info This commentary was written by a volunteer for our Bible translation project. It’s not an official view of our project; we are not a religious denomination and we do not establish doctrine. These commentaries reflect a variety of views and some disagree with each other.
Most other Bibles use the word minister(s) or deacon(s) here, however, the most accurate translation would be servant(s). So why don’t translations use the correct word?
The proper translation of this work Greek word diakonos as ‘servants,’ is very inconvenient to some people. Who? Those who want to promote themselves over others within Christian congregations and assign themselves positions of authority.
So, diakonos has been mistranslated into many different titles (rather than just descriptions of a duty) in attempts to blur what it really means in English… a servant.
Words such as deacon, minister, and even the redundant expression ministerial servant are used by various denominations for different levels of authority. However, qualified people who handled necessary task and odd jobs in running Christian gatherings were just called servants.
A later position of responsibility that was spoken of by Paul was that of ‘elders’ or ‘overseers.’ Elders (Greek: presbyterous) were supposed to watch over the congregations and act as shepherds that provided loving direction.
However, elders were also just servants. According to Jesus’ instructions found at Matthew 23:8-11, all Christians were to be considered as equals. So, the later taking of honorific titles was actually contrary to the instructions of Jesus.
‘Don’t [have people] call you rabbi [meaning, teacher], for you have but one teacher, while you are all just brothers.
Nor should you address anyone on earth as Father, because there’s just One who’s your Father, the Heavenly One.
Don’t even be called leaders, because you have but one Leader, the Anointed One.
Rather, the greatest one among you must be your servant.’
Then later, in the books of 1 Timothy and Titus, Paul wrote that to be appointed as a servant or as an elder in the congregation, a person had to meet high standards of conduct and reputation; and although Paul didn’t mention it specifically, they were also expected to be able to make wise decisions and to show signs of having God’s Breath.
Notice that this was the one of the main qualifications of those that were first appointed to be servants in the Christian Congregation, because we are told at Acts 6:3 that servants were to be ‘males (Greek: andras) that are filled with wisdom and the Breath [of God].’
For a greater discussion of this topic, please see the commentary, Arrangement of the First Christian Churches.