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Saturday, June 6 2016

Acts 6: Why Were They Called Deacons?

"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"

"Deacon" and "Deaconess" are English-language words that were derived from the Greek word diaconos, meaning a servant. The original Greek word was used in a general sense for all servants, with no church designation, however the apostles adopted the term for individuals who were given the responsibility of taking care of practical matters within the congregation.

Why was a Greek word chosen?

Aristotle The first "deacons" were "Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch." Notice that all of the first deacons had Greek names (i.e. Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas originated from the Greek names pronounced Stephanos, Philippos, Prochorus, Nikanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nikolaos). They were Greek-speaking Christians who could speak the Greek tongue (i.e. the Greek language; see The Origin Of Speaking In Tongues) to the Greek-speaking people.

Keep in mind that the entire New Testament itself was originally written primarily in Greek because it was still then the "world language" (see the Fact Finder question below).

So too, Luke, the writer of the Gospel Book of Luke and the Book of Acts was a Greek doctor who addressed Luke and Acts to a Greek nobleman named Theophilus (see Acts: Luke's Second Letter To Theophilus).

Further, the apostle Paul was the "apostle to the Gentiles" and conducted much of his ministry right in Greece itself (i.e. see 1 Corinthians: That Rock Was Christ and 2 Corinthians: The Devil's Fight Along The Way; also 1 Thessalonians: Prove All Things, Hold Fast What Is Good and 2 Thessalonians: The Falling Away Of The Son Of Perdition).

The qualifications applied equally to a deaconess as a deacon (see 1 Timothy 3:8-13). It is known from the writings of early church history after the close of the New Testament time that deaconesses served prominently by caring for needy fellow believers, visiting the sick, and assisting in the baptism of female converts. Phoebe is perhaps the best-known deaconess in the Bible record.

"16:1 I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant [i.e. deaconess] of the church which is at Cenchrea: 16:2 That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also." (Romans 16:1-2 KJV)

"4:2 I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. 4:3 And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life." (Philippians 4:2-3 KJV)

So it was then that the first Greek "servants" to the Greeks were chosen.

"6:1 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. 6:2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. 6:3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. 6:4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

6:5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: 6:6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

6:7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith." (Acts 6:1-7 KJV)

One of the deacons, Stephen, "full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people." As happened with the Messiah Himself, the self-blinded religious "authorities" of Jerusalem responded with fear and hate toward the Light (see Why Was The South A Dangerous Place? and Why Did They Fear The Miracles?).

"6:8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. 6:9 Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. 6:10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.

6:11 Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.

6:12 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, 6:13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: 6:14 For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.

6:15 And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel." (Acts 6:8-15 KJV)

Fact Finder: When did the Greek Empire spread the Greek language through the "world"?
See A History Of Jerusalem: Greeks, Ptolemies, Seleucids

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This Day In History, June 6

1513: Swiss papal forces defeated the French at the Battle of Novara in Italy during the War of the Holy League.

D Day 1523: Gustav Vasa was elected King of Sweden, ending the Kalmar Union.

1586: English forces under Francis Drake raided Spanish forces at St. Augustine (Florida was then a possession of Spain).

1620: At beginning of The Thirty Years War, 27 of the most eminent men of the protestant Czech lands were executed and dismembered for "heresy" by Catholics under Ferdinand.

1654: Queen Christina abdicated the Swedish throne to become a member of the Church of Rome.

1644: Manchu forces of the Qing Dynasty, led by the Shunzhi Emperor, captured Beijing during the collapse of the Ming Dynasty. The Manchus thereafter ruled China until 1912, when the Republic of China is established.

1660: The Peace of Copenhagen was signed, ending the war between Sweden and Denmark.

1683: The first public museum, The Ashmolean, was opened at Oxford, England.

1752: A fire destroyed about one-third of Moscow.

1762: During the Battle of Havana, British forces began a siege of Havana, Cuba.

1808: Joseph Bonaparte, the brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, was crowned King of Spain.

1813: The Battle of Stoney Creek during the War of 1812 (1812-1814). A British and Canadian force of 700 under John Vincent repelled an invading U.S. force three times its size.

1882: A cyclone in the Arabian Sea produced huge waves into Bombay harbour, killing 100,000 people.

1942: The U.S. carrier Yorktown was sunk by a Japanese submarine after being hit by bombs in the Battle of Midway.

1944: Operation Overlord: 24,000 U.S., British and Canadian paratroopers, and the amphibious landing of 61,000 British ("Gold" and "Sword" beaches), 22,000 Canadian ("Juno" beach) and 73,000 U.S. ("Omaha" and "Utah" beaches) troops on the coast of Normandy, France, during the first 24 hours. It was the largest sea-borne invasion in history and has become popularly known as "D-Day" (Date Day).

1967: Day 2 of the "6 Day War". The Israeli air force by then had inflicted heavy losses on the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian air forces: 416 aircraft (393 while still on the ground) were destroyed by Israel, with a loss of only 26 Israeli aircraft, all to anti-aircraft fire (see also A History Of Jerusalem: War And Peace).

1968: Senator Robert Kennedy died at age 42, the day after being shot by a Palestinian-immigrant assassin in Los Angeles.

1971: The Soviet Union launched Soyuz 11. The flight ended in disaster when the capsule depressurized during preparations for re-entry, killing the three-man crew (Vladislav Volkov, Georgi Dobrovolski, and Viktor Patsayev). To date, it was the only accident that resulted in human deaths in space, rather than at high atmosphere as happened with the two U.S. space shuttle accidents.

1971: During the Vietnam War, the Battle of Long Khanh between Australian and North Vietnamese forces began.

1980: For the second time in a week, U.S. nuclear forces went on red alert following a computer error warning of a Soviet attack.

1982: Israel began the "Operation Peace For Galilee" in which 80,000 Israeli troops and extensive air power invaded Lebanon in response to shelling of northern Israel by Palestinian forces in Lebanon. The Israelis inflicted heavy losses on the enemy ground forces and a devastating blow to the Syrian air force - between June 9 and 10 alone, 96 Syrian MiG-25 fighters that entered Lebanese air space were shot down, without a single Israeli plane lost. The Israelis captured vast quantities of PLO equipment - 1,320 armored combat vehicles, 144 artillery pieces and rocket launchers, 196 anti-aircraft guns, 1,342 anti-tank weapons, 33,000 small arms, and several thousand tons of ammunition. After initial swift successes however, the Israelis met fierce resistance; by the end of the conflict, casualties were estimated at 6,000 PLO fighters and noncombatants, and 800 Israeli dead and wounded, including Major General Yekutiel Adam, the highest-ranking Israeli officer ever to fall in battle.

1985: Police in Brazil exhumed a body they believed was that of Josef Mengele, the notorious Nazi "angel of death". Mengele was blamed for the deaths of 400,000 people and for sadistic "medical experiments" conducted at the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. The body was exhumed after West German officials found a letter Mengele sent from Brazil. A team of West German, Brazilian, and U.S. scientists concluded that the body was Mengele. Police believe that he drowned while swimming on February 7 1979 and was buried under a false name.

2002: An estimated 10-meter diameter asteroid entered the atmosphere and exploded over the Mediterranean Sea between Greece and Libya. The force of the explosion was estimated to have been about the same as the atomic bomb that the U.S. used to incinerate Nagasaki, Japan in 1945.



Copyright © Wayne Blank