by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 2 Study # 1 Lincolnton, NC January 23, 2005
8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
1901 ASV Translation:
8 Deacons in like manner must be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
Textual Notes:There are no variations between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26 textual traditions in verses 8-9.
I. With verse 8, Paul abruptly switches secondary subjects. He moves from those who desire to be overseers to those who, apparently, desire to be deacons.
A. I have said it is a switch of "secondary" subjects, because Paul obviously feels that those who would be "deacons" are still under the basic issue of 3:1 -- "desiring to do a good work".
1. The "doing of a good work" is what Paul is addressing.
2. However, it is not just "any old work" that he is addressing...it is the kind of "work" that is going to make an impact on the entire local church.
3. Because it is important that the "entire" church not be unsettled by "work" done poorly, Paul lists requirements upon those whose "work" is directly related to the whole church.
4. Of most critical significance is that work that will be done by "overseers" (so Paul wrote 7 verses regarding what they must be); but, a secondary significance is that work that will be done by "deacons" (so they, also, have certain characteristics that must be true of them). It is interesting that in the record of the early history of the Church, the first cause of internal strife in the Church was the mishandling of "deacon" affairs (note Acts 6:1) and the strife was actually the catalyst for the creation of the office of "deacon" in the Church.
B. Paul's word "deacon".
1. In a kind of humorous note, the first time the word translated "deacon" is used in the New Testament, it is used by Jesus in the statement of Matthew 20:26 "...but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister (deacon)". The "humor" (gallows humor, perhaps) here is that there are so many who "will" to be "great among us" who have decided that the way to do that is to become the "minister" or a "deacon". That this is exactly the opposite of Jesus' instruction in Matthew 20 that it needs no comment except to say that the lust for the status of greatness is so great in man that they actually do exactly the opposite of what Jesus required by His words...and they do it without a clue. Patting themselves on the back for their "humility", they lust after false "greatness".
2. The word is used consistently to refer to someone who does service to another (as a slave/servant did by mandate -- they had no other choice).
3. That we have the word "deacon" in our language comes from the fact that the translators of the New Testament decided not to translate it three times. Instead, three times only, they decided to transliterate it. The Greek word is "diakonos", and many times in the Greek language, the "i" is pronounced the way we who speak English pronounce a long "e". So, the transliterators took the "d" of Greek and the "d" of English, the "i" of Greek and the "e" of English, the "a" of Greek and the "a" of English (which created a bit of a stumble in that "ia" in Greek is not a dipthong, but "ea" in English is), the "k" of Greek and the ("k" sounding) "c" of English, the "o" of Greek and the "o" of English, and the "n" of Greek and the "n" of English, and then just dropped off the "os" of Greek and did nothing to bring it into the English. The result was "d" "e" "a" "c" "o" "n" -- and it was only done this way THREE times out of 31 uses in the New Testament (the verbal form of the same word is used in the New Testament 37 times and only twice is it rendered as a transliteration rather than a translation). One has to wonder why the "churchmen" who translated the English Bible found it "better" to transliterate when it was time to "give title to" the leaders of the church. Dare we suggest that the obfuscation of transliteration made it easier for church "leaders" to turn "servant leadership" on its head so that they could turn themselves into the "great" in the church? There is no good reason that we have the word "deacon" in our language; "servant" would have served us far better; "slave" would have even served us better than that. It is no accident that Paul, and those of his ilk, delighted to call themselves "bondslaves" who were to be considered the "offscouring of all things" (1 Corinthians 4:13). Few there are today, whether of "overseers" or of "deacons", who are willing to be considered "offscouring" these days. The "church" has been turned into a tool for prestige and self-advancement.
II. Paul's Requirements Upon Those Who "Would be" the Slaves of the Church.
A. First, there is "gravity".
1. The word signifies "that which generates respect".
2. It shows up in this context twice (3:8 and 3:11) and both times it is immediately followed by words that imply a deceptive use of speech (double tongued or slanderer).
3. There is, then, at least the suggestion that the kind of "respect" that Paul is seeking is that which comes to one who is "honest". Thus, the general imperative Paul puts on the Church to "speak the truth in love".
a. This "honesty" is not "cynicism" -- that kind of brutal questioning of any good motive that might exist.
b. This "honesty" is not "the unveiling of all that is in the heart" -- that kind of thoughtless revealing of all (much of which is more damaging than helpful -- Proverbs 11:13) that is seen to be the only real kind of honesty -- the "spill your guts" nonsense that seems to appeal to both exhibitionists (who want everyone to "see all") and the inordinately curious (who want to "know all about it").
c. This "honesty" is simply meeting the complications of life with truth; no more than is necessary, and no less (there are people who cannot "handle" too much or too little -- 1 Corinthians 3:2).