Men and women on church boards

The New Testament discussion of roles and qualifications is not well defined.  Roles in the NT include apostles, prophets, teachers, leaders, preachers, pastors, overseers/elders and deacons.  Some roles, like Timothy’s and Titus’ are uncertain (probably apostles?).  Within the NT timeframe structures evolved with decentralisation away from Jerusalem.  Many of the early NT roles (being specifically spirit chosen & empowered) are not present today – or perhaps relevant.  Some positions which in some respects have endured (overseers and deacons) have changed.  The NT structures included separation of teaching, leadership and administration – while allowing they could be combined.  The Christadelphian arranging structures similarly lack a teaching responsibility and emphasis collective responsibility rather than individual.

The two NT lists of qualifications for overseer & deacon roles vary, suggesting they are local ideals not exact criteria. Furthermore some NT leaders didn’t meet the criteria.  We do not consistently apply all of the criteria as a minimum benchmark to our office holders.

It is possible female deacons are included in the list of criteria in 1 Tim 3 – absolute certainty either way is unsustainable, but early Greek speaking leaders thought it included females.  More certain is that Phoebe was a female deacon in Rom 16:1.  Also certain is that the Christian community had female deacons very early in its history and these continued, although with an eroding scope.  Curiously a female – Junia – is described as an apostle (Rom 16:7) which is a rare title and was an authoritative role superior to prophecy, leadership and teaching.

Scripture, despite the prevailing culture, provides positive examples of women in roles which do overlap with those of our arranging group (Miriam, Deborah, Huldah & Priscilla).  Neither Genesis 3 nor Paul’s comments on gender roles restrict involvement in communal decision making, else God’s endorsement of the contribution of Miriam et al would be a contradiction.  God’s principles are not situational – exceptions do not prove the rule.  Rules must be consistent with all divine history.  We should be careful that in trying to apply 1 Cor 14 & 1 Tim 2 etc we don’t add to scripture by expanding their scope.

Within my faith community the idea of female deacons in 1 Tim 3:11 and Phoebe having an official role has found high profile assent (not unanimously).  That our structures vary to first century models and that speaking is not part of arranging roles was acknowledged by Bro Roberts – who also acknowledged the broader contribution sisters could and should make despite social norms.  He wrote approvingly of sisters’ capability to serve in management roles in the context of being in a conflict about roles.

Determining a way forward is challenging.  We want to be faithful to the word, neither adding nor taking away.  But the word doesn’t definitively answer today’s questions, particularly given the collective nature of arranging group decision making and authority.  We don’t want to be burdened by tradition or peer pressure – although pressure may well come.  The data on many fronts seems to all provide the same answer.  Women on the arranging group is not contrary to scripture and may be a better implementation of the roles they held in the first century.

The early Christian structure according to the NT

The question of how the earliest churches were organized and governed has been fiercely debated from the time of the Reformation. The diverse interpretations are due partly to the scarcity of information available and partly to the deficiencies in the methodology adopted[1]


Determining what the model in the NT was assumes a singular model.  Paul declared his willingness to adapt his preaching style to local circumstances (1 Cor 9:20) and the circumstances of local congregations varied from house meetings to large groups so varying models is a likely possibility. 

It would be remiss not to acknowledge the point Giles makes that:

As the Christian church began as a Jewish renewal movement, what is said in the NT, often in passing, about Christian leadership should be read in the light of what we known about the ordering of Jewish communal life in the first century (see esp. Burtchaell). It may be presupposed that at first the early believers took over Jewish forms, modifying them only as the need arose and as the Holy Spirit bestowed new life and vitality[2]


He goes on to note that the synagogue model was a senior “ruler of the synagogue” consistent with what we find in the NT records (eg Acts 18:8) and a council of male “elders”.  This forms a probable starting point in terms of governance models – at least for congregations which had a strong Jewish contingent.  However, given significant divergence from Jewish religious thought, we would be wise to allow significant divergence and development away from Jewish governance models.

The earliest model differs from a Christadelphian model as it was not a completely local one.  The Jerusalem Conference in Acts 15 demonstrates the council of elders and apostles in Jerusalem held doctrinal primacy over other congregations.  This primacy is also suggested in Acts 11:1-2, 22 & 30.  Paul in Gal 2:9, having stated that there was no division between him and the apostles, thereby essentially acknowledges their importance as the arbiters of orthodoxy.  Peter, James and John were pillars in the community and the known credible leaders.  At least early on, “The Way” was centred in Jerusalem and other congregations were branch offices.  Later these branches became more independent and as centres of growth brought new innovation – particularly Antioch.  Influence, not absolute leadership, also developed around Paul (and his authorised representatives)– at least for some congregations – as it did around John in Asia Minor.

As a matter of history, the centrality of the Jerusalem congregation faded before being snuffed out in AD70.  Local leadership groups, which had been developing from early in the ministry of Paul (in particular), no longer had the option of guidance from the centre when doctrinal or other questions arose. 

The range of NT roles

The NT reveals several roles – the specific responsibilities of which are not always clearly defined or distinguished.  For example, Paul states:

God has placed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, gifts of healing, helps, gifts of leadership, different kinds of tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:28

This structure appears to be hierarchical in some fashion, it is clearly an ordered list.  However various ‘virtue lists’ in the NT suggest this style may not necessarily be a hierarchy.  It is possible that the order also reflects Paul de-emphasising the value of tongues. 

Apostles had a specific role which they perceived as devoting themselves “to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4) rather than administration.  This delineation led to the appointment of seven ministers in Acts 7 who appeared to act as what we might call deacons – administrative servants – although the term is not used in connection with them.  Stephen (at least) was also an effective preacher – which may have been part of the role or just his personal witness.

The 12 apostles appear to have maintained a position of authority over other leaders in the congregation – being distinguished from elders in Acts 15:2, 4, 6, 23.  Their primacy is consistent with Paul’s comments in 1 Cor 15:9 and Eph 2:20 (the ecclesia is built on the apostles, prophets and Christ as the cornerstone) together with Jude’s appeal to their witness & authority in Jude 17.  Note that in time there were more apostles than Paul plus the 12…(as 2 Cor 8:23 demonstrates).

We do not have apostles today.  Nor do we have prophets.  Of the list Paul provides we have at most teachers and leaders (though not spirit empowered as perhaps he is implying for all the roles).  In discussions it is worthwhile distinguishing leadership and teaching as separate questions..

In Ephesians Paul provides a slightly different list – though it starts the same way:

It was he [Christ] who gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers

Ephesians 4:11

Such differences suggest local variation and/or Paul’s flexibility.  To our list we must add preachers and pastors.  The Greek for “pastor” is shepherd and dictionaries tell us it is used metaphorically for:

The spiritual guide of a particular church[3]


In a detailed comment on the relationship of pastor/shepherd and overseers and the structure here specifically in Eph 4:11, the Word Commentary says:

The definite article, which has been employed for each of the three categories mentioned so far, is repeated before “pastors” but omitted before “teachers.” What significance should be attached to this? Some have claimed that it indicates that the two groups are in fact identical (e.g., Barth, 438–39, who holds that one ministry only is being described, that of “teaching shepherds”). In Acts 13:1 those designated “teachers” in Antioch are shown exercising leadership while in the Pastorals teaching is a major role of the church leader (cf. 1 Tim 3:2; 5:17; Titus 1:9). But it is doubtful whether this is enough to demonstrate that the two ministries were always exercised by the same people. It is more likely that they were overlapping functions, but that while almost all pastors were also teachers, not all teachers were also pastors. Whether the two functions were performed by a single individual within a particular local situation may well have depended on what gifted persons were present in that situation. The one definite article is therefore best taken as suggesting this close association of functions between two types of ministers who both operate within the local congregation (cf. also J. Jeremias, “ποιμήν,” TDNT 6 [1968] 497; Merklein, Das kirchliche Amt. 362–65).[4]


Some other roles within the early community are articulated, specifically elders, overseers (or bishops) and deacons.  Some roles are not articulated as clearly.  Eg Timothy and Titus had significant authority within congregations.  They appointed elders/overseers, but it is unclear what their personal roles were except for the reference in 2 Cor 8:23 where they are called Apostles. 

It is not completely clear how the list of roles in 1 Cor 12 intersects with the roles of overseer/bishop and deacons as outlined in 1 Tim 3 and Tit 2.  It maybe that they don’t, and we have varying models of governance/roles being described which had similarities but were not identical.  After all, by the time of the pastoral epistles the 12 apostles were reducing in number – probably meaning the number of spirit empowered individuals was also on the decline.  This may have led to minor transition in the types of roles, aided perhaps by the increasing formation of the canon.  This is partly speculation but underlines the lack of clarity in the record.

We can simplify the number of roles by seeing that overseer/bishop is synonymous with elder, based on the interchangeable use by Luke in Acts 17:17,28 and Paul’s instructions in Tit 1:5-7 (and probably in 1 Pet 5:1-2 where the elders are to be faithful to their “oversight”).  Furthermore, while the term bishop and deacons are used together (eg Phil 1:1), in contrast bishops and elders are never mentioned together as separate functions.

The term elders though does have some flex in it as it can range to include Apostles.  Peter uses it clearly to refer to the Apostles in Acts 1:20 speaking of the replacement of Judas.  He again includes himself as an elder in 1 Pet 5:1 – though perhaps as an appeal to shared responsibility rather than in a technical definition sense. 

In the absence of a spirit gifted hierarchy we are left with a different structure to some of the NT descriptions and must turn to bishops/overseers (or elders) and deacons as the most likely points of contact relevant to our current day.  I.e. – we can’t consider our situation identical in all respects, though we might find some points of alignment.

Bishops/Overseers & Deacons

The word bishop was a generic term not limited to the community, although it no doubt gained a shade of unique meaning within the NT context.  The Complete Word Study Dictionary says the word means:

a watchman. Superintendent, overseer. The overseer of public works (Sept.: 2 Chr. 34:12, 17); of cities, e.g., a prefect (Is. 60:17). In Athens epískopoi (pl.) were magistrates sent to outlying cities to organize and govern them. In the NT, used of officers in the local churches, overseers, superintendents. The epískopoi (Acts 20:28), are charged with exercising watchful care over God’s church (cf. 1 Pet. 5:2)[5]


It is worth observing that the origin of the word is an individual position – a singular point of power rather than a communal decision-making role like our collective positions.

Deacons on the other hand are ministers, distinct from overseers.  The word means:

diákonos; gen. diakónou, masc., fem. noun. A minister, servant, deacon. The derivation is uncertain. According to some it comes from diakónis, in the dust laboring, or running through dust. Others derive it from diákō, the same as diḗkō, to hasten, related to diṓkō, to pursue.

Also used in the NT as a technical term side by side with epískopos (1985), bishop or overseer (1 Tim. 3:8, 12; Phil. 1:1). The deacons in this sense were helping or serving the bishops or elders, and this is why they were probably called deacons. They did not, though, possess any ruling authority as did the elders. Tychicus was called a deacon in his relation to Paul (Eph. 6:21; Col. 4:7 [cf. Acts 19:22]). The origin of this relationship is likely found in Acts 6:1–4.[6]


How the specific roles vary is not necessarily clear.  We have no explicit NT description of the respective responsibilities, hence must make some assumptions based on examples like the appointment of the 7 administrators in Acts 6 (while noting they are not actually called deacons in the record…).

The qualifications for overseers and deacons from 1 Tim 3 and Titus 1:5-7 can be compared:

Overseers/Elders Tit 1:5-9Overseers 1 Tim 3:2-7Deacons 1 Tim 3:8-10, 12
Married only onceMarried only onceMarried only once
Faithful childrenManage his household well, keeping his children respectful and submissiveManage their children and households well
No accusations of debauchery or rebellion  
BlamelessAbove reproach 
Not arrogant  
Not quick temperedTemperate 
Not addicted to wineNot a drunkardNot indulging in too much wine
Not violentNot violent but gentle 
Not greedy of gainNot a lover of moneyNot greedy for money
Lover of goodness  
PrudentSelf controlled 
Self controlled  
Firm grasp of the word and doctrine Holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience
Able to preach with sound doctrineAn apt teacher 
Able to refute those who contradict doctrine  
 Not quarrelsome 
 Not a recent convertLet them first be tested
 Well thought of by outsiders 
  Not deceitful/two-faced

I have excluded 1 Tim 3:11 from the qualifications pending further comment due to some quirks of the verse.

What the table demonstrates is neither 1 Timothy OR Titus is a comprehensive list.  The qualities of the overseers vary.  It is an assumption to take either list (let alone both) as THE definitive list of qualities.  A better approach is to see each list as a general guide to the sorts of qualities of an ideal elder/overseer or a deacon.  By way of further illustration.  If the qualifications are exclusive, Paul would not qualify for either role by virtue of being single (1 Cor 9:5), and probably childless.  We might suspect the same was true of Timothy.  Hence we should take them more as thematic guides than absolute criteria.

One qualification which should sound a note of caution to us in comparing roles.  All the passages speak against those who are desiring financial gain.  This strongly suggests there was some level of financial support associated with the roles.  While Paul famously refused financial aid from the Corinthians, he simultaneously strenuously defended the principle of the teacher/leader being supported by the congregation in 1 Cor 9.  He clearly took financial aid from the Philippians (Phil 4:10-20) and the Macedonians (2 Cor 11:9).  By way of balance, in Paul’s circle at least many male and female labourers in the community had traditional sources of income.  As Banks suggests

while full-time employment by the local church of pastors, teachers, overseers, and so on, was not a feature of congregational life, some support for those who gave time and effort to serving others was appropriate. These people were not full-time professionals in the church but part-time servants of it who occasionally received, but did not necessarily depend on, reimbursement for their efforts.[7]


It should be abundantly plain that the arranging group roles do not completely overlap with the idealised qualities of the overseers and deacons either.  Eg we don’t require teaching talent as a pre-requisite to be on the arranging committee.  We don’t bar singles, childless or remarried individuals from serving.  Nor do we financially assist our ministers, despite the scriptural warrant for such action.  While there might be similarities with our model and the later NT one, it would be inconsistent to insist some items on the variable lists are inviolable criteria and ‘core principles’ while we clearly neglect others.

Female deacons and 1 Tim 3:11

1 Tim 3:11 is an odd verse.  The KJV suggests the verse presents a criteria for deacons – being the behaviour of their wives. Other translations adopt a very different approach, eg the NRSV says:

Women likewise must be serious, not slanderers, but temperate, faithful in all things.

1 Timothy 3:11

This interpretation says there were women deacons and proceeds to repeat the criteria for male deacons.  However this is disputed.  What is the evidence either way?  The NET, which adopts a conservative reading, says in its notes:

Or “also deaconesses.” The Greek word here is γυναῖκας (gunaikas) which literally means “women” or “wives.” It is possible that this refers to women who serve as deacons, “deaconesses.” The evidence is as follows: (1) The immediate context refers to deacons; (2) the author mentions nothing about wives in his section on elder qualifications (1 Tim 3:1–7); 3(3) it would seem strange to have requirements placed on deacons’ wives without corresponding requirements placed on elders’ wives; and (4) elsewhere in the NT, there seems to be room for seeing women in this role (cf. Rom 16:1 and the comments there). The translation “wives”—referring to the wives of the deacons—is probably to be preferred, though, for the following reasons: (1) It would be strange for the author to discuss women deacons right in the middle of the qualifications for male deacons; more naturally they would be addressed by themselves. (2) The author seems to indicate clearly in the next verse that women are not deacons: “Deacons must be husbands of one wife.” (3) Most of the qualifications given for deacons elsewhere do not appear here. Either the author has truncated the requirements for women deacons, or he is not actually referring to women deacons; the latter seems to be the more natural understanding. (4) The principle given in 1 Tim 2:12 appears to be an overarching principle for church life which seems implicitly to limit the role of deacon to men. Nevertheless, a decision in this matter is difficult, and our conclusions must be regarded as tentative.[8]

NET notes

It is up to us to weigh these arguments.  An argument based on how Paul should have ordered the criteria or noting specific restrictions on men doesn’t appear convincing.  Furthermore there is an important piece of evidence missing.  To the NET note arguments can also be added the observation by Rainbow that the Greek LACKS any:

possessive to link these women to the male deacons.[9]


Ie the grammar indicates the women are independent – they are not the deacons’ wives.  Some high profile complementarians like Thomas Schriener allow that the reference is most likely to female deacons:

In fact, the reference would clearly be to wives if Paul had written “their wives” (requiring simply the addition of the Greek autōn) or “the wives of deacons” (requiring simply the addition of the Greek diakonōn). Since neither of these terms is used, women deacons rather than wives are probably in view. Third, the qualifications for these women are identical or similar to the qualifications of male deacons and elders. The similarity of the qualifications suggests an office, not merely a status as the wives of deacons. Fourth, why would Paul emphasize the wives of deacons and pass over the wives of elders, especially if elders (see below) had greater responsibility in the act of governing the church? Failure to mention the wives of elders is mystifying if that office carried more responsibility. A reference to women deacons, however, makes good sense if women could serve as deacons but not as elders (more on this below)[10]


Some note the Greek for deacon here is masculine, but this is of little moment for, as The Word Commentary, notes:

The feminine form of the word διάκονος (διακόνισσα) had not yet been created. In Rom 16:1, Phoebe is called a διάκονος, the masculine form of the word. The first reference to διακόνισσα occurs in the fourth century[11]


The same commentary – surveying the various arguments notes a conclusion is difficult given the apparent jump in flow of thought a female deacon reading requires (which is acknowledged even by commentators who argue for female deacons here such as NICNT[12]) although stating there is support for the idea and “deaconesses appear very early in church history[13].  The evidence goes beyond this though.  Early commentators who had the benefit of better Greek than us plus common inherited tradition understood the passage to refer to female deacons:

The postapostolic writers certainly understood the text in this way. Clement of Alexandria says, “For we know what the honorable Paul in one of his letters to Timothy prescribed regarding women deacons” (second century; Stromata 3.6.53). Origen states, “This text teaches with the authority of the apostle that even women are instituted deacons in the church” (third century; Homilies on Romans). And John Chrysostom notes that Paul “added her rank by calling her a deacon” (fourth century; Homilies on 1 Timothy 11).[14]


As demonstrated in the table of relative qualifications – and the circumstances of some early leaders – the qualifications list should be understood as a non-exclusive indicative list.  Even if we had an exact first century model, the lists are indicative not proscriptive.  Therefore even if you argue 1 Tim 3 doesn’t mention women explicitly, this doesn’t exclude women from being deacons.

More challengingly there is evidence in the section that female deacons are specifically contemplated, and this understanding has excellent early support in practice and commentary.

Phoebe – a female deacon in Rom 16:1

Paul introduces Phoebe to the Romans saying

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae, so that you may welcome her in the Lord as is fitting for the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a benefactor of many and of myself as well.

Romans 16:1

The first point to note in the verse is the introduction/commendation of Phoebe.  The wording and formula had a use in the time of Paul:

“I recommend” and its cognates are typically associated with letters of recommendation, but in view of the tendency toward periphrastic use of this term in the Roman period, the forthrightness of Paul’s commendation is striking. It has frequently been asserted that this formula of recommendation implies that Phoebe was in fact the bearer of the letter to the Romans. The likelihood of this assertion as well as the confidential role played by letter bearers are sustained and illustrated by Pseudo-Demetrius’s example of a typical letter of recommendation…Ancient epistolary practice would therefore assume that the recommendation of Phoebe was related to her task of conveying and interpreting the letter in Rome as well as in carrying out the business entailed in the letter.[15]


While some would argue (like the NET translation – which again notes its conclusion is tenuous) that the word “deacon” could be translated in a non-official way as just someone who serves “the way”.  But Paul’s phrasing which roots the term deacon in a specific congregation speaks against this as Dunn notes in the NICNT commentary: 

…the qualification of diakonos by “of the church” suggests, rather, that Phoebe held at Cenchreae the “office” of “deacon” as Paul describes it in 1 Tim. 3:8–12 (cf. Phil. 1:1). [16]


To illustrate Moo’s point consider how the qualifier “of the church” is used in the NT:

  • Acts 20:17 “elders of the church”
  • Eph 5:23 “Christ the head of the church”
  • James 5:14 “elders of the church”
  • Rev 2:1 etc “angel of the church of…”

The evidence says that “office” PLUS “of the church” refers to a formal position/role.

The Word Commentary goes further regarding the specific form of the Greek for deacon saying:

“who is also deacon of the church in Cenchreae.” διάκονος (which can serve either as masculine or feminine—BGD) could be understood simply in terms of a regular pattern of service undertaken by Phoebe on behalf of her local church (cf. on 13:4; 15:8; and 12:7); but this would probably have been expressed by use of διακονέω (cf. 15:25) or διακονία (cf. 1 Cor 16:15); so niv’S; “servant” is inadequate. διάκονος together with οὖσα points more to a recognized ministry (“minister”—Maillot) or position of responsibility within the congregation (so most; see again, e.g., those cited by Schlier); though Fiorenza (47) notes a tendency to reduce the status implied in the title in comparison with Phil 1:1, the fact nevertheless remains that Phoebe is the first recorded “deacon” in the history of Christianity[17]


That inspiration had options for servants yet chose deacon is a point worth repeating.  The UBS notes:

Whether by “deacon(ess)” he means a church official or a general helper is disputed, though the former is more likely. Paul’s word choice in Greek suggests a formal office (ousan diakonon), whereas general help would more naturally have been expressed either by the verb diakonein (“to serve”), or by the abstract noun diakonia (“service”). We know that the offices of bishop and deacon were established at the time (or not much later), and there is reasonable evidence that women were entitled at least to the latter office.[18]


Again, Cranefield while admitting the possibility of the word being casual, concludes it is her office based on the Greek, saying:

…it is very much more natural, particularly in view of the way in which Paul formulates his thought (οὖσαν … διάκονον τῆς ἐκκλησίας, κ.τ.λ.), to understand it as referring to a definite office. We regard it as virtually certain that Phoebe is being described as ‘A (or possibly ‘the’) deacon’ of the church in question[19]


We have good reason to be more certain about Rom 16:1 speaking of a female deacon than even 1 Tim 3:11.  This is acknowledged by leading complementarians like Thomas Schriener:

The addition of the words “of the church at Cenchreae” after diakonos suggests an official position, for it appears she filled a particular role in a specific local church[20]


To say that Phoebe is the exception that proves the rule is unscriptural.  She is there and cannot be discounted.  God’s principles are not applied in all but a few cases (God’s principles are not situational).  If she doesn’t fit a popular understanding/position, then the position is incorrect.

Once again Chrysostom (late 4th century) reads the passage as unquestionably identifying Phoebe as an office holding deacon[21].

Other female roles in scripture

An objection can be raised that the role of the arranging group goes beyond mere administration.  Arranging groups do consider matters of doctrine and practice in addition to purely administrative decisions.  Scripture furnishes examples of women who do these things with God’s approval.

In the Old Testament, Deborah was a prophetess and a judge in Judges 4:4-5 (and in the context of the book this means she was appointed by God to judge the nation – Judges 2:14).  While the role of warfare might have best been reserved for a man, the spirit used her discernment in matters of judgement in the nation.  We can’t discount Deborah as some do by claiming that:

there was a lack of men imbued with faith to deal with the problem[22]


This is claiming a special circumstance based on silence and we do not have the authority to make this judgement (nor should we thereby imply that God’s principles bend to meet circumstance!).  Plus Barak is mentioned in Hebrews 11 with her as faithful! In any case, we have examples of women exercising judgement while in company of faithful men.  Huldah the prophetess provided counsel to the High Priest and other servants of King Josiah in 2 Kings 22.  They could have gone to Jeremiah or Zechariah but no – they go to a female prophet.  This was not just counsel as opinion – God spoke through her.  Ie we have to accept God chose to empower a woman to speak on his behalf to faithful men despite male prophets being available.

While it can be noted that the elders Moses appointed in Num 11:16 were male, this is one data point which needs to reconcile with Deborah and Huldah and the Exodus events themselves.  Moses was a contemporary leader with Miriam the prophetess (Exod 15:20).  While we don’t know the full extent of her role, it was more significant than the elders Moses appointed according to Micah 6:4 which says:

God “sent Moses, Aaron and Miriam to lead you”. 

Micah 6:4

What was Miriam’s role?  We don’t know other than it was to go before or lead the people (males and females) with the other two key players.  Miriam was leading the nation with her brothers. Some will claim she just led the women – but that is not what God says here. Plus her role was more significant than the elders, and than the princes/heads of the tribes. In Psa 77:20 only Moses and Aaron are mentioned, however Miriam’s absence in some passages doesn’t invalidate her role as shown in other Scriptures. 

In the New Testament we have other examples.  The injunction of 1 John to believers to try the spirits in 1 John 4:1 ie to test teaching and teachers doctrinally.  Presumably this makes the requirement of male and female but more specific texts exist.  Apollos was doctrinally incorrect due to insufficient information.  Aquila and Priscilla (or Prisca – to use the nickname Paul gives her) taught him of Jesus more perfectly in Acts 18:26.  Some occasionally note the order of names – in Acts 18:16 modern texts typically mention Priscilla first.  The Acquila first reading was inherited from the 5th century Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis (D05)  and carried into the KJV.  However D05 is an aberration versus other texts and places itself under suspicion by omitting Priscilla’s name completely in v 18 and inserting just Acquila’s name into v3 and 21[23].  D05 isn’t the best witness when it comes to Acquila and Priscilla.  Generally the Western text manuscripts

share the common traits of scribal expansion, harmonization, and amelioration[24]


There is strong evidence for Priscilla being first in Acts 18:26.

Six times this couple are mentioned and they were clearly BOTH involved as helpers of Paul.  Did a woman have direct involvement in the private rectification of a doctrinal shortcoming of a prominent individual?  Yes.  And that doctrinal rectification was a matter of public record that we know about 1900 years later. Similarly arranging groups from time to time work on doctrinal issues.

In addition to Phoebe, it is unquestioned except in the most conservative circles, that Junia was a female and in Romans 16:7 she is called an Apostle.  The term apostle is rare in the NT and carries a level of authority.  The precise role of an apostle is hard to establish other than it involved recognised authority reaching beyond one congregation and was superior to a deacon (and therefore anything an arranging group member might be considered as).

How does this mesh with 1 Tim 2:14 where Paul says he didn’t allow a woman to usurp authority over a man?  While interpretation and application of this passage is difficult it cannot stand in opposition to other scriptural precedents.  The Greek for usurping authority is

to assume a stance of independent authority, give orders to, dictate to[25]

Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W

The intensity of the domination here is attested to by another source which gives the Greek as meaning:

A self–appointed killer with one’s own hand, one acting by his own authority or power. Governing a gen., to use or exercise authority or power over as an autocrat, to domineer[26]


Paul is not described shared responsibility but public absolute authority and domination.

If an interpretation of this passage condemns Deborah, Huldah or Prisca then it is an incorrect exposition.  In any case, the arranging group is not an exercise in personal authority.  It is a collective decision-making body.

Scripture doesn’t preclude women being involved in collective decision making and by contrast offers up examples of approved women providing counsel & holding prominent roles, with and without men.

But the priesthood and kingship?

Some argue we should take our lead from the leadership roles of the kingship or Aaronic priesthood.  In both instances the roles were exclusively male.  In the absence of specific spirit appointment today it is argued this demonstrates self-replicating/sustaining governance models should be male.  Is this a strong argument?

There is not a perfect correlation between the role of prophet(ess) or Judges to the role of overseer and deacons. Nor do these NT roles map perfectly to arranging group members.  However there is less connection from kings/priests to the modern roles – especially given they were single points of authority rather than a committee.  These historical examples – which were made obsolete by the Lord’s ministry – are even less significant to us than other OT/NT positions.  Plus the mind and ideals of God are best expressed in the Kingdom, where the reward for both male and female saints includes being made kings and priests per Rev 5:10. 

Secondly the existence of NT criteria lists and the instruction to exercise judgement in selecting elders and deacons proves this is a different model entirely.  Both priesthood and kingship used dynastic succession!  By contrast Timothy and Titus are to appoint a collection of people based on generic (and inconsistent/incomplete) characteristics which clearly expanded to include females in some instances.

Thirdly we have to consider the impact of culture.  In the Old and New Testament times it was a man’s world.  Whether we like it or not, God works within cultures to achieve His aim of changing hearts rather than perhaps effecting sweeping cultural changes.  God never condemns slavery, through inspiration in the OT it was somewhat regulated (but not significantly more gently than surrounding cultures) and in the NT He instructed slaves to endure what we would consider an unjust/ungodly institution.  Silence and even regulation doesn’t equal approval.  Did God make allowance for human failings in His arrangements/Law?  Yes.  Jesus says categorically that God’s principle is one man one wife for life BUT for the weakness of humans allowed divorce in Deut 24.  Can we point to old structures as a perfect reflection of God’s intention?  No.  In fact we can specifically point to evidence that male kings were a reflection of the surrounding cultures.  1 Sam 8:5 and Deut 17:14-15 say the introduction of kings was because the people wanted to be like surrounding nations.  There is no principle being established – rather the people wanted to remove a difference to the surrounding nations.

Finally God doesn’t explicitly or implicitly state that male priests or male kings reflects some principles.  It is assumption to say it is male by design because of principle.  Any appeal to say the priests being male embodies a principle that applies today needs to address the other priestly exclusions:

Men too were excluded but for different reasons (e.g., not being a Levite, sexual uncleanness or physical defect)[27]

Pierce, R. W., & Groothuis, R. M

How would the exclusion of the physically disabled/damaged translate to a principled position today?  Or should we leave both the exclusion of the infirm and women as a cultural time bound situation?

But what about creation?

Is the order of creation and the consequences of Adam sin relevant to involvement in collective decision making?  After all Paul points to the order of creation in 1 Tim 2:13.  Does this place a bar on the existence of Phoebe, Deborah, Huldah or Miriam?  Clearly not.  At most Paul is speaking about public teaching (not private instruction or Prisca would face condemnation!).

We should not exposit from the common English translations of Gen 2:18 – Eve being a help meet – to assume what roles are suitable to women.  God clearly has made choices in the past.  Furthermore the expression translated help is certainly not referring to an inferior:

the word ֵעֶזר , which occurs nineteen additional times in the Bible, never refers to a person of this sort. While its interpretation as “help” or “helper” is essentially correct, ֵעֶזר always refers to an entity that is more powerful than the person being helped; thus, it means “helper” in the sense of “savior,” “deliverer,” or “rescuer.” It almost always refers to God[28]

Eichler, R

Losing the now misleading colouring of the KJV, the NET states the expression help meet is better understood as:

The Hebrew expression כְּנֶגְדּוֹ (kénegdo) literally means “according to the opposite of him.” Translations such as “suitable [for]” (NASB, NIV), “matching,” “corresponding to” all capture the idea. (Translations that render the phrase simply “partner” [cf. NEB, NRSV], while not totally inaccurate, do not reflect the nuance of correspondence and/or suitability.) The man’s form and nature are matched by the woman’s as she reflects him and complements him. Together they correspond. In short, this prepositional phrase indicates that she has everything that God had invested in him.[29]

NET notes

But what about Adam naming Eve, does this demonstrate authority?  No we might assume this.  Adam named the animals not as a demonstration of authority but to underline to Adam his lack of a companion which underscored his joy at the introduction to Eve.  Adam naming Eve is the natural conclusion of the process.  As noted by commentators with better Hebrew than me, authority is not at issue:

Naming can indicate ownership or authority if one is calling someone or something by one’s name and/or calling a name over someone or something…especially if one is conquering and renaming a site. But the idiomatic construction used here (the Niphal of קָרָא, qara’, with preposition lamed [לְ, lé]) does not suggest such an idea. In each case where it is used, the one naming discerns something about the object being named and gives it an appropriate name (See 1 Sam 9:9; 2 Sam 18:18; Prov 16:21; Isa 1:26; 32:5; 35:8; 62:4, 12; Jer 19:6). Adam is not so much naming the woman as he is discerning her close relationship to him and referring to her accordingly[30]

NET notes

Does Gen 3:16:

You will want to control your husband, but he will dominate you

indicate Adam would now have control and leadership of Eve?  This is problematic for those who claim Genesis 1-2 provides authority to Adam if it is a new condition.  The phrasing of Gen 3:16 bears close relationship to Gen 4:7 which speaks of each party struggling for dominion, which we might contrast to the marital unity of Genesis 2.  It is not uncommon for prominent complementarians to also view the verse as being descriptive rather than proscriptive (eg Blomberg[31]).

When Paul was using Genesis to support his edict around women not teaching in 1 Tim 2 and on head coverings in 1 Cor 11, he chooses to comment based on the order of creation rather than the consequences of sin as outlined by God in Genesis 3.  So it seems Paul didn’t see Gen 3:16 as providing an authority dynamic. 

A further suggestion made by complementarians is that Adam was spoken to first and judged more harshly because he had responsibility for Eve because he had authority for her.  This is not explicit in the text at all.  Furthermore Gen 2-3 has a repeating chiastic structure which starts in Genesis 2 with Adam being made then Adam acting. Genesis 3 repeats the pattern but this time with God speaking and then judging each individual.

Adam was not to suffer any additional penalty over Eve as is clear from the sentences.  Eve will have to endure painful childbirth/rearing and secondly experience conflict in her marriage.  Adam will have to put up with thorns & thistles in the ground and have hard labour to produce his food.  Some say Adam’s punishment was more widespread – the whole earth was cursed.  But a thistle in Australia was irrelevant to Adam, it was his experience that mattered.  The life experience of each was going to be more difficult.

What can history tell us about women in service?

History always has a few tricks up its frayed sleeve. It’s been around a long time[32]

Prachett, Terry

Rather than just focus on scripture, we do have some witnesses to how scripture was implemented by the early believers, and how this changed (quickly) over time.  In 112 AD we have the correspondence from the official Pliny to Emperor Trajan discussing his investigations into the Christians:

I forbade the meeting of any assemblies, and therefore I judged it to be so much the more necessary to endeavor to extort the real truth by putting to the torture two female slaves, who were called deaconesses, yet I found nothing but an absurd and extravagant superstition.[33]


Interesting that an independent authority finds two women with official title so very close to the apostolic age, 112 AD.  As a commentator notes this is very good evidence that females were credible, positioned representatives of the community:

That a Roman provincial governor treated these women as spokespersons for Christianity suggests he took them to be “ministers” (equivalent to διάκονοι, diakonoi) in the clerical sense. This reference in a classical source uninterested in the ecclesiological issue of women in ministry seemingly reduces the validity of the argument denying that women like Phoebe or those of 1 Tim 3:11 functioned as deaconesses.[34]


We have only a few details of the earlier roles of deacons (male or female).  One small insight comes from Justin Martyr – so early mid second century:

when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion[35]

Justin Martyr

So deacons not only handed out bread and wine they also “re-ran” the meeting for those absent for some reason.  Given the qualifications to be a deacon, it is reasonable to think the role was a little more taxing!

Over time there is a discernible shift in the roles and structures which played out in the church.  To take an uncontroversial example, overseers/bishops and elders are interchangeable in Acts 20:17,28 and Tit 1:5-7.  However this changed:

Church governance becomes more formalized in the early second century ad. Church father Ignatius indicates that there is a bishop (overseer) guiding the church (or churches) at Ephesus, with elders and deacons working alongside him (Ignatius, To the Ephesians, 5; compare To the Magnesians, 2.1, 3.1, 6.1). The role of bishop in this period may have just been viewed as a continuation of the role of the apostle.

For Ignatius, at least, the role of the “overseer” (ἐπίσκοπος, episkopos) was distinct from the role of the “elder” (πρεσβύτερος, presbyteros). But in the New Testament, no such distinction is made, suggesting that this was a later progression of early church governance[36]

Barry, J.D.

Other scholars similarly note changes in positions within the church structure.  It would be reasonable to assume that these changes would tend to bend towards the societal norms rather than away from them – hence we should not be surprised if the role of women reduced over time.  In terms of general change, The Lexham Bible Dictionary says:

Lightfoot demonstrates that this division of labor evolved over the next century and a half into two distinct categories of service (see Lightfoot, “The Christian Ministry,” 187–95):

1.    governing, word, and sacrament, which was reserved for bishops and presbyters;

2.    practical service, carried out by deacons.

In the mid-second century, deacons carried portions of the eucharistic elements to church members unable to attend the Sunday morning gathering. They may have also borne alms to the needy (Justin, First Apology, 67). Women may have taken part in these tasks, which generally concerned care of the sick and needy. In third-century Syria, deaconesses assisted bishops for “ministry among the women”—specifically, anointing women for baptism, instructing them afterward, and helping “in many other domains” (Didascalia apostolorum, chap. 16; on which, see LaPorte, 112–15; Thurston, 96–104). From this date (ca. ad 250), deaconesses became prominent from Syria westward as far as Greece, though they remained unattested in Palestine, Egypt, and the West until much later.[37]


So the historical record demonstrates that the church fairly quickly changed away from the model(s) which existed in NT times – but the early witness point to women holding some of these roles in the earliest times:

Several church fathers attest to deaconesses in the time of the apostles, including Clement of Alexandria (Stromata, 3.6.53, 3–4 [late second century]) and Origen (Commentary on Romans 10.17 to Rom 16:1–2 [early third century]), though they made no mention of this office in their own day[38]


So the witness of history is that, for a short while at least, women had some official administrative role as at very least deacons within the community.

Our community

Bro Roberts in the Ecclesial Guide noted out arrangements are not for life nor spirit guided – two important differences to the first century.  In describing arranging brethren, Roberts referenced Paul’s qualification lists but in talking of the desirable qualities goes on to say:

Seven is a convenient and Scriptural number for purposes of management. Their function would be to attend to all business matters connected with the operations of the ecclesia. Their qualifications would principally require to be of a practical order. But as the business they would have to do would be business with spiritual objects, arranging brethren ought, above all things, to be men of a truly brotherly spirit, possessing a business turn, but chiefly the brotherly character. It is not sufficient that they have a business turn: they must be brethren first, arranging brethren afterwards. This is the first qualification for all offices—a point liable to be overlooked in young ecclesias. If it be asked, how is a brotherly spirit to be known, the answer is, by the test of the commandments of Christ: are they obeyed? If so, the man has a brotherly spirit. Are they not observed in the man’s conduct? Then he is not a brotherly man, and not suitable for management, however great his practical abilities may be.

Good arranging brethren may often be found in men not possessing the gift of public utterance. What is wanted is the spirit of Christ and a good practical judgement. Such men may quietly arrange many things for the general good that would not occur to brethren of more showy gifts[39]


While unquestionably at this time Roberts had in mind that only men would hold these roles, he distinguishes the roles from first century ones AND distinguishes arranging roles from teaching roles.  This removes what many would perceive to be a barrier to women serving on an arranging group.

Bro Roberts specifically referenced Phoebe and Rom 16:1 (of which he appeared to take a conservative view) but also allowed a more expansive role of sisters than perhaps he is given credit for:

implies a prominent, active, if not official position on the part of the sister in question…If a sister is an intelligent, active, useful, noble servant of Christ, her being a sister is no disqualification or barrier; it only precludes her from the act of public speaking and involves subjection to her husband[40]  [emphasis mine]


Some thirteen years after he wrote the ecclesia guide, Roberts wrote extensively about a conflict between two groups in Dunedin he addressed on 29th February 1896[41].  He clearly accepted the value of a sister’s voice in non-public workings and management of the ecclesia.  He wrote the following of the dispute and his thoughts:

It was a question of whether a woman’s voice was to be heard in consultation of suggestion.  There was no question of public speaking….The question really was whether in the non-public working or management of things woman’s voice might be allowed a place.  The question seems an extraordinary one.  The Lord’s law is never directed to the prescription of impossibilities.  You can no more suppress a wise woman’s influence and a wise woman’s voice than you can suppress the law of gravitation…you cannot prevent her giving good counsel and you should not….If Scriptures appoint man as her head they do not exclude her from partnership in all that concerns their mutual wellbeing….We ought to be thankful when women turn up who are able to help with wise suggestion.  To object to such on the score of “ruling the ecclesia”  is to evince either a shameful misconception of duty or an itch for headship


In support of his position Roberts mentions the example of Paul’s woman workers in Phil 3:3, Phoebe, the female prophets of Acts 21:9 and Deborah as prominent leaders and significant co-workers.

John Carter while editor of The Christadelphian Magazine published a series of articles by Bro Mitchell which included this comment affirming women deacons:

women did much work in the ecclesias in the first century. Apart from Philip’s daughters, we immediately think of Priscilla; while we know that when the system of deacons was widely adopted, women took their part in that work too. In Romans 16:1 (R. V. marg.) Phoebe is stated to be a deaconess, and in 1 Tim. 3:11 the term “wives of deacons” probably means deaconesses.[42]


Alfred Nicholls seems to have come to the same conclusion I do on both 1 Tim 3:11 and Phoebe:

[it is] more likely that Paul is discussing the role of the sisters in the service of the ecclesia. No duties are defined here, nor are they for the brethren, since it is qualifications with which Paul is concerned. There is no New Testament word diakonissa, “deaconess”, but there were sisters who served: Phoebe, for example[43]


In an article on the role of sisters and not being overly restrictive, Bro Ashton asserted Phoebe was a deaconess and suggested her mission was also a scriptural witness against male prejudice:

Perhaps it was a way of showing that sisters are not barred from undertaking vital and difficult ecclesial tasks that Phoebe was entrusted with taking Paul’s Letter to Rome[44]


So what then?

Many will hesitate over the appointment of women to arranging groups.  The restrictions in 1 Tim 2 might appear as an elephant in the room.  However whatever 1 Tim 2 is saying it is clear that arranging is not public speaking/teaching.  Robert Roberts clearly thought barring woman was incorrect towards the end of his life.  The skillsets around the arranging table vary now – which a positive thing.  Furthermore it is significant that the arranging group is a collective decision making, no one member wields authority over others or over the congregation. 

The ‘thin edge of the wedge’ argument is a common one.  But equally concerning should be the very human tendency (demonstrated in Eden and ongoing ever since) to amplify the restrictions of God word.  The challenge is to find no more or less than the clear import of God’s word, despite the tradition or personal comfort.

Finding how to rightly divide the word is, as always, less transparent than we might like – especially in the context of balancing the variety of views of our beloved siblings in faith and not causing a rift in relationships which rightly mean the world to us. Critically unseen is the damage which denying opportunity to serve imposes on gifted women and the message that exclusion sends to 50% of our members.

by Daniel Edgecombe

[1] Giles, K. N. (1997). Church Order, Government. In R. P. Martin & P. H. Davids (Eds.), Dictionary of the later New Testament and its developments (electronic ed., p. 219). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[2] Giles, K. N. (1997). Church Order, Government. In R. P. Martin & P. H. Davids (Eds.), Dictionary of the later New Testament and its developments (electronic ed., p. 220). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[3] Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

[4] Lincoln, A. T. (1990). Ephesians (Vol. 42, pp. 250–251). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[5] Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

[6] Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

[7] Banks, R. J. (1993). Church Order and Government. In G. F. Hawthorne, R. P. Martin, & D. G. Reid (Eds.), Dictionary of Paul and his letters (p. 135). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[8] Biblical Studies Press. (2005). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.

[9] Rainbow, P. A. (2016). Deaconess. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[10] Schreiner, T. R. (2005). Women in Ministry: Another Complementarian Perspective. In S. N. Gundry & J. R. Beck (Eds.), Two Views on Women in Ministry (Revised Edition, pp. 287–288). Grand Rapids, Mi: Zondervan.

[11] Mounce, W. D. (2000). Pastoral Epistles (Vol. 46, p. 202). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[12] Towner, P. H. (2006). The Letters to Timothy and Titus (p. 265). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[13] Mounce, W. D. (2000). Pastoral Epistles (Vol. 46, p. 202). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[14] Belleville, L. (2009). Commentary on 1 Timothy. In Cornerstone Biblical Commentary: 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, and Hebrews (Vol. 17, p. 75). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

[15] Jewett, R., & Kotansky, R. D. (2006). Romans: A commentary. (E. J. Epp, Ed.) (pp. 942–943). Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.

[16] Moo, D. J. (1996). The Epistle to the Romans (p. 914). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[17] Dunn, J. D. G. (1998). Romans 9–16 (Vol. 38B, pp. 886–887). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[18] Edwards, J. R. (2011). Romans (pp. 353–354). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[19] Cranfield, C. E. B. (2004). A critical and exegetical commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (p. 781). London; New York: T&T Clark International.

[20] Schreiner, T. R. (2005). Women in Ministry: Another Complementarian Perspective. In S. N. Gundry & J. R. Beck (Eds.), Two Views on Women in Ministry (Revised Edition, p. 287). Grand Rapids, Mi: Zondervan.

[21] John Chrysostom. (1889). Concerning Lowliness of Mind. In P. Schaff (Ed.), R. Blackburn (Trans.), Saint Chrysostom: On the Priesthood, Ascetic Treatises, Select Homilies and Letters, Homilies on the Statues (Vol. 9, p. 150). New York: Christian Literature Company.

[22] Martin, J. (n.d.). Judges (p. 23).

[23] Metzger, B. M., United Bible Societies. (1994). A textual commentary on the Greek New Testament, second edition a companion volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th rev. ed.) (pp. 413–414). London; New York: United Bible Societies.

[24] Comfort, P. (2005). Encountering the manuscripts: an introduction to New Testament paleography & textual criticism (p. 301). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman.

[25] Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 150). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

[26] Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

[27] Pierce, R. W., & Groothuis, R. M. (2005). Discovering biblical equality: complementarity without hierarchy (p. 115). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[28] Eichler, R. (2015.). Gender Equality at Creation –

[29] Biblical Studies Press. (2005). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.

[30] Biblical Studies Press. (2005). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.

[31] Belleville, L. L. (2005). Women in Ministry: An Egalitarian Perspective. In S. N. Gundry & J. R. Beck (Eds.), Two Views on Women in Ministry (Revised Edition, p. 116). Grand Rapids, Mi: Zondervan.

[32] Prachett, Terry (1987) “Mort”

[33] Rutherfurd, J. (1915). Persecution. In J. Orr, J. L. Nuelsen, E. Y. Mullins, & M. O. Evans (Eds.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (Vol. 1–5, p. 2326). Chicago: The Howard-Severance Company.

[34] Rainbow, P. A. (2016). Deaconess. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[35] Justin Martyr. (1885). The First Apology of Justin. In A. Roberts, J. Donaldson, & A. C. Coxe (Eds.), The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus (Vol. 1, p. 185). Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company.

[36] Barry, J. D. (2016). Early Church Governance. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[37] Rainbow, P. A. (2016). Deaconess. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[38] Rainbow, P. A. (2016). Deaconess. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[39] Roberts, R. (1989). The Ecclesial Guide (p. 13). Birmingham: The Christadelphian.

[40] Roberts, R. (1874). The Christadelphian, 11(electronic ed.), 313.

[41] Roberts, R. (1994 3rd edition) Diary of Voyage to Australia 1895 – 1896.  Christadelphian Scriptural Study Service pages 141-142

[42] Mitchell, F.E. (1947). The Christadelphian, 84(electronic ed.), 149.

[43] Nicholls, Alfred (1978). The Christadelphian, 115(electronic ed.), 61.

[44] Aston, Michael (1993). “Politically Correct?” The Christadelphian, 130(electronic ed.), 426.

Author: Daniel Edgecombe

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