:6)
3. a common confession of the Christian faith expressed regularly
4. a dynamic community life typified by self-sacrifice and service


maintaining unity

prior to his urging the church to strive diligently to maintain church unity, Paul lists several requisite attitudes for its achievement:

7 of them:

1. humility -self assessment;

2. gentleness - even church discipline done with this

3. patience - help others

4. bearing with one another in love - don't sweat the small things and most things are small things; put up with one another

5. eagerness to maintain church unity (Eph. 4:3)

6. making the distinction between essential and nonessential matters and then emphasizing the former while minimizing—even compromising on—the latter will help the church maintain its unity

7. unity is maintained by promoting an eschatological orientation in the church: the church’s certain future is to join all the rest of the created order and be united in Christ


Albert Mohler, Jr.: “The decline of church discipline is perhaps the most visible failure of the contemporary church. No longer concerned with maintaining purity of confession or lifestyle, the contemporary church sees itself as a voluntary association of autonomous members, with minimal moral accountability to God, much less to each other….Without a recovery of functional church discipline…the church will

continue its slide into moral dissolution and relativism.”


though largely overlooked and cavalierly dismissed today as a prehistoric remnant, church discipline was

fervently and extensively practiced in the past


the current malaise in exercising church discipline is

novel and highly abnormal


church discipline may be defined as a

proleptic and declarative sign
of the divine eschatological judgment
meted out by Jesus Christ through the church
against its sinful members and sinful situations


as a proleptic sign? church discipline expresses

in part and in the present age the eschatological judgment to take place in full and in the age to come


as a declarative sign?, such discipline is the church’s pronouncement of

judgment against its sinful members and sinful situations that is intended to reflect the divine judgment


when the church in accordance with the Word of God exercises discipline, it comes with ______ ________; but the church, still a

in anticipation of that verdict, the church exercises discipline against its sinful members and sinful situations

divine sanction

sinful assembly in the midst of sinful reality, may not get its discipline right


biblical warrant for this notion of church discipline

church discipline is carried out in relationship to the eschatological judgment of Christ

Paul’s demand that the Corinthian church take action against one of its sinful members (1 Cor 5:1-13)

the excommunication for which the apostle calls is to be carried out by the church with this purpose or goal:

“so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord” (v. 5)

this member’s situation was so dire that, should he persist in his sin, a dreadful future awaited him on the day of judgment; should church discipline succeed, however, and he repent of his sin, the eschatological verdict would be favorable for him

thus, church discipline is exercised in the present yet is done in relationship to the divine eschatological judgment


support 2

Jesus’ instructions on this matter (Matt 18:15-20)

at the last stage of the disciplinary process, when the church excommunicates an unrepentant member, that action of “binding” the member in sin and under discipline has already occurred .....

in the opposite case, when the sinful member repents, the church’s action of ....

in heaven; thus, the church’s verdict confirms a preceding divine denunciation

“loosing” or forgiving that member has already occurred in heaven; again, the church’s verdict confirms a preceding divine absolution


the implication of Jesus’ instructions is that, in the case of unrepentance, divine disapproval, as reflected in the ????? of the unrepentant member, awaits that member in the eschatological judgment

in the case of repentance, however, divine censure has been removed and divine favor, as reflected in the church’s pronouncement of ????? , awaits that member in the eschatological judgment

church’s excommunication

forgiveness of the repentant member


church discipline is a judicial matter

support: in 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, Paul describes a somber courtroom scene in which the church’s discipline of its erring member is to take place

Paul, as the apostolic authority who has properly rendered ??

judgment against the sinful member, promises to be present in spirit (vv. 3, 4)


the Corinthians are to be “assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus” (v. 4); that this convocation is to meet in the name of the Lord underscores the ...

seriousness of what is to transpire in the meeting


the proviso “with the power of the Lord Jesus” (v. 4) adds

further weightiness to the proceeding: the church’s exercise of discipline is a serious judicial matter


church discipline is a judicial matter
support 2: Jesus’ instructions (Matt 18:15-20), specifically in two areas

first, the requirement in the second stage of the process for witnesses to provide evidence for the charge against an unrepentant member (v. 16)

second, Jesus’ promise of the divine approbation of the disciplinary action “if two of you agree on earth about anything” (v. 19)—literally, “about any judicial matter

in both passages, the judicial atmosphere in which church discipline is carried out can be readily seen as anticipating the somberness of the eschatological judgment


church discipline as a proleptic and declarative sign and not an infallible judgment

support: while the church possesses authority to exercise discipline, its authority is nonetheless and always a delegated authority: it comes from Christ to his church

only Christ’s judgment is

because the church in this present age is still a sinful assembly in the midst of sinful reality, it may not get its

perfect and true; only his eschatological judgment will be definitive

discipline right: as it exercises discipline, the church makes a declaration, not a definitive pronouncement.


Matthew 18:15-20

the event that sets the process of church discipline into motion is the

sin of a Christian against another Christian


1. first step in the disciplinary process:

2. the other possible outcome is that the offending party does not give heed to the exposé of the offended person: this event prompts the second step in the disciplinary process

3. the refusal of the offending Christian to listen to the two or three Christians prompts the third step in the disciplinary process

4. the refusal of the offending Christian to pay heed to the church prompts the fourth and final step in the disciplinary process (v. 17)

1. a personal, private conversation between the two parties, the offended person expressing verbally the offending person’s fault (v. 15)

2. the primary purpose of the other witnesses: to establish the charge of the offended party against the offending party (v. 16)

at this point a second purpose for the other participants is introduced (v. 17)

3. the members are made aware of the initial sin that provoked the desperate situation as well as the failure of the first two stages in the disciplinary process to produce the desired outcome

4. practically speaking, this action entails removing the offending party from church membership (this includes removal from any and all involvement in church leadership and ministry), forbidding participation in the Lord’s Supper, and cutting off all normal conversation and involvement with that person

binding and loosing: excommunication on the part of the church signals that the offending party is still bound in sin and under church discipline; but when confession and repentance prevail and the situation is righted, the church affirms forgiveness for the entrenched sin and release from church discipline; the matter is concluded


Jesus indicates that when the church excommunicates someone, that action of binding the offending person

likewise, when the church pronounces forgiveness of someone, that action of loosing the repentant person from sin and releasing from church discipline has already

in sin and under church discipline has already taken place in heaven (v. 18)

taken place in heaven (v. 18)


the church benefits not only from the divine sanction as it engages in church discipline, but from

answered prayer as well as the presence of Jesus Christ himself


the promise to the church that its unified prayers directed toward discerning God’s will and seeking his guidance for each step of the process will be heard and answered encourages the church to proceed despite the many difficulties it is sure to encounter (v. 19); the promise that Jesus himself will be with the church in this complicated, wearying work is reassuring and energizing (v. 20)

prayers fro God's guidance going to be answered and his presence is present


Jesus Christ delegates divine authority to the church to exercise discipline: on the one hand, this means that the church does not possess

bsolute authority in this (or, in fact, any other) matter; that is why church discipline is a declarative sign and not a definitive pronouncement of divine judgment


new churches should incorporate this element from the very beginning: a helpful way to do so is to include in the church’s covenant a

statement about church discipline to which all members agree


established churches should recover this element: instructing the leadership about church discipline is a good first step, to be followed by

sermons on the topic that expound key passages and set forth the nature, process, and application of church discipline; then, when actual cases demanding the exercise of discipline present themselves, the church is ready to confront them within (at least) a biblical framework


the intended purpose: church discipline is to be undertaken in hope with the goal that the offending Christian will

tragically, in far too many cases, churches exercise discipline to remove unwanted members or for the purpose of revenge (spiritual abuse)

acknowledge sin, confess it, and repent so that reconciliation will be effected


informing the congregation

first, a general letter is sent to all the members of the church announcing a

congregational meeting at which their presence is strongly urged (the reason why this letter does not give the purpose for the meeting or include any details about the matter to be discussed is to maintain confidentiality)


the meeting is for

members only and all non-members are asked to leave; then, the purpose of the meeting is announced (if the church is not accustomed to exercising discipline, biblical instruction is given)


one of the pastors/elders who has been involved in the process states

generally the nature of the sin that provoked the disciplinary process in the first place


the elder also explains the failure of the first two steps to obtain the desired outcome, then calls upon the church to

admonish and rebuke the erring member, instructing how this should be done


after a sufficient period of time, if confession of sin and repentance are not forthcoming, another congregational meeting is convened at which the elders update the members on the lack of progress and

call for them to excommunicate the sinful person


once the church undertakes the action to excommunicate, a pastor should warn the congregation not to travel the pathway of sin and should admonish the members to pursue holiness

finally, the erring person is informed

of the church’s excommunication


the length of this disciplinary action is a matter for prayer and divine wisdom for those responsible for the process

in one sense,

in another sense, however,

haste is demanded

rushing through the process may cut short the time needed for conviction of sin to motivate confession and repentance


because church discipline comes with divine sanctions, two corollaries:

Christians should willingly submit to discipline carried out by the church because Christ himself, leading the church to reach its disciplinary conclusion, has already put them under discipline for their sin

Christians who have been released from church discipline should rejoice (and fight against wrongful guilty feelings) because Christ himself, leading the church to reach its conclusion, has already released them from discipline for their sin


1 Corinthians 5:1-13 (with 2 Cor. 2:5-11)

the purpose for the extraordinary measure of excommunication, and what happens when the sinful member repents, are the subjects of another biblical passage concerning an actual case of discipline in the early church

a member of the church of Corinth was ensconced in an incestuous relationship


the action of excommunication would “deliver this man to Satan” by putting him outside of the realm of grace and exposing him to the onslaughts of the evil one

the purpose for this radical action was ultimately a good one:

another purpose motivated these urgent and radical measures:

1. to cause this erring brother to cease and desist from his sexual immorality—the product of his “flesh” or sinful human nature, which would be rendered powerless by this disciplinary action—so that he might ultimately be saved (vv. 3-5)

2. removal of the sinful person would prevent the spread of sin throughout the church (vv. 6-7)


by the majority of its members, the church excommunicated the incestuous brother; moreover, this extraordinary measure worked like it was supposed to work:

rather than continue to ostracize this repentant brother, the church was to

the man repented of his sin

embrace him once again by forgiving and comforting him; indeed, to retain the church’s disciplinary action of excommunication—to continue to isolate him from the church—would result in disaster for him at the hands of the evil one (2 Cor. 2:9-11)


excommunication is a radical measure that involves the transfer of an unrepentant person from the realm of divine grace to the realm of Satanic destruction: removal from membership in the church involves the loss of

divine protection, power, compassion, forgiveness, joy, and comfort; furthermore, it results in the disciplined person being exposed to the exact opposite reality: Satanic attack, corruption, temptation, deception, accusation, sorrow, and torment


the seriousness of church discipline stands as a clear and startling reprimand of the many evangelical churches that

have abandoned the practice


an important reason for the church to exercise discipline against its sinful members is for the

ultimate benefit of those who are so disciplined


another important reason, and one that benefits the church (rather than its disciplined members), is that it acts as a prophylactic,

protecting the church from the spread of sin in its midst: whether this result comes about because its exercise of discipline removes the example of sin from the church’s midst, produces conviction of sin and a consequent fear of continuing in sin, demonstrates the seriousness with which the church will stand against sin, or some other reason, the church’s action has a prophylactic effect


swift restoration to fellowship in the church is demanded following confession of and repentance from sin: to retain the repentant member under church discipline is to court disaster, because

the person continues to be exposed to the onslaughts of the evil one, but now for no good reason


prudence and wisdom further encourage the church to provide

assistance—counseling, one-on-one accountability, discipleship—to the newly restored member to help her avoid a relapse and to strengthen her resolve and more fully equip her to pursue holiness


other matters requiring church discipline

1. because of the importance of sound doctrine for the church’s very existence and wellbeing,

2. provocateurs of

3. a persistent disorderly or

4. church leaders who fall into

1. heretical teaching is a sin for which church discipline is to be exercised (Gal. 1:8-9)

2. division must be disciplined by the church (Rom. 16:17-18; Titus 3:10-11)

3. wasteful lifestyle calls forth discipline (2 Thess. 3:6-12)

4. sin are to be disciplined (1 Tim. 5:19-21)


the practice of church discipline

if church discipline is a proleptic and declarative sign of the divine eschatological judgment, then any

sin that Jesus Christ will denounce at his final judgment can potentially be a matter for church discipline


this statement begs the question: how can the church know what sins will be the object of its Judge’s denunciatory future judgment?

by following Scripture


as it proceeds to confront, expose, rebuke, and correct its members who are engaged in true sins that require discipline, the church must follow some explicit rules of engagement (Gal. 6:1)

1. the mature members of the church are to undertake this responsibility **gently with the goal of restoration**

2. the approach and corresponding attitude is not one of harshness, arrogance, or anger

3. because of the subtlety and deceitfulness of sin, those engaged in the disciplinary process are to guard themselves carefully from temptation that desires to lure and entice them into submitting to the same sin they are seeking to overcome in the other’s life

4. if discipline is to be exercised toward “anyone…caught in any transgression” it would seem to be widespread and quite common

5. this makes sense if church discipline is a proleptic and declarative sign of the divine eschatological judgment


summary: certainly, many means are available to the church to foster

spiritual maturity and holiness in its members—worship, preaching and teaching, dynamic community life, discipleship and mentoring, counseling, accountability groups, and much more—but the church possesses another important yet, tragically, overlooked means—the exercise of discipline


the apostles and their qualifications

-been with Jesus from beginning to end


the ministries of the apostles

-church planters - foundation - prepared by Jesus for this role
-proclaimed the good news -first heralds of the good news
-responsible to address the gospel and give sound doctrine - authoritative instruction
-engaged in the writing of Scripture


unique and temporary
-gift is different than the office

as eyewitness of the ministry and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as planters of the first churches, as workers of signs and wonders and miraculous deeds, as recipients of peculiar authority to be exercised in the earliest churches, and as writers of Scripture, the apostles constitute the foundation of the church (Eph. 2:20); accordingly, I maintain that the office of apostleship was unique and temporary, divinely designed to be formative for the early church and then to cease with the death of the last apostle

certainly, no person today can meet the stated requirements for apostleship—being with Jesus from the outset of his three-year ministry and an eyewitness of his resurrection—so no person today can be qualified biblically for the office

any so-called modern apostles could only serve non-apostolic purposes: they could not testify about Jesus—other than by what they read in Scripture; they could not establish and strengthen the first churches after Pentecost; they could not set new and different patterns of conduct to be observed “in all the churches” without violating the sufficiency of Scripture; they could not write Scripture

so what apostolic purposes could they serve?

the cessation of the office of apostle



the New Testament uses several words to refer to this office

επισκοπος (episkopos): bishop, overseer - one who holds the office of elder; leaders who hold this office; pastor - bishop = elder = pastor = overseer - presbyter

πρεσβυτερος (presbuteros): elder, presbyter

ποιμην (poimēn): pastor (the common English word to refer to this office)

“bishop” and “elder” are used interchangeably (Acts 20:17, 28; 1 Tim. 3:1, 2; 1 Tim. 5:17; Titus 1:5, 7; early church usage)

the case for the interchangeability of “pastor” with these other two words is less direct but can still be made (1 Pet. 5:1-2; Eph. 4:11; Acts 20:28)


qualifications of elders (1 Tim.. 3:1-7 with Titus 1:5-9)
-the man who strongly desires to exercise the pastoral office is commended because it is

a good work that he seeks to do


other qualifications of elders

1. qualifications of elders
2. the husband of one wife
-hospitable - welcoming people - open your heart and your home
-able to teach


2. the husband of one wife.....

-a prohibition against polygamy; an elder must have a monogamous relationship = no.
-a mandate that an elder be married - no.
-a prohibition against divorce; if a candidate for elder is currently divorced or was divorced in the past and now remarried, he is not qualified for the office - no.
-a prohibition of a widower from getting remarried and becoming an elder - no.
-a prohibition against marital unfaithfulness; the candidate for the pastoral office must be “the husband of one wife” in the sense of being faithful to her and eschewing inappropriate relationships with all other women - yes.


forbidden matters of elders:

drunkenness or drugs
violence (gentle instead)


other qualifications for elders...

he must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive

he must not be a new convert

he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil

the application and contextualization of these biblical qualifications for the office of pastor are of signal importance for churches today that hope to honor Jesus Christ, whose will includes that they are led by elders possessing these characteristics in high and increasing measure


responsibilities of elders

1. teaching -leading small groups, education, study word together, model commitment to the Word
2. leading - budget
3. praying (for the sick)
4. shepherding - warning of danger, leading in church discipline


the limitation of the office of elder to qualified men

A. the context for this discussion: men and women alike share these three great equalities

B. this context must be remembered so as to avoid notions of

A. 1. being created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-31)

2. experiencing salvation through Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:26-28)

3. being endowed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12-14)

B. superiority, inferiority, privilege, power, unworthiness, and unfairness that so often and easily characterize this discussion


elders need to have...



1 Timothy 2:11-15 “I do not allow a woman to teach or to exercise authority”

a negated finite verb (I do not permit)
governing an infinitive (to teach)
which is connected by the coordinating conjunction (or)
with a second infinitive (to exercise authority).


based on the pattern of usage of this grammatical construction, Paul had one of two ideas in mind with regard to women teaching and exercising authority

the apostle either (1) views these two activities positively in and of themselves, but then prohibits their exercise by women because of circumstances or conditions spelled out elsewhere in the context; or (2) views these two activities negatively and consequently prohibits their exercise because they are evil or wrong in and of themselves
examples: (1) a doctor prohibits a diabetic from drinking regular Coke or eating a candy bar: in and of themselves, there is nothing wrong with consuming either this beverage or this candy; but the doctor prohibits their consumption in the particular case of a diabetic because they will raise his blood sugar level and provoke complications for his health. (2) a doctor prohibits a teenager from forcing herself to vomit after eating or cutting herself: in and of themselves, both activities are dangerous to a person’s health and thus are prohibited


the first rendering is the more plausible understanding of Paul’s intent: in the New Testament, didaskein (to teach) is consistently viewed as a positive activity (e.g., in the immediate context, 1 Tim. 2:7 [the noun form, teacher]; 3:2); and if the apostle had wanted to prohibit women from teaching falsehood, he had a word heterodidaskalein he could have used, as he had done in the opening lines of this letter (“charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine;” 1 Tim. 1:3)

thus, Paul’s instructions should be understood as prohibitions against women

communicating biblical and theological truth and exercising legitimate authority in the assembly of the church


women are prohibited from exercising what are otherwise good and important activities for two reasons (1 Tim. 2:13-14)

2 reasons?

the first reason is based on the order of creation: alluding back to the narrative of the formation of the first man and the first woman (Gen. 2), Paul finds significance in the fact that Adam was first created, then Eve; for this reason, he prohibits women from engaging in these two beneficial activities

the second reason is based on the sin of Eve: alluding back to the narrative of the fall (Gen. 3), Paul finds significance in the fact that Eve was deceived by Satan and thus sinned, but Adam was not deceived; apparently, as a punishment for Eve’s being tricked by the serpent into disobeying God, the apostle prohibits women from engaging in these two vital activities

these instructions about women’s quiet learning and submission, and the prohibitions concerning women teaching and exercising authority in the church, raise several questions: to whom are the women to be submissive? from whom are they to learn? whose responsibility is it to communicate sound biblical and theological teaching and exercise authority in the church?

Paul provokes these questions and responds to them in his following discussion of church leadership (1 Tim. 3:1-7): women (and all the rest of the men) in the church are to be submissive to and learn from the elders, because these qualified men have teaching and governing authority and responsibilities in the church

in the assembly, when men and women gather together to worship, the Lord himself has appointed pastors for the church, and two of their primary activities are communicating sound biblical and theological truth and exercising authority as leaders responsible for the church: they must be qualified men, not women




the deaconate is distinguished from the office of bishop (elder, pastor) in Phil. 1:1

the deaconate is the

office of service or ministry in the church; the person who so serves is called a “deacon” (Rom. 16:1-2; 1 Tim. 3:13)


if the office of elder is dedicated to the work of teaching, leading, praying, and shepherding, then the deaconate is

devoted to serving in all other areas of the church


commonly, the office of deacon is viewed as originating in Acts 6:1-7: the seven men who met the qualifications and were ordained by the apostles for the service of waiting on tables became the first deacons in the church

the implication that is usually drawn from this decision is that deacons are to be

involved in the physical and temporal needs of the church, while elders are to be devoted to spiritual matters


caution is urged, however, for the following reasons

first, the word “deacon” (διακονος; diakonos) does not occur in this passage, though both the cognate noun “service” or “ministry” (διακονια; diakonia) and the cognate verb “to minister” or “to serve” (διακονεω; diakoneō) do occur: the Hellenist widows were being neglected in the “service” of food distribution (διακονια; diakonia; v. 1), and the apostles would not be deterred from their “ministry” of teaching the Word of God (διακονεω; diakoneō; v. 3)

this indicates that the specific service or ministry envisioned cannot be determined solely from the word “service” or “ministry” alone; whether one intends the ministry of waiting on tables or the ministry of the word depends on other words in the context (transposing the discussion slightly, one could be a “deacon” of some physical task or a “deacon” of some spiritual work)


second, continuing one’s reading of the book of Acts, one soon discovers that two of the men selected and ordained as the so-called “deacons” appear in the narrative engaging in activities that are far removed from what is typically considered as “deacon work:” Stephen “was doing great wonders and signs among the people” while preaching the gospel and becomes the first martyr for the Christian faith (Acts 6:8-7:60), and Philip engaged in exorcisms of demons and healings while proclaiming Jesus Christ as an evangelist among the Samaritans (Acts 8:4-13) and with the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-40)

both of these considerations urge caution in reading Acts 6 as the origination of the church office of deacon,

with the correlative division of church ministry into spiritual matters reserved for pastors or elders and physical and temporal needs that fall under the purview of deacons: such a tidy division is an ecclesiastical imposition on the text of Acts 6 instead of solid interpretation


qualifications and responsibilities

1 Timothy 3:8-13: Paul begins his description of diaconal qualifications with some general characteristics of all servants, turns briefly to a specific discussion of women—either wives of deacons or deaconesses—and their qualifications, turns to the household requirements for male deacons, and concludes with a commendation for all servants of Jesus Christ

when compared with the list of qualifications for the office of elder, the list of qualifications for deacons has both similarities and differences


dignified; not double-tongued; deacons are to meet certain requirements regarding their families; they prohibited from being addicted to much wine and greedy for dishonest gain



deacons do not have the requirement of being able to teach (1 Tim. 3:2); the association of teaching with elders or pastors of the church (1 Tim. 5:17; Eph. 4:11) implies that this ministry is not a primary responsibility of deacons


though deacons, like elders, must prove their ability to manage their own households well (1 Tim. 3:4, 12), they are not given the responsibility to take care of God’s church (1 Tim. 3:5), as are elders who lead the church; the managerial abilities of deacons are to be directed toward

serving well (1 Tim. 3:13)


teaching, leading, praying, and shepherding are the responsibilities of the elders of the church; apparently, then, all other avenues of service in the church are available to deacons, who must also be tested first before they are allowed to

serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless


the accessibility of the office of deacon to both men and women (deaconesses)

both men and women may serve the church in this office

the office of deaconess may be expressed in the midst of Paul’s list of qualifications for deacons; he directs that

“their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things” (1 Tim. 3:11): the opening word of this sentence (γυναικας; gunaikas) may be variously translated as “their wives” (ESV, NIV, KJV, NKJV) and refer to the wives of deacons, or as “women” (NASB, RSV) and refer to women deacons or deaconesse


in favor of the first view are the following points


1. Paul is discussing at length (3:8-13) the office of deacon, and it would be highly unusual for him to interrupt his sustained discussion and switch to a new topic regarding women deacons

2. we would expect more than one verse to be dedicated to such an important topic as women deacons; after all, Paul devotes seven verses to the office of elder (3:1-7) and nearly as many to the office of deacon (3:8-13)

3. the use of the word γυναικας in an earlier (yet textually close) context (3:2), as well as its use in the very next sentence (3:12), demands that it be understood as referring to “wives” (in 3:2, the “wives” of elders; in 3:12, the “wives” of deacons); thus, in keeping with the immediate context, the word should be understood as referring to the “wives” of deacons in this verse

4. if wives accompany their “deacon husbands” in their serving ministries, then it would be very appropriate for Paul to provide a short list of qualifications for “their wives”


in favor of the second perspective are the following points

point 1

in verse 11, the word translated “likewise” (the same word appears in verse 8 at the opening of Paul’s discussion of the office of deacon) directs our attention back to verse 2 to supply the verb that governs the entire discussion

v. 2: elders “must be” (δει ειναι; dei einai)

v. 8: deacons “must be” (the Greek words dei einai are not found in v. 8, but is supplied in translations)

v. 11: deaconesses “must be” (the Greek words dei einai are not found in v. 11, but is supplied in translations)

this structure indicates that Paul is listing and describing different groups: elders, deacons, and deaconesses


in favor of the second perspective are the following points

point 2-5

2. the list Paul supplies is like the other lists in the immediate context and thus is naturally taken as expressing the qualifications for a church office; and the strong parallels between this list for deaconesses and the list for deacons—both must be “dignified,” careful with their words, sober rather than addicted, and “faithful” to “the faith”—reinforce that this is a list of qualifications for women deacons (because Paul has already covered the similar qualifications for men deacons, he only needs a brief mention of the qualifications for female deacons)

3. had Paul wanted to indicate that he was talking about wives, he could have used a prepositional expression (wives “of deacons”) or personal pronoun (“their” wives); the fact that he does not make this indication supports the view that he is addressing women deacons

4. the absence of a list of qualifications for the wives of elders seems to favor the view that Paul is addressing deaconesses: “It seems quite strange that he would give the requirements for wives of deacons but not the wives of elders, particularly because elders have more responsibility. But this problem is avoided if Paul refers here to deaconesses.”

5. as for why Paul doesn’t just use the term “deaconesses” if he had meant “deaconesses,” the Greek feminine noun diakonai did not exist; thus, he used the generic word gunaikas


the support for the second viewpoint seems to be stronger

1. the office of deacon is accessible to

2. deaconesses do not have responsibilities to

1. both men deacons and women deacons or deaconesses: like their male counterparts,

2. teach, lead, pray for the sick, and shepherd the church; those are the primary responsibilities of the elders


women can be deacons

leaders in the church - res. for different ministries - leading servants in diff. areas



deacons and deaconesses, by contrast with yet as complementary to elders, engage in all the other areas of service in the church:

men’s ministries, women’s ministries, youth ministries, children’s ministries, worship ministries, evangelism and missions, bereavement ministries, seniors ministries, singles ministries, sports ministries, fine arts ministries, mercy ministries (e.g., food, clothing, tutoring, medical aid), and more


the government of the church

the supreme headship

of Jesus Christ


historical types of church government

episcopalianism -
presbyterianism -
congregationalism -


episcopalianism -

ultimate authority from the bishop; he ordains the pastors, deacons, elders


presbyterianism -

ultimate authority by elders (teaching elders, non teaching elders)


congregationalism -

ultimate authority by the members


congregationalism - ultimate authority by the members

solo pastor with board of deacons

plurality of elders

elder-led congregationalism - elders teaching and leading
elder-rule congregationalism -congregation members basically have no say so



Jesus = head the church
Elders = teaching, leadership, shepherding
Deacons = serving
Congregation = members