In this chapter, I change directions by considering the actual types of captains in the Church. Starting with the lowest layer of officers but in no sense the least in importance, I begin with the Deacon. My Bishop has a habit of writing on the inside cover of the Bible given to each new Deacon a remarkable statement from the early Church: “In the heart of every Presbyter is the heart of a Deacon.” What does this mean? When a person becomes a Deacon, he enters the beginning of something that never ends, the life of service to Christ’s Church. He never completely stops being a Deacon. Even though a person may advance to the office of Bishop, he is always essentially a deacon who is set apart for a wider sphere of service. He is expanding the Diaconal ministry of the Church into greater areas. The Diaconate is not transcended but extended into the so-called higher offices of Presbyter and Bishop. It is not to be viewed as a stepping stone to something else; it is the “something else” in smaller proportions. Thus, the first office to discuss is the office of Deacon. But, before we can consider the Diaconate, we must back up a step further. Christ outlined His entire purpose of ministry within a diaconal framework by using one word, service. He said that “He came not to be ministered [diakonos] unto but to minister [diakonesai]” (Mark 10:45). The very word for ministry in the English is a translation of the Greek, diakonos, from which the word Deacon is derived, meaning simply servant or minister. Christ defines His ministry diaconally, so that the Deacon personifies all that distinguished Christ’s work. Turning this statement around, Christ’s ministry of service sets the parameters for the Diaconate. Haw did Christ serve (deacon) the world? He did so through the fulfillment of the offices of prophet, priest, and king, called the threefold ministry. Threefold Ministry Christ ministered to the world as prophet, priest, and king. He fulfilled what Adam failed to do. And because of this, He extends to the Church these same offices, providing for us the structure for ministry. How so? Christ calls the Church the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:27). Furthermore, He ordains the officers of the Church to carry out the same specific roles – page 52 – Captains and Courts of the threefold ministry precisely because they are to represent simultaneously who He is to the people and who the people are supposed to be as a corporate body. Looking at this another way: Because Christ is prophet, priest, and king, the Church mirrors the same. Since the Church is all of these functions in general, the officers reflect them in particular. To see this clearly, we must understand the nature of each office of Christ. Prophet Christ was called the Prophet. The office of prophet is one of being a witness, bringing testimony on behalf of God for and against God’s people as the case may be: The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear . . . . I will raise up from them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him . . . . And if you shall say in your heart, “How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?” — When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him (Deuteronomy 18:15-22) . From this description of the prophet, he is one who brings testimony about God to the people. Notice that the test is whether or not what he says “comes to pass.” In other words, if what he says happens, he is a true witness. If not, he is a false witness. A prophet is a witness. Jesus fulfilled this office in His ministry. He is the Prophet of whom Moses spoke, being specifically called by this title: “This is truly the Prophet who is come into the world” (John 6:14). Christ is designated this after He feeds the five thousand, comparing His miracle of feeding to the manna provided under Moses’ ministry (John 6:32-33). He is the ultimate witness. To use John’s own description at the beginning of the Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:l). Christ is the Word, the truest fulfillment of what a witness could be. He doesn’t simply bring the word; He is the Word. Christ is the fulfillment of the role of Prophet, but He extends this office to the Church, since the people of God in the New Testament are called the “Body of Christ.” He gives the Church a prophetic function when He says, “You shall be witnesses – page 53 – Deacons to Me” (Acts 1:8). By this statement, He defines the witnessing role in an evangelical fashion, calling for the Church to carry the testimony to all of the known world. But notice that Christ addresses the whole Church in terms of the apostles, the officers. He tells the leaders in particular to be what the whole Church is supposed to be in general. Simultaneously, therefore, the officer of the Church represents who Christ is to the Church and also he personifies what the Church is as a whole. Thus, we will see this dual representation in the captains of the Church in all three offices of Christ, just as we have in the office of prophet. Priest Christ became Priest. Unfortunately, the office of priest is quite misunderstood. It is often presented as exclusively sacrificial but this was not the original intent. In the garden, it was diaconal. Adam’s priestly role was defined when the text says, “For the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till [literally, serve] the ground” (Genesis 2:5). And then after God creates man, He tells him, “Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to cultivate [literally, serve] and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). In each reference the same Hebrew word (‘avad) is translated as “till” and “cultivate” but both have to do with working the ground. Adam was called to serve the ground to produce a garden. He was to produce food, thereby performing a diaconal function of service. He worked that he and especially others might eat. In addition, Adam was also told to guard the garden, the Hebrew word being shamar, which is consistently translated as to guard. Once it is understood that Adam’s primary diaconal task was to provide and serve food, it creates the context for the need to protect. What Adam cultivated understandably had to be protected. Anyone who has ever tried to grow something knows that he simultaneously produces out of the ground and fends off all of the elements and bugs. He grows and protects. Thus, involved in the diaconal function is the requirement also to guard. But, how do we know that Adam’s diaconal function in the garden was priestly? Both of these Hebrew words are used to describe the priestly duties of the Tabernacle. In one passage, the Lord tells Moses to define the priestly function as service, using the Hebrew words, ‘avad and shamar. And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the – page 54 – Captains and Courts priest, that they may serve him. And they shall attend [shamar] to his needs and the needs of the whole congregation before the tabernacle of meeting, to do the work, [literally, to do the service from ‘abad] of the tabernacle. Also they shall attend [shamar] to all the furnishings of the tabernacle of meeting, and to the needs of the children of Israel, to do the work [‘avad] of the tabernacle” (Numbers 3:5-8). This passage clarifies for us that Adam’s diaconal work in the garden was priestly in character. Both of the key diaconal Hebrew words are applied. Both indicate a general and specific service. In general, the priests were to serve the High Priest, but they were also to serve the congregation, the people. This would involve a variety of tasks, everything from teaching to helping. In particular, however, the priestly service consisted of serving food in two senses, sacrificial and sacramental. Priests were to sacrifice animals and serve them to God as an atonement for the sins of the people; this is the Divine direction. In the case of the peace offering where the family was allowed to eat the sacrifice with the priest (Leviticus 3), the priests performed a sacramental function by serving food to man. This is the human direction that is called a sacramental function because the eating of the food did not atone for sin but applied an atonement already offered; the food was efficacious when taken by faith. Keep in mind that if the Fall of man had not occurred, neither of these special senses of serving food would have been required, Sacrifices would not have been needed. And, sacramental food would have also been unnecessary. In the Old Testament, sacrifices and sacraments were offered and served. In the New Testament, sacrifices were done away with but the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is still offered as a sign and seal of the once for all sacrifice of Christ at the Cross. Nevertheless, the priestly office of the Bible is diaconal, involving the serving of physical and spiritual food. The priesthood is not inherently sacerdotal; it is diaconal, telling us how Christ uniquely fulfills the office of Christ while at the same time describing the Church as a priesthood (I Peter 2:9). Christ is the true Priest of the world. Since the provision of food for the people of God is the essence of priestly responsibility, Christ fulfilled the office of priest in a way that no other could. H e regularly fed people, symbolizing that He is the true priest (John 6: 1-13). But He Himself is the bread of life: “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35), making Him the sacrifice of the world as well. As such He is the High Priest – page 55 – Deacons who offers the sacrificial food to God. Yet, He offers Himself to the world through the priestly ministry of the Church, making His food available to the church in the Holy Supper (I Corinthians 11:23-26). The Church as a corporate body has a priestly function, being defined as a priest (I Peter 2:9). It is commanded to feed and provide food. It offers the Lord’s Supper. It is also required to be hospitable. These all have to do with serving of food, non-sacerdotal priestly functions. This means we can recognize the priestly aspect of the Church without placing man back under the Old Testament system. On the other hand, we should acknowledge that the Church is a priest for God, ministering the bread of life to the world. But, since providing food for the people of God is not an inherently sacerdotal function, not continuing in the form of a sacrifice but as a sacrament, Christ calls the Church to specific priestly activity by means of ordained officers. Just as we saw in the prophetic office, Christ directs the Church to a priestly function by appointing the Apostles to feed God’s people. He says to Peter, “Feed My Sheep” (John 21:15-19). He tells the great fisherman to do what Adam was supposed to do, provide food for the world. Only, He directs Peter to give the food of Christ, which is specifically done at the Lord’s Supper. Interestingly, the early Church had a practice of bringing the elements for communion down with the tithes and offerings. They provided the food as a symbol of their living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1-2). The food was then consecrated through the minister of God and given as spiritual food. In this twofold action we see how the Church served as a priest before God and how the minister performed a non-sacerdotal function of priest to man. Thus, the officers of the Church represent the non-sacerdotal priestly function of the office of Christ to the people because the Body of Christ is also given this priestly office. The officers stand for what Christ and the Church as the Body of Christ already is: prophet, priest, and king. King Christ became King. As we have seen with the other offices, however, kingship is not as the world normally portrays it. Consider the nature of the Biblical king. First, he was to be pastoral, leading his people into peace. Adam was given a kingly and pastoral function when he was told to name the animals. How do we know that this was kingly? Because the greatest king of Israel was a shepherd, David, the model of the true King who is called the Good Shepherd (John 10). Kingship is pastoral. – page 56 – Captains and Courts Second, kingship is judicial rule by wisdom. Solomon, another great king who was the son of David, was known for his wisdom. He made good decisions for the people. He did not use the world’s standards. He used God’s. He ruled by wisdom, becoming the greatest peacemaker up to the time of Christ, for his name literally means peace. Christ fulfills the office of kingship. At the beginning of the week of His passion, He made an unusual ride into Jerusalem. He went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. . . . He sent two of His disciples saying, “Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose him and bring him here. And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you loosing him?’ Thus you shall say to him, ‘Because the Lord has need of him.’” . . . And as He went, they spread their clothes on the road. Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest” (Luke 18:28-39). He perfectly met the demands of a Biblical king. He did not ride in on a horse because kings were not allowed to have horses (Deuteronomy 17:16). They we re used for aggressive warfare and since the Biblical king was to rule by wisdom he was not to engage in offensive warfare. As He rode in the people recognized Christ as king. The Church is called also to the kingly task. James says, “If anyone lacks wisdom let him ask of God” (James 1:5). Notice the command: The Church should ask for that by which the king of the Old Testament was supposed to rule, and that for which king Solomon did ask (I Kings 3:6-15). Thus, the Church is instructed to influence, “rule,” the world through wisdom, the personification of which is Christ Himself (Proverbs 8:22- 31). As we have noted with the other two offices, the Church officers are called to specific kingly responsibilities. Christ says to Peter, “Tend my sheep” (John 21:16), a kingly activity. In Acts, the Apostles take specific leadership. They rule with wisdom, as we shall specifically note in the first crisis that provoked the formation of the Diaconate. As the Church develops, however, they pass leadership to others, such as James, who also exhibit the kingly office. The offices of prophet, priest, and king are the threefold – page 57 – Deacons ministry of Christ. The Church is given the same threefold ministry, being called the Body of Christ. But, since the ministers of the Church are special representatives of what the Church is as a corporate body and also especially called to present the ministry of Christ to the world and the Church, they too bear the threefold ministry. There is not a one-to-one correspondence, however, between the offices of Christ and the offices of the Church. Perhaps in a loose way the Deacon is like the prophet; the priest is analogous to the presbyter; and, the king is comparable to the Bishop in the ecclesiastical structure. But, this tight correspondence is too narrow to explain the different facets of each office. Rather, all of the Church offices bear out each aspect of the threefold ministry of Christ. Deacon, presbyter, and Bishop all have prophetic, priestly, and the kingly dimensions to their offices. This is most apparent in the Diaconate, for as I mentioned at the beginning of the chapter Jesus’ threefold ministry is cast in a Diaconal framework: “He came not to be served but to serve.” Let us examine specifically the Diaconate in view of the threefold structure of prophet, priest, and king. The Biblical Diaconate The Apostles early on faced a Jethro-type of crisis with a dispute so major that they feared being removed from their needed positions. They particularly are drawn into a confrontation between two groups of widows (Acts 6:1ff), and begin appointing the first level of captains. Here is where we start to see the threefold ministry of Christ appear in the Diaconate. Priestly Aspect Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a murmuring against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. Then, the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve [The Greek is diakonos from which we derive the word deacon.] tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Spirit, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmeans, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, whom – page 58 – Captains and Courts they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them. The priestly office was defined as a work of service primarily involving food. It was not inherently an office requiring the sacrifice of animals. Between the Fall and the time of Christ, however, it was. After the Death and Resurrection, it became an office of serving spiritual and benevolent food; the sacrificial aspect was no longer involved. Notice that the first dispute in the Church was priestly in character. It concerned widows and the distribution of food. In a way, it was similar to the beginning of creation, when Eve, a woman, was tempted by the serpent to eat forbidden food. It differed from the first Fall in that Adam and Eve were told not to eat, whereas the food dispute of Acts resulted from certain women being denied food, when they were not told that they couldn’t eat. They were instructed that they could eat through the benevolent program of the Church. Nevertheless, there is enough of a parallel between the beginning of Genesis and the conflict between the widows for us to conclude that God wants the Church to see the contrast. When man fell, he did so because he wouldn’t abstain from the particular food that God told him not to eat. He tried to resolve the dispute between Eve and the serpent by rebellion. His perverted Diaconal attempt to solve a food problem failed. After the work of Christ, the redeemed Church is enabled to settle a food problem through the ministry of the first Spirit-filled Deacons. This underscores the power of the work of Christ. The Apostles demonstrate the continuing ministry of Christ in their response to the problem. They deal with it in a Jethro-like way. They asked the people to select men to deal with the problem. After the selection was made, they ordained these men as the first Deacons. They send the seven to resolve the dispute, which was evidently worked out because nothing more is heard about the problem. Through this delegation, they engaged the first Deacons in a priestly activity, while strictly speaking, the Deacons were not priests. The Diaconal office concentrates on benevolent food. Sometimes, however, the Biblical Deacon is allowed to administer the Lord’s Supper, which is spiritual food. Always, this should only be done with special permission from the Bishop because the Deacon’s focus is physical food. The office of Deacon is first and foremost a benevolent ministry. The Book of Common Prayer says in its ordination service for the Deacon that one of the primary tasks of this office is, “To search for the sick, the poor, and the spiritually destitute, and to minister to their necessities.” The Deacon as – page 59 – Deacons an agent of the Church is specifically sent to deal with welfare problems in society. In the West, and especially America, the State was not involved at all in benevolences until the 1930s. It did not have a welfare program because the Church had historically done administered benevolences through the office of Deacon and other benevolent programs. This changed in the 1920s and 1930s. Government became a Welfare State, not coincidentally, as the Church was going through a horrible time of doctrinal apostasy in every major denomination. It literally attempted to fill a vacuum that was being created by the Church. Instead, it has broken the financial base of society as well as destroyed long-term incentive on the part of the needy by creating a professional and permanent welfare class. According to Scripture, the Diaconate is the key to reversing the destructive force of the Welfare State. It must be raised up again to be more than a glorified “maintenance man,” which unfortunately is how the Deacon is viewed in many churches. Or, in historic churches that require the office of Deacon before becoming a Presbyter, the Diaconate is only viewed as a stepping stone. It is a temporary office for the novice preacher or the person who can’t go to seminary. This must change if society is to change. Once again the office should become benevolently defined. Persons should consider being permanent deacons. And if they are interested in moving on to the Presbyterate, they should prove themselves to be true Deacons before any other office is assumed. In the early Church, there was an assumption that the Church needed an abundance of Deacons, especially life-long ones. Why? The early Church believed that Christ established a benevolent model for reaching the world through service. In the parable of the “Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:30-37), He told the story of a man who was beaten on the road. He specifically points out that priests and Levites did not stop to help the man, implying that they were not being what their office truly implied, servants. He refers to a Good Samaritan, a man from outside the normal priestly circles, as the true model of a servant. He obviously likens the Samaritan to Himself who was not of the Aaronic priesthood, but as was pointed out earlier, He was of the Melchizedekkal priesthood. The point is that the true priest and therefore the true Deacon is the Melchizedekkal priest who seeks to help the needy. The problem with any mention of the Good Samaritan model is that it raises questions about the place of the Gospel. If we continue to look at the office of Deacon in the New Testament, however, we will discover that there was no conflict between benevolence and evangelism as we move to the prophetic aspect of the Diaconate. – page 60 – Captains and Courts Prophetic Aspect And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then there arose from what is called the Synagogue . . . disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. . . . Then they also set up false witnesses who said, “This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law”. . . . Then he said. . . . “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute?” (Acts 6:8-7:60) Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. . . . But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized (Acts 8:5-12). These passages in Acts concern the work of two of the original seven Deacons. They function prophetically, the prophetic office having to do with bearing witness. In the first passage regarding Stephen, notice the witness bearing theme. He begins to perform signs and wonders and false witnesses are raised up against him. He is seized and then begins to preach a sermon at his own trial. He delivers what is technically called a covenant lawsuit, because he brings witness against Israel for having rejected God’s revelation to them through prophets (7:52). He is finally stoned to death, having been convicted of blasphemy, a false witness offense. The second passage that immediately follows, chronicles the events of another Diaconal ministry, Phillip. He is led by God to go to Samaria, extending the Gospel to a new part of the land. While there, he preaches a revival, the response being so great that he is envied by a magician such that the rival prophet converts. The Deacon Philip also baptizes his converts. From these two passages we learn a great deal about the Biblical work of a Deacon. He is specially placed in areas to bring witness to the Gospel, in Stephen’s case a negative, covenant lawsuit witness, and in the instance of Philip a positive witness. The Deacon can preach and conduct evangelistic crusades. He can even give the sacraments, particularly baptism. Because he administers the first sacrament, he historically has – page 61 – Deacons been allowed to serve communion with special permission. Yet, because his office is so predominantly prophetic as these passages indicate, his functions are mostly nonsacramental. Furthermore, he differs from a pastor (Presbyter) in that he is usually not permanently assigned to a ministry unless he is assisting a Presbyter or there is no Presbyter in the area. He is often moved around as he is needed. But, notice that the Deacon is supposed to perform benevolent tasks as well as preach the Gospel. This solves a major problem for most Twentieth Century evangelical churches. For over one hundred years there has been a tension in the evangelical community over the relationship between social involvement and the Gospel. In the last century, liberals started to call for social concern on the part of the Church but they left out the Gospel. In reaction, Fundamentalists of this century have said that the Church should have nothing to do with social issues, particularly welfare. They have maintained a sharp separation between the Gospel and culture. Consequently, evangelicals have been easily portrayed as irrelevant and unloving. The social/evangelical polarity resulted, I believe, from a faulty view of the Diaconate among Reformed churches, except in the Anglican Communion. In most of their congregations, and all Protestant ones for that matter, the Deacon is not allowed to preach. He can take care of the lawn and serve food to the needy but he cannot technically perform ministerial tasks. His benevolent responsibilities have nothing to do with an evangelical obligation. Hence, a liberal or social Gospel has easily crept into the Church. And, as long as an unbiblical view of the Diaconate remains in these churches, they will always feel a conflict between benevolence and evangelism. The churches with historic Episcopacies and Biblical views of the Diaconate have the solution to an urgent problem in Western Civilization, particularly America: the Biblical Diaconate. Deacons such as Stephen and Philip had priestly and prophetic aspects to their office. They helped people in need and then seized upon these situations as opportunities to minister the Gospel. They should have, for Jesus Himself fed people and then told them that He was the true Bread of life (John 6). And so, the modern Church should return to the Biblical Diaconate, joining with the Historic Church’s practice of this office. Kingly Aspect Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, – page 62 – Captains and Courts seeing the miracles and signs which were done. Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. . . . And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money. . . . But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you” (Acts 8:13-25). Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert. So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and who had come to Jerusalem to worship, was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot” (Acts 8:26-40). In these passages, we see the kingly aspect of the office of Deacon. First, the Simon Magus section reveals in what sense the Deacon is not kingly in his office. Philip preaches and baptizes but he is not given the Apostolic commission to excise the Church of false teachers. He can bring people into the Church but he cannot excommunicate or discipline them out. The Apostles deal with Simon, pronouncing the judgment of excommunication: “Your money perish with you!” Second, the Ethiopian Eunuch quite graphically indicates how the Deacon exercises the kingly office of Christ through his evangelical extension of the kingdom of God. Philip is specifically told by the Spirit to overtake the chariot, kingly language that one would expect in a military campaign. But this is precisely what the Deacon does. He performs long range reconnaissance, functioning as a point man for the Great Commission and blazing new territory for the Gospel. Furthermore, notice that the Eunuch was a man with royal responsibility under the Queen of Ethiopia. The text apparently mentions the details about his queen because it wants us to see that he has no king, that is, until he meets Philip. When he does, he receives Christ as his Savior and Lord. He then has a King, the true King of kings! Through this we see that the Deacon acts in kingly fashion by extending the kingdom of the King. He is not given any actual Ecclesiastical authority but an evangelical responsibility to enlarge the borders of the Church. Thus, the Deacon reflects the Kingship of Christ in his ministry. In conclusion, the Diaconate is the most neglected and underestimated office of the modern Church. If revived, it will once again literally pave the way for the expansion of the – page 63 – Deacons Gospel, for as we have seen, the Diaconate has an explicit evangelical and prophetic function. Without this office, however, the Church will continue to be culturally and evangelically irre1evant.