|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:8-13 The deacons were at first appointed to distribute the charity of the church, and to manage its concerns, yet pastors and evangelists were among them. The deacons had a great trust reposed in them. They must be grave, serious, prudent men. It is not fit that public trusts should be lodged in the hands of any, till they are found fit for the business with which they are to be trusted. All who are related to ministers, must take great care to walk as becomes the gospel of Christ.
Verse 11. - Women in like maturer must for even so must their wives, A.V.; temperate for sober, A.V. Women. What is meant by these "women"? Certainly not women in general, which would be quite out of harmony with the context. The choice lies between
(1) the wives of the deacons, as in the A.V.;
(2) the wives of the episcopi and deacons;
This last, on the whole, is the most probable. The male deacons had just been spoken of, and so the apostle goes on to speak of the female deacons (at διάκονοι, Romans 16:1). He conceives of the deacon's office as consisting of two branches -
(1) the deacons,
(2) the deaconesses;
and gives appropriate directions for each. It must he remembered that the office of the early deacon was in a great measure secular, so that there is nothing strange in that of the deaconess being coupled with it. The retrain in ver. 12 to the male deacon is in favor of understanding "the women" of the deaconesses, as showing that the subject of the diaconate was not done with. Chrysostom (who says, "He is speaking of those who hold the rank of deaconesses") and all the ancient commentators, and De Wette, Wiesinger, Wordsworth, Alford, and Ellicott among the moderns, so understand it (see following notes). Grave (σεμνὰς; see ver. 8, note). Not slanderers (μὴ διαβόλους, corresponding to the μὴ διλόγους of ver. 8). This use of διάβολος, which is the classical one, is peculiar in the New Testament to the pastoral Epistles (see 2 Timothy 3:3; Titus 2:3). Temperate (νηφαλίους; see ver. 2, note). It corresponds here to the μὴ οἴνῳ πολλῷ προσέχοντας of ver. 8. Faithful in all things (πιστὰς ἐν πᾶδιν). This seems to refer specially to their being the almoners of the Church charities, and so favors the explanation of "women" as meaning deaconesses. Πιστός means especially "trusty" (Matthew 24:45; Matthew 25:21; Luke 12:42; Luke 16:10, etc.).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Even so must their wives be grave,.... Some instead of "wives" read "women", and understand them of deaconesses, such as were in the primitive churches; whose business it was to visit the poor and sick sisters of the church, and take care of things belonging to them; but it is better to interpret the words of the wives of the deacons, who must be as their husbands, "grave" in speech, gesture, and dress, of an honest report, a good behaviour, and chaste conversation; which will reflect honour and credit to their husbands:
not slanderers; or accusers, and so act like devils, as the word is sometimes rendered; for should they act such a part, and accuse either the poor, or any of the members of the church wrongfully, or on any trifling occasion, as persons addicted to this vice are wont to do, it would be of bad consequence: and they also should be
sober, temperate, not given to wine; excessive drinking is very scandalous in the female sex; and is the rather mentioned here, because women in the eastern countries were too frequently addicted to it:
faithful in all things; as in the marriage bed, so with whatsoever else they are intrusted with in the family, and civil concerns of their husbands; and this is the rather observed, because the wives of deacons may be sometimes intrusted with the church's stock in their husband's absence, to impart to the poor.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
11. their wives—rather, "the women," that is, the deaconesses. For there is no reason that special rules should be laid down as to the wives of the deacons, and not also as to the wives of the bishops or overseers. Moreover, if the wives of the deacons were meant, there seems no reason for the omission of "their" (not in the Greek). Also the Greek for "even so" (the same as for "likewise," 1Ti 3:8, and "in like manner," 1Ti 2:9), denotes a transition to another class of persons. Further, there were doubtless deaconesses at Ephesus, such as Phobe was at Cenchrea (Ro 16:1, "servant," Greek, "deaconess"), yet no mention is made of them in this Epistle if not here; whereas, supposing them to be meant here, the third chapter embraces in due proportion all the persons in the service of the Church. Naturally after specifying the qualifications of the deacon, Paul passes to those of the kindred office, the deaconess. "Grave" occurs in the case of both. "Not slanderers" here, answers to "not double-tongued" in the deacons; so "not false accusers" (Tit 2:3). "Sober" here answers to "not given to much wine," in the case of the deacons (1Ti 3:8). Thus it appears he requires the same qualifications in female deacons as in deacons, only with such modifications as the difference of sex suggested. Pliny, in his celebrated letter to Trajan, calls them "female ministers."
faithful in all things—of life as well as faith. Trustworthy in respect to the alms committed to them and their other functions, answering to "not greedy of filthy lucre," 1Ti 3:8, in the case of the deacons.
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