The Drama and the Doctrine: How Faithful Deacons Gain a Hearing for the Gospel (1 Timothy 3:8–13)


The Drama and the Doctrine: How Faithful Deacons Gain a Hearing for the Gospel (1 Timothy 3:8–13)

When you hear the words “church” and “drama,” what comes to mind?

At best, church drama conjures up images of Christmas Cantatas or Passion plays. At worst, church drama brings up painful memories of infighting and relational strife in church meetings.

Too often, drama in the church carries a negative connotation, one that always threatens the church. In response to this danger, many churches turn to deacons as the men who are called on to protect the unity of the church—some even skipping over elders in the process!

Such a purpose for deacons is biblical; it comes from the calling of seven “deacons” in Acts 6 to care for the Greek-speaking widows. Yet, such a purpose for deacons is too narrow to comprehend the role deacons play in the church. Moreover, because elders are called to be the overseers of the church, assigning church unity to the deacons may miss their calling as model servants and ministers of mercy in God’s house.

On Sunday we begin a two-part series on deacons in the local church. Looking at 1 Timothy 3:8–13 we considered how deacons gain a hearing for the gospel. Moreover, by looking at the qualifications of deacons we learned how churches are to recognize deacons.

You can listen online. Response questions are below, along with a few additional resources

Response Questions

  1. When you hear the word ‘deacon’ what comes to mind? What experiences ( positive / negative ) have you had with deacons?
  2. And how knowledgeable are you about deacons? Is this a topic you have studied? Are interested in studying? Why or why not?
  3. In 1 Timothy what role do deacons play in establishing the household of God? What do we learn about deacons by comparing them with the rest of the book — e.g., the instruction about women not teaching in 1 Timothy 2:12; the role of elders in 1 Timothy 3:1–7; the instructions to widows in 1 Timothy 5?
  4. When we define deacons as servants and compare this passage with others, what is the composite picture of a deacon we get? Does it match our experience in church? If not, what should we do about it?
  5. Read 1 Timothy 3:8–13. What qualifications stand out? What kind of man are we looking for? Are we only looking for men? What does 1 Timothy 3:11 say?
  6. Regardless of title, why is it necessary to have women serving in the church? How might recognizing women as model servants (deacons) help the church?
  7. Does 1 Timothy 3:11 allow for such women to serve in this way? (My argument is that 1 Timothy 3:11 does not close the door on women deacons. Rather in concert with 1 Timothy 5:1 and Romans 16:1, there is good reason for having women deacons).
  8. Finally, why does it matter for churches to have deacons? What is missing if deacons are not appreciated? Positively, what does a healthy diaconal ministry provide in the church?

Additional Resources

Here are two examples of the arguments for and against female deacons.

On April 28, we will pick up the question of female deacons, but until then here are a few more sound answers to the question: Can women serve as deacons?

Finally, the most technical argument for 1 Timothy 3:11 on the subject is by Jennifer H. Stiefel, “Women Deacons in 1 Timothy: A Linguistic and Literary Look at Women Likewise . . . (1 Tim 3:11)” in New Testament Studies 41 (1995): 442–57. Check your local theological library for this one.

Soli Deo Gloria, ds