The Manifold Wisdom Of God
“... those who have served well as Servants obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus,” 1 Timothy 3’13.
Most churchgoers have heard of deacons. And because of that this study has used the word. But it is one of those New Testament Greek words that are Anglicised. This one is diakonos which means servant in English but, in this context, most English New Testament translations render it deacon.
Its related verb is diakonia which translates to serve and things such as service, ministry, minister, distribution (Strong’s Concordance) and which is used generally.
Diakonos/Servant is also used generally but it is defined specifically in this context as those "who serve as Servants".
The ministry of Servant had its start early on in the founding and forming of the Body of Christ following the Day of Pentecost. A challenging issue had come before the Elders who's ministry centred on Christ's New Covenant Kingdom of God.
Luke reports on the situation:
"... great grace was upon them all.
Nor was there anyone among them who lacked;
for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them,
and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold,
and laid them at the apostles’ feet;
and they distributed to each as anyone had need," Acts 4'33-35.
At the same time as this was happening they were being confronted, and sometimes imprisoned, by the Jews they were ministering to those who were being saved.
However, later on, things came to a head ...
“... 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," Acts 6’1.
This job was not being done properly, so the Apostles had to do something because this was not what the Lord had called them to do. Nevertheless, this was not unforeseen by the Lord.
They knew that every ministry is basically a spiritual ministry. So that attitude would undergird these men who would serve in the necessary administrative, organisational and practical things.
Acts 6’2-4 makes the point:
"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".
The Apostles laid out their position and the criteria which “… pleased the whole multitude” and ...
"They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch (v5).
While the seven are not named as Servants they began God's ordained partnership of the Elders' spiritual shepherding-overseeing ministry and the Servants' spiritual practical/natural ministry. This is an example doing things in the Kingdom of God by the Holy Spirit (Romans 14'17-18).
(Perhaps this is where English politics got the idea of Ministers and Civil Servants.)
THE LORD'S WAY
The Elders and Servants partnership is Christ's Kingdom order for His Ekklesia/Called-Out Ones: His way of doing things. Paul makes this clear in his letter to the Philippians:
"Paul and Timothy, bond servants of Jesus Christ,
To all the Saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi,
with the Elders and Servants".
Like Elders, Servants are of a kind:
“Likewise Servants must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money,
holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience.
But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as servants, being found blameless.
Likewise their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things.
Let servants be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
For those who have served well as servants obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus,” 1 Timothy 3’8-13.
Stephen and Philip, two of the first seven Servants appointed in Acts 6, are notable examples who are mentioned elsewhere in the Book of Acts. They certainly ministered in "great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus".
And it all begins here:
“... just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve," Matthew 20'28.