Wednesday, November 01, 2023

2023.11.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Timothy 3:10–11

Read 1 Timothy 3:10–11

Questions from the Scripture text: What must be done before a man can be a deacon (1 Timothy 3:10)? What is the work of the deacon called? How does he have to do in his test in order to be qualified to be installed to the office? Who else must be proven by testing (1 Timothy 3:11)? What is the first thing that they must be? What must they not be? What is the second thing that they must be? What must the testing show about them? In how many things?

What is the proper process for installing a qualified man to the office of deacon? 1 Timothy 3:10–11 helps us think about the diaconate, as we prepare to certify, elect, ordain, and install deacons. In these two verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that deacons must be tested (and test those whom they enlist for service), and only after being found blameless, be admitted to minister in the office.

First, let these be tested. This verse prescribes a procedure. Procedure, chronological words govern its shape: “first” and “afterward” (“then” in our version). Once we have found a man of 1 Timothy 3:8 qualities, 1 Timothy 3:9 doctrine, and a 1 Timothy 3:12 track record, we are not yet sure that we have a deacon. Something else must happen first. They must be tested. It’s not optional. It’s a command, an imperative verb.

The verb is the same one that is often translated “examine himself” in 1 Corinthians 11. It means to be proven by testing (which is where the concept of a “credible” profession of faith comes from). Before a man is made an administrator of the church’s service in material things, he must function as one provisionally in test cases. 

In these test cases, he should be found blameless. This “blameless” a different word than 1 Timothy 3:2 where the word applied primarily to the character; this one is more “without reproach” than “irreproachable” and focuses on how well spoken of the specific performance was in his testing as a deacon. His service in the church should have the general acclamation of the body.

Afterward, let them serve as deacons. Here’s the second part of the process. It, too, is not optional but a command. The ones having been tested and found blameless shall serve as deacons. This indicates the necessity of the office and the duty of the man whom the Lord calls to it. Where our version reads “let them serve as deacons,” it is actually all one word—a single imperative verb from the root word for “deacon.” 

Likewise, the women must be tested. It’s important to notice the structure of the passage. We have one office in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and another office in 1 Timothy 3:8-13. The two are connected by a “likewise” in 1 Timothy 3:8. Now, in 1 Timothy 3:11, the word “women” is not an office. And it certainly doesn’t mean “female deacons.” If that were the case, it would be bizarre for them to have a different set of qualifications than in 1 Timothy 3:8

However, there is an expectation that women will be doing much of the service under the administration and authority of the deacons. And, it is part of the blamelessness in his testing that a deacon is entrusting the labor under his oversight to particular sorts of women: women who will be dignified, not silly, so that the needy whom they serve experience honor by their conduct (“reverence”); not devils who would use information about others’ needs to attack them behind their backs (“not slanderers”); self-controlled and sober, not easily controlled or unstable (“temperate”); reliable and dependable, doing whatever they are entrusted to do (“faithful in all things”). 

Our version says “wives,” which is consistent with the same use of the word ‘woman’ immediately in 1 Timothy 3:12. And, it must certainly be expected that a deacon who rules his house well will have such a wife, and that she will be involved in the work. But deacons’ wives will not be the only ones serving under the diaconate, and all women to whom sensitive service is assigned must have a character as described here, which has been proven true by testing “likewise” unto how the deacons who oversee them have been.

What must be done with a man before he can be installed as a deacon? How well must he do? If he did so, what must he now do? Who else need to be tested? What should the test show about them?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for Your gracious work in men who oversee the church’s ministry of service in material things. And thank You for Your gracious work in women who participate in the sensitive work of distributing. Forgive us for taking diaconal ministry lightly, failing to value the honor that it brings to Christ when done well. Grant to us reformation and repentance in this area, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

 ARP128 “How Blessed Are All Who Fear the Lord” or TPH128B “Blest the Man Who Fears Jehovah”

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