Pastoral Epistles - Lesson 10

1 Timothy 3:8–13

We now move into the discussion of deacons in 1 Tim 3:8–13. There is much overlap between elders and deacons, and yet deacons are more involved in the day-to-day service of the church and are not required to be able to teach. The major interpretive decision is in v 11 as to whether it refers to women (i.e., deaconnesses) or wives (of the deacons).

Bill Mounce
Pastoral Epistles
Lesson 10
Watching Now
1 Timothy 3:8–13

Introduction to 1 Tim 3:8–13

Basic message is clear

How are deacons and elders different?

1. Deacons are not required to be teachers

2. Titles — elders (”overseers”) have general oversight

3. None in Titus

3:8 gives us 4 of the 9 qualities


“Double-tongued” is an interesting and rare word

3:9 gives the fifth quality — 2 parts

a. Firm grasp on the gospel

b. Conscience not tainted by guilt

3:10 — Sixth quality — Proven spiritual maturity

“Blameless” is not perfect

Formal examination

Period of testing

3:11 — Major interpretive decision

1. “Women” meaning “deaconesses” (διακονίσσα)

2. Wives (commentary) — 7th quality

Preach: Church leadership is not a right, but a privilege


Class Resources
  • Dr. Mounce introduces himself and covers the traditional issues in introductions, including his historical reconstruction of the writing and history behind the Pastorals, basic misconceptions people have of the Pastorals, and the survey of the critical issues often raised.

  • Paul begins by reminding Timothy of an earlier visit, and encourages Timothy to stay on at Ephesus, dealing with the issues in the church. Paul's goal is love, which stands in stark contrast to the work of the false teachers. Throughout 1 Timothy 1, Dr. Mounce is enumerating the ways in which Timothy (and we) should deal with false teaching.

  • Paul gives the theological argument up front as to why the false teachers were wrong and Timothy needs to silence them. They are legalists, applying the Mosaic Law to all Chrsitians. Rather, salvation is by God's mercy and grace as seen in Paul's conversion. But things have gotten bad in Ephesus, and Paul had to take a firm stance on dealing with two of the leaders of the opposition.

  • Having looked at the core teaching on why the false teachers were wrong, the class now looks at the other main pasages in the Pastorals that deal theologically with the false teaching.

  • Paul begins a two chapter discussion on issues of leadership in the Ephesian church. He begins by critiquing their habit of praying only for some people, which shows their legalistic way of looking at salvation. Then he deals with issues of public worship, first men then women. These are issues that the leaderhip should have been dealing with but most likely were being caused by poor leadership.

  • While this paragraph is not a matter of orthodoxy, it is nevertheless important since there are so many women in the church. Paul lays out the basic principle that women should learn with a submissive attitude, and then restates that principle with an eye to application; they cannot teach certain people in certain situations. Paul looks to the pre-Fall creation and the relationship that Adam and Eve were created to fulfill, and then spells out a consequence of what happens when that relationship is not honored. Because Paul references Genesis 2 and not Genesis 3, this is not a cultural teaching but transcultural.

  • After dealing with some questions, the class resumes by finishing the last two verses in chapter 2.

  • Paul gives four basic requirements for the leaders of a church. He beghins by emphasizing that leadership is a good thing and insists that leaders must be a certain kind of person, a person's who character is above repreoach. To appoint unqualified people to leadership is a sin, and those appointing them share in the responsibiiltiy when they fail and damage the church. But elders must also have a proven managerial ability of people, be spiritually mature, and have a good reputation in the eyes of people outside the church.

  • We conclude our discussion of elders by looking at two other passages on the role, Titus 1:5–9 and 1 Timothy 5:17–25.

  • We now move into the discussion of deacons in 1 Tim 3:8–13. There is much overlap between elders and deacons, and yet deacons are more involved in the day-to-day service of the church and are not required to be able to teach. The major interpretive decision is in v 11 as to whether it refers to women (i.e., deaconnesses) or wives (of the deacons).

  • This paragraph is the heart of the letter, putting everything that Paul has been discussing into perspective and giving it context. The church is precious, and we should protect the gospel because of the truths it teaches.

  • Paul goes back to addressing the needs of the Ephesian church. He deals in summary fashion with people of different ages, with a special note of concern for Timothy in how he deals with young women, which leads him into a discussion of young widows. His concern is that the church care for those who are "truly widows," i.e., who are old, truly alone, and have lived godly lives. Younger widows, however, should remarry and not burden the church. The church has limited resources, and it should initially care for those who are the most vulnerable.

  • Paul concludes his letter with a series of different and not always related topics. He deals with slaves, and begins to lay the groundwork for abolition, gives Timothy two tests for correct theology and spells out the download spiral and eventual destruction of the false teacher especially related to their love of money, and then encourages Timothy three ways. And in proper biblical fashion, he concludes with a doxology. The final paragraph (skipped by Dr. Mounce, is a final word to the rich in the church and a final plea to Timothy to be careful.

  • Most of the content of Titus has been covered in the lectures over 1 Timothy. However, the letter does have something to add to the discussion of leadership, and its two salvific hymns raise the issue of the reationship between justification and sanctification.

  • Paul begins his letter to his best friend by encouraging him to continue in ministry. If ever there were a model for how you encourage someone, especially someone who looks up to you, this is the chapter. The best thing you can do is find how many ways Paul encourages Timothy, and then see how to apply those points in your own life and ministry.

  • Paul concludes his encouragement to Timothy, and points out examples of faithless friends, and of one faithful friend.

  • Paul continues to encourage the discouraged Timothy, reminding him of the glorious gospel that he proclaims. Even if Paul himself is bound, the gospel is not.

  • The false teachers come back into view with a strong emphasis on Timothy's need to remain faithful. But the encouragement is that God's foundation in Timothy's life, and others, is sealed with a promise, and yet Timothy must also pursue righteousness and flee evil. Paul uses his own life as an example of faithfulness, and concludes with a strong admonition to preach the gospel because it comes from the very mouth of God.

  • Paul concludes his discussion of the role of Scripture in Timothy's life, reminding Timothy of Paul's own life of faithfulness. Paul makes some personal remarks about a few people, and references his final trial. He knows he will die, but death is merely a loosening.

The Pastoral Epistles contain some of the most practical advice in the New Testament. Learn how to handle heresy, appoint qualified leaders, take care of those who may not be able to care for themselves, and especially how to encourage one another in ministry. Titus alone contains two of the most powerful salvific statements in all of Scripture. These 13 chapters are worth studying.

Pastoral Epistles

Dr. Bill Mounce


1 Timothy 3:8–13

Lesson Transcript


Well, then we're going to look at it first, Timothy three versus 8 to 13. Which is the primary passage on Dickens in the New Testament. As I said last time, the word deacon, the noun deacon doesn't actually come up in the act six passage. The cognate verb there cannot or does to serve. Most people look at Acts six as the as kind of a prototype of what a deacon is, the Apostle said. We need more time for prayer and for teaching, and we don't have time to, quote, wait on tables, the most basic meaning of the verb deacon now. And so they appointed six men happened to be Greek because of the of the racial issue. Cultural issue, I should say. And, um, the the, the the men who were serving freed up the disciples to go teach and preach and pray. That is the basic division. That's the division between apostles and those who are serving. In most people's thinking, it becomes a division between elders and deacons. All right. So that's what's behind it. Other than that, this is the passage we have. We have a few mentions of deacons like Phoebe in Romans 16. But this is the other main passage about deacons. We're going to go through the data and then we will talk about practical issues, especially the relationship of deacons to elders. The basic message of who is going who should be a deacon is is very clear. It's that they have to be spiritually mature. They have to be above reproach, and they have to have proven managerial ability. And that's, in summary, what is going to go on here. Sounds remarkably like. Elders. Right. And that's that's one of the big things in the passage is that that the deacons and the elders are so similar.


In fact, Paul's going to give Timothy nine qualified qualities, four deacons, six of those nine are the same as for elders. So it's pretty clear that whatever the different responsibilities of the two different officers are. Both of them are to be held by by qualified people. Paul is concerned about character, Christian character, or just character in general. Um, and so that's what he's outlining. Before we I guess before we get to the past, as it should also ask the question, how are deacons and elders different? And I think that there's two basic ways in which deacons and elders are different. The first is a deacons aren't required to be teachers. That's, as I said yesterday. That is the outstanding difference. So if you have a person who really wants to serve and is highly qualified but just isn't gifted in explaining the text, then that's what that's what the deacon rolls for. Um, it does say in verse nine. That Deacon must hold to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. So those three tests for being a skilled teacher from Titus one nine the first one is that they're committed to the text. And so both deacons and elders share that same part. It just a deacon doesn't have to be able to teach the truth and to refute error. So deacons, number one deacons, are required to be teachers, although they have to be committed to the Bible. They have to be committed to Scripture. The second difference has to do with their titles. And if you just look at it, General, what is the title elder mean? It means oversight. That's basic meaning of the word is who gives oversight. So I think that the biblical structure is that elders are the ones that are the final authority in the local church.


They're the one that provide the general oversight through the final human authority. And they exercise that authority. They lead their church primarily by teaching. They don't lead the church by sitting in a corner once a month and making managerial decisions. They lead the church by teaching them. And so they have to be involved with people and everything that's involved with teaching. Deacon The word deacon means to serve. And you've got to be careful. I mean, elders are serving. They're just serving in one capacity. But the basic idea of Deakin's is that these are the people who are serving. And I take that to mean deacons are those who are involved in the day to day running of the church. So I'm just getting this out of what the titles mean. Elders or General Oversight. Final Human Authority lead by teaching D And that's that is something that goes on day to day, doesn't it? I mean, so but deacons are the ones that are involved in those responsibilities that are more daily the serving daily functions in the church. It was interesting in doing the bylaws for our churches, we actually had to divvy up the responsibilities. And I said, Well, you know, what are those day to day things? And I had finance missions, facilities, men's ministries, women's ministries, the Benevolence Fund outreach. And got some real pushback from some of the older folks in the group because, for example, they said, no, the elders have to administer the deacons fund. And I looked at him and I wanted his words to sink in just a bit. And I said, and again, this Don was a very good friend of mine. And I said, Don, I don't think I'm going to have any trouble arguing that Deakins should administer the Deakins Fund.


Oh, and that was the end of the discussion. But, you know, for him, it was it was it was just a paradigm shift. And I think I am seeing across the states a movement to an elder deacon structure, the elder deacon structure, and I'm really glad to see it. Um, it again, it's why it's so important to have leadership development programs in your church so that you get the right people in an elder position. But, you know, I know that this struggle for us was always would meet as elders, and the tendency was to do all the little piddly stuff and, oh, God, 5 minutes left. Can you close in prayer, you know? Oh, great. We just skip the the most important thing that we as elders could possibly do, and that is spend time praying for the church and for the people and whatnot. And so my role, my goal was always to move the day to day stuff out of the elders into the deacons, which then, of course, meant that I wasn't treating the deacons as trustees in the in this tradition, when we use the word deacon, they thought of the people that mow the lawn, fix the septic, fix the holes in the roof. Right. And I said, No, no, Those are those are deacon functions, one of many deacon functions. I've always called those trustees. I, I don't think that the kind of person described in first Timothy three. But you have to be that kind of person to fix a hole in the roof. And I always wanted to find places for people in the church to serve. And if if I could if I could get a contractor, who really was it? Maybe this kind of person, because he is a new Christian or he wasn't willing to be involved, I still wanted a place for him to serve.


And so I said, Well, let's have just trustees and the trustees take care of the building. And when the bathrooms flood again, you know, it can be the trustees. The deacons don't have to use their time up for that. So it was a it was a it was an interesting process dealing with people's culture and cultural expectations that are understanding of words, to spread out the responsibilities to elders, to deacons, and then to trustees. And what we had was the head of the trustees was on the deacon board and the head of the deacon board was a member of the elder board. So that there was some connection. And that's that's how we ended up doing it. But the basic idea is that both Deacon and elders have to be spiritually mature, high quality people. And the elders are general oversight leading by teaching final human authority. The deacons are those who are involved in the day to day serving of the church. Yes, sir. You mentioned that you seen a trend is going on or can you speak to what you see in terms of trends on that? How does this relate to the physical structure of elders and deacons, those biblical offices? How does that translate into some of the organizational requirements of churches if they have, you know, like if they're incorporated and they have more directors or. Oui, oui. All I can say is I have no legal authority. The way we did it is. I mean, I talked to the lawyer about this. Because someone has to own the nonprofit. And so that was always the older board. So it wasn't the staff, it certainly wasn't me as the pastor, but I was part of the board. So the the.


The ownership of the facilities and the ones responsible for five of one sees three compliance with the orders. Yeah. No, and I understand in the South we talked about this real briefly, that the deacons tend to be the ones that run the church. And sometimes when I talk to people from the South and they talk about what their deacons do, it's like, well, they're really the elders. They're really performing the function of the elder. And so what I just what I've heard is stories from friends of mine around the South, actually, where churches are trying to transition from a deacon board to an elder board and a deacon board together and trying to figure out what the difference is. And I, I think that's a very healthy thing, probably because I think it's a biblical thing. Now, if you're a brand new church in the north or the southeastern US, you don't need deacons, okay? If there's 30 of you meeting together in a couple of house churches or one house church, you know, you just don't need that. But the biblical pattern is that if you grow and sometimes I think if you're cursed with growth, that eventually you're going to have to add in another level, another tier of support. Because if if elders are truly going to lead by teaching and, you know, be involved with hospitality and all that kind of stuff, that they simply can't keep doing all the things that have to be done and that that's when deacons come into play. But my understanding is that, you know, from a legal sense, I guess if it were a real congregational church, it'd be the congregation that owned the 501c3. Um, I'm not sure. The real again. The really hard thing is where does the staff fit? Who's the staff? And the way we did it.


We said staff positions or deacon positions. I wanted them in the structure. Um, the other the whole issue is other churches that have governing boards, which strike me as the strangest thing. I mean, I was at a church where the, the, the deacons possessed the real power. An institution of power. The elders met every Saturday morning and prayed for 2 hours, but that's all they did. Well, that's a great thing to do. But they didn't do anything else. And it was a church with the bylaws saying only males can be elders. But they had a governing board made up of men and women that was over everything. And I and I remember telling the pastor, where do you get a governing board out of scripture? You know, I mean, I can see an executive committee of elders, but I mean, so I mean, church structures all over the place. It's it's a real mess. But I it's my encouragement really is to. Even if you've had difficult situations, as obviously I have had with elders. Um, this is the biblical pattern, okay? The biblical pattern of teaching elders, deacons for daily stuff. So my comments on that. Again, there's no deacons in Titus. It's a brand new church that didn't need them. Any comments on that make sense? If you're really hit up against human tradition on this issue, don't you? I mean, there's a few kind of real hot spots, and I would encourage you just to preach. Somebody asked me the other day, how did how do you help the church start seeing this and you got the bully pulpit, right? I mean, you're the one unless someone else tells you what you have to preach on. This is your decisions. And I would encourage you to preach through first.


Timothy three. I would do it in conjunction with your elders and in conjunction with your deacons to tell them what you're going to do to make sure you have buy in from them. Give them a heads up as to what you're going to say in every sermon. Take your time going through it so there's no surprises for them. You don't want them to feel like they're getting backward. That's not what the expression, but. Bushwhack. Thank you. You don't want them to think that they're getting bushwhacked from the pulpit and that you're trying to pull some power things or do it with them. But just help people understand what the Bible says and talk about the differences of that and their perhaps their traditions and then go from there. Sir, where does age come in? Well, that's a lot of younger people. They get older. Yeah. And I want to qualify that because it's something you cite. What I objected to the other day was the idea of deacons being a necessary step to elders. And and and my problem is it doesn't value deacons. And when you read this, it's very clear that deacons and elders are both highly skilled, qualified, spiritually mature people. Right. And it's not like one is the stepping stone the other. And some people use the diaconate that the role of the deacon to test people and to see if there really could someday be elders. And I guess I don't have I don't have a problem with that. As long as you truly value deacons, because I mean, I've known some really, really good deacons and they you know, they love the Lord, They're there, they're mature. They just they're scared to death to teach anybody, but they want to serve.


And so and they're willing to take responsibility, for example, for the children's program. And so we've the deacons or the elders used to hook themselves to each major ministry in the church so that the staff or the volunteers weren't completely out on their own. And so, I mean, I just think there's a way you could use the the the deacon position to give people responsibility and see how they perform. And you may find that this is where God's gifted them is, where they need to stay or, you know, perhaps they could move over to the elders, not up to the elders, over to the elders, because, you know, he really is a good teacher. He really is learning and he can lead by teaching. I mean, the Greek word presbyter us does refer to someone who is older. Uh, you. Older people are more likely to have these qualities. Younger people, I said, likely. Some people sit sour and sulk, right? No, it's sit, soak and sour. Uh, they can listen to the same pastor for 40 years, preach biblical sermons and not be any further advanced in their spiritual walk. So just because you're older doesn't mean you're wiser. Just because you're younger doesn't mean you're stupid. Eli, who and Jobe is my main example that Eli, who obviously was the one that got it right and Jobe and everyone else got, and all the old guys got it wrong. Um, but yeah, it's a question of, you know, Paul's telling Timothy to let them look down because your age. So we don't know how old Timothy was. I think I guessed in the commentary. 27 to 33, somewhere in that age range. And so. But he clearly qualified as an elder. But Elder, first and foremost, is not a designation of age.


It's a designation of calling character responsibility role. Um, and only it may have some implications for age, but it doesn't. And while how old was Jonathan Edwards when he was doing what he was doing? He was in his young twenties, right. I mean, there are some people in their young twenties that are astoundingly mature. So I wouldn't use that. I wouldn't say elder so-and-so, probably because of the overlap with Mormons. But Jesus has some pretty strong words about titles, honorific titles, doesn't he? That's why when I'm teaching, I try to get people to call me Bill. I tell them, you know, my mom called me Bill. I like being called Bill. At other schools, it's virtually impossible to get students to call me Bill. And it's not because I want to be chummy. Chummy is that we have one father, one teacher, only one who is good, and we are all equal in the ground at the base of the crosses level. And churches want to multi-tier. Our position, and I'm very much opposed to that. So the term has implications. The base. The basic meaning of the word is it comes across as elders, an older person, and it was the title used for the synagogue leaders. They were the elders and they tended to be older. Um, so there's kind of an implication that the person who's able fulfill the role is an older person. But in terms of what's going on, a first Timothy three this is, it's actually it's the office of elder in in in three one. It's not an elder, it's the office. So we're talking about offices. We're talking about official functions in the church. And, um. What happened at our church is I tried to get him to call me Bill and Betty Jo Gardener came up and she said, I.


I've taught my kids and my grandkids to not call adults by their first name. And some people want to call me Mr. Bill and I have a mr. Bill doll hanging up in my Gumby figure hanging up in my office. So they ended up calling me Pastor Bill. It was more for the kids sake, and I did not like adults calling me Pastor Bill, but anyway, and certainly not Elder Bill. I have a problem with Reverend called. Yeah. And. Right. And part of the real problem y'all with these titles is it's. I don't know if it's conscious, but if, if, if they call you, you know, Reverend Bob, what they're doing is they're creating a hierarchy in their church. And historically, the lay clergy division has been a very bad distinction because what it says is, well, all these things about sanctification, I'm just a pew sitter. I'm just a layperson. I'm not a reverend. So I don't really have to work on my temper. But for Reverend Bob or Reverend Dave, I mean, while they're the holy ones, they all these rules are for their self. All these rules are for our for self. And I just think people use the divisions. Not so much honor the leadership, but as to give themselves an excuse to not pursue their own sanctification. This is why, by the way, this is why the Navy doesn't use the word saints. I was shocked to find this out. And Doug Mu, uh, your old teacher here, uh, explained all this to me, and I, you know, the Navy has been attacked for a long time. Um, that it doesn't it wants the dumbed down the gospel message, and it doesn't use technical terms. And Saints is one of those technical terms that, uh, the Navy doesn't use.


And when I got on the committee, I found out that had nothing to do with the decision, and Doug was the one that explained it to me and said they were so concerned about this lay clergy bifurcation of the church that there are saints. And, you know, those are the ones that really have to be obedient to God. But then that means there are non saints in the church that don't have to be obedient to God and just. And I thought, Wow, I had no idea that. So anyway, anyway, it'd be good. Yeah. Pastors are paid to be good. There's are good for nothing. Okay. Oh, I'm sorry. You stretch your hands and I want to honor you, but I sometimes I'm not sure if you're raising your hand or not. Okay. All right, let's get let's get into first Timothy three, 811, and he starts out again. Deacons Likewise. The Lord's just like elders. And that likewise is going to become really important in verse 11. So notice that there's a likewise. Deacons Likewise. Yeah. And actually, there's no verb here. The verb is being assumed from back up and about verse two, I think it is. So likewise it is necessary. The deacons must be. Okay. They must be dignified, not double tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. And they must hold to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. So, yeah, this is just again, describing this this a Christian, a mature Christian person, isn't it? What's going on? A lot of these have to do with self-control. They have to be self-controlled in their speech, not double tongued. They have to be self-controlled in their drink, not addicted to much wine. They have to be self-controlled in their desire for wealth.


They're not greedy for dishonest gain. And of course, these are all set against the false teachers. To distinguish true deacons from the false teachers are all those words in their knowledge too much? One of the words as a precursor to that kind of, uh, not to wine much being devoted. Yeah. No, it's. It's. It explicitly is there the. Yeah. Likewise. Deacons also dignified, not double tongued, not too much wine devoted, not greedy for gain. Yeah. Yeah. So then there's not there's not an interpretive issue there. Yeah. So I guess you can be devoted to a little wine, but not to a lot of wine. Right. That's all. Actually, actually, I had never really thought about that. There are actually that. Okay. Yeah. That doesn't say anything about drinking at all. He's talking about drinking to excess, and it's explicitly in the Greek. The double tongued is an interesting word. It's literally two tongues, and it's a very rare word. So whenever you get a word that's not used much, it's hard to know exactly what it means. It either means double tongued in the sense of saying one thing to one person and something else to someone else or something else to someone else. Or it's saying one thing but meaning something else. And those are the two guesses as to what double tongued means. We have an expression in our house and we talk to our kids. Is that are you being rigorously honest? And I don't we heard that phrase somewhere and it really stuck. Are you being rigorously honest? You know, is a lie saying something that is untrue or is a lie also giving the impression of something that isn't true. The story I tell is I've got a great big sister.


She's absolutely fabulous. And she's a knockout gorgeous mum, especially while she's not bad for 66 years, I'll tell you. Well, when she was younger, I mean, the line up of guys wanted to take her out was around the block, and she and mom had this little routine worked out where if a guy called, ask her out, Terry out on a date and she didn't want to deal with it because she's a people pleaser, like her little brother. She would go outside the back door and mom would say, she's not in right now. And that was kind of their way of being nice, but saying no to these long strings of guys wanting to take her out. So we're sitting around the table and we always said really interesting table talk discussions. Dad used to read to dictionaries on a regular basis, so he had always come with the word of the day kind of stuff and that kind of an academic family. And we were just in there eating and just out of the blue. Dad says, I wonder if a lie is simply saying something that is wrong or giving the impression of something that's not true. Good mashed potatoes, gene. It was very clear what Dad was saying. He was saying, You two ladies need to look at what you're saying to the guys you call. And they stop Mom and Terry stop avoiding guys because Mom Mom was giving the impression of something that wasn't true. So the phrase that we use is, are you being rigorously honest? Are you are you presenting are you slanting the information so that you're is is not exactly wrong, but you're giving the impression of something that is wrong? So I mean, I think that's what this double time business's got to be absolutely rigorously honest.


Jesus says that you're USPS and you know me know this is exactly the same thing that he's saying. Men mean what you say and say what you mean. Be rigorously honest. So the, these, uh, so these qualities start holding to the mystery of the faith with, uh, with a clear conscience. Uh, it means that you got a firm grasp on the gospel. You're holding on to the mystery of the faith, to the to the mystery of what the gospel is. And you do so with an absolutely clear conscience in how you live out your life and how you hold to the teachings of Scripture. Make sure that your conscience is clear. That is not tainted by guilt. So that's the kind of the first set of requirements. The second is this testing period. Let them also be tested first and then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. And again, blameless like above reproach just can't mean perfect. Otherwise, nobody could be a deacon, but it certainly means that if they're above reproach, then after a testing period, let them serve as deacons. So what you have here is some kind of formal evaluation. And again, what that looks like, that's going to be your responsibility to figure it out. But I would think based on what all these criteria are, you know, this examination is to look at issues of their character, is going to look at issues of their home, their reputation to those who are outside, to their adherence to the gospel. You're going to have to evaluate what all whether they conform to all these different qualities. But there has to be some kind of formal examination. Time and again, like we said the other day, if if it's good for deacons, it's got to be good for elders.


And I think Paul just. Forgot to say it. I, I, I can't think of any reason why elders should be elected to a leadership position on just a vote. And deacons have to go through a somewhat lengthy evaluation time and again you can. If you want to really stick to the text, you've got that in first Timothy five, right? That you know, the sins of some are slow to be seen. The good works of some are slow to be seen. So go slowly in appointing your elders. So I think you can say safely both elders and deacons require a some kind of examination. So the second one is the testing third. Possibly is this whole issue of. Wives. This is the major interpretive decision in all of this passage. Most of this discussion is pretty straightforward. But the Greek word for word, it's woman or wife. Likewise dignified, not slanders, sober minded, faithful in all things. And so the question is, is it a woman or is it a wife? If it's a woman. Then he's talking about female deacons. If it's wife, it's the Deacon's wife. So the question is, is, is he addressing female deacons or deacons wives? My position is that there is nothing in this paragraph that there's no connection between 311 in the whole issue of first Timothy two, 11 and 12. We know the church has had deacon female deacons. They were actually very, very active. The documentations in the commentary. For some unknown reason, the order of the of the female deacon went away fourth or fifth century. But the feminine form of the word deacon wasn't created till the end of the second century. And so a female deacon would have been called a deacon. In fact, Phoebe in Romans 16 is called the Deacon.


Um, which is, again, a very difficult word to translate. I tried to get my church to just use the word deacon and didn't matter whether it was a man or a woman. And again, boy, culturally, that was a hard thing. I said, Look, I don't want to make a gender distinction when it comes to deacons. This is not a leadership issue. This is it's just I don't want to do it. I don't think it's biblical. But again, that was my position. So I don't have I have I have no theological reasons to read this woman or wife. There's nothing pushing me on that. The problem is that the arguments are just they're 5050. They're just it's just every time you think you've got a good argument that convinces you with one, there's another argument that convinces you with the other. That and that's what's really difficult in this passage and this by a slight majority today. I think people are going with woman here and that the issue is, um, some qualities for female deacons. I decided that it was wives as part of me. Just from a political standpoint, I really was hoping I would be convinced that it's a woman so that at least when people get after me on first Timothy two, they wouldn't get up to me on first Timothy three. But I came out with a wife. But it's it's really. 50, 50 4951. I mean, there's strong arguments for both positions. Let me just summarize what those arguments are. The three arguments for translating this word as woman. Meaning of female deacon. Number one, Phoebe was a deacon in her church. Romans 16 one. It's that's the word that is used. It can be translated that Phoebe was a servant, but it's Deacon.


US usually is the office, often is the office of Deacon. And although I lost the vote, I think Phoebe was the deacon in her church may have been a very rich person that opened up her home, which often happened, and then served the church in that function. But Phoebe was called a deacon in Roman 16 one. The the second of all, the the argument comes from likewise. That you have. Elders must be a certain kind of person. And then up here in verse eight, deacons likewise. And then in 11 you have women. Likewise. So the use of the word likewise seems to be dividing the discussion into three parts. That's a very strong argument. Well, I mean, that's I think that's the strongest argument that we're on to a third division of people in the church. A third argument that it means woman, meaning a female deacon, is that as the argument goes, that if Paul had meant to say wives, you would have expected something like their wives, You would expected an article or a pronoun or something to indicate that it's the wife of the deacon. Now, you got to be really cautious when you say, well, if it if you meant to say it this way, you should have said it this way, because there are always many ways to say the same thing. But it's a it's a it's a strong argument and it's you you would expect some sort of clarification. But that second argument, the use of language, is a very, very strong argument that this is the third group, hence female deacons. Um. The second position that it is is that is referring to a wife, which is at the very end of the day, the position I went with, you know, just sees this as another qualification that deacons have these qualifications and especially because of the nature of the diaconate and the involvement with people that a deacons wife also has to be a certain kind of person.


And we all know that when you have a deacon and his wife isn't a high quality. Mature Christian. There's all kinds of problems, aren't there? So you can see from a practical standpoint why Paul would address the wife issue arguments for that. This is a wife is number one. Number one is that it's really odd to be switching back and forth. You're talking about a deacon in verses eight, nine and ten, and then you supposedly switched to another topic and then you switch back to deacons and 12 and 13. And so the argument is it's very difficult to to flip flop back and forth. Deacons, female deacons, back to male deacons. Okay. So that's an argument that it's the wife. The second argument that it's a wife is versus 11 and 12 are both would would then both be dealing with the deacon's family. And that makes sense. That is is thinking about the kind of person historically, certainly a male one. No, I don't want to say that it is presented as as a male because it's a husband or one wife. But it's you talk about qualities for a deacon and you say, well, some of the one of the qualities for the deacons is his home life. What is his wife like? How is he in the home and that kind of stuff. So it's it's a natural movement from personal qualities to more family kind of qualities, children and whatnot. A third argument that it means wife is that in verse 12. It's the same word gun, a husband or one wife, that it clearly means wife there. So you to have the Greek word gunny, meaning two different groups in two adjacent verses. That's that's a little hard as well.


So if you look if you switch the audio of those two surfaces, this whole discussion might go away. Yeah. If he had finished clearly the deacon role and then had said and likewise, Gunny. And then that was the end of the whole discussion. Yeah. Because for me the, the, the argument that swayed me was the flipping back and forth. It's just it's too hard for me to see someone doing that. Of course it can happen. You can be talking. And I need to talk about the women deacons in the church. Oh, I forgot to say some things about deacons in general or something like that. Um, the there is a fourth or I hesitate to not give you an even number of arguments for, for the firm, for both positions. But the fourth argument that this means wife is that this does that if you actually is talking about a third category female deacons. Really for qualities, that's all. I mean, you certainly would have expected more. Elders got a lot more. Uh, the other deacons got a lot more. So if we're not talking about a third category. The counterargument to that is simply, well, what's true for male deacons is true for female deacons, too. So the discussion of the qualities of male deacons applies by implication to female deacons. So you don't really need to repeat yourself again. The counter counter argument is that Paul's repeating himself all over the place, and this is just the discussion goes on and on like this. I would encourage you to to not say the Bible says and say this. My interpretation is the only interpretation is this. The arguments are too strong both ways. Um, but this is a good position paper kind of thing.


I would really urge you to take seriously, despite perhaps cultural things that women can be deacons. They should be deacons. Women historically were involved, heavily involved in Jesus's life in a serving capacities throughout his ministry. We know from the history of the church that women have always been involved in some even in official functional ways in the in the in the church. We know that the office of female deacon was a tremendously important office. They they were involved. But what happened with female deacons in the history of the church is they were involved in two areas. They were involved with getting people ready to be baptized. And male deacons can't help little girls get ready for baptism. And the other place that female deacons were used heavily was in visiting sick women, elderly women, widows in those kinds of ministries where it's difficult for a man to go. We know that the church used female deacons heavily in those roles. And again, all the documentations in the in the last section, the the third repetitive part of the commentary. Um. Look, he didn't he didn't blink an eye. He didn't hire. They move at all. But he heard me. Yes, sir. Questions. Doesn't it need to really come down? Definitely one side of the other business. So these are the origins of this. Whatever I would say, whatever works for your church. I mean, if you want to if you want to say this is the position that we've agreed to disagree on, then there's no reason to come to a conclusion. The problem will be is you're going to have gals that in a very official capacity, want to be involved in visiting widows. And in, you know, what are you going to call them? Where are they going to fit in the structure? Who are they accountable to? So in a practical level, you really kind of need to make up your mind on this.


But if you don't if you don't want to, you just say we we have agreed to disagree on this. And I have never been in a translation meeting where the publishing house exerted undue force. Now in the East V Lane. Dennis is one of the translators. He he owns. It's a crossways a nonprofit, but he owns he controls crossway. And so that would be sometimes where Lane would express his opinion. Just like any of the other translators. And, you know, I. I don't know how much weight the other guys put on what Layne thought. But Layne was very controlled, and there was there was never any. Look, do this or I'm canceling this committee. None of that at all. On the Navy? Absolutely none. The committee is an independent legal entity with complete control over the Navy text. It's owned by biblical. Zondervan has publishing rights, but nobody biblical and Solomon could come. I don't even think they would ever come and ask for something. I just. I mean, I've been with them long enough to know that they will come. And, you know, we could ask them what they think and and sometimes we'll ask. I wonder how this would affect distribution. I mean, are people going to just say no to a Bible based on a certain translation? But never have I felt any pressure from publishers and I can't speak for the other. Translations. My guess it's the same though. Partly because I know a lot of the translators and there's simply not the kind of people that are going to kowtowed to political pressure. I mean, they're just not going to they'll get off the committee first. So I I'm really confident saying that. Do we pay attention to things like will people buy the Bible? Yes.


We would be foolish not to. And where this comes up is in very well known verses the Lord's Prayer. John 316, stuff like that. I think both committees kind of go, okay, now before we changed the most famous verse in the world. Do we really believe that what we have isn't right? You know, if it's weather, you know, there's this one passage in numbers, I think it is that you, the women can't wear anklets around their. Ft. Most of us were all too old to know what was going on in terms of how the word anklet is, because what we found is that older for older women, anklets are saki's. And for younger women, they're decorative bracelets as though we're a couple of gals and most mostly men on the Navy. And I actually had to post a poll on my wife's Facebook page saying, What's an anklet? And so, I mean, weird. I mean, so I mean, sometimes you need to be aware of how the people hear words and, you know, will they accept it or not? We found it was 5050 if you're over 50. It was one thing under 50 was something else. Anyway, I think the committees are all very careful when it comes to very well known verses, but I don't think the committee would ever mistranslated a verse just because. It was it was a famous verse. I mean, hallowed be thy Name is a great example. Both translations of hallowed, right? Nobody knows what the word hallowed means. I don't think. But again, it's the Lord's prayers quoted every Sunday. Gordon UGA Burger's church he does the Park Street Church referred to yesterday. He does have a different translation and they have to put it in the bulletin so that visitors will know how they're praying the Lord's Prayer.


So I think there's there's a little hesitancy to change well known verses. But if they think that the well-known translation is wrong, I don't know a committee that wouldn't change it because. But when you go to buy a Bible, what do you do? You look up your favorite verses and did they wreck it or not? You just you have to be aware of those things. But again, at the end of the day, integrity demands that that the English is right. Now a word like Phoebe is a deacon. That's the hardest scenario. Because on the one hand, you don't want to make her a servant because she's a woman. I mean, if you truly believe that Phoebe is a deacon. To translate it as a servant is to devalue her merely because she's a woman. And that's not acceptable. Translation That's wrong. On the other hand, and I've heard this discussion in multiple committees. The minute we call Phoebe a deacon. The South is going to have real trouble using that translation. And I can still remember Paul Howes, whose Southerner teaches to be an Old Testament guy and talking about this issue on the ease of committee. And I and the other northerners or Westerners had no idea what he was talking about. He said, Do you understand? We call her a deacon. What's going to happen. No one in the South is going to buy the Bible. What are you talking about? House? And then he explained the history of the church and how you had deacons with pastors on going from church to church. And I went, Oh, they're going to hear something totally different than someone raised in Minnesota is going to hear about the word deacon. That's why you have footnotes.


So do we look at those things? Absolutely. You can't, lady. People in England hear the word lady differently than people in the States hear the word lady. Um, gal? Um, you just don't call my wife a girl. She just. She's got strong biceps will knock you flat. She really doesn't like the word gal, but other generations don't mind it. I was shocked to find from the two of the ladies on the Navy that they hear the word guys absolutely generically. Stuff I said when I want to address you, the committee as a whole. What? I asked Janine and it was Jean, actually. I said, What do you what do you want me to use? I don't want to be offensive. She guys is fine. I want you here, guys. It's generic. Oh, yeah. Karen Well, your generic. Now, guys. So people hear people hear words differently. And so translation committees. Yes, are very careful of those things. Long answer to a short question. Yes. Plural. Not guys. Singular. Guys, plural. Really different. You're saying that using these position papers in church? Oh, no. Pastor. So we'll be okay. I'll finish my position. Papers to show the rest of my. At this time, I would urge you to do it. I think a position paper has more force when it's an elder position paper. Someone when I rolled up our initial elder position paper took it as it took it to the committee and to the elders. We worked through it. We modified some, changed some stuff, tweaked some stuff, and then when I put it out in the year it was there, there was an elder position paper. Other ones were that the elders, for whatever reason, hadn't bothered to go through. We call them a pastors position paper.


All right. So you've just this is a you know, you just got to make up your mind and you got to know what to call the ladies in your church that are performing the functions described the serving functions of of an elder. So you've got you've got this passage that way. And then you get this next qualifications. The deacons let the deacons be husband and one wife, same exact same phrase that we have for elders, um, proven managers of their home, proven managers of people, their children in their households. And the reason that I've got three arrows coming down, three lions coming down. Because if a person matches all these different qualifications, then those who serve well, in other words, those who meet these qualifications, then they gain a good standing for themselves. And they have a good reputation. They represent the church, and they also gain confidence in the faith. And certainly that's one of the functions is that as you serve, you are you're getting a reputation, which is a good thing, but it's also a faith building thing. It's a faith building thing for you. I think it's a faith building thing for people who watch you serve well. So anyway that's the the end of the the elder.