[Adorn Yourself With Godliness Lesson 9] Criteria for Church Leaders, “Deacons”
1 Timothy 3:8-13
Day One Study
1. Read 1 Timothy 3:8-13. Like overseers/elders, which we studied last lesson, Paul states that deacons must also possess leadership qualifications. In the space below, list the qualifications Paul discusses in verses 8-10 & 12. (We’ll address vs. 11 separately.)
Scriptural Insight: The Greek word translated “women” or “wives” in vs. 11 refers to any woman—whether married, single, or widowed. It is a term of respect. The same Greek word for “deacon,” diakonos, is used of Phoebe in Romans 16:1, translated as servant (NET, KJV, NASB, NIV) or “deaconess” (JB, RSV). This could be referring to female deacons, not a separate office of deaconess. It is unlikely to be the wives of deacons since the wives of elders, a more influential office, are not addressed, either in Timothy or Titus. Early Church writings have numerous allusions to women serving the church, some teaching other women due to the strict separation of the sexes or others as widows alluded to later in 1 Timothy 5.
2. Verse 11 lists several character qualities that Paul says these women should possess. List them and determine why they are important.
3. Using any references available to you, define the term “deacon”.
4. What is the role of a deacon? How is it different from the role of an overseer? (See Acts 6:1-6 for the prototype of what later became the “office” of deacon in the church.)
5. Referring to the chart about “elders” from the previous lesson, are there any differences between the leadership qualifications for elders and for deacons? If so, what are they?
6. Concerning both elders (vs. 4-5) and deacons (vs. 12), managing one’s family well is listed as a qualification for leadership for both offices. Why is this so important?
7. Adorning Yourself:
· If you are married: How can your marriage and family life most help and strengthen you or your husband to lead in the church?
· If you are single: How can your management of your own household help to prepare you for leadership in your church?
Think About It: The family is a training class and proving ground for leaders in the church. We can determine much about an individual’s fitness to lead in church by finding out how he or she behaves at home. How we behave at home tells others much about our character and conduct. Our spouse, children, and relatives can provide feedback and encouragement to improve our character and conduct. Home is a proving ground because we must demonstrate the skills for leading the church by effectively leading our own families. Because the church is God’s family, those who set their hearts on leadership should start at home. Those who are heavily involved in the church should never neglect their family responsibilities. (Life Application Study Bible)
8. Describe the reward for serving well as a deacon (v. 13).
Historical Insight: In Greek society the deacon was one who gave lowly service, an act that was not considered dignified in a culture that valued ruling instead. But Jesus reversed this evaluation. “For who is greater,” he asked, “the one who is at the table or the one who serves” (Luke 22:27). And “even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:45). It was from this teaching and example of Jesus that the general calling of all his followers to humble service derived. (John Stott, Fighting the Good Fight)
Day Two Study
9. Read 1 Timothy 3:14-15. How did Paul describe the church?
10. What does each word picture convey about it? How has this contributed to your understanding of the body of Christ?
11. In 1 Timothy 3:16, Paul described Christ with a series of affirmations. What do they teach about Him, and how do these statements build on one another?
12. Adorning Yourself: Compare Paul’s qualification lists with your church’s qualifications for leaders. Do they match? If not, how can you encourage the leadership to consider making changes?
13. Adorning Yourself: In what ways are you a leader at church right now? How would you like to be leading in five or ten years? Are there areas in your life that need attention in order to help you realize your goal?