The Forum

The Forum


Dear Brother G,

I would appreciate if you would send me the name of the translation which you used in coming to the conclusion that the words, “Even so their wives,” should read, “Even so must the women.”

Darby nor Young seem to agree to this.

Yours in Christ,

G. M. M.

Dear Brother M.

We are pleased to receive your letter of enquiry. We thank you for it in the name of the Lord Jesus. It is always gratifying to discover that a deeper interest has been created in the minds of some of God’s people through the reading of Food for the Flock, for one is frequently saddened by the lack of genuine exercise in the Word of God among those who profess to be not only Christians, but students of the Bible.

We shall list a few translations and the authorities from which they have been taken before making any further deductions.

“Women in like manner grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things” (The Englishman’s Greek New Testament).

“Even so, (lit) women (i.e. deaconesses it behoves to be) venerable, not devils (i.e. thrusters through) not drinking, stedfast” (Concise Critical Comments. Robert Young LL.D.).

“The women in like manner grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things” (New Translation. J. N. Darby).

“Deaconesses, in the same way must be sober minded women not slanders, but in everything temperate and trustworthy” (The New Testament in Modern Speech. Weymouth).

“The women in like manner must be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things” (Alford).

Of course, the literal translation of the word “women” is not in itself conclusive proof that the deaconess is meant. In this case we must examine the passage by the Law of Context.

First, we should consider the old question that has been raised about this portion of Scripture. Why should the Apostle in the middle of writing on another subject interject an admonition about women? The Apostle here is definitely writing about the moral qualifications of deacons which subject it is clear he continues in verse 12; therefore, it is more logical to consider Paul as covering the whole subject or deaconship as performed by males and females alike rather than to conceive some reason why he should depart from his subject to deal with another entirely different matter.

In second place, if this verse is to be applied to the wives of the deacons, why is there no corresponding admonition to the wives of the bishops in the preceding paragraph?

Finally a third consideration leads us to conclude that, since we have examples of bishops among the churches (Phil. 1:1) and a statement here as to their required moral qualifications and, since we have examples of deacons among the churches (Phil. 1:1) and a statement here of their required moral qualifications, we should expect that, since we also have examples of deaconesses among the early churches (Rom. 16:1; Phil 4:2), we must have some statement regarding their moral qualifications.

From these considerations it seems obvious that the entire statement covering deacons is applicable also to deaconesses. Women possess the highest, the noblest, and the most generous qualities which can be used for the Lord, but frequently, they are tempted to use the tongue as a defensive or offensive measure against any supposed antagonist. The Spirit of God demands godly self-control in all who would follow the example of the deaconess of the church at Cenchrea (Rom. 16:1).

Let us remember that while we usually think of the seven men chosen to take care of the monies in the early Church ( Acts 6:1-6) as deacons, they are not so designated. The term “deacon” is not applied to any specific work. It appears so general a service that it embraces almost any task for the Lord not definitely named. The word is usually translated either “minister” or “servant.” In the light of its usage in the Scriptures, it is most descriptive of the great variety of duties our sisters may perform for God.

Sincerely in Christ,
J. G.