Looking at the "deacon chapter" of Acts 6 is interesting, in that I find it to be a place where my cultural assumptions about the diaconate can easily smother what the chapter actually says. The first place where I find my assumptions speaking louder than the text is where the apostles say that their task is prayer and the ministry of the word. I have often heard this verse used to give focus for the office of elder, which then tends to perpetuate the idea that the office of deacon is a delegated "gofer" office, somehow minor to that of the task of the elders. But in Acts 6, they don't receive their commission from elders. Rather, they receive it directly from the apostles. The deacons are intrinsically apostolic — a "sent" office, sent into the community.
A second place is the end of this passage. "The word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith." I have always interpreted this as being because the apostles were freed from doing "that deacon stuff". But what if the increase came equally from the fact that the deacons in their work *as deacons* multiplied the impact of the Jerusalem church? That the now faithful doing of mercy and justice, no longer on the apostle's back burner, amplifed the gospel message? Don't we find the same thing to be true today? Acts of love and mercy often become the on-ramp, the plausability structure, of the message of the gospel.
This is some fresh exegesis! I like it. It really helps undermine that sort of "second class citizen" syndrome so often associated with being a deacon!
It's true that elders are often weathered deacons. However, if the offices are truly equal there could also be deacons who are weathered elders.
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