THE NEW TESTAMENT
QUALIFICATIONS FOR DEACONS
In many respects the qualifications for those serving as
deacons or servants - working on the more physical things within
a local congregation, as those chosen for such work recorded in
Acts chapter 6 - are very similar for those chosen as spiritual
leaders of the congregation. They must be of a serious mind-set
for things concerning Christianity, be not double-tongued or have
a mind that goes two different ways, so none can expect which way
they will follow or which path they will take in any same
situation. In other words being very unpredictable in words or
actions. They also must not be given to "much wine" or the abuse
of alcohol and the wrong mind-set and actions that result from
such abuse. They must not be ruled by the greed of ambition to be
materially wealthy. They must hold the faith of God with a pure
conscience - have the correct motive for wanting to be a part of
the family of God.
Those serving in mainly the physical matters of the church
must be proved, or approved (again see Acts 6). They must have a
basic good behaviour of living, with no serious or large
weaknesses that would bring reproach from none-Christians or
The servant of the church must have a wife that is also well
respected for their serious Christianity, who do not slander or
give out false tales and reports on other people, and are true
and faithful in all that they do.
The servant of the church must also have only one wife, the
idea of polygamy or having more than one wife at any one time, is
not to be practiced. They must rule their children and all in
their household in a good and well manner. Their family is to be
balanced and live in such a way as to be respected by all
Those that function as a servant or deacon of the church,
Paul says, have acquired or gained for themselves a good "degree"
or as the Greek is, a good "step" (such as in a staircase). They
will gain more influence, and respectability, as if climbing a
stairway. They will also gain more confidence, assurance, in the
faith or work which is in Christ Jesus (verses 8-13).
Paul tells Timothy that he was writing to him, with the hope
of coming to be with him in the very near future. But He says, if
he was delayed, he was writing to him so he could know how to
manage and behave himself in certain matters that are the day to
day workings of the Church of God, which was the pillar and
ground of the truth. He reminds Timothy that great is the mystery
of godliness, and which basics were that God did come in the
flesh (a member of the Godhead did come to earth as a human flesh
and blood person), lived a righteous and holy life through the
power of the Spirit, angels saw and gave testimony to this truth,
and witnessed that He, Christ Jesus, did preach to the people,
was believed by many, and after His death and resurrection, did
ascend to heaven with glory and into the glory of heaven (verses
14-16). Paul wrote in other letters that Jesus ascended to heaven
to sit on the right hand of God the Father, in the heavenly
throne room of the heavenly Jerusalem city, which will all come
to this earth in God's time plan (read the wonderful 20, 21, and
22 chapters of the book of Revelation).
END TIME DOCTRINES OF DEMONS
Paul relates that the Spirit of God had foretold that in the
latter days (which by the definitions of how the words "latter
days" or "last days" are used in the New Testament, it means from
the start of the Christian age to the return of Jesus) some would
depart from the truth or faith, the correct body of teachings
from God, and would give heed to spirits of seduction, and to
teachings that were not only "bad" theology but were derived
from the false ideas of demons. Pretty hard and straight talk
indeed from the apostle Paul.
These demons speak lies while play acting (coming as if
angels of light - see 2 Corinthians 11:13-15), and have their
very minds branded with evil, as a permanent scare.
What are TWO of these end time false doctrines? One is the
teaching that "forbids to marry." And sure enough we see that in
the largest "Christian" church on earth (with over one BILLION
members) there is a teaching that forbids its "priests" to marry,
saying to remain single while leading the flock of God gives more
time to devote to serving the flock. While that church
organization admits there is no Scriptural ground for holding
such a view, it nevertheless forces its spiritual leaders to
remain single (as of the writing of this in 2005).
It may be true, as most Bible scholars agree, Paul was
probably a single man when serving in the Christian ministry,
which we can gather from certain verses in his epistles. The fact
also remains that Paul said he and Barnabas did have the
authority to "lead around a wife" as the apostle Peter did and
others also. Leading around a wife simply meant, having a wife
who travelled with her husband while he preached and taught
the word of God to people in towns and villages, here and there,
near and far.
We have seen that those who serve in leadership roles in the
church are to have one wife. They are to rule their children
wisely and correctly, and have a good responsible family that
others can look to as an example of what a fine Christian family
True, at times, and for various different reasons (the
example of Paul himself) some of the servants of God would be
single. You may remember in the Gospels Jesus once answered the
twelve concerning not being married, and He said, not all can
accept this, only to those to whom it is given, that is the power
over mind and body to be single and not fall into sexual sins. We
have sadly seen in the last few decades the revealed facts of
many sexual sins by priests who were commanded by their church to
remain un-married. Few indeed can accept being single all their
lives while serving in the ministry, and not fall into immoral
sins, often done in secret, sometimes for decades, before such
sins become open before all.
The second great end time doctrine of demons is the
forbidding to eat certain foods, which God created to be eaten,
and to be received with thanksgiving. Some church organizations
forbid the drinking or eating of tea or coffee or alcoholic wine
or other fermented beverages. Some church groups teach that
eating meat, even of the "clean" animals as specified in Deut. 14
and Lev.11, is "sin" or not quite as "holy" as eating only
fruits, vegetables, and nuts, as they claim that was God's
original diet for mankind.
All the above ideas are incorrect. There is not time, nor is
it the intent of this Bible Story to detail the theological
errors of those teachings.
I do though want to explain what these verses are saying,
because some have the false theology that Paul is here "doing
away with" the Old Testament laws of God given to Israel
concerning "clean" and "unclean" meats. Clean and unclean
animals existed in the time of Noah, when he brought them into
the Ark (see the first chpaters of Genesis). So clean and unclean
animals did not begin with Moses and the Israelites.
You will notice the foods some will forbid to eat are foods
that God created to be eaten and are received with thanksgiving
by those who believe and KNOW THE TRUTH. Every creature of God is
good, nothing to be refused .... but we must read on! IF those
foods are received by being SANCTIFIED by the WORD of God! Being
"set apart" by God's word.
Yes, the bottom line is STILL the WORD of God, and the Lord
does sanctify, or set apart, clean and unclean meats or foods, in
His word. We logically realize that not ALL vegetation is good
food to eat, why some "greens" if eaten will KILL you!
Deuteronomy 14 and Leviticus 11 are still in the Bible.
Nowhere in the New Testament have those clean and unclean laws
But SOME have in the latter days come along and now teach
that even the clean meats are not to be eaten, and you are kinda
more "righteous" if you follow the "original" diet God intended
for mankind, which is being a vegetarian. The truth is that Paul
made it very clear in Romans 14 that it was the vegetarian who
was "weak" in the faith - theologically weak - theologically not
are "learned" in the word of God, as those who know certain
creatures were created and sanctified by God, from the very first
week of creation (Genesis chapter one) to be eaten with
thanksgiving by those who know the truth.
We have certainly seen in the last days the emergence of
these two false doctrines, which are then not of God, and so can
only be of the fallen angelic word, we now call "demons."
Then we must remember that Paul only gave two examples of
false teachings that would arise in the latter times. There are
MANY others besides the two Paul mentioned. You will discover the
many other doctrines of demons as you read and read and read
more of the word of God, reading from Genesis to Revelation. Only
by being familiar with ALL God's word will you be able to avoid
the seductions of demonic spirits (verses 1-5).
Paul told Timothy to put the brethren in remembrance of the
things he had just mentioned, so doing Timothy would be a good
minister of Jesus Christ, he would so be nourished up in the
words of faith and of good sound doctrine, where unto he had
already attained. Timothy was to refuse to have anything to do
with old profane fables and myths floating around all over the
place. He was to exercise himself to godliness. Physical
exercise was not bad, it did have some benefit for a little time,
towards the physical body, but godliness was profitable for
eternity, for today and for ever more in the life which was
yet to come. This thought of mind was indeed the worthy thing,
and because of it Paul said we labour for the Lord and even
suffer reproach from the world, because we live a life that puts
trust in the Eternal God, who is the Saviour of all men,
especially of those who now believe in Him (verses 6-10).
Paul then goes on to tell Timothy that he was to command and
teach the things he was writing to him. His relative youth of age
(probably compared to the apostle Paul) he should not hold as a
disadvantage, but he should be a fine example to the believers,
in word, in conduct, in love, in mental attitude, in faith, and
in leading a pure life.
Yes, that which is right and proper before God no man should
pull back from. No minister of the Lord should fail to teach,
preach, and obey.
Timothy was to give attention to reading, to encouragement,
and to sound doctrine, as he worked in leading those in the
Church of God. This is the three pillars upon which every church
congregation should be built, of course Jesus is the foundation
for those pillars. The church is to constantly be reading the
word of God, it is a place for its members to uplift and
encourage each other, and it is place where sound doctrine is to
be searched for and held on to.
Timothy was to meditate on all these things Paul was writing
to him about, he was to take hold of them, and so let all see the
profitable results in his life.
Paul reminds him to "take heed unto yourself" - a way of
saying he was to watch his steps in how he thought, spoke, and
lived. He was to continue on the right pathway to eternal life,
and in so doing he would not only save himself but also those
that would hear him and follow his example (verse 11-16).
VARIOUS INSTRUCTION ON DEALING
WITH PEOPLE WITHIN THE CHURCH
Older men in the church should be corrected with love and as
if they were your father, and the younger men corrected and
taught remembering they are your brothers in the body of Christ,
and so the same principle applies to teaching and correcting
older women and younger women in the church (verses 1-2)
Widows should be given honour, and those widows that have
relatives in the church, those relatives should help support them
in any physical way needed, so the church as a whole can take
care of other people, while not having to worry about the
widows that have family members in the church.
Widows in the church who really do have very little in the
way of physical comforts, will indeed be having to trust on the
Lord to have those physical necessities provided. It will be an
important part of her prayers to God. The people in the church
should then make sure that helping widows with physical needs is
high on their priority list. On the other hand Paul says that
the widow who only lives and prays for more and more material
things, is actually in a state of being spiritually dead.
Obviously anyone who has a large part of their prayer life
devoted to asking for physical things, has a wrong attitude. It
is then a BALANCED approach Paul is teaching here in regards to
the needs of widows and the help that relatives and the church as
a whole can give.
Paul finishes this part of his instruction on helping widows
by saying that those in the church who do not care for their
relatives, and especially for those within their own household,
have denied the basic faith of Christianity, and in some ways
such people are worse than unbelievers, for in most cases the
unbelievers in the world do show compassion and do help close
relatives and those in their household. If the world can do
such hospitable things then surely those professing Christianity
should be doing them also (verses 3-8).
WIDOWS IN THE NUMBER
Verses 9-16 have somewhat of a question. The question being
in verses 9. What did Paul mean by "Let not a widow be taken into
the number...." or as the Greek can be understood to mean, "Let
not a widow be chosen...."
One thing we can know is as Albert Barnes in his Bible
Commentary says, whatever Paul was specifically talking about, it
was clearly understood by Timothy, and probably also by the rest
of the NT church at that time.
It is a section of Scripture we do need to look at and try
to understand some important truths BEING taught and NOT being
taught. Albert Barnes has some very fine comments on these
verses, which I will quote at some length.
Quotes from Barnes' Notes on the New Testament:
".....In the Acts of the apostles (chap.6:1) we have this
account: 'And in those days, when the number of the disciples was
multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the
Hebrews, BECAUSE their widows were neglected in the daily
ministration.' It appears that from the first formation of the
Christian church, provision was made out of public funds of the
society for the indigent WIDOWS who belonged to it. To this, as
to a well-known practice, Paul here evidently refers......Under
threescore years old. For such reasons as those mentioned in
verses 11-14. Having been the wife of one man. "
On this point Barnes gives 5 reasons as to why we should
understand this phrase to mean the widow had only been married to
one man, and had since becoming a widow who remained unmarried.
The 5 points are briefly: (1) This is the natural meaning of such
a phrase (2) "Widows indeed" would naturally have more force of
meaning in understanding that she had remained un-married and had
only ever been married to one husband (3) While it was not wrong
for a widow to marry again, the context proving so, there would
be given a certain "honour" to such widows who had remained
un-married. See Luke 2:36,37 (4) Among the heathen it was
regarded as especially honourable to have been married but to one
man, and such widows wore the Pudicite Coronam, or a crown of
chastity (5) As these persons were not only to be maintained by
the church, but appear also to have been intrusted with an office
of guardianship over the younger females, it was of importance
that they should have such character that no occasion of
offence should be given, even among the heathen; and in order to
that, Paul gave direction that only those should be thus enrolled
who were in all respects widows, and who would be regarded, on
account of their age and their whole deportment, as "widows
Barnes ends these 5 points with, "I cannot doubt, therefore,
that he meant to exclude those from the number here referred to
who had been married the second time."
These select widows had to have a history of a life of good
works. Obviously this would be known within the church and the
local society in which the widow lived and conversed. They were
to have brought up children. Paul not being specific, this could
refer to her own children or the children of others, as a "nanny"
type lady. The main thought is that she had a good knowledge of
correct child-rearing. She had to be a person who had been
hospitable to people, even "strangers" that needed a helping
hand, or fellow Christians passing through the locality where she
lived and needed some lodging or meals. Certainly such Christians
would have been "strangers" as such to the local
Washing the saints feet? It is not certain if this should be
taken literally or metaphorically. It was the custom of the times
and the land to wash the sand from off people's feet who came
within your house. It may have been a figure of speech that
denoted someone who served others. There is no evidence that he
refers to it as a "religious rite" or a "religious ordinance,"
any more than he refers to the act of bringing up children as a
This numbered widow had also to be one noted for the work of
relief for those in various types of afflictions, but Paul does
not elaborate on the types of afflictions he may have had in
She was to be a follower of that which is "every good work."
As Albert Barnes notes: "A sincere Christian will, like God, be
the friend of all that is good, and will be ready to promote
every good object according to his ability. He will not merely be
the friend of one good cause, to the neglect of others, but he
will endeavour to promote every good object...."
YOUNGER WIDOWS REFUSE
Not refuse in the church, but refuse as to the matter under
discussion, the widows who are admitted into the "number." Of
course all respect and love are to be shown to them as to any
Now, what about the hard saying "to wax wanted against
Christ"? As Barnes notes, the thought conveyed to the mind by
these words are NOT what the original means, and does injustice
both to the apostle and to the "younger widows." In the Greek
there is no idea of lewdness or sin. The word means "wandering or
roving in sport" - the idea is playing in the wind, or roving in
frivolity. Tracing the word back we can also see it portrays
revelry or luxury, just not a full controlled life that would be
required for a widow who is chosen to be in the "number" for the
positions and function that the "numbered" widows were to be a
It is obvious by now that the numbered widows were not just
chosen to be recipients of the churches physical goods. There was
a group of numbered widows over the age of 60 for some function
that entailed a service to the church that was beyond them just
receiving physical goods from the funds of the church. Exactly
what was that function is difficult to say, as we are 2,000 years
from the fact of it, but Timothy and the church knew what Paul
was referring to.
The context makes it clear that Paul had experience with
knowing that younger widows would have a hard time functioning in
this role of widows (that Paul thought it best they be 60 years
old at least and widows indeed, quite content to not marry), as
they would want to re-marry and could hardly be expected to be
able to devote themselves to this special service for Christ
within the church.
Paul hence said that it would be the best for younger widows
to indeed re-marry (verse 14) and possibly raise children, guide
their household. This shows he was speaking about younger widows
in the context of them being child-bearing age, and still having
a large interest in being mothers.
Their is no thought here that Paul had in mind widows taking
vows to remain single or to enter such practices as taking the
veil in Nunneries.
Once more words that could carry to the mind, the act of sin
and evil. Barnes in his notes I believe gives the true sense of
what Paul was meaning here.
"The meaning is, that they would contract guilt, if they had been
admitted among this class of persons, and then married again. The
apostle does not say that that would be wrong in itself (v.14) or
that they would be absolutely prohibited from it, but that injury
would be done if they were admitted among those who were 'widows
indeed' - who were supported by the church, and who were
intrusted with a certain degree of care over the more younger
females - and would then leave that situation. It might give
occasion for scandal....." (Barnes' Notes on the New Testament).
It was a special function that the widows indeed were chosen
for, and that function to Paul would be best served by widows who
needed to have no mind in wanting to re-marry. If that class of
widows, chosen for that particular function of Paul's time, found
itself rife with widows wanting to leave that function and
re-marry and raise families, then for Paul that would bring
disrespect and dishonour on the whole function of what those
widows were called to work at within the church. So Paul's
conclusion was that younger widows should think about re-marriage
and raising a family (v.14), which is also a very
respected function in the church. A lot of church growth is
through the families within the church.
CAST OFF THEIR FIRST FAITH
Again, words that could carry to the mind the wrong idea of
individuals casting away their Christian faith and loss of
Paul did not have this situation in mind here. Albert Barnes
once more I believe gives the sense of what the apostle had in
"This does not mean they would lose all their religion, or wholly
fall away, but that this would show they had not the strong
faith....When they became widows, all their earthly hopes seemed
to be blasted. They were then dead to the world, and felt their
sole dependence on God. But if, under the influence of these
strong emotions, they were admitted to the 'class of widows' in
the church, there was no certainty that they would continue in
this state of mind. Time would do much to modify their
grief....They would be disposed to enter into the marriage
relation, and thus show that they had not the strong and simple
faith which they had when the blow which made them widows fell
heavily upon them."
In other words it can be difficult for younger widows to
MAINTAIN an attitude of mind that is not interested in
re-marriage and raising children, especially if they had no
previous children from the marriage they once had.
Such younger widows can feel certain emotions at one time
(when they find themselves as widows) and then different emotions
about life and marriage, at a later time.
In Paul's mind, this special class and function of "widows
indeed" for service in the church, needed a mind-set which could
be constant regarding "no marriage or family plans." Widows over
the age of 60, were in Paul's mind, the best candidates for the
church widows "taken into the number."
OTHER DISTRACTIONS FOR YOUNGER WIDOWS
We would hope that in the Christian community the not so
nice things Paul spoke about in verse 13, would not be a problem
with younger widows. We would hope that such is not the case in
our own local congregation. Yet, we must face the fact that human
nature is well and healthy in far too many local congregations of
the Church of Christ. It is obvious from Paul's words that in his
time, a good portion of the younger widows were guilty of the
things the apostle mentions.
Younger widows supported by the church were too often in a
mind-set that fostered more and more idleness, and with idleness
comes too much talk in the wrong direction, towards gossip, and
speaking things that are not appropriate or that does not become
what a Christian woman should be doing and saying.
So it was better in the apostles mind that younger widows
marry again and raise a family and guide their household, putting
their time and energy into a family that could be helping the
church in a positive way, and so give no opportunity for the
Christian adversary to disdain the Christian faith, or speak evil
Some, Paul says, have been taken in the clutches of the
enemy of the Christian faith and have been turned aside from the
true ways of God back to the ways of Satan.
The apostle finishes this part of his instructions to
Timothy by once again stating that believing Christians who have
widows in the church should support them, if they need physical
support, so the church does not have to be concerned with those
widows, but can then help the widows in the congregation that
have no relatives to help them (verses 9-16).
What potent teaching the apostle Paul here gives on some
aspects of the Christian church. He will yet give Timothy and all
leaders in the Christian community, much more instruction on some
basic situations that most churches will face as time marches on.
Written December 2005