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Does Scripture permit women to hold the office of deacon? In addressing this important question, we must bear a couple of things in mind. First, Reformed pastors and theologians, fully committed to the authority and inerrancy of Scripture, have disagreed about what the Bible teaches concerning women and the diaconate. This state of affairs calls for particular humility in discussing this question. Second, all sides recognize that women in some way have served in the diaconate in various periods of church history. Believers who argue for women in the diaconate, then, should not be automatically accused of sneaking the Trojan horse of modernity into the church.
We must be clear as to what the question is and is not. The question is not whether the Spirit gifts women to serve in the church. He manifestly does, a point the New Testament underscores by way of principle (1 Cor. 12:7; Eph. 4:7) and example (e.g., Rom. 16:1–5, 6, 12). The question is not whether women may actively participate in the church’s service ministries. The New Testament highlights the hospitality of the women mentioned in Luke 8:1–3, of John Mark’s mother (Acts 12:12), and of Lydia (Acts 16:14–15), even as it commends the charitable service of Dorcas (Acts 9:36). The question is whether the Bible permits women to serve in the office of deacon. The Bible opens the office of diaconate to men only.
Diaconate - Offices - New - Testament - Prescribes
The diaconate is one of two ordinary offices the New Testament prescribes for the church. The diaconate is an office of “service both to the physical and spiritual needs of the people,” and the eldership is an office of ruling and teaching (The Book of Church Order of the Presbyterian Church in America, 7-2).
While deacons are not tasked with governing the church, they possess and exercise authority to carry out...
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