Dr. Couch, did the early church have deaconesses?
ANSWER: The earliest of the churches followed the NT which does not call for deaconesses. The word diaconnas means servant. So there were women who did things for carrying out the ministry of the church but there were no deaconesses officially in the congregation. However around the third century some churches began to form deaconess boards, but in the west, in the Latin churches this ended around AD 441. In the Greek orthodox churches it ended around the 12th century.
The churches began to have problems with the women who wanted to lead the men. This is happening today with the liberal churches. Women are not to lead men. However in some conservative seminaries today (with some in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area) they are supposedly training women “to be leaders.”
In the church Council of Orange around the fifth century they banned women from being officially deaconesses. It was not biblical nor was it working! Women who want to be elders/pastors are foolish and are stepping out of their key roles as wives and mothers. Yes, women can help around the church to help serve or clean up the church but this is not an official position. It is women who think they are “men.”And they are not! Can you believe what is happening in our military! Some women are taking our military to court because they won't let the women go into combat. Can you imagine the men who think it is ok to place women into harms way! It is now acceptable to allow the women to defend the men! It is ok to kill wives and mothers on the front lines. Women are 50% less physically capable of doing what men do. They have only 50% upper body strength and have only 50% stamina that men have. So it is a social agenda and a social argument that wishes to place them where only men are supposed to go!
Some women who are very ignorant try to use Romans 16: 1-2 to argue that there were women deaconesses in the early church are just plain wrong. The passage says that the church was to receive Phoebe “who was a servant (deaconess) of the church at Cenchrea.” But then it says she was to be received “in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well.”
She was to be accepted as an ordinary “saint” or church member, not as one in a special role of a formal deaconess. She certainly did have a ministry, and she must have traveled about doing special spiritual work but this does not mean she was formally a deacon of an assembly.
Think carefully when you read a passage of Scripture! Don't read into it what is not there. Some women have a hidden ambition to rule over men and to take their positions.
Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch (6/11)