The different roles in church leadership can get quite obscured as time goes by. The Scriptures speak of elders and deacons, apostles and prophets, leaders and pastors but do we rightly understand their roles today?
Imagine an army which has lost its veteran soldiers and officers, and the only survivors are rookies so new to the front that they don’t know anything about their weapons, not having even been through a training camp. Imagine too, an enemy soldier has been able to sneak through their lines, get into their munitions dump and change all the labels around. He has labelled the bazookas as hand-grenades, the grenades as rifles, and the rifles he’s named bazookas. The rookies, in readying themselves for battle, find they do have a tactical training manual which while not actually describing these weapons does mention their use. It talks of bazookas being fired at enemy tanks and rifles at enemy soldiers, particularly mentioning the care needed to squeeze rather than jerk the triggers. It also talks of hand-grenades having their pins removed and being hurled into concentrations of enemy soldiers.
The battle commences. As the enemy tanks approach, our friends check the manual. “Oh yes, we need the bazookas”, so out come the rifles labelled ‘bazookas’ which are fired at the tanks to nil effect, and as the tanks pass through their ranks wrecking havoc, the hapless rookies see the enemy infantry approaching. “Quick! The rifles!” Out come the grenades labelled ‘rifles’. They’re held towards the soldiers, and the triggers? Well, they can’t actually be squeezed but they can be removed… Those rookies who survive the grenades see the enemy now within a stone’s throw. “Our last hope … the hand-grenades!” Out come the bazookas labelled ‘hand-grenades’ and with their last despairing strength, our heroes valiantly hurl them over the edges of their trenches and wait. Apart from two or three enemy soldiers who are knocked unconscious by a flying bazooka, the enemy is unscathed and victorious.
A ludicrous and extreme illustration but it has sometimes been that way in reality in the churches of God, hasn’t it? Our veteran soldiers, the Early or New Testament Church, have long gone and we’ve looked as rookies into our manual the Bible to find out about our weapons and equipment. The enemy soldier has indeed been busy in our munitions dump, the assemblies of believers, changing the labels.
The charismatic gifts of God such as prophecy, speaking in tongues and healing have been named as “divisive” and “contentious”. The soldiers or “laity” of God have sometimes been disarmed altogether since only the officers or “clergy” can “safely” handle such dangerous munitions as Bible-reading and preaching, leading meetings, praying, baptising, and breaking bread. Other gifts and equipments of God such as apostles and prophets, elders and deacons have either been structured out of the churches’ existence, or they have received new non-Scriptural labels so as to go unrecognised, or the right labels have been stuck on hierarchical positions instead of on functioning people.
Then we wonder why the Scriptures don’t seem to cover our particular situation!
The Restoration of Order
Obviously, over the 500 years since the Reformation, the Lord has made a lot of headway in restoring His churches and the priesthood of all believers. In the last 100 years, we’ve gained good ground in recognising, understanding, and using the charismatic gifts but we still have some way to go in the restoration of ministry gifts and church structure, and it is here I would like to make a contribution.
In the following studies, I would like to draw attention to six particular ministries which I believe have been consistently mis-labelled, badly defined, completely ignored, or just misunderstood: ‘deacons’, ‘pastors’, ‘elders’, ‘leaders’, ‘apostles’ and ‘prophets’. I believe we have been careless in our understanding and use of these terms and that while our ‘manual’ doesn’t always describe in detail all the weapons and equipment we need, distinctions between ‘rifle triggers’ and ‘grenade pins’ can give vital clues and help us change the labels back to the correct objects.
And there is after all the safety aspect. Without stretching the analogy too far, I believe that just as hand-grenades need the pin left in to be handled safely, so too the various ministries need the checks and balances of Scripture and of the rest of the saints. The Scriptures tell us that there will always be false apostles, false prophets, false teachers, false shepherds and elders, who will “mislead many”, so we have to know how to recognise true ministries and true ways. We’ve all surely seen the explosive power of cult leaders and the corresponding destruction in the souls of cult members, but on a more subtle level haven`t we also seen the spiritual death-dealing in the finest of fellowships caused by good ministries stepping outside the limits of their calling and expertise, even with the best of intentions?
In studying these ministries, it will become apparent that our traditional concept of leadership in the kingdom of God is badly flawed, and we have simply been imitating the way the world does things, especially the European models, rather than the way of God as demonstrated firstly in the New Testament, but also through the Old Testament nation of Israel, and interestingly for those of us who live in New Zealand, as also among Maori. Accordingly, one study will be exploring the overall term ‘leaders’ in a way that challenges most conventional thinking, and yet seeks above all else to be consistent both with the Scriptures and the conclusions reached in the rest of these studies.
Jesus warned the first leaders of His church:
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles are lords to them and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant.” 1
From my observation, although it should not be so, it more often than not now is so among us. Despite our best intentions to correct this wrong attitude and promote servant-leadership as individual church leaders, in our church structures we have preserved and justified this attitude, thereby failing to apply the words of Jesus corporately. The house built on the rock that can withstand every flood and storm is not that of the hearer of the words of Jesus but that of the one who actually applies His words, digging down to the base rock. It is the intention of these studies to search out more carefully these ways of God to apply to our structures.
Looking firstly at deacons. We have completely misunderstood the work and person of the deacon. For example, the Concise Oxford Dictionary gives the following three definitions :
(i) in Episcopal churches [e.g. Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican], a ‘member of the third order of ministry, below bishop and priest’.
(ii) in Nonconformist churches [e.g. Baptist, Congregational and Presbyterian Churches], a ‘lay officer attending to the congregation’s secular affairs’.
(iii) in early Church, a deacon is an ‘appointed minister of charity’.2
Most Christians I speak to today accept the second and third definitions, based on Acts 6:1-6, that deacons are to look after the secular affairs of the church. But are they?
To my mind there are three major weaknesses in this understanding. Firstly, this definitive passage doesn’t even mention ‘deacons’. Secondly, the seven named in this passage are nowhere else in the Scriptures ever called ‘deacons’. Thirdly, of the eight other people not mentioned here who are referred to as ‘deacons’, not one of them appears to have any particular responsibility for the secular, in contrast to the spiritual, affairs of the church. Let us establish these points.
Acts 6: 1- 6
Remember, this passage is supposed to be the definitive description of the work of the deacon, so let us examine it carefully:
Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. And the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. But select from among you, brethren, seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. But we will devote ourselves to prayer, and to the ministry of the word”. And the statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch. And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them.
Two things are beyond all doubt in this passage:
(i) the early church saw the need for godly leadership in their social welfare programme and to keep it distinct from godly leadership in spiritual matters.
(ii) the term ‘deacon’ nowhere appears in this passage, let alone have its meaning defined. Accordingly we may have been a bit hasty in accepting this passage as definitive.
But, some Greek scholar may reply, although the noun deacon (diakonos) is not used in this passage, a related noun (diakonia) is used to describe the task these men were to perform in the phrase ‘widows were being overlooked in the daily serving (of food)’ and the verb (diakoneo) is used in the apostles’ initial statement: “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables”. Accordingly, it may be said, although the name ‘deacon’ is not used here, it can be inferred from these related words that the seven men were appointed deacons.
However, if this logic is applied, we necessarily need to accept not just seven but nineteen deacons since the work of the twelve in preaching and teaching is also called diakonia in the phrase “we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word”. Both the twelve and the seven were clearly called to serve but in two distinct areas. The twelve knew better than to be turned aside from their calling of preaching and teaching the Gospel (cf. Luke 10:4), yet the work of food distribution also needed to be done and with great integrity, hence their call for the seven godly men to do it. However, if this means the seven have been here designated as deacons of material things, then the twelve must also be recognised as deacons but of spiritual things. This means the work of a deacon is not therefore confined to ‘secular affairs’ and our present understanding is defective.
The point remains, whether we can infer these things or not, that the term ‘deacon’ does not appear in this passage.
Biblical Use of the Word Deacon
In considering some of the most commonly used English translations (see next page) the noun ‘deacon’ is only used three times in the New Testament. Once is in the letter to the Philippians where Paul writes:
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons.3
The other twice are in 1 Timothy 3 in which Paul defines the necessary personal qualities of two particular callings, that of the elder or overseer and that of the deacon. And that’s all. Since from the Philippians mention we can glean only that deacons, like elders or overseers, are in some way particular members of the Body, let’s turn to 1 Timothy 3: 8-13.
Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach. Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. Let deacons be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households. For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
In the phrase ‘serve as deacon’, the Greek only uses the verb ‘to serve’ so we find that while deacons are to be of similar personal qualities to elders, i.e. of good self-control in every area, there is no explicit mention made of their work, except that they are to be tested before they can be allowed to do it, a qualification not required of any one else.
So we have this extraordinary situation: when it comes to elders, the N.T. refers to them either in regard to Israel or the churches some sixty-four times, and yet with regard to deacons, beyond these meagre mentions there is then absolute silence in the rest of the N.T. Or is there?
In fact, the Greek word diakonos translated as ‘deacon’ is used a further twenty-six times in the N.T. but more usually as servant or minister, and on occasion as agent, helper, aide, administrator, attendant, or worker.
* In most of these the noun is replaced by verbs such as ‘served’, ‘helped, or ‘worked hard’.
So the alternative translations of diakonos are primarily ‘servant’, its usual literal meaning, and ‘minister’, from the Latin word for servant. So in place of the one original Greek noun, we in the English translations have ended up with three different English words: ‘servant’ is the simple translation from the Greek, ‘deacon’ is an Anglicised version of the Greek word which leaves it untranslated and meaningless, and ‘minister’ is an Anglicised version of the Latin word for the same thing as the other two!
The Three Concepts
These three English words evoke three quite distinct concepts which are defined by the Concise Oxford Dictionary as follows :
(i) Servant – a person who has undertaken, usually in return for stipulated pay, to carry out the orders of employer or master.
(ii) Deacon – as already noted, an officer attending to the secular affairs of the church.
(iii) Minister – in religious context, a clergyman, especially in Presbyterian or Non-conformist Churches.
These could be thought of as a purely secular function in a secular setting, a secular function in a spiritual setting, and a spiritual function in a spiritual setting. Since the translators have made these three distinctions that are not implicit in the Greek word they’re translating, let us look for ourselves at every context in which diakonos appears, to see if the contexts demand these three distinct concepts. For clarity’s sake, let’s use just one English word out of the three and put it into all contexts, say ‘deacon’ since it has the least meaning or content in normal secular conversation. We will try not to attach an exact meaning to it and see if one emerges.
Who Are Named as Deacons in the Scriptures?
Let us consider two things: who are labelled as ‘deacons’, and what are they doing at the time?
(i) servants of a king – “the king said to the deacons…” (Matt 22:13)
(ii) domestic servants – ‘His mother said to the deacons “Whatever He says to you, do it”‘ (John 2:5) and ‘…the deacons who had drawn the water..’ (John 2:9)
(iii) the Government – ‘it is a deacon of God to you for good… it is a deacon of God, an avenger…’ (Rom 13:4),
(iv) Jesus – ‘Christ has become a deacon’ (Rom 15:8) and ‘Is Christ then a deacon of sin? May it never be!’ (Gal 2:17)
(v) Phoebe – ‘our sister Phoebe who is a deacon of the church in Cenchrea’ (Rom 16:1)
(vi) Paul calls himself a ‘deacon’ seven times, four in referring to himself alone and three times with others: ‘Are they deacons of Christ?… I more so’ (2 Cor 11:23); ‘I was made a deacon’ (Eph 3:7) ‘I Paul became a deacon’ (Col 1:23); ‘Of this church I became a deacon according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit’ (Col 1:25).
(vii) Paul, Apollos, and by inference, Cephas or Peter4 – ‘What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Deacons through whom you believed.’ (1 Cor 3:5)
(viii) Paul and Timothy – ‘(God) made us adequate as deacons of a new covenant’ (2 Cor 3:6) and ‘in everything commending ourselves as deacons of God’ (2 Cor 6:4)
(ix) Tychicus – ‘the beloved brother and faithful deacon in the Lord’ (Eph 6:21) and ‘faithful deacon and fellow bond-servant’ (Col 4:7)
(x) Epaphras – ‘a faithful deacon’ (Col 1:7)
(xi) Timothy – ‘in pointing out these things, you will be a good deacon of Christ Jesus’ (1 Tim 4:6)
(xii) Whoever wishes to become great in the kingdom of God – “whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your deacon” (Matt 20:26, 23:11; Mark 9:35, 10:43)
(xiii) ‘False apostles, deceitful workers’ – ‘(Satan’s) deacons also disguise themselves as deacons of righteousness’ (2 Cor 11:13)
Notice that not one of those presumed to be deacons from Acts 6:1-6 – Stephen, Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas – are ever anywhere named as deacons. This is the second major weakness in our present understanding. On the other hand, eight others are: the Lord Jesus Himself, Phoebe, Apollos, Peter, Ephaphras, Tychicus is named so twice, Timothy three times, and Paul refers to himself as a deacon seven times. This third major weakness in our present understanding clinches it for me: Acts 6:1-6 is not describing the work of a ‘deacon’. As we will later see, a ‘deacon’ could do the work described there, but it is not this work which defines his or her role.
What Are the Deacons Doing?
(i) servants of a king: serving the king by evicting an unwanted dinner guest
(ii) domestic servants: serving food and drink at a wedding-feast
(iii) the Government: serving God by ‘bearing the sword’ for justice, being ‘an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practises evil’
(v) Phoebe: serving ‘the church which is at Cenchrea’, though at that time actually in Rome and maybe needing help there.
(vi) Paul: serving Christ in immense hardships and great dangers ‘on frequent journeys’ and bearing ‘the daily pressure… of concern for all the churches’;7 serving the gospel by preaching ‘to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ’;8 serving the gospel;9 serving the Body of Christ by ‘fully carrying out the preaching of the word of God…, proclaim(ing) Him, admonishing and teaching.’10
(vii) Paul, Apollos, and Cephas: serving God by leading the Corinthians to faith. They were ‘deacons through whom (the Corinthians) believed’, planting and watering (i.e. evangelising and teaching). They were ‘God’s fellow-workers’ in the Corinthian ‘field’ (1 Cor 3:5-9) and their qualifications for such work? They were ‘servants (Gk. huperetes) of Christ and stewards of of the mysteries of God’, i.e. they were men who had spiritual understanding and insight for the benefit of all believers.11
(viii) Paul and Timothy:serving the new covenant by ministering the Spirit and righteousness, instead of the letter and condemnation, and caring for the Corinthians;12 serving God as trustworthy messengers ‘in truthful speech and in the power of God.’13
(x) Epaphras: serving Christ by telling and teaching the Colossians of ‘the word of truth, the gospel’ and ‘the grace of God in truth’.16
(xi) Timothy: serving Jesus Christ in Ephesus by withstanding and correcting false teachings,17 prescribing and teaching,18 leading meetings in ‘public reading of Scripture, exhortation and teaching’19 and dedicating himself to living and teaching truthfully.20 N.B. Paul explicitly described these activities as making Timothy ‘a good deacon’.
(xii) Every follower of Jesus: serving Jesus by laying down everything He asks, even to death if necessary.21
(iv) ‘false apostles, deceitful workers’: travelling to Corinth preaching ‘another Jesus’, ministering ‘a different spirit…(and) a different gospel’,25 disguising themselves ‘as deacons of righteousness’ in the same manner as their master, ‘and no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light’.26
The Emerging Concepts
From these uses of the word ‘deacon’, what concepts emerge?
Firstly, that ‘deacon’ can be used in a general sense in the same way as the English word ‘servant’: the Government is a servant of God in the administration of justice; Christ became a servant to Jews and Gentiles; every follower of Jesus is to become a servant; whoever wishes to be great among the disciples is to serve them, showing that greatness in the Kingdom of God is measured not by how we control people (as it is in the world and sometimes in the church) but by how we actually serve them. Regardless of our occupation or vocation, the attitude of being a servant in this general sense is a highly prized character trait in God’s sight.
Secondly, that some are particularly named as deacons and their common characteristics include:
a) They are travellers.
Paul, Apollos, Cephas or Peter, Timothy, Tychicus, Epaphras, and the ‘false apostles, deceitful workers’ are all described as being often either in, on their way to, or on their way back from, a city other than their own. Phoebe is in Rome though from Cenchrea.
b) They are evangelising and/or teaching, ministering both in the word and in the power of God.
The false apostles counterfeit these exact activities, ministering a different gospel and a different spirit, preaching ‘another Jesus’.
c) There is no reference at all to ‘secular affairs’.
The clearest example of the work of a deacon, by virtue of his use of the term to describe himself, is Paul, and on each of the seven occasions he is specifically referring to his work as an evangelist and teacher. We will return to Paul shortly but for now, I would suggest from all this that ‘deacons’, as the Bible uses the word, were not ‘officers looking after the secular affairs of the church’ but instead were preaching, teaching and ‘ministering’ and in a particular way which attracted to them the label ‘deacon’. As ‘servants of God’, they were to serve Him and His people by leaving their normal business or profession to devote themselves to that service.
We are told in Acts 1:25 that the calling of the Twelve was not only to ‘apostleship’ but also to ‘ministry’ (Grk, diakonia). No one doubts today that diakonia here means ‘the ministry’ or full-time service of God, because our opening passage, Acts 6:1-6, tells us that they left even the good and necessary work of food distribution to others, in order to devote themselves ‘to prayer and to the ministry (diakonia) of the word’. If their call to ‘apostleship’ made them ‘apostles’, isn’t it likely that their call to ‘ministry (diakonia) made them ‘ministers/deacons’ (diakonos)? Paul certainly seemed to think so:
…giving no cause of offence in anything, in order that the ministry (diakonia) may not be discredited, but in everything commending ourselves as servants (diakonos) of God.27
To stop ‘the ministry’ being discredited, the ‘ministers’ were to give ‘no cause of offence in anything’. If they were not the ones in the ministry, their behaviour would not discredit it.
We know Jesus’ way of working meant He left His carpentry to devote Himself to teach and pray.28 He then called Peter and Andrew to leave their nets and their work of fishing to become “fishers of men”,29 and again James and John.30 Matthew left his tax-gathering.31 As servants of God in this way, they had, in the definition of the Concise Oxford Dictionary, ‘undertaken, usually in return for stipulated pay, to carry out the orders of an employer or master’. And God did indeed undertake to pay them wages through His people:
These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them, saying: “…preach … heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons… Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, or a bag for your journey, or even two tunics or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support”32
And again with regard to the seventy He sent out ahead of Him, Jesus said :
“The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into His harvest… Carry no purse, no bag, no shoes… and stay in the house [of a man of peace], eating and drinking what they give you; for the labourer is worthy of his wages.”33
So later, when we read of the Twelve leaving other work to the seven in order ‘to devote [themselves] to prayer and to the ministry of the word”, we are not surprised. But let us return to Paul. At one stage, Paul came to Aquila and Priscilla in Corinth:
…and because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and they were working; for by trade they were tent-makers. And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath… But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word.34
Writing to the Colossians, Paul was very specific as to why he was a ‘deacon’:
Of this church I was made a deacon… that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God.35
If he had carried on tent-making, he couldn’t have ‘devoted himself completely to the word’ and therefore could not have fulfilled his calling as a deacon to ‘fully carry out the preaching of the word of God’. As for income from this new work he had taken on, Paul wrote that he and Barnabas had a right, though they laid it down, ‘to refrain from working’ for wages in order to serve, in the spiritual sense, as soldiers, to plant vineyards and to tend flocks.[1 Cor 9:5-12[/note] He went on to say that ‘the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel’.36
Clearly, then, some of the saints are called to be specialised servants: to leave other means of earning a living in order to serve God and His people by preaching and teaching, and to get their living from doing that. Today we often use a non-Biblical phrase such as ‘full-time ministry’ to describe this concept because we’ve not fully recognised or understood the Biblical term diakonos. I say ‘fully’ because, as seen in the table above, on many and varied occasions the translators have accepted that diakonos does mean someone in full-time ministry and so have translated it as ‘minister’. In fact, the KJV translators accepted that as the usual translation except only in Philippians 1:1 and 1 Timothy 3. One must ask why they were not consistent, and why translators ever since appear to have followed their lead in dealing with Philippians 1:1 and 1 Timothy 3?
Old Testament Precedent
If diakonos is used in these two distinct ways in the New Testament, what about in the Old? Obviously, there were ‘servants’ in the general sense but were there any ‘deacons’ in the specialised sense? Yes, and Paul told us to consider them as a precedent and an equivalent:
Do you not know that those who perform sacred services eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar have their share with the altar? So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.37
Paul shows a direct correlation between ‘those who proclaim the gospel’, thereby earning ‘their living from the gospel’, i.e. ‘deacons’, and the Old Testament work of ‘those who perform sacred services’, i.e. the Levites, and ‘those who attend regularly to the altar’, i.e. the priests. The work done by the Levites was quite different from that of the priests, as was their source of support: ‘food of the temple’ was the third-year tithe which was for the Levite38 while a ‘share with the altar’ was the priests’ portion of the offerings39. However, the one common feature to which Paul is drawing attention is that for both of these vocations to function, they had to leave all other work and their primary means of earning a living so God made special provision for them in that work. If, however, we look more closely at the Levites, we find that it is they rather than the priests who exactly fit the role of ‘deacons’.
One brief word of explanation for any who may need it: although all priests were Levites, that is descendants of Levi, one of the twelve sons of Jacob, not all Levites were priests. The priesthood was restricted to a sub-group of that tribe, the descendants of Aaron, one of Levi’s great grandsons.40
The Levites are an enigma to many Christians today. They are seldom mentioned except in commentaries on the parable of the Good Samaritan because their name actually disguises their function – the term ‘Levite’ describes only their genealogy and not their work. Yet the one English name that would best describe their work and function is ‘servant’. Consider their calling and setting apart by God, both in the wilderness and in the promised land:
(i) In the wilderness
After the Lord charged Aaron and his descendants with the responsibilities of the priesthood, the altar, and the sanctuary, He added:
“But bring with you also your brothers, the tribe of Levi, the tribe of your father, that they may be joined with you and serve you, while you and your sons are before the tent of the testimony. And they shall thus attend to your obligation and the obligation of all the tent… And behold, I Myself have taken your fellow Levites from among the sons of Israel; they are a gift to you, dedicated to the LORD, to perform the service of the tent”41
We see from this that the Levites’ work and function, their calling, was to serve: to serve the priests in the performance of their duties and to serve ‘the tent of the testimony’, i.e. the mobile sanctuary; they were ‘a gift’ to the priests ‘to perform the service of the tent’. Their primary was to maintain the tabernacle, to carry it and all its furnishings from place to place, erecting it every time Israel camped and dismantling it every time Israel moved on, throughout the forty years in the wilderness.42 Why? So that God’s dwelling was in their midst and so that the priests could function as priests.
The furnishings included, of course, the ark of the covenant and it was David’s and Uzzah’s forgetting of this which cost Uzzah his life.43
(ii) In the Promised Land
When the tabernacle was superseded by the temple, ‘the Levites no longer need(ed) to carry the tabernacle and all its utensils for its service’.44 Accordingly, David as the divinely-appointed architect of the temple had to redefine their work:
…their office is to assist the sons of Aaron [i.e. the priests] with the service of the house of the LORD, in the courts and in the chambers and in the purifying of all holy things, even the work of the service of the house of God.45
Although the Levites were still to serve the priests and to serve the sanctuary, there was now a whole new dimension of service, that of the ‘public servant’ or ‘civil servant’. Some Levites were appointed:
to outside duties for Israel, as officers and judges…. (Some) had charge of the affairs of Israel west of the Jordan, for all the work of the LORD and the service of the king… And King David made (others) overseers of the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of the Manassites (i.e. all those living on the east of the Jordan) concerning all the affairs of God and of the king.46
Their work was defined not only now in terms of all ‘the work’ and ‘the affairs’ of God but also all ‘the service’ and ‘the affairs’ of the government, the king. They were to be civil administrators, ‘officers and judges’.
The Levites then, were above all else ‘servants’, and that in four distinct areas: to serve the priests in their work; to serve the tabernacle or temple; to serve the nation of Israel in the affairs of God; and to serve the king. All four areas have their own significance and today, the calling of God is still for some to serve our nation, and all nations, like the Levites in the civil or public services. This could be explored at length but all I want to establish for now is that there was in ancient Israel a group of people whose calling was to serve the priesthood. Three phrases are particularly noteworthy:
(i) they were ‘a gift’ from the Lord to the priesthood47
(ii) their work was ‘to serve’ 48
(iii) they were to assist the priests in ‘the work of the service of the house of God’.49
It could seem that with the destruction of the temple of Israel in 70 A.D. and consequently the cessation of the Aaronic priesthood’s offering of atoning sacrifices, that the work of the Levites had also ceased. In fact, that work had simply stepped into a whole new dimension with a whole new group of people were being called to do it.
New Covenant ‘Levites’ – Still Serving the Priests
The relevance of this will be already apparent, I am sure, to those who particularly believe in and appreciate that wonderful Biblical doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. Although only the Lord Jesus is our ‘great high priest’ who ‘always lives to make intercession’ for us,50 nevertheless all believers, whether descended from Levi or Aaron or not, whether Jew or Gentile, male or female, young or old, all believers make up the rest of His ‘royal priesthood’51 and are to offer the new spiritual sacrifices God requires.52 However, for the sake of those for whom this may be either new or not yet applied in their church, let us apply these Old Testament pictures to the New Testament spiritual reality.
Firstly, if all believers are now the priests, who are the Levites? Well, the three phrases used above to describe the Levites have a familiarity to them because of Paul’s perfect understanding of how Jesus, ‘great David’s greater son’, has designed, and through the Holy Spirit is building, His real temple, the church:
When He (Jesus) ascended on high… He gave gifts to men… and He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service…53
As surely as God gave people as ‘gifts’, ‘to serve’ the Aaronic priests to help them function as priests, He has given them to new covenant priests. Paul even uses the same phrase in Greek, ‘the work of service’, to describe the saints’ work as David did in Hebrew for the Aaronic priests. The New Covenant Levites are ‘apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers’, given to be servants of every believer so that he or she can properly do the work as priests in the true temple of God, the ‘spiritual house’.
Of course, even though other Old Testament terms such as priests, elders, teachers and prophets can be carried over into the New with the necessary adjustments in meaning and application, the term ‘Levite’ is not appropriate for the New Testament equivalent since their work is no longer limited to one tribe. Instead, it makes perfect sense that the New Testament calls anyone in this work by their job-description, diakonos or servant.
This Scripturally validates men and women with the gifts and callings of Ephesians 4:12 to be in full-time ministry, although that is not a necessary prerequisite for them to function. However, all with these gifts and callings must understand that they are not by themselves the priesthood; their particular calling only has meaning in relation to them serving the new covenant priesthood of all believers. To some degree for all of these gifts, but especially the apostle and the evangelist, their service is to call unbelievers to faith in order that they may become priests; for the other gifts, the prophet, the shepherd and the teacher, it means training, equipping, and establishing believers in ‘the work of the service of the house of God’ since they are priests.
A Brief Overview of that Service
How the New Testament and modern-day Levites are to serve the priests is beautifully pictured in the Old Testament description of the work of the Levites as touched on earlier:
…Their office is to assist the sons of Aaron with the service of the house of the LORD, in the courts and in the chambers and in the purifying of all holy things, even the work of the service of the house of God, and with the showbread, and the fine flour for a grain offering, and unleavened wafers, or what is baked in the pan, or what is well-mixed, and all measures of volume and size. And they are to stand every morning to thank and to praise the LORD, and likewise at evening, and to offer all burnt offerings to the LORD, on the sabbaths, the new moons and the fixed festivals in the number set by the ordinance concerning them, continually before the LORD. Thus they are to keep charge of the tent of meeting, and charge of the holy place, and charge of the sons of Aaron their relatives, for the service of the house of the LORD.54
We see from this that their work was to assist the priests in their service of God, ‘in the courts and in the chambers’ of the house, in ‘the purifying of all holy things’, such as washing the sacrifices before they were offered, preparing ‘the showbread’, the grain offerings and to offer continual burnt offerings for the nation. These are all types or foreshadowing of spiritual realities which can be explored in great detail but for now, just a quick overview.
‘The courts’ symbolise the presence of God,55 ‘the chambers’ were the storehouses for the temple utensils, offerings, and incense56 and so speak of the preparation of spiritual offerings. All of these holy things need to be kept constantly pure. The showbread was to be eaten by the priests in a holy place after it had been left in the presence of God for seven days and so was also called ‘the bread of the Presence’, symbolising our personal communion or table-fellowship with God, as offered by Jesus to us all.57 The grain offerings are a type or foreshadowing of our words and the burnt offerings typify total dedication of our lives.58 Accordingly, the modern-day Levites are to assist today’s priests, i.e. every believer, to enter the presence of God, to prepare their offerings in holiness, to encourage their close communion with God, and the dedication of their words and their whole lives. The Levites were themselves also to be worshippers, daily standing every morning and evening to thank and praise the Lord.
One nice little thought to be seen here is that the Levites were to serve the priests with ‘all measures of volume and size’.59 Under the old covenant, the priests set and maintained the national standards for fair trading in all business transactions and, of course, that principle still applies for new covenant priests in the natural realm today, but there also is a spiritual equivalent from the words of Jesus:
“Take care what you listen to. By your standard of measure it shall be measured to you; and more shall be given you besides. For whoever has, to him shall more be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.”60
Those in ministry today still need to assist the priests not only to be honest and just in all their transactions, both materially and spiritually, but also how to listen properly to God, to full measure, so that they do not miss out.
New Covenant Levites – Serving the Temple
The new covenant sanctuary is both as mobile as the portable tabernacle and as permanent as the old temple made with stones, since it is made up of stones that are alive. As Peter wrote to all the believers:
…you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 61
It is within this temple of living stones that the priesthood of all believers is to offer up ‘spiritual sacrifices’, such as ‘the sacrifice of praise… and.. doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased’. 62 However, the temple itself is still ‘being built up’ and will continue to be until the Lord returns. There needs therefore to be some people whose full-time occupation is serving this temple in its building, maintenance and administration. Some, such as the apostles and evangelists, are the spiritual equivalent of those in the quarries who cut the stones out of the earth, others such as the prophets and teachers to ensure these stones are properly fitted and held together, and others such as shepherds and elders to ensure they remain together and to repair damage, but I would like to look further at the duties of the Levites in the administration of the temple.
David gave wonderfully clear directions regarding two very different kinds of work that needed to be done here:
(i) Singers and musicians
These (Levites) are those whom David appointed over the service of song in the house of the LORD… and they ministered with song…63
David establishes the legitimacy of some being totally dedicated to this work of singing and making music before the Lord, and saw the benefits to the people in thereby encouraging prophecy:
Moreover David and the commanders of the army set apart for the service some of the sons of Asaph and of Heman and of Jeduthun (all Levites), who were to prophesy with lyres, harps and cymbals…(and) who prophesied in giving thanks and praising the LORD”.64
These sons were all ‘under the direction of their father to sing in the house of the LORD… for the service of the house of God. Asaph, Jeduthun and Heman were under the direction of the king’.65 That these men were well-skilled is evidenced to this day by the psalms that have survived, such as the psalms of Asaph66 and Heman,67 and their inspiration in prophecy is proven in that these became Scripture. To me, this establishes the Scriptural mandate and calling of those today who serve God in song and in music.
(ii) Gate-keepers and treasurers
To these divisions of the gatekeepers, the chief men, were given duties like their relatives to minister in the house of the LORD. And they cast lots… for every gate.68
And the Levites… had charge of the treasures of the house of God, and of the treasures of the dedicated gifts.69
While the treasurers plainly have a new covenant counterpart in those like the apostle Judas Iscariot who looked after the finances on behalf of the others,70 there are also those who are to keep the spiritual treasuries. The most obvious treasures of God are His people and they need looking after:
For the overseer (or elder) must be above reproach as God’s steward.71
Overseers in caring for the people of God are ‘stewards’ and this word (Grk, oikonomos) is also used to describe the ‘treasurer’ of a city72 and generally denotes ‘a person who manages the domestic affairs of a family’. There is no doubt therefore that God calls some to full-time work as ‘overseers’ to guard His treasures as well as look after the domestic affairs of His family. We will look in more detail at overseers/elders in the later studies.
Other treasures of God are profound truths:
Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.73
The ‘us’ to whom Paul is referring includes Apollos and Cephas, or Peter, and all three had remarkable knowledge of the ways and words of God. They were exceptional teachers. Similarly today, God has continued to appoint ‘treasurers’ in this way, such as Dr Derek Prince, Jack Hayford, Jamie Buckingham, or John Wimber to name just four of our internationally known and recognised ministries.
Summary of the Levites’ Work
The Levites were members of the tribe of Levi, numerically approximately one thirtieth of the nation of Israel, who were called to leave other occupations and incomes in order to devote themselves to the work of God. Part of that tribe, all the descendants of Aaron, made up the priesthood and the rest of the tribe were called to serve those priests, as well as the tabernacle and temple, the nation and the king. To gain a perspective on the numbers assigned to the various tasks, one passage of Scripture describes the work of the 38,000 Levites living at the time of the building of the original temple:
…24,000 were to oversee the work of the house of the LORD; and 6,000 were officers and judges, and 4,000 were gatekeepers, and 4,000 were praising the LORD with the instruments which David made for giving praise.74
From this we see that most of the Levites, approximately 63%, were involved in ‘overseeing’ or what we today usually call ‘pastoring’, about 16% were in civil or public service, about 10% were keepers of the gates and treasuries and another 10% were called as singers and musicians. This work was not confined to the Levites, as can be seen from King David who came from the tribe of Judah yet took a clear lead in music and worship, inventing musical instruments and writing most of the Psalms, but the Levites were those who were set apart from other work to do these things. In the same way, in the new covenant there are some overseers/elders, treasurers, singers, and musicians who are called to full-time service as ‘deacons’ as surely as some evangelists and teachers are, and some are to continue in their usual occupations.
Rightly Understanding 1 Timothy 3:8-13
In the light of this new understanding, let us reconsider the New Testament’s primary teaching on ‘deacons’ in 1 Timothy 3:8-13. This passage is common ground to all of the afore-mentioned translations in that they all translate diakonos here as ‘deacon’ with the exception of the TEV (Good News) which instead uses ‘helper’ (in contrast to ‘servant’ everywhere else). If we now allow this passage to tell us of the calling of men and women to full-time ministry, what new significance emerges? How does it compare now with the rest of Scripture? Is it consistent?
8. Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain,
9. but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.
10. These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach.
11. Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things.
12. Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households.
13. For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
The following points stand out to me:
(i) They must have particular control of their tongues:
…men of dignity, not double-tongued…Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips… (v. 8)
What more natural, necessary and particular quality than to have control of the tongue should there be in those such as preachers or teachers who are to be essentially vocal in the outworking of their calling?
(ii) They must be generally self-controlled:
men… (not) addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain…Women… temperate, faithful in all things. (vv. 8 & 11)
Paul explains why in 2 Corinthians 6:3:
…giving no cause of offence in anything, in order that the ministry (diakonia) may not be discredited, but in everything commending ourselves as servants (diakonos) of God
(iii) As for being ‘(not) fond of sordid gain’ (v. 8), compare this with Titus 1:10-11:
For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers… teaching things they should not teach, for the sake of sordid gain.
Notice that with these ‘rebellious men’, the talking, deceiving, and teaching is for ‘the sake of sordid gain’. They are abusing their positions as teachers. Or again, in 1 Timothy 6:3-6, Paul warns Timothy of advocates of ‘a different doctrine… (to that) of our Lord Jesus Christ… who suppose that godliness (or religion) is a means of gain’. They are teachers for the money. Isn’t it therefore a natural and necessary qualification that those preaching and teaching or otherwise serving God be ‘not fond of sordid gain’?
(iv) They must be ‘holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience‘ (v. 9). Compare this with 1 Tim 1:5-8:
…some men, straying from (a good conscience and a sincere faith, v. 6)… have turned aside…, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.
The mistake of the false teachers here was to have strayed from ‘a good conscience and a sincere faith’. Again, Paul told Timothy to keep ‘faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to the faith. Of these are Hymenaeus and Alexander…’, both of whom had become false teachers.75 Obviously then, true teachers must hold fast to these two things particularly, as should preachers and any other workers for God. ‘Holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience’ is absolutely essential for ‘deacons’.
(v) If married, remembering that Paul was an unmarried ‘deacon’, they must be fulfilling firstly their family responsibilities:
Let deacons be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households. (v. 12)
Those who are to make a living by proclaiming the faith must be demonstrably living out the faith and where better to look for evidence than where they live. Compare this with:
…if anyone does not provide for his own and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever (1 Tim 5:8)
How can any proclaim in words the faith they deny in their lives?
(vi) Is it any wonder now that Paul notes that:
…those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus. (v. 13)
If deacons are to serve well in preaching, teaching, overseeing, leading worship or otherwise serving God, wouldn’t they quite naturally become well respected and trusted amongst believers? Those who love the truth increasingly grow to love those who proclaim the truth. It is this love and trust that should be the basis for financial support for some so that they are free to get on with the work of God, also being free to travel as the need arises. 3 John 5-8 confirms this:
Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers; and they bear witness to your love before the church; and you will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support such men, that we may be fellow workers with the truth.
However, if they are to have such freedom to travel and to ‘refrain from working’ for wages, to avoid supporting ‘tourists’ or those not called to or equipped for the work, we must first carefully examine and test such people, which brings us to the last point.
(vii) One comment Paul makes is unique to ‘deacons’:
And let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach. (v. 10)
Deacons must not only be carefully examined as to character, in the same way as elders, but there should be a testing or probationary period before they are allowed to serve. While those who serve well will encourage ‘great confidence in the faith’, the reverse is equally true: those who serve badly will undermine confidence in the faith. Those of us who enjoy movies, in particular Westerns, will know how often the drunken, hypocritical, completely unreliable or just ineffectual preacher is a common element of many plots and this serves to bolster public prejudice against the gospel.
This testing, I would suggest, may sometimes have been accomplished almost as an apprenticeship, as in Barnabas and Paul taking John Mark with them,76 and Paul and Silas taking Timothy. 77 Paul may have felt that John Mark had failed this test78 but Barnabas stuck with him and he managed to prove himself in the end79 and record Peter’s gospel.
But again, what more natural and necessary qualification for anyone who wants to go into paid full-time ministry?
What Then of ‘Secular Affairs’?
What should we now call those people attending to the congregations’ ‘secular affairs’ or the material needs of the widows? In our secular welfare society, the people who distribute welfare benefits such as the Domestic Purpose Benefits etc, thereby ensuring the disadvantaged of our country are helped by means of redistributed taxation, work for the Department of Social Welfare. Those who work with the people rather than the administration are called ‘social workers’ since their full-time work is to help our society. Workers for organisations set up to help in famine relief are called ‘relief aid workers’.
Since our starting text of Acts 6:1-6 gives them no title at all, we need to look at other passages that do refer to this work such as ‘he who shows mercy (or compassion), (let him do so) with cheerfulness’.80 but this doesn’t give us a title except ‘he/she who shows mercy or compassion’. 1 Corinthians 12:28’s ‘helps’ is in the middle of a list of special members of the church and described no further but we can see that ‘helps’ were a recognised special gifting in the early church. The Greek noun thus translated, antilempsis, is not used anywhere else in the Scriptures but the verb, antilambano, was used by Paul in regard to helping the weak and the context is clearly talking of physical needs. Paul says:
“You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. In every thing I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help (Gk antilambano) the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’”.81
‘Helps’ therefore fits well in describing those appointed to help the widows. In Acts 6:3, the apostles said such people should be “full of the Spirit and of wisdom”. I would suggest that they needed to be full of the Spirit since He Himself shows mercy and compassion and is called the Helper (Gk, paracletos – lit. one called alongside); they needed to be full of wisdom so that the help was given to those who truly needed it and in such a way as to not be demeaning.
It appears to me to beyond all doubt that the ‘deacons’ of Philippians 1:1 and 1 Timothy 3 are not ‘officers attending to the congregation’s secular affairs’ but to those who have left other work or business to devote themselves to the word or work of God. This resolves several issues:
(i) A concept, and half a chapter of Scripture, can now be better understood and shown to be of much greater significance than it has appeared before. This improved understanding is also perfectly harmonious with the other verses describing those teaching, preaching or otherwise serving God.
(ii) Those who are at present known by various other names, such as pastors, preachers, ministers, clergyman, priests, vicars etc, on the basis that they have no other vocation or business than serving God can be more accurately labelled, using the name God gives them. We don’t have to depend on the traditions or imaginations of man to name them – we can trust the inspired Scriptures with all the corresponding inbuilt qualifications and limitations.
(iii) The correspondence between the old covenant Levite and the new covenant ‘deacon’ provides a Scriptural validation of those in full-time ministry, not only as preachers/evangelists and teachers but also as overseers or shepherds, singers, musicians and administrators.
(iv) It clears up any lingering doubts as to whether women can be in full-time ministry. Phoebe was undeniably a diakonos in Paul’s time and many others have been down through the ages, both on the mission field and in the local churches. It does open a whole other area of discussion to look at women as overseers or teachers (cf. 1 Tim 2:12) but certainly women can serve God in paid ministry.
But how should we now translate diakonos? I believe our options are either:
a) We re-define the word ‘deacon’ and attempt re-education of all of today’s translators, Bible colleges, seminaries, churches, Bible dictionary and encyclopaedia makers as to its correct meaning.
b) We follow the Greek as written and translate every appearance of diakonos as ‘servant’ so that we stop forcing our misunderstandings into the text.
c) We maintain the concept of full-time ministry in our present word ‘minister’ and use that on those occasions when the text seems to demand it and ‘servant’ on the others. The advantage of this is that both word s have the correct meaning both in day-to-day English and in the churches and is already used widely, though inconsistently, in English translations. We therefore abandon ‘deacon’ altogether as erroneous and misleading as it is now understood.
d) We adopt a new term such as ‘Christian worker’ and use that where the text appears to refer to those in full-time ministry but retain ‘servant’ for the other occurrences. The advantages of this new term are at least threefold: it makes a clean break with past erroneous tradition and invites new thinking; it is close to the Greek; thirdly, there is a parallel concept in the English language which is at present readily accepted and understood in the term ‘social worker’. We recognise today that a social worker is in full-time employment to deal with the social needs of our society. ‘Christian worker’, which is even now being used in our country, recognises that some are in full-time employment to deal with the spiritual needs.
My personal preference is to use the last two as appropriate or needed: to retain the use of ‘minister’ since it requires the least amount of explanation and keeps it simple but on those occasions when we want to deliberately provoke to thought, “Christian worker”.
Next we will look at the concept of ‘pastor’. Our situation is like a man wearing a shirt or cardigan that has been buttoned up incorrectly – when he realises the first button was in the wrong button-hole and corrected it, the other buttons now each have to be moved up or down a hole too. In our case, now that we can see deacon or minister is the Biblical name for those in ministry, where does ‘pastor’ fit in now?
Bazooka: By Carl Malamud – M1 Rocket Launcher, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3771816
Rifle: By Offspring 18 87 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3006228
Grenade: By J-L Dubois – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2368075
- Luke 22:25-26
- Concise Oxford Dictionary, p. 243
- Phil 1:1
- 1 Cor 3:5 cf. 1 Cor 1:12, 3:22, 4:1
- Rom 15:8
- Gal 2:17
- 2 Cor 11:23-28
- Eph 3:7-8
- Col 1:23
- Col 1:25-28
- 1 Cor 3:21-4:1
- 2 Cor 3:3, 6-9
- 2 Cor 6:3-10
- Eph 6:21-22
- Col 4:7-8
- Col 1:5-7
- 1 Tim 4:1-6
- 1 Tim 4:11)
- 1 Tim 4:13
- 1 Tim 4:15-16
- John 12:24-26
- Matt 20:25-28, Mark 10:42-45
- Matt 23:6-12
- Mark 9:35
- 2 Cor 11:4
- 2 Cor 11:14
- 2 Cor 6:3
- Mark 6:2-3
- Matt 4:18-19
- Matt 4:21-22
- Matt 9:9
- Matt 10:5-10
- Luke 10:2-7
- Acts 18:3-5
- Col 1:25, emphasis added
- 1 Cor 9:14
- 2 Cor 9:13-14
- Mal 3:10
- Num 18:8- 21
- 1 Chron 6:1-3
- Num 18:2-3, 6, emphasis added
- Num 3:1ff
- 2 Sam 6:1-7
- 1 Chron 23:26
- 1 Chron 23:28
- 1 Chron 26:29-32
- Num 18:6
- Num 18:2
- 1 Chron 23:28
- Heb 7:12
- 1 Pet 2:9
- 1 Pet 2:5, Heb 13:15-16
- Eph 4:8, 11-12, emphasis added
- 1 Chron 23:28-32, emphasis added
- Psa 84:2, 100:4
- Neh 13:4-5, 9
- Rev 3:20
- Col 3:17, Rom 12:1
- v. 29
- Mark 4:24-25, emphasis added
- 1 Peter 2:5
- Heb 13:15-16
- 1 Chron 6:31-32
- 1 Chron 25:1-3
- v. 6
- Psa 50, 73-83
- Psa 88
- 1 Chron 25:12-13, emphasis added
- 1 Chron 26:20, emphasis added
- John 13:29
- Titus 1:7
- Rom 16:23
- 1 Cor 4:1-2
- 1 Chron 23:3-5
- 2 Tim 2:17-18, 4:14-15
- Acts 12:25
- Acts 15:40 – 16:3
- Acts 15:37-39
- Col 4:10, 2 Tim 4:11
- Rom 12:8
- Acts 20:35