But while Paul holds to the eternal validity of God's law as the standard of righteousness that condemns sin and thereby brings us to an intelligent and realistic act of repentance, he sees that revelatory standard as having reached its zenith in the teachings and example of Jesus Christ. So later he tells his Corinthian converts that though he is 'free' and 'not under the law,' yet he is 'not free from God's law' because he is 'under Christ's law' (1 Cor 9:19-21)." (176)
"But unlike the prophets and all forms of Judaism, Paul also denounces their nomism (so 2:17-21 and 3:19-4:7). For life controlled by law was instituted by God only for the period of his people's spiritual minority and until Christ should come. Now God's own 'in Christ' are to live as mature 'sons of God' and not in slavery to legal prescriptions." (177)
"It is for this reason that Judaism speaks of itself as being Torah centered and Christianity declares itself to be Christ-centered, for in Christ the Christian finds not only God's law as the revelatory standard preeminently expressed but also the law as a system of conduct set aside in favor of guidance by reference to Christ's teachings and example and through the direct action of the Spirit." (177)
--Taken from his Galatians
"The answer, in one word, is maturity. Maturity is a compound of wisdom, goodwill, resilience, and creativity. The Puritans exemplified maturity; we don’t. A much-traveled leader, a Native American (be it said) has declared that he finds North American Protestantism man-centered, manipulative, success-oriented, self-indulgent, and sentimental, as it blatantly is, to be 3,000 miles wide and half an inch deep. The Puritans, by contrast, as a body were giants. They were great souls serving a great God. In them clear-headed passion and warm-hearted compassion combined. Visionary and practical, idealistic and realistic too, goal-oriented and methodical, they were great believers, great hopers, great doers, and great sufferers."
"Likewise in reading Galatians for spiritual profit, we need to recognize that both 'legalism' and 'nomism' [i.e. living by the law] are being dealt with - mainly the latter, though with implications for the former - and not assume only the former (as is usually done). Otherwise, we fall into the trap of being 'half-Judaizers' in practice and possibly worse in theory." (96)
"As given by God to supervise the lifestyle of his people Israel, its function as a supervisory custodian has come to an end with the work of Christ. To go back, then, to living a life regulated by law, even though motivated by a fervent piety, is to live a sub-Christian life - in effect, to renounce Christ in our actions."
"Being 'in Christ' is the essence of Christian proclamation and experience. One may discuss legalism, nomism, and even justification by faith, but without treating the 'in Christ' motif we miss the heart of the Christian message. Likewise, Christians may live conscious of being 'justified by faith' apart from legalism, but without being conscious of living 'in Christ'; consequently, they often revert to some form of nomistic lifestyle. The climactic focus of Paul's Galatians argument (the probatio) is on being 'in Christ,' just as it is in the argument of his Romans letter, moving from justification-type arguments in 1:18-5:11 to incorporation-type arguments that climax with the 'in Christ' motif in 5:12-8:39. And so the focus of Christians seeking to live out their commitments in a truly biblical fashion should be on being 'in Christ,' without reverting to some nomistic experience. Christians today can applaud Paul's antilegalist polemic of 3:1-18. Yet by ignoring his antinoist presentation of 3:19-29, which climaxes in the 'in Christ' motif of vv 26-29, they may actually find themselves reproducing the Judaizers' error, despite protestations of piety and earnestness." (159)
-Taken from his Galatians
For Paul, as well as for all learned 1st Century Jews, Ezekiel 36 and Jeremiah 31 were very important passages. They are two key new covenant passages and Paul sees these as having been fulfilled in the death and resurrection of Christ and the pouring out of the Spirit at Pentecost. Notice that the tense of the verb “give” is future in Ezekiel 36. When Paul quotes it in 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul uses a present participle. I want to point out the similarities between the promises given in Ezekiel 36-37 and what Paul writes here. Note that didonta and dōsō are from the same verb didōmi:
· 1 Thess 4:8 - God who gives (didonta) his Holy Spirit (to pneuma autou) to us (eis hymas)
· Ezek 11:19 - I will give (dōsō) them an undivided heart and give (dōsō) a new spirit (pneuma) in them (en autois); I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.
· Ezek 36:26 - I will give (dōsō) you a new heart and a new spirit (pneuma) in you (en hymin)
· Ezek 36:27 - And I will give my Spirit in you (to pneuma mou dōsō en hymin) and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
· Ezek 37:6 - I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will give my Spirit to you (dōsō pneuma mou eis hymas), and you will come to life.
· Ezek 37:14 - I will give my Spirit to you (dōsō to pneuma mou eis hymas) and you will live.
Now notice the similarities between 1 Thessalonians 4:9 and Jeremiah 31 and Isaiah 54:
· 1 Thess 4:9 – Because you have been taught by God (theodidaktoi)
· Isa 54:13 - All your children will be taught by the LORD (didaktous theou), and great will be their peace.
· Jer 31:34 - No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. (38:34 LXX) (kai ou mē diaxōsin hekastos ton politēn autou. . . . hoti pantes eidēsousin me)Notice that what Jeremiah and Isaiah saw as a future has become a present reality for the Thessalonians. They have been taught by God.
There are two main passages dealing with female deacons. Both are debated, but as I hope to show, are actually quite clear. The first passage is Romans 16:1-2, which says, “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon [diakonos] of the church in Cenchreae. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help (parastete) she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me. Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus” (NIV). Here is a list of other translations who translate the verse similarly:
There are five main reasons to take this verse to mean that Phoebe was a deacon:
1. Paul names her office to strengthen her commendation.
2. The phase “of the church in Cenchreae” points to the fact that she held an office there.
3. Paul never uses the noun diakanos to refer to the service of Christians in general. In Philippians 1:1, 1 Timothy 3:8, and 1 Timothy 3:12, he uses it to refer to the office of deacon.
4. The wording Paul uses points to an office. Literally, it reads, “I commend to you Phoebe, our sister, being (ousan) [or ‘who is’] a deacon of the church in Cenchrae.” As Dunn points out below, “deacon” plus the present active participle of eimi points to a recognized office.
5. In verse two, Paul describes “deacon work.” She was a benefactor to Paul and many others.
It is also important to note that every major commentator on the book of Romans agrees that Phoebe was a deacon. Let’s let them speak for themselves: F.F. Bruce, Douglas Moo, James Dunn, N.T. Wright, Charles Cranfield, and Tom Schreiner.
Early evidence suggests that deacons were primarily charged with visiting the sick, helping the poor and perhaps financial oversight. Phoebe would have no doubt excelled in hospitality since she lived in a port city.
1 Timothy 3.11
First Timothy 3:11 reads, “In the same way, the women (gunaikas) are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.” The main question here is, “Should gunaikas be translated wives or women?” I want to make the case for women, but it is vital to point out, as Tim Keller does, that “either way, the text is teaching that women can and should do diaconal work alongside the deacons and in a way recognized by the congregation (after all, they are screened and selected). These may have been female individuals selected to do diaconal work with the deacons or wives appointed to do it together with them. But either way they were doing it.”
There are three primary reasons for seeing this verse as referring to female deacons. First, the most natural reading is “women.” If Paul meant deacon wives, he could have made this very clear (with diakonon or auton). The ESV and NKJV inexcusably add “their” to the Greek text. Unless context makes it clear that Paul is talking about wives, the word gunaikas should be translated “women” (so NIV, NRS, YLT, NAS; e.g. 1 Cor 5:1, Eph 5:22, Col 3:19). By simply using “women” without qualification, he is referring to women in general, not the wives of deacons.
Second, the structure of the verse suggests that Paul is thinking of three categories: male overseers, male deacons, and female deacons. Notice that Paul introduces the women here in the same way he introduced the men in 1 Tim 3.8 with “in the same way” (hosaoutos). Paul lays out the qualifications for male elders in 3:1-7. In 3:8 he says “in the same way” there are similar qualifications for male deacons. In 3:11, he says “in the same way” and says the same qualifications for men who are deacons also apply to women deacons as well. Verses 8-10 are about male and female deacons. Verse 11 lists a couple more for female, while verses 12-13 list additional requirements for male deacons. The verb “are to be” or “must be” (ESV) (dei) in 3:2, 3:8, 3:11 shows there are three categories:
3:1-7 - Male Overseer Is To Be
3:8-10 - In the same way Male Deacons Are to Be
3:11 - In the same way Female Deacons Are to Be
Third, if Paul were referring to the wives of deacons, why did he not include qualifications for the wives of elders? As Mark Driscoll writes, “It would be absurd to believe male deacons are held to a higher standard than male elders, who hold the highest position of authority in the church. Therefore, the verse cannot logically be accepted as an additional requirement for the wives of male deacons.”
Paul does not mention women under elders because elders are to be male only. This is not the case with the office of deacon. The qualifications of 3:12 are very similar to those required of deacons. Deacons organize other servants. They, under the leadership of the elders, give themselves to practical service to the needs of the congregation (Acts 6), not teaching (1 Tim 3:2) and not managing the church (1 Tim 3:5). Elders lead and teach; deacons serve.
It is sort of funny to me how some of those who are so critical of female deacons have youth ministers, ministers of education, nursery assistants, or ministers of music. Where in the Bible do you find such offices? And what about licensing and ordination? As Driscoll notes, “Every church does have women in positions of leadership, even if their roles are restricted to administration, women’s ministries, and children’s ministries. Unless a church calls such women by the biblical title of deacon and hold them accountable to the biblical qualifications for their leadership, they are forced to invent titles like director and such. This is problematic because it has no biblical precedent. Therefore, a church should have only male elders who are the senior leadership in the church but who are free to appoint both male and female deacons as assistant leaders as needed. Indeed, some churches will disagree with us, and our only response would be a loving request that they reconsider the Scriptures on this point.”
--For more evidence, documentation, and historical support, go here.
--For more evidence, documentation, and historical support, go here.
From Carl Trueman:
I love the doctrine of union with Christ (I hope to have a short book published on this topic soon). I also love the work of Robert Letham. Combine these two and boom! Good stuff. His book is now listed at Amazon but is not yet available (also see WTS). Add it to your wish list and wait patiently. Here is the Table of Contents and here are some sample chapters.
Translation is very complex work. Sadly, many think its black and white, especially regarding gender. If you are interested in learning more about translation philosophy, I highly recommend D.A. Carson's The Inclusive Language Debate. You can now access the book for free here. If you are one to critique gender accurate translations, you really ought to read this one.