Sunday Morning Soundbytes – 6/3/2007

Doing Church Together | Lou Kochanek

Yesterday’s message was the seventh in the Doing Church Together series from the book of 1 Timothy. The message was called, Choosing Qualified Deacons, taken from 1 Timothy 3:8-13.

1 Timothy 3:8-13 8 Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.
11 In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.
12 A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13 Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus. (NIV)

The main idea of the message was that we should choose qualified elders to lead the church. Here is a brief recap of the message:

Elders and deacons fulfill different roles in the church. Elders provide the spiritual leadership and teaching for the church; deacons serve the church in more physical ways. A similar distinction of ministry is found in the Old Testament with the priests and the Levites. We also find this two-fold distinction of ministry in Acts 6. Both are ministry, and both are vitally important. They are just different ways to serve. The elders serve by leading and teaching. The deacons serve in ways that free the elders to focus on the spiritual leadership of the church.

What are the qualifications for a deacon?

1) A deacon must exhibit godly character (verse 8 )

The character traits here are similar to those for elder – worthy of respect, sincere in speech, exercising self-control when it comes to alcohol and to money.

2) A deacon must demonstrate maturity in the faith (verses 9-10)

A deacon must hold to the truths of Scripture with a clear conscience. A prospective deacon should first be examined concerning his or her character and maturity of faith. Then if no one brings forth any charge against them, they may serve as deacons.

3) Men and women may both serve as deacons (verse 11)

Verse 11 is a difficult verse to interpret, but I believe that it allows for both men and women to serve as deacons. The phrase translated “their wives” in the NIV is simply the word, “women,” in the original. Literally, this verse reads: “In the same way, women are to be worthy of respect, etc.”

Who are these women that Paul is talking about in verse 11? Four main interpretations have been put forth:

  1. Paul is talking about women deacons who serve along with the men deacons.
  2. Paul is talking about deaconesses, a separate office in the church from deacon.
  3. Paul is talking about women in the church who assist the deacons in their work.
  4. Paul is talking about the wives of deacons.

Good arguments can be made for all four interpretations, and churches have to make their decisions accordingly. However, I believe that this verse, taken along with other Scriptures, allows for both men and women to serve as deacons.

4) A deacon must manage his family well (verse 12)

Just like the elder, the deacon must be a one-woman-man. If married, he must be faithful to his wife. If he has children, he must manage his children well. Once again, a man’s family becomes part of his resume for holding office in the church.

5) A deacon who serves well will grow in standing and assurance in the faith (verse 13)

Paul speaks of two benefits for the deacon who serves well. These two benefits have to do with the deacon’s standing and the deacon’s assurance. “Standing” probably refers either to the deacon’s standing within the congregation or their standing in their faith in Christ. The word translated “assurance” can also mean confidence or boldness.

When God gave instructions for the church, he did not leave out instructions for leadership. God’s plan was that each local church would be led by a group of godly elders and deacons who together would minister to the spiritual and physical needs of the church body. A church will only be as strong as its leadership. And so the church should choose its leadership carefully and wisely, choosing only qualified leaders to serve.

Note: To read the complete message, go to the Sermons tab at the top of the blog.

1 Comment

  1. Margaret says:

    Interesting to read the comments in your sermon about the 4 possible interpretations of the role of women. I believe women have a wonderful ministry as deaconesses, serving the Lord in many, many practical ways.

    In some churches, there are more women than men who are willing to serve in this way. I personally thank God for the faithfulness of those who serve in our church.

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