Deacon And Elder Boards In The Church:
Are They Scriptural?
FIRST WE MUST LAY SOME GROUNDWORK TO THIS STUDY, AND BREAK A VERY MAJOR MISCONCEPTION IN REGARD TO REVELATION 2 AND 3:
CONTRARY TO POPULAR OPINION, CHAPTERS TWO AND THREE ARE NOT LETTERS TO THE SEVEN CHURCHES!
FALSE PROPHETS ABOUND IN THE CHURCH IN AMERICA, AND YOU CAN TELL WHO THEY ARE BY READING THEIR COMMENTARIES ON THESE TWO CHAPTERS!
In chapter one of the book of Revelation, we are told that the vision that John recorded was written to the seven churches in Asia (1:4): "John to the seven churches which are in Asia".
Typically, most people who expound on the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ erroneously refer to Chapters 2 and 3 as "letters to the seven churches".
But just as we have seen that verse 4 of chapter one says "John to the seven churches which are in Asia", in chapters 2 and 3, we can see that these letters were written parenthetically to the "angels" of those individual churches.
Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write;
And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write;
And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write;
And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write;
And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write;
And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write;
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write;
That these were not heavenly angels we can see through the fact that FIVE of them are told that they must repent of their sin before God. According to Thayer's lexicon of the Greek language, the word "angel" in the Greek actually means "a messenger, envoy, one who is sent, an angel, a messenger from God."
One of the definitions given in Strong's Greek dictionary says "By implication, a pastor".
Jesus used this Greek word when he spoke of John the Baptist (translated as "messenger"):
Mat 11:10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. (Mark 1:2, Lk 7:27).
Other places where we can find this word translated as "messengers" are Luke 7:24, 2 Cor 12:7, and James 2:25. The fact that these letters are written to individuals, and NOT to the churches as so many erroneously assume, would indicate that a large number of books and commentaries concerning the Book of Revelation are founded on errant reasoning.
Many who espouse the doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture see these letters "to the churches" as dispensational ages of the Church. But since they are not letters to the churches, one would have to question the validity of this position.
I personally believe that in each one of these messengers can be seen the different spiritual conditions of those in the five fold ministry who lead the flock of God, whether they be pastors, prophets, teachers, evangelists, or apostles.
Most of the ministers addressed by our Lord are hirelings, and are called to repent of their evil ways.
God's attitude toward those who lead His people has never changed. There is a grave responsibility that comes with the call to ministry. And yet in His Mercy and Justice, He pleads with those who misuse the office He has called them to:
Jer 2:7 And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine heritage an abomination.
8 The priests said not, Where is the LORD? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.
9 Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the LORD, and with your children's children will I plead.
He is still pleading with His ministers, as we can see in chapters 2 and 3 of the book of Revelation, but with His plea comes a stern warning to repent to each of those wayward ministers.
FAR TOO MANY OF THOSE WHO HAVE TAKEN THE OFFICE OF A PASTOR HAVE TAKEN IT AS A "JOB", INSTEAD OF A CALLING FROM THE LORD.
The sad part is that those who fill their office as a job would refer to the job they are occoupying as a calling.
Jer 10:19 Woe is me for my hurt! my wound is grievous: but I said, Truly this is a grief, and I must bear it.
20 My tabernacle is spoiled, and all my cords are broken: my children are gone forth of me, and they are not: there is none to stretch forth my tent any more, and to set up my curtains.
21 For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the LORD: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.
Jer 12:10 Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.
11 They have made it desolate, and being desolate it mourneth unto me; the whole land is made desolate, because no man layeth it to heart.
Jer 23:1 Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD.
2 Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.
3 And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.
4 And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD.
I HAVE DEALT WITH EACH OF THESE LETTERS IN ANOTHER AREA OF MY WEBSITE. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED, YOU CAN GO THERE BY CLICKING HERE.
A couple of years ago, I posted an article in my website about the Jezebel spirit and feminism in the church. In that article, I gave honor to my wife, who has been a great support to the ministry that the Lord has called us to.
But the Jezebel Spirit is not just about feminism in the church.
Since I have been on this journey up the Mississippi River, I have beheld that spirit as being alive and well in the Church in America.
Many books have been written, expounding on what the Jezebel spirit is, but I thought I would present a study on my website for those who are interested as to what I have seen concerning that Jezebel. I hope you will be blessed.
In the Letter to the messenger (pastor, prophet, apostle, teacher or evangelist) of the church in Thyratira, we see that the Lord says that He has a few things against him, because he "suffers that woman Jezebel to teach and seduce His servants to commit fornication and to eat things sacrificed unto idols."
The Word of God states that the things that happened in the history of the Israelites were written for our examples, that we shouldn't fall prey to the same error as they did (1 Cor 10:7-13, 2 Tim 3:16).
I believe we can learn about this Jezebel spirit by looking at what the scriptures have to say about Jezebel, so before we delve into this subject, let's determine what the Jezebel of the Bible did, and then we can more clearly see how the Jezebel spirit works in a church or through individuals:
1) She cut off the prophets of the Lord by having them killed (1 Ki 18:4, 13).
2) She persuaded Ahab to abuse his office of authority as king of Israel to acquire that which he coveted after, even if it meant destroying another person to do so (1 Ki 21:1-16).
3) She caused the king Ahab to embrace another religion as another way to God (1 Ki 16:31)
4) She was given to vanity, and used her femininity as a device to get her way (2 Kings 9:30).
5) She misused scripture to attempt to maintain her Authority, and to discourage others from applying themselves to the Word (2 Kings 9:31).
Now let's look at how these 5 characteristics of Jezebel apply spiritually to some of the churches in America today.
1) She Cut Off The Prophets Of The Lord By Having Them Killed (1 Ki 18:4, 13).
As I said before, many books have been written regarding what the Jezebel spirit is, but I believe ONE OF THE AREAS in which this spirit works is in the area of deacon boards and "church governing bodies".
Biblically, I believe the deacon or any other minister operating in the function of the New Testament church is a type of the Levite of the Old Testament. The Levites served to keep order in the temple.
They were the singers, they kept track of the finances and the offerings, they kept the maintenance of the temple. They were in charge of the temple or the tabernacle furnishings (Num 3:6-51). But they never were intended to tell the priest what he should do in his service to the Lord.
I believe that the parallel of the Levite today is anyone who has a place in ministry in the church, and who aids the pastor in his ministry. This includes the ushers, the "deacons", the elders, the greeters, the choir, the musicians, the janitors, the secretaries, and the accountants. Every person who operates in the capacity of aiding the church to function, are the "Levites" of the ministry, including the pastor himself. Whatever capacity they operate in should be considered as service to the Lord, and as such, it is a privilege.
The Levites were to do their part to ensure that the ministry functioned properly. As I have already stated, deacons are a type of New Testament Levite. But nowhere in the Word of God do I see that the deacons were elevated to a position of determining the direction a church should go, or to vote a pastor in or out of the position that only God can call him to.
THE SHOCKING REVELATION OF WHO A DEACON IS
The Greek word translated as "deacon" is translated elsewhere as "minister" in the idea of servitude to others (Matt 4:11, 8:15, 20:28, 25:44, 27:55, Luke 8:3, etc. [minister, ministered, ministering]); Luke 10:40, 12:37, 17:8, 22:26; John 12:26, etc. [serve]). These are just a few places where this word is used.
We see this word used in Acts 6:2 and translated as "serve" in regard to the seven who were appointed to take care of the daily ministration ( another form of the word deacon: G1248 diakonia dee-ak-on-ee'-ah From G1249; attendance (as a servant, etc.); figuratively (eleemosynary) aid, (official) service (especially of the Christian teacher, or technically of the diaconate): - (ad-) minister (-ing, -tration, -try), office, relief, service (-ing). Strong's Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries) to the widows, to "serve" tables in order to free up the apostles to study the Word and pray, and be about the business of equipping the church .
Simply put, the Greek word for "deacon" is translated elsewhere variously as serve, servant, minister, ministering, ministration. Despite the traditional concept in the church world today, the word "deacon" refers to ALL who are in ministry.
The apostles appointed seven men to specifically minister to the widows and to serve the tables. Again, when we see the word "deacon" it actually refers to all who are in ministry. To see this more clearly we can see that Paul used the word in reference to himself (minister Gr.: diakonos):
Col 1:23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister (diakonos; deacon)
See also 1 Cor 3:5; 2 Cor 3:6, 6:4, 11:23; Eph 3:7; Col 1:23, 25.
This word was even used in reference to Jesus Christ:
Rom 15:8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister (diakonos; deacon) of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:
Our typical Biblical Standard for what the requirements of a "deacon" must be uses this same word.
1Ti 3:8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.
11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
13 For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
And then in 1 Timothy 4:6, Paul uses the same word when he tells Timothy that if he puts the brethren in remembrance of those things he had told him, he would be a good "minister" of Jesus Christ.
The simple fact is that 1 Timothy 3:8-13 are requirements for all who are in ministry (NOT JUST A POSITION ERRONEOUSLY LABELED AS "DEACON").
In any area of ministry, the person who ministers in whatever capacity he or she may minister are to be of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, without blame, and a good representative of the God who they serve. I personally believe the modern day position of the deacon, with it's deacon boards and all that goes with it, is errant man-made doctrine. A better word for it is VAIN TRADITION.
A little leaven leavens the whole lump.
If a church embraces a doctrine that has no Biblical precedent, then it opens itself up to more error. Although Ahab was the king, his wife influenced him to do her will in his leadership of the nation of Israel.
She had the prophets who brought the word of God killed, so she could introduce her own doctrines and agenda into the picture. So it is with the "deaconized" church in America.
Although the pastor is the designated head of the church, the "church board" or the deacons actually govern what happens in the church. As long as the pastor is in line with what the Jezebel wants, then everything will go smoothly. Jezebel sought to bring her own doctrines into the nation of Israel. She silenced the true prophets of God through having them imprisoned and killed, and brought in her own prophets, the prophets of Baal.
The shepherd of the sheep leads his sheep. Sheep don't lead the shepherd.
The pastor may believe that the Lord would have him to lead the church in a specific direction in line with the Word of God, and the Jezebel board will correct him, or kill the vision of the pastor by saying "we need more tolerance in the church." "We need more programs that would be more appealing to the flesh." "We need more women in leadership." "We need homosexuals to be a part of the ministry." "You preach against sin too much." "You talk too much about the 'Blood' - some people find that offensive." "You need to be more conscious of the time when you preach. You are going way over the reasonable limit!" "You're not doing things like the last pastor did, and we don't appreciate the changes that you are making." "We don't like your choice of clothing." "You need to lose the goatee."
I personally believe that because of the lack of scriptural precedence for their existence, these "deacon boards" and "governing bodies" are subject to being given over to the Jezebel spirit that tries to usurp authority over the Authority that the Lord has placed over His flock.
Because of these governing sheep, the wolves of Satan can come in and work strife and division in the body, and the work of the shepherd will be hindered. The problem is there are too many shepherds who are mere hirelings and don't want to contend for the Lord's flock in the face of adversity when the wolves come.
Because they are hirelings, they don't have a personal investment in the sheep, and when it gets too intense for their personal comfort, they resign, instead of taking on the wolves and calling them for what they are.
BUT IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT THE DEACONS!