|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 13. - Served well as deacons for used the office of a deacon well, A.V.; gain to themselves a good standing for purchase to themselves a good degree, A.V. Served... as deacons (διακονήσαντες); as in ver. 10. In this technical sense only found in these two passages; which well agrees with the late date of this Epistle, when the technical sense of διάκονος was established. Gain to themselves a good standing. The sense of the passage depends a good deal upon the exact meaning of βαθμός. In 1 Samuel 5:4, 5, in the LXX., βαθμός is the rendering of מִפְתָּן (rendered αἴθριον in Ezekiel 9:3; Ezekiel 10:4), a somewhat unusual word for a "threshold." In 2 Kings 20:9, 10, 11, it is the rendering of מַעֲלָה, "a degree on the sun-dial." This latter seems to suit better the verb περιποιοῦνται, they gain or acquire, which suggests the idea of advancement. It does not follow that St. Paul had in his mind their advancement from the "inferior office" to "the higher ministries in the Church" (Ordination Service); he may merely have meant to say that the discharge of the duties of a deacon in an efficient and exemplary manner raised a man to high estimation in the Church, and so gave him confidence in confessing the faith of Jesus Christ both by word and deed. Gain to themselves (περιποιοῦνται); acquire by purchase or otherwise. Frequent in the LXX.; but only elsewhere in the New Testament in Acts 20:28. Boldness (παρρησίαν); very common in the New Testament (comp. Acts 4:13, 29, 31; Ephesians 6:19; Philippians 1:20, etc.), where it is especially applied to boldness in preaching the gospel of Christ. This seems to imply that St. Paul contemplated preaching as a part of the deacon's work. We know that Philip the deacon and Stephen the deacon were both preachers.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For they that have used the office of a deacon well,.... With diligence and faithfulness, with simplicity and cheerfulness; taking good care of the minister and poor, and of the discipline of God's house:
purchase to themselves a good degree; not an higher office, as that of presbytery or episcopacy, which is a sense calculated to serve a hierarchy; nor a degree in glory and happiness hereafter; but rather an increase of gifts and grace; or a degree of respect and honour in the church: or the sense is, they possess and enjoy, which is the meaning of the word rendered "purchase", a very honourable office in the church; and which is so to them, they using it well, and discharging it in an honourable manner; unless the apostle should design what the Jews called , "a degree of faith": (b) but that is expressed in the next clause:
and great boldness in the faith, which is in Christ Jesus: either in the exercise of the grace of faith at the throne of grace; or in asserting the doctrine of faith before men; and in reproving either for error or immorality: all which may be boldly done by those who use this office well.
(b) Zohar in Exod. fol. 36. 3.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
13. purchase to themselves a good degree—literally, "are acquiring … a … step." Understood by many as "a higher step," that is, promotion to the higher office of presbyter. But ambition of rising seems hardly the motive to faithfulness which the apostle would urge; besides, it would require the comparative, "a better degree." Then the past aorist participle, "they that used the office of deacon well," implies that the present verb, "are acquiring to themselves boldness," is the result of the completed action of using the diaconate well. Also, Paul would not probably hold out to every deacon the prospect of promotion to the presbytery in reward of his service. The idea of moving upwards in Church offices was as yet unknown (compare Ro 12:7, &c.; 1Co 12:4-11). Moreover, there seems little connection between reference to a higher Church rank and the words "great boldness." Therefore, what those who have faithfully discharged the diaconate acquire for themselves is "a good standing-place" [Alford] (a well-grounded hope of salvation) against the day of judgment, 1Ti 6:19; 1Co 3:13, 14 (the figurative meaning of "degree" or "step," being the degree of worth which one has obtained in the eye of God [Wiesinger]); and boldness (resting on that standing-place"), as well for preaching and admonishing others now (Eph 6:19; a firm standing forth for the truth against error), as also especially in relation to God their coming Judge, before whom they may be boldly confident (Ac 24:16; 1Jo 2:28; 3:21; 4:17; Heb 4:16).
in the faith—rather as Greek, "in faith," that is, boldness resting on their own faith.
which is in Christ Jesus—resting in Christ Jesus.
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