Thursday, December 31, 2009

1 Timothy 3:8-13

V8-13 – 8Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. 11In the same way, their wives [or deaconesses] are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. 12A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.

Paul turns his attention now to deacons (Acts 6:1-7). One commentator says, “The term ‘deacon’ means ‘ to raise dust,’ which is metaphorical for menial service. It became the general word for ‘ministry’ in the New Testament.” The character traits yielded here are similar; deacons are to exhibit self-control in what they say, what they drink, and how they spend (v8). And notice the importance of sound doctrine (v9); in other translations, the “deep truths” are translated as “mystery.” They are the revealed but challenging truths of the gospel, the substance of the Christian faith. In v10, Paul says that deacons must be tested, probably to see if they exhibit orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Where we read “nothing against them,” it’s the word for “blameless,” but it’s a synonym for “above reproach” (v2; Titus 1:6-7).

In v11, Paul turns to either the deacons’ wives or deaconesses (Romans 16:1; Philippians 4:3; 1 Timothy 5:9). Perhaps some of the deceived women of the Ephesian congregation had come from this group (“malicious talkers”). These women were to have the same characteristics as deacons and to serve in the role of deacons, especially in places where male deacons could not serve (such as helping sick or elderly women). When Paul says that they must be “trustworthy in everything,” he’s specifically referring to their lifestyle choices, namely to fulfill their God-given roles rather than seek other roles out of pride or to self-satisfy. Finally, in v12-13, Paul returns to the importance of family management as a valuable and necessary characteristic for serving in church leadership. He says that the deacon who deacons well gains “an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.” In other words, the servant is the one who is respected and assured – the last shall be first. In what ways are you a servant?

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