Deacons – Servants (part 2)

Defining the Terms

While there is only one Greek root word for “deacon” in the New Testament, that Greek word is translated several different ways. “Deacon” is not found in the Old Testament, for its original concept is based in the New Testament.  Though a parallel may be found between deacons and the Levites of the Old Testament.

There are three Greek words for, or related to, the word “deacon.”  All three have the same root.

  1. Diakonos (noun): “A servant of the people, a waiter, an attendant, a servant or minister.” This word is used 32 times in the Greek text.  The King James Version translates diakonos in the following ways:
    • “Deacon” 5 times (Phil.  1:1;  I Tim. 3:8, 10, 12, 13)
    • “Servant” 7 times (Matt. 22:13; 23:11; Mark 9:35; John 2:5, 9; 12:26; Rom. 16:1)
    • “Minister” 20 times (Matt. 20:26; Mark 10:43; Romans 13:4; 15:8; I Cor. 3:5; etc.).
  1. Diakonia (noun): “Serviceable labor, assistance, a service or ministry to the people.” This word is used 34 times in the Greek text. Diakonos refers more to the person, diakonia to the office. The King James Version translates diakonia in the following ways:
    • “Ministry” 16 times (Acts 1:17, 25; 6:4; 12:25; 20:24; 21:19; etc.)
    • “Ministration” 6 times (Acts 6:1; II Cor. 3:7, 8, 9; 9:13)
    • “Ministering” 3 times (Rom. 12:7; II Cor. 8:4; 9:1)
    • “Service” 2 times (Rom. 15:31; II Cor. 11:8)
    • “Administration” 2 times (I Cor. 12:5; II Cor. 9:12)
    • “Serving,”  “relief,”  “office,” “do service,” “to minister” all once (Luke 10:40; Acts 11:29; Rom. 11:13; II Cor. 11:8; Heb. 1:14).
  1. Diakoneo (verb): “To serve, to wait upon, to care for someone’s needs.” This word is used 37 times in the Greek New Testament.  The King James Version translates diakoneo in the following ways:
    • “Minister unto” 15 times (Matt. 4:11; 8:15; 20:28; 25:44; Mark 10:45; Luke 8:3; II Tim. 1:18; etc.)
    • “Serve” 10 times (Luke 10:40; 12:37; 17:8; John 12:2, 26; Acts 6:2; etc.)
    • “Minister” 7 times (Matt.  20:28; Mark 10:45; 2 Cor. 3:3; I Pet. 1:12; 4:10, 11)
    • “Administer” 2 times (II Cor. 8:19, 20)
    • “Use the office of a deacon” 2 times (I Tim. 3:10, 13).
    • “Minister to” once (Heb. 6:10).

One can clearly see the implications of this word by how the King James translators rendered it. The words diakonos, diakonia and diakoneo are frequently used outside of the formal office of deacon.  All are called to have the servant’s heart of a deacon, but all are not called to the office of a deacon in the local church.  Certain qualifications and requirements must be met for this to occur.  In the next lesson, we will examine the qualifications for a deacon.

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