Dear Brother J. W.
Some remarks should now be made relative to deaconesses and instructresses.
There are three salient points to which some Scriptural reference may be applied.
Their Moral Qualifications. It certainly appears that the Holy Spirit had these in mind when He gave, through Paul, the moral qualifications required in deacons, “Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience …Even so their wives.” This verse actually reads, “Even so must the women.” These are the female servants or ministers which stand in contradistinction to the male servants or ministers. The moral qualifications required must be met by both brethren and sisters who are engaged in the ministry of temporal things in the churches.
Their Work. There are two Scriptures which reveal a sevenfold ministry for spiritually minded women, a ministry greatly needed among the assemblies of the saints. The elderly woman as a mother is to be “Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.” (1 Tim. 5:10). Then to this list might be added two other aspects of the ministry of the deaconess, “Teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their children, To be discrete, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the Word of God be not blasphemed” (Tit. 2:3-5).
Their Example. “I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant (deaconess) of the church which is at Cenchrea: … she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also” (Rom. 16:1-2).
It is interesting to notice that Priscilla is jointly mentioned in Acts 18:26, with her husband in the Scriptural enlightenment of Apollos. Let us notice some of the characteristics of this spiritual instructress.
Her Christian Knowledge. She along with her husband, knew the way of the Lord more perfectly than a brother to whom the Lord had entrusted the gift of utterance.
Her Christian Decorum. It was as a married woman in company with her own husband, in their own home that she assisted in the Biblical instruction of Apollos. She was above suspicion when this brother, a stranger, was entertained and taught by her.
Her Christian Devotion. Her name appears in that list of the heroes of the Church in Romans 16, “Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: Who have for my life laid down their own necks” (Vv. 3-4). The figure of laying down their necks upon the executioner’s block shows their loyalty even unto the risk of life itself.
Her Christian Subjection. In several Biblical references we find Priscilla’s name mentioned before that of Aquila her husband. This has been taken by many to suggest that she had a knowledge and an ability superior to those of her husband, but here, where it is a matter of instructing another, Priscilla is given the secondary place, and her head and husband is given the place of honour.
How wonderful it would be to see sisters who, like the prophetesses, deaconesses, and instructresses of the early Church, sought to serve the Lord and to glorify His Name. They, like their early Christian sisters, would be of incalculable benefit to Church life and testimony.
In reply to your request brother R. McClurkin has sent some very thought-provoking notes. We shall insert these in our next issue.
Very Sincerely in Christ,
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During the dark days of the struggle for liberty in Italy, most of the people looked upon Garibaldi as their great deliverer. Prisoners, hurried away to loathsome dungeons, would be cheered as they passed along the streets by friends whispering in their ears, “Courage! Garibaldi is coming!” Men would steal out at night and chalk on the walls and pavements, “Garibaldi is coming.” And when the news of his approach to a city was announced, the people would break into a rapturous shout, “Garibaldi is coming!” He came, and when he came they regained their freedom never to be enslaved again.
But some One far greater than Garibaldi is coming to God’s soldiers to rescue them. The Lord Jesus Christ is coming, and then there will be such happiness as we can scarcely imagine! Do you belong to the Lord Jesus?
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Life is made up of building and battling, and we can fulfil it only as we put both concerns into the hands of Christ, the Master Builder and the Mighty Conqueror.