Carole Logan (Lead)
First Timothy 3:11 says, “Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things.” It has long been debated whether the women here are deacon’s wives or a separate order of female deacons. The weight of evidence as indicated by other passages seems to support the fact that women in general are being referred to not just deacon’s wives. One key word here is likewise (cf. I Timothy 2:9; 3:8; Titus 2:2,6) argues strongly for seeing a third group here in addition to elders and deacons. Second, there is no possessive pronoun or definite article connecting these women with deacons. Third, Paul gave no qualifications for elder’s wives. Why would he do so for deacon’s wives? Fourth, Paul did not use the word “deaconesses” because there was no such word in the Greek language. Using the term women was the only way Paul could distinguish them from the male deacons. Finally, their qualifications parallel those of the male deacons.
Women who serve the church must first be dignified. Paul uses the same word here that he used in verse 8 to describe male deacons. Female deacons, like their male counter parts, must lead serious lives. People should be in awe of them because of their spiritual devotion. They are not to be malicious gossips. The term diabolos (malicious gossips) means “slanderer.” It is often used to describe Satan, and is translated “devil.” (cf. Matthew 4:1) Deaconesses must control their tongues. Like elders (v. 2) and male deacons (v. 8), the women are to be temperate. They are not to be drinkers, but sober in judgment. Finally, they must be faithful in all things. They must be absolutely trustworthy. That qualification may include the idea of not being “fond of sordid gain.” (cf. v. 8) Like male deacons, females would have occasion to handle money while performing their duties. Women who were not faithful in every dimension of responsibility could not be trusted with this privileged service.
New Covenant Community Church will welcome deaconesses to serve whose qualifications compare to those of the deacon. They will be appointed by the elders as will the deacons and serve at their pleasure for a three year term. At the conclusion of their three year term, they may be reappointed, take a year sabbatical and return or elect to discontinue. A new deaconess will then be appointed by the elders.
The deaconesses will select their leader or chairperson with the approval of the elders. She will serve a three year term and can be reappointed, take a year sabbatical, return and be reappointed or elect to discontinue as a deaconess. She may want to return but decline to serve as chairperson. The total number of deaconsses actively serving is the decision of the elders. The decision is based on the size of the church, and scope of responsibility in meeting the needs of the church.
What can be expected of Deaconesses as they serve the Church?
- Take responsibility for the routine labors in the church, i.e., flowers for those who are ill, hospitalized, etc. A deaconesses’ responsibility involves the attention paid to the meeting of material needs.
- Serve to make smooth relationships between groups in the church and between the pastor, elders, and the people. (Acts 6:1,6) It is desirable that deaconesses serve as a liaison group to keep the pastor and elders aware of changing conditions and needs in the church.