Acts chapter 6 (text appears at bottom of this page) is often used as a “proof text” regarding deacons in the church. It seems clear there, in the context of Biblical teaching concerning widows, that the SOLE purpose/function of those “original deacons” was to take care of the widows who were being neglected – that’s all! – no “leadership”, no ruling, no special class/rank, etc. In fact, the English word "office" is found in only 2 verses in Paul's letter to Timothy, and in both of those verses there is no word "office" in the Greek - it simply says, Let him that "deacons" (it's a verb in this case), or serves, must be above reproach.
We have included below (because it seems to stand out more clearly this way) the Lexicon of all the places where the GREEK word for "deacon" appears in the Bible. It is interesting to note that of the 102 times that one of the three forms of the Greek word appears, only THREE of those were transliterated instead of being translated like all the others (please see explanatory note below). If in those three cases the translators had translated instead of transliterated, we would most likely have an entirely different mindset about “deacons”. And this also raises some interesting questions/issues regarding Paul’s instructions to Timothy on the matter of “qualifications of deacons”!
The Bible teaches that there are:
A. Shepherds (pastors, bishops, elders) men who lead, guide, teach, nurture, guard, etc.
B. Ministers (servants, “deacons”) men who provide specific ministering functions within the church to and for the church body (such as in Acts 6) – a very different, and broader, concept than most think of when you mention “deacon”. No ruling is implied! No “board”! Just men serving in various capacities to meet various specific needs within the church. What are their qualifications? If we read the Timothy passage keeping in mind the specifics of Acts 6, it is not difficult to see that ANY man serving/ministering in such a capacity needed to be above reproach – in order to keep peace, harmony and unity within the body (so that the Hebrews and the Greeks don’t feel like they are being cheated, etc. like in Acts 6) and to ensure that no reproach came upon the body from without – they were to be known for their love for one another – demonstrated in part by the unbiased caring for the widows – both Hebrew AND Greek. Men filled with the Holy Spirit – so that they would be true to carry out God’s work in a manner pleasing to God – their very lives evidencing that they had been regenerated.
C. Everyone else – God's plan seems to be (according to the Bible) that every believer should be manifesting the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit so as to contribute to the equipping of the saints (the “everyone else”) for the work of the ministry. This seems to imply a much greater responsibility on the part of ALL the people and a lot less opportunity to place all, or most, of the responsibility onto one, or a few, “leaders”. Consider reading the attached verses with two changes. In the three cases where the transliteration is used, try reading those verses with “servant” or “minister” instead of “deacon”. Conversely, try reading any (or all) of the other 99 verses and actually use the word “deacon” as you read the verse and see how uncomfortable it becomes to “fit” these verses into whatever our frame of reference is for the term “deacon”.
"Translate" means: "To render in another language." (Source: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/translate)
"Transliterate" means: "To represent (letters or words) in the corresponding characters of another alphabet." (Source: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/transliterate)
The example at hand is the Greek word "diavkono".
99 times that word was "translated" into an existing English word, such as "minister" (20 times) or "servant" (8 times) which is the MEANING of that Greek word.
3 times the word was "transliterated" - i.e., rather than insert what the Greek word MEANS, they simply wrote out the English letters that were the English equivalents to the Greek letters in the Greek word and ended up with "Diakonos" which then became the English word "deacon" which was not previously an English word.
The three places where the Greek word "diaconos" was transliterated (in the KJV) as "deacon" are as follows:
Php 1:1 "Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:"
1Ti 3:8 "Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;"
1Ti 3:12 "Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well."
Please see the Lexicon information below for further Scriptures on this matter.
Strong's G1249 - diakonos
Part of Speech
Root Word (Etymology)
Probably from an obsolete diako (to run on errands, cf διώκω (G1377))
Outline of Biblical Usage
1) one who executes the commands of another, esp. of a master, a servant, attendant, minister
a) the servant of a king
b) a deacon, one who, by virtue of the office assigned to him by the church, cares for the poor and has charge of and distributes the money collected for their use
c) a waiter, one who serves food and drink
Authorized Version (KJV) Translation Count — Total: 31
AV — minister 20, servant 8, deacon 3
Mat 20:26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister1249;
Mat 22:13 Then said the king to the servants1249, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast [him] into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Mat 23:11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant1249.
Mar 9:35 And he sat down , and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, [the same] shall be last of all, and servant1249 of all.
Mar 10:43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister1249:
John 2:5 His mother saith unto the servants1249, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do [it].
John 2:9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was : (but the servants1249 which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,
John 12:26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am , there shall also my servant1249 be : if any man serve me, him will [my] Father honour.
Rom 13:4 For he is the minister1249 of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid ; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister1249 of God, a revenger to [execute] wrath upon him that doeth evil.
Rom 15:8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister1249 of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises [made] unto the fathers:
Rom 16:1 I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant1249 of the church which is at Cenchrea:
Rom 16:27 To God only wise, [be] glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen. [[[Written to the Romans from Corinthus, [and sent] by Phebe servant1249 of the church at Cenchrea.]]]
1 Cor 3:5 Who then is Paul, and who [is] Apollos, but ministers1249 by whom ye believed , even as the Lord gave to every man?
2 Cor 3:6 Who also hath made us able ministers1249 of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth , but the spirit giveth life .
2 Cor 6:4 But in all [things] approving ourselves as the ministers1249 of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,
2 Cor 11:15 Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers1249 also be transformed as the ministers1249 of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
2 Cor 11:23 Are they ministers1249 of Christ? (I speak as a fool ) I [am] more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
Gal 2:17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, [is] therefore Christ the minister1249 of sin? God forbid.
Eph 3:7 Whereof I was made a minister1249, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
Eph 6:21 But that ye also may know my affairs, [and] how I do , Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister1249 in the Lord, shall make known to you all things:
Phl 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons1249:
Col 1:7 As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister1249 of Christ;
Col 1:23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and [be] not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard , [and] which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister1249;
Col 1:25 Whereof I am made a minister1249, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;
Col 4:7 All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, [who is] a beloved brother, and a faithful minister1249 and fellowservant in the Lord:
1Th 3:2 And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister1249 of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:
1Ti 3:8 Likewise [must] the deacons1249 [be] grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
1Ti 3:12 Let the deacons1249 be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
1Ti 4:6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister1249 of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained .
Strong's G1248 - diakonia
Part of Speech
Root Word (Etymology)
From διάκονος (G1249)
Outline of Biblical Usage
1) service, ministering, esp. of those who execute the commands of others
2) of those who by the command of God proclaim and promote religion among men
a) of the office of Moses
b) of the office of the apostles and its administration
c) of the office of prophets, evangelists, elders etc.
3) the ministration of those who render to others the offices of Christian affection esp. those who help meet need by either collecting or distributing of charities
4) the office of the deacon in the church
5) the service of those who prepare and present food
Authorized Version (KJV) Translation Count — Total: 34
AV — ministry 16, ministration 6, ministering 3, misc 9
Luk 10:40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving1248, and came to him , and said , Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
Act 1:17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry1248.
Act 1:25 That he may take part of this ministry1248 and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell , that he might go to his own place.
Act 6:1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied , there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration1248.
Act 6:4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry1248 of the word.
Act 11:29 Then the disciples, every man according to his ability , determined to send relief1248 unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea:
Act 12:25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled [their] ministry1248, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.
Act 20:24 But none of these things move me , neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry1248, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
Act 21:19 And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry1248.
Rom 11:13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office1248:
Rom 12:7 Or ministry1248, [let us wait] on [our] ministering1248: or he that teacheth , on teaching;
Rom 15:31 That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service1248 which [I have] for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints;
1Cor 12:5 And there are differences of administrations1248, but the same Lord.
1Cor 16:15 I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and [that] they have addicted themselves to the ministry1248 of the saints,)
2Cor 3:7 But if the ministration1248 of death, written [and] engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which [glory] was to be done away :
2Cor 3:8 How shall1248 not the ministration1248 of the spirit be rather glorious?
2Cor 3:9 For if the ministration1248 of condemnation [be] glory, much more doth the ministration1248 of righteousness exceed in glory.
2Cor 4:1 Therefore seeing we have this ministry1248, as we have received mercy , we faint not;
2Cor 5:18 And all things [are] of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry1248 of reconciliation;
2Cor 6:3 Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry1248 be not blamed :
2Cor 8:4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and [take upon us] the fellowship of the ministering1248 to the saints.
2Cor 9:1 For as touching the ministering1248 to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you:
2Cor 9:12 For the administration1248 of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;
2Cor 9:13 Whiles by the experiment of this ministration1248 they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for [your] liberal distribution unto them, and unto all [men];
2Cor 11:8 I robbed other churches, taking wages [of them], to do1248 you service1248.
Eph 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry1248, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Col 4:17 And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry1248 which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.
1Ti 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry1248;
2Ti 4:5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions , do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry1248.
2Ti 4:11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry1248.
Hbr 1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister1248 for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
Rev 2:19 I know thy works, and charity, and service1248, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last [to be] more than the first.
Strong's G1247 - diakoneō
Part of Speech
Root Word (Etymology)
From διάκονος (G1249)
Outline of Biblical Usage
1)) to be a servant, attendant, domestic, to serve, wait upon
a) to minister to one, render ministering offices to
1) to be served, ministered unto
b) to wait at a table and offer food and drink to the guests,
1) of women preparing food
c) to minister i.e. supply food and necessities of life
1) to relieve one's necessities (e.g. by collecting alms), to provide take care of, distribute, the things necessary to sustain life
2) to take care of the poor and the sick, who administer the office of a deacon
3) in Christian churches to serve as deacons
d) to minister
1) to attend to anything, that may serve another's interests
2) to minister a thing to one, to serve one or by supplying any thing
Authorized Version (KJV) Translation Count — Total: 37
AV — minister unto 15, serve 10, minister 7, misc 5
Mat 4:11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold , angels came and ministered1247 unto him.
Mat 8:15 And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose , and ministered1247 unto them.
Mat 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto1247 , but to minister1247 , and to give his life a ransom for many.
Mat 25:44 Then shall they also answer him, saying , Lord, when saw we thee an hungred , or athirst , or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did1247 not minister1247 unto thee?
Mat 27:55 And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering1247 unto him:
Mar 1:13 And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered1247unto him.
Mar 1:31 And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up ; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered1247 unto them.
Mar 10:45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto1247 , but to minister1247 , and to give his life a ransom for many.
Mar 15:41 (Who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered1247 unto him;) and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem.
Luk 4:39 And he stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her: and immediately she arose and ministered1247 unto them.
Luk 8:3 And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered1247 unto him of their substance .
Luk 10:40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him , and said , Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve1247 alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
Luk 12:37 Blessed [are] those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching : verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself , and make them to sit down to meat , and will come forth and serve1247 them.
Luk 17:8 And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup , and gird thyself , and serve1247 me, till I have eaten and drunken ; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink ?
Luk 22:26 But ye [shall] not [be] so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief , as he that doth serve1247 .
Luk 22:27 For whether [is] greater, he that sitteth at meat , or he that serveth1247 ? [is] not he that sitteth at meat ? but I am among you as he that serveth1247 .
Jhn 12:2 There they made him a supper; and Martha served1247 : but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.
Jhn 12:26 If any man serve1247 me, let him follow me; and where I am , there shall also my servant be : if any man serve1247 me, him will [my] Father honour .
Act 6:2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples [unto them], and said , It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve1247 tables.
Act 19:22 So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered1247 unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.
Rom 15:25 But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister1247 unto the saints.
2Cr 3:3 [Forasmuch as ye are] manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered1247 by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
2Cr 8:19 And not [that] only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered1247 by us to the glory of the same Lord, and [declaration of] your ready mind:
2Cr 8:20 Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered1247 by us:
1Ti 3:1 0And let these also first be proved ; then let them use the office of a deacon1247 , being [found] blameless.
1Ti 3:13 For they that have used the office of a deacon1247 well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
2Ti 1:18 The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me1247 at Ephesus, thou knowest very well.
Phm 1:13 Whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered1247 unto me in the bonds of the gospel:
Hbr 6:10 For God [is] not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered1247 to the saints, and do minister1247 .
1Pe 1:12 Unto whom it was revealed , that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister1247 the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
1Pe 4:10 As every man hath received the gift, [even so] minister1247 the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
1Pe 4:11 If any man speak , [let him speak] as the oracles of God; if any man minister1247 , [let him do it] as of the ability which God giveth : that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
"Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”