Deacons

“…look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business…  whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

Acts 6:3-7

“Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.  And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless…  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.”

1 Tim. 3:8-13

“And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:”

Mt. 20:27

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Subsection

Auxillary Positions in Church: Widows, Deaconesses, etc.

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Order of Contents

Articles  16+
Quotes  3
Confessions  10+
History  3

Power for Ordaining Deacons: from Presbytery  1
Restricted to Males  7
May Not Baptize or Preach  6
Don’t Rule with Elders  3
How Deacons Need the Spirit  1


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Articles

On the Post-Reformation

Heppe, Heinrich – ch. 27, ‘The Church’, sections 39 & 41  in Reformed Dogmatics  ed. Bizer, trans. Thomson  (Wipf & Stock, 2007), pp. 680-82

Heppe quotes Heidegger, Bucan and Mastricht.

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1500’s

Beza, Theodore – 13. ‘The Abuse which is Committed in the Second Part of Ecclesiastical Offices, which be Deacons’  in 7th Point, ‘A Brief Comparison between the Doctrine of the Papists & this of the Holy Catholic Church’  in A Brief & Piththy Sum of the Christian Faith made in Form of a Confession, with a Confutation of all such Superstitious Errors as are contrary thereunto  (London: Serll, 1565), pp. 171-73

Cartwright, Thomas

4. ‘That there ought now to be Elders to Govern the Church with the Pastors, & Deacons to Provide for the Poor’  in A Reply to an Answer made of Mr. Doctor Whitgift against the Admonition to the Parliament  (1573), p. 222

10th Tract, ‘Of the Office of Deacons…’  in The Rest of the Second Reply of Thomas Cartwright against Master Doctor Whitgift’s Second Answer touching the Church Discipline  (1577), pp. 89-115

Marbeck, John – A Book of Notes & Common Places, with their Expositions, Collected & Gathered out of the Works of Diverse Singular Writers...  (London: East, 1581)

‘Archdeacon’, ‘When the Archdeacons Began’
‘Bishop’, ‘What is meant by these two names, Bishops & Deacons?’
‘Deacons’

Marbeck (c. 1510 – c. 1585) was an English theological writer and choral composer, whose musical setting of the early Anglican liturgy standardised the sung Anglican service until the late 20th century.

The abbreviation “D.W.” probably stands for Dr. John Whitgift, and Anglican apologist.

Penry, John – ‘Dr. Bancroft: They [Puritans] say they had these men in their synagogues, the priests, we must have in every parish our pastors, they their Levite, we our doctors, they their rulers of their synagogues, we our elders, they their levitical treasurers, we our deacons’  in A Brief Discovery of the Untruths & Slanders (against the True Governement of the Church of Christ) contained in a Sermon, Preached…  1588 by Dr. Bancroft…  (Edinburgh: Waldegrave, 1590), pp. 13-14

Penry was an English puritan.  This took place in the English context of the Marprelate controversy.

Beza, Theodore & Anthony Faius – ‘Concerning Deacons’  in 75. ‘Principles touching the Holy Functions of the Church that are Depraved & Retained only in Name in the Romish Counterfeit Church’  in Propositions & Principles of Divinity Propounded & Disputed in the University of Geneva by certain students of divinity there, under Mr. Theodore Beza & Mr. Anthony Faius  (Edinburgh: Waldegrave, 1591), pp. 242-45

Udall, John – ch. 13, ‘On Deacons’  in The True Form of Church Government First Instituted by Christ, Now Used & Practised in All the Reformed Churches of Germany, France & Scotland: Humbly Presented to the…  [English] Court of Parliament…  (London: 1642), pp. 38-42

Udall was an English puritan.

Udall holds in ch. 12, p. 35, points 6-7 that elders and deacons may baptize if licensed and commanded by the bishop (a minister).  Yet the reformed typically held that there is no urgent necessity for the sacraments insofar as they are not necessary for salvation.  Hence there is no need for this and it is not justified.  See on ‘Whether the Sacraments may be Administered Privately’.

Polanus, Amandus – The Substance of Christian Religion…  (London: Field, 1595), pp. 168-69

‘Concerning the Disposers of the Church Goods’
‘Concerning Deaconesses’

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1600’s

Bucanus, William – Institutions of Christian Religion…  (London: Snowdon, 1606), 42nd Place, ‘Of the Ministry’, pp. 544-47

‘What be the orders of them that minister? [Elders & Deacons]’
‘Which be the deacons?’
‘Do you deny that the pastors had any care of the poor imposed upon them? [No]’

Wilson, Thomas – ‘Deacon’  in A Christian Dictionary...  (London: Jaggard, 1612)

Wilson (1563–1622) was an Anglican minister, known for this work.

Du Moulin, Pierre – 22nd Demand, ‘That a bishop is inferior to a priest and that a deacon is above a priest…’  in Father Cotton, a Jesuit, the King’s Confessor, his Two & Thirty Demands to the Ministers of France, with the Answers Added...  (London: Barnes, 1614), pp. 23-27

Du Moulin (1568–1658) was a Huguenot minister in France who also resided in England for some years.  He here argues against a Jesuit.

Calderwood, David – ch. 5, ‘Of Archdeacons, Chancellors, Commissaries, Officials & Vicars General’  in The Altar of Damascus, or the Pattern of the English Hierarchy & Church Policy Obtruded upon the Church of Scotland  (Amsterdam, Thorpe, 1621), pp. 129-45

Calderwood, the presbyterian, here describes and critiques the archdeaconry and deaconate of the Anglican Church.

Anglicanism justified much of her hierarchy by the Church’s power to create auxillary offices and by the natural power of delegation.  Yet ecclesiastical auxillary offices (not by divine right) and delegation cannot be made universally necessary and must be at least needed or serve a benefit inline with the Church’s Great Commission, be consistent with the principles of the government Christ has ordained and be unto edification.

See ‘On Auxillary Positions in or for the Church: including Widows, Deaconesses, etc.’.

Leiden Professors – Disputation 42, sections 63-64  in Synopsis of a Purer Theology  (1625; Brill, 2016), p. 653

Wolleb, Johannes – ch. 26, ‘The External Administration of the Church’, p. 143  in Abridgment of Christian Divinity  (1626)  in ed. John Beardslee, Reformed Dogmatics: J. Wollebius, G. Voetius & F. Turretin  (Oxford Univ. Press, 1965)

Wolleb (1589–1629) was a Swiss reformed theologian.  He was a student of Amandus Polanus.

Rutherford, Samuel

pp. 281, 291-94  in ch. 19, ‘Doubts against Presbyterial Government Discussed, as about Ruling Elders, Deacons, Widows…’  in A Peaceable & Temperate Plea…  (London, 1642)

The Due Right of Presbyteries…  (London, 1644), pt. 1

‘A More Special Consideration of Ruling Elders, Deacons & Widows, 1 Tim. 5:17’, pp. 144-59

‘Of Deacons’, pp. 159-74

Lightfoot, John – ‘The Office of Deacons’  on Acts 6:3  in A Commentary upon the Acts of the Apostles…  (London: Crooke, 1645), pp. 101-2

Lightfoot was a Westminster divine.

The are numerous reasons why, contra Lightfoot, Philip became an evangelist after he had been a deacon, and not before: (1) the authoritative commission of Christ to the 70 was unique and temporary for the purpose, (2) Philip’s preaching and baptizing comes after Acts 6, in ch. 8 and 21:8, and (3) an evangelist taking up tables is counter-productive, Acts 6:2.  As for Stephen, his preaching in Acts 7 was incidental, and not from his office.

Dury, John – ch. 7, ‘Concerning the Office & Employment of Deacons’  in A Model of Church-Government: or the Grounds of the Spiritual Frame & Government of the House of God. Showing what the Holy Scriptures have therein Delivered, what the Best Reformed Churches do Practice…  (London: Bellamy, 1647), pp. 25-28

Dury was a Westminster divine.

Hooker, Thomas – ch. 1, ‘Of Deacons’  in A Survey of the Sum of Church-Discipline…  (1648), pt. 2, pp. 32-38

Hooker was a congregationalist and here surveys the form of government in New England in which “there is a joint concurrence of most of the elders of New-England.”

Guthrie, James – pt. 2, ‘Of Deacons’  ToC  in  A Treatise of Ruling Elders & Deacons…  (d. 1661; Edinburgh: Anderson, 1690)

Guthrie (1612?–1661) was a Scottish covenanter.

van Mastricht, Peter – bk. 7, ch. 2, section 22, ‘4. Deacons’  in Theoretical Practical Theology  (RHB), vol. 5, pp. 270-71

Heidegger, Johann H. – Locus 27, ‘On the Government of the Church’, sections 10 & 18  in The Concise Marrow of Theology  trans. Carmichael  (RHB, 2019), pp. 194 & 197

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1800’s

Girardeau, John

‘The Diaconate’  (1879)  33 pp.

Girardeau was instrumental in reviving the diaconate in the southern presbyterian church.

‘The Diaconate Again’  (1881)  37 pp.

‘The Importance of the Office of Deacon’  (1881)  29 pp.


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Quotes

1600’s

George Gillespie

English Popish Ceremonies  (1637), ch. 8, Digression 1, ‘Of the Vocation of Men of Ecclesiastical Order’, pp. 160-63

“Now beside the apostles, prophets and evangelists, which were not ordained to be ordinary and perpetual offices in the Church, there are but two ecclesiastical orders or degrees instituted by Christ in the New Testament, viz. elders and deacons.  Excellenter Canones d•…os tantum sacros ordines appellari censent, Diaconatus scilicet & Presbyte∣rat•…, quia hos solos primitiva Ecclesia legitur habuisse, & de hi•… sol•… praeceptum Apostli habe•…, says the Master of Sentences (bk. 4, distinction [??])…

Moreover, 1 Tim. 3, he gives order only for bishops and deacons, but says nothing of a third order.  Wherefore it is manifest that beside those two orders of elders and deacons, there is no other ecclesiastical order which has any divine institution, or necessary use in the Church.  And princes should do well to apply their power and authority to the extirpation and rooting out of Popes, Cardinals, Patriarches, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, Suffragans, Abbots, Deanes, Vice-Deans, Priors, Arch∣deacons, Subdeacons, Chancellours, Chantours, Subchantours, Exorcists, Monks, Hermits, Acoluths, and all the whole rabble of Popish orders, which undo the Church, and work more mischief in the earth than can be either soon seene or shortly told.

But contrary wise, princes ought to establish and mantain in the Church, elders and deacons, according to the apostolical institution.  Now elders are either such as labor in the Word and doctrine, or else such as are appointed for discipline only….

And many more of our divines, who teach that the apostle 1 Tim. 5:17, directly implies that there were some elders who ruled well, and yet labored not in the Word and doctrine, and those elders he means by them that rule, Rom. 12:8 and by governments, 1 Cor. 12:28, where the apostle says not ‘helps in governements,’ as our new English translation corruptly reads, but ‘helps, governements,’ etc. plainly putting ‘governements’ for a different order from ‘helps’ or deacons…

Deacons were instituted by the apostles for collecting, receiving, keeping, and distributing of ecclesiastical goods, which were given and dedicated for the maintenance of ministers, churches, schools, and for the help and relief of the poor, the stranger, the sick and the weak, also for furnishing of such things as are necessary to the ministration of the sacraments.  Beside which employments, the Scripture has assigned neither preaching, nor baptizing, nor any other ecclesiastical function to ordinary deacons…

And as for the other sort of elders, together with deacons, we judge the ancient order of this Church [of Scotland], to have been most convenient for providing of well qualified men for those functions and offices.  For the eighth head of the first book of discipline, touching the election of elders and deacons, ordains that men of best knowledge and cleanest life, be nominated to be in election, and that their names be publicly read to the whole Church by the minister, giving them advertisement, that from among them must be chosen elders and deacons: that if any of these nominated be noted with public infamy, he ought to be repelled: And that if any man know others of better qualities within the Church, then these that be nominated, they should be put in election, that the Church may have the choice.”

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An Assertion of the Government of the Church of Scotland in the Points of Ruling-Elders….  (Edinburgh: Bryson, 1641), pt. 1, ch. 11, p. 79

“As touching deacons, they were ordained by the apostles for collecting receiving, keeping and distributing of ecclesiastical goods, for maintaining of ministers, schools, churches, the sick, stranger, and poor.”

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Richard Mather

A Catechism...  (London: Rothwell, 1650), ch. 30, p. 108  Mather was a congregationalist.

“Q. What are deacons?

A. They are officers of the Church, who are to retain, preserve, and distribute the outward treasures of the Church (Acts 4:35; 6:2-3; 2 Chron. 26:20; 31:14; Neh. 11:16) for the relief of the poor, and other outward affairs of the Church, in simplicity and faithfulness (Rom. 12:8; Neh. 13:13).”


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Reformed Confessions, Public Documents & Books of Discipline

Articles

1500’s

Knox, Calvin & Geneva – ‘Of the Deacons & their Office & Election’  in The Form of Prayers & Ministration of the Sacraments, etc. used in the English Congregation at Geneva & Approved by the Famous & Godly Learned Man, John Calvin  (Geneva: Crespin, 1556), pp. 47-48

English Church at Frankfurt, Germany

Whittingham, William – A Brief Discourse of the Troubles begun at Frankfurt in Germany, 1554, about the Book of Common Prayer & Ceremonies, & Continued by the English Men there to the end of Queen Mary’s Reign [1558]  (1574)

‘The Order of the Old Discipline in the City of Frankfurt’, ‘Deacons’

‘The Discipline Reformed & Confirmed by the Authority of the Church & Magistrate’ (1557)

French Reformed Churches – The Discipline of the Reformed Churches of France (1559)  in ed. John Quick, Synodicon in Gallia reformata…  (London: Parkhurst, 1692), pp. xxvii-xxix

ch. 3, ‘Of Elders & Deacons’
ch. 4, ‘Of the Deaconship, or Office of Dispensing the Churches’ Charities unto the Poor’

Scottish First Book of Discipline (1560)

6th Head, ‘Of the Rents & Patrimony of the Kirk’

8th Head, ‘Touching the Election of Elders & Deacons’

Geneva – ‘The Fourth Order of the Ecclesiastical Government, called Deacons’  in The Laws & Statutes of Geneva, as well concerning Ecclesiastical Discipline as Civil Regiment…  (London: Hall, 1562), pp. 9-11

Church of Edinburgh – ‘The Election of Elders & Deacons in the Church of Edinburgh’  in The Order of Excommunication & of Public Repentance used in the Church of Scotland…  (Edinburgh: 1569)

Scottish Second Book of Discipline (1578)

ch. 8, ‘Of the Deacons & Their Office, the Last Ordinary Function in the Kirk’

ch. 9, ‘Of the Patrimony of the Kirk & the Distribution Thereof’

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1600’s

English Church in Middelburg, Netherlands – A Book of the Form of Common Prayers…  Agreeable to God’s Word & the Use of the Reformed Churches  (Middelburg: Schilders, 1602)  no page numbers

‘The Manner of Ordaining Elders & Deacons, either Jointly or each of them Severally’

‘Of the Deacons, their Office, Election & Ordination’

Henderson, Alexander – 6. ‘Of the Deacons & their Office’  in The Government & Order of the Church of Scotland  (Edinburgh: 1641), pp. 31-32

English Channel Islands – ch. 7, ‘Of Deacons’  in The Orders for Ecclesiastical Discipline. According to that which has been Practiced since the Reformation of the Church in his Majesty’s Dominions by the Ancient Ministers, Elders & Deacons of the Isles of Garnsey, Gersey, Spark & Alderny. Confirmed by the the Authority of the Synod of the Foresaid Isles  (1642), pp. 1-9

These islands are part of the English Channel Islands.

Synod at Cambridge New England – ch. 7, ‘Of Ruling Elders & Deacons’  in A Platform of Church Discipline gathered out of the Word of God  (Cambridge, MA: S.G., 1649), pp. 8-9

This was a congregationalist synod.

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Quote

Westminster

Form of Presbyterial Church-Government

“The officers which Christ hath appointed for the edification of his church, and the perfecting of the saints, are, some extraordinary…  Others ordinary and perpetual, as pastors, teachers, and other church-governors, and deacons.

Deacons.

The scripture doth hold out deacons as distinct officers in the church.[c]

Whose office is perpetual.[d] To whose office it belongs not to preach the word, or administer the sacraments, but to take special care in distributing to the necessities of the poor.[e]

[c] Phil. 1:11 Tim. 3:8.
[d] 1 Tim. 3:8-15Acts 6:1-4.
[e] Acts 6:1-4.”


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History

Article

Eshelman, Nathan – ‘Fighting for Phoebe: the Widow-Deacon & the Westminster Assembly’s Concept of an Alms-Based Women’s Ministry’  in Confessional Presbyterian Journal, vol. 14 (2018), pp. 63-72

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Books

Schwertley, Brian – A Historical & Biblical Examination of Women Deacons  88 pp.

Schwertley wrote this when he was a minister in the RPCNA, which has women deacons; hence his need to thoroughly investigate the issue.  The survey, which documents much of Church history having women deacons, with some of their reasons for it, reveals the complexity of the subject.

The second half of the booklet deals with the Biblical evidence (which is more complex than one at first might realize) and argues for male only deacons.  This is essential reading; you will learn a lot.  Here is a review of the work in the OPC journal for officers.

Merkel, David – Historical Digest on Women & the Diaconate: an Examination of How the Church Interpreted Scripture Regarding Deacons & Deaconesses Through History  Prepared for the Synod of the RPCNA; Presented to the Presbytery of the Alleghenies  (2022)  68 pp.  with a bibliography


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The Power of Ordaining Deacons comes from a Presbytery

Intro

The power of ordaining deacons comes from a presbytery (Acts 6:6), though only the implicit consent of a presbytery is needed for such valid ordinations in regularly constituted churches.  A presbytery, or higher court, delegating this to sessions, whether explicitly or implicitly, such as by way of a book of Church order, may fullfil this.

The reason for all this, per Scripture and classical presbyterianism, is that presbytery is the root of Church government.  See also ‘Power of Ordination of Rulings Elders Comes from Presbytery’.

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ed. Chad Van Dixhoorn, Minutes of the Westminster Assembly

“Session 116 [sic] May 10, 1644, Friday morning

Concerning debate over the power of congregational elderships – majority voted ‘no single congregation, which can conveniently join with others in association may assume to itself all and sole power in ordination’

Mr. Goodwin: This much urged, found out an instance for a classical presbytery ordaining, but not otherwise.  For that instance of deacons ordaining in the 6 Acts, I desire it may be considered.
….

Mr. Gillespie: I argue from deacons much more to pastors; if a classical presbytery ordain the lowest officers, then much more the other.

Said it does not serve our turn because deacons are not ordained in Scotland or at least not by a presbytery.  They are ordained for the substance, though they have not imposition of hands, in that they have missio potestativa [an authoritative sending] & a public admission.”


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That the Office of Deacon is Restricted to Males Only in Ordinary Circumstances

Articles

1800’s

Faris, D.S.

‘The Female Deacon & the Sentimental Overflow of Synod’  in The Reformed Presbyterian & Covenanter, vol. 26, no. 10  (Oct. 1888), pp. 357-59

Faris was an RPCNA pastor and one of the primary dissenting voices from the decision of their synod in 1888 to allow women deacons.  For more background on these transpirings, see Schwertley’s booklet, p. 29 ff.

‘The Female Deacon.  Animadversions on the Argument of the Synod’s Committee’  in The Reformed Presbyterian & Covenanter, vol. 27, no. 5 (May 1889), pp. 137-40

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2000

Cara, Robert J. – ‘Justification of Ordained Office of Deacon Restricted to Qualified Males’  (2020)  on Reformed Faith & Practice of the ARP.

Cara is a professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, and is associated with the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP).

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Books

Schwertley, Brian – A Historical & Biblical Examination of Women Deacons  88 pp.

This booklet has the most detailed and best survey of Church history on the topic available, that this webmaster is aware of.  Schwertley wrote this when he was a minister in the RPCNA, which has women deacons; hence his need to thoroughly investigate the issue.  The survey, which documents much of Church history having women deacons, with some of their reasons for it, reveals the complexity of the subject.

The second half of the booklet deals with the Biblical evidence (which is more complex than one at first might realize) and argues for male only deacons.  This is essential reading; you will learn a lot.  Here is a review of the work in the OPC journal for officers.

Merkel, David – Historical Digest on Women & the Diaconate: an Examination of How the Church Interpreted Scripture Regarding Deacons & Deaconesses Through History  Prepared for the Synod of the RPCNA; Presented to the Presbytery of the Alleghenies  (2022)  68 pp.  with a bibliography

Merkel, David, Chris Villi & Bob Concoby – Women & the Diaconate: an Examination of Scripture, History, Ordination & Authority  Prepared for the Synod of the RPCNA; Presented to the Presbytery of the Alleghenies (2022)  42 pp.  with a bibliography

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In Extraordinary Circumstances

Quote

Wes Bredenhof, ‘Herman Bavinck on Women in the Church’  (2021)  This history is confirmed by other sources also in Brian Schwertley, Historical & Biblical Examination of Women Deacons, p. 20.

“In some areas, efforts were made to have deaconesses, but the Synod of Middelburg in 1581 decided that it was not advisable to reintroduce the office of deaconess in the Reformed churches of the Netherlands.

In exceptional circumstances such as a time of plague, however, the work of deacons could be done by their wives or other women.  According to Bavinck, this happened in places like Middelburg, Utrecht, Amsterdam, and Emden.”


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Deacons have No Authority by Divine Office for Baptizing or Preaching

Article

Rutherford, Samuel – Objection 11  of Deacons in ch. 7, section 7  in The Due Right of Presbyteries, or a Peaceable Plea…  (London, 1644), pp. 167-68

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Quotes

George Gillespie

English Popish Ceremonies  (1637), ch. 8, Digression 1, ‘Of the Vocation of Men of Ecclesiastical Order’, pp. 160-63

“Now elders are either such as labor in the Word and doctrine, or else such as are appointed for discipline only….

And many more of our divines, who teach that the apostle 1 Tim. 5:17, directly implies that there were some elders who ruled well, and yet labored not in the Word and doctrine, and those elders he means by them that rule, Rom. 12:8 and by governments, 1 Cor. 12:28, where the apostle says not ‘helps in governements,’ as our new English translation corruptly reads, but ‘helps, governements,’ etc. plainly putting ‘governements’ for a different order from ‘helps’ or deacons…

Deacons were instituted by the apostles for collecting, receiving, keeping, and distributing of ecclesiastical goods, which were given and dedicated for the maintenance of ministers, churches, schools, and for the help and relief of the poor, the stranger, the sick and the weak, also for furnishing of such things as are necessary to the ministration of the sacraments.  Beside which employments, the Scripture has assigned neither preaching, nor baptizing, nor any other ecclesiastical function to ordinary deacons…”

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An Assertion of the Government of the Church of Scotland in the Points of Ruling-Elders….  (Edinburgh: Bryson, 1641), ch. 11, pp. 79-80

“In the Roman, yea in prelatical Churches there are scarce any footsteps at all of the offices of preaching presbyters and deacons as they were instituted by the apostles.  The apostles ordained presbyters to preach the Word, to minister the sacraments, to govern the Church and to make use of the keyes.  But the Popish and prelatical presbyters have not the power of the keys, nor the power of Church government, for it is proper to their prelates; as for the other two, they are common to their deacons, for they also do preach and baptize…

As touching deacons, they were ordained by the apostles for collecting receiving, keeping and distributing of ecclesiastical goods, for maintaining of mini∣sters, schools, churches, the sick, stranger, and poor.  The Popish and prelatical deacons have no such office, but an office which the apostles never appointed to them, for they had no preaching nor baptizing deacons.

Philip preached [Acts 8:5, 12] and baptized [Acts 8:12-13, 38], not as a deacon [Acts 6:5], but as an evangelist, Acts 21:8.  Besides, at the time of his preaching and baptizing, he could not have exercised the office of his deaconship by reason of the persecution, which scattered rich and poore and all, Acts 8:1.  That which Stephen [a deacon, Acts 6:5] did, Acts 7, was no more then every believer was bound to do when he is called to give a testimo∣ny to the truth and to give a reason of his faith and practice.”

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A Treatise of Miscellany Questions…  (Edinburgh: Lithgow, 1649)

ch. 3, p. 36

“How much more unbeseeming and disorderly were it in the Church (which Nicolaides himself, even where he disputes against the necessity of ordination, Refut: tract: de missione minister, ch. 10, p. 113, acknowledges to be more perfect than any politic republic in the world) for any man to assume to himself power and authority which is not given him, or which he has a non habente potestatem [‘from not having the power’], or to intrude himself into any public administration unto which he is not appointed.

It was justly complained of as a great disorder under the prelates that midwives were permitted to baptize upon pretence of a case of necessity, yea that deacons were permitted to baptize, because the administration of baptism does neither belong to deacons nor to private persons.”

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ch. 5, pp. 66-67

“…both the deacon and the ruling elder are Church officers, and neither of them preachers…”

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Samuel Rutherford

The Due Right of Presbyteries (1644), pt. 1, p. 165

“4.  Stephen [a deacon] did no more (Acts ch. 7) in his apology than any witnesses of Christ convened before rulers may do who are obliged to be ready always to give an answer to every one who asks them of the hope that is in them, with meekness and fear, 1 Pet. 3:15, yea though it were a woman who yet may not preach, 1 Cor. 14:34.”

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Westminster

Form of Presbyterial Church-Government

“Deacons.

The scripture doth hold out deacons as distinct officers in the church.[c]

Whose office is perpetual.[d] To whose office it belongs not to preach the word, or administer the sacraments, but to take special care in distributing to the necessities of the poor.[e]

[c] Phil. 1:11 Tim. 3:8.
[d] 1 Tim. 3:8-15Acts 6:1-4.
[e] Acts 6:1-4.”


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Deacons do Not Rule with Elders in the Church  but are under them

Quotes

Geroge Gillespie

An Assertion of the Government of the Church of Scotland in the Points of Ruling-Elders….  (Edinburgh: Bryson, 1641)

ch. 2, pp. 8-10

“Notwithstanding of all the multiplicity of Popish orders, yet Peter Lombard (pt. 4, distinction 4) treading the vestiges of the primitive simplicity, did observe that the apostles left only two sacred orders to be perpetual in the Church, the order of deacons and the order of elders.

The administration of deacons is exercised about things bodily.  The administration of elders about things spiritual.  The former about the goods: the latter about the government of the Church.  Now elders are of three sorts: 1. Preaching Elders, or Pastors, 2. Teaching Elders or Doctors, 3. Ruling Elders.  All these are elders, because they have voice in presbyteries and all assemblies of the Church, and the government of the Church is incumbent to them all: nor only to the pastor and elder, but to the doctor also.

The bishop of Dune, in his Examen conjurationis Scoticae [‘Examination of the Scottish Conjuration’], p. 35, alleges that our Church of Scotland did never yet determine whether doctors and deacons have right of voicing in the consistories and assemblies of the Church.  But had he read our book of Policy, he might have found that it excludes deacons from being members of presbyteries and assemblies, ch. 8, but admits doctors into the same, ch. 5.

The doctor being an elder, as said is, should assist the pastor in the government of the Kirk and concur with the elders, his brethren, in all assemblies, by reason the interpretation of the Word, which is [the] only judge in ecclesiastical matters, is committed to his charge.  But they differ in that the pastor labors in the Word of exhortation, that is, by the gift of wisdom, applies the Word to the manners of his flock, and that in season and out of season, as he knows their particular cases to require.  The doctor labours in the Word of doctrine, that is, without such applications as the pastor uses, by simple teaching he preserves the truth and sound interpretation of the Scriptures against all heresy and error.  The ruling elder does neither of these, but labours in the government and policy of the Church only.”

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ch. 7, ‘Argument 5, from 1 Tim. 5:17’, p. 55

“Deacons are distinguished from elders, Rom. 12; 1 Cor. 12; 1 Tim. 3, and by all antiquity.  If we make deacons to be elders, and the care of the poor to be an act of ruling, then let us [arbitrarily] make what you will of the plainest Scriptures.”

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Samuel Rutherford

A Peaceable & Temperate Plea...  (London, 1642), ch. 19, p. 287

“…deacons have no jurisdiction in God’s Church by the Word of God…”


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How Deacons Need the Holy Spirit

Samuel Rutherford

The Due Right of Presbyteries (1644), pt. 1, p. 165

“Answer:  To distribute in a civil and natural way requires not a man full of the Holy Ghost, but to distribute in simplicity and with the grace of heavenly cheerfulness, Rom. 12:8, and with the qualities of a complete deacon, 1 Tim. 3:12-14, requires the Holy Ghost, though they may be good deacons who are not full of the Holy Ghost; but such [persons full of the Holy Ghost] were chosen:

1.  Because this was to be a rule to all deacons to the world’s end, and the rule should be as straight and perfect as can be;

2.  Because there were choice of such men as those in the apostolic Church, and [there is] reason that God be served with the best of his own;

3.  The Holy Ghost is required for sanctification, as well as for gifts of preaching, Luke 1:15; Mt. 10:20.

4.  Stephen [a deacon] did no more (Acts ch. 7) in his apology [contra Anglicans who hold that deacons may preach] than any witnesses of Christ convened before rulers may do who are obliged to be ready always to give an answer to every one who asks them of the hope that is in them, with meekness and fear, 1 Pet. 3:15, yea though it were a woman who yet may not preach, 1 Cor. 14:34.”

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“Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:”

Phil. 1:1

“…he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.”

Rom. 12:8

“…if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ…”

1 Pet. 4:11

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