Standard Article


  1. Thomas Schirrmacher

Published Online: 25 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470670606.wbecc0419

The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization

How to Cite

Schirrmacher, T. 2011. Diaconate. The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 NOV 2011


The Greek word diakonos in the New Testament is often translated as “servant,” and according to most exegetes is used as the official title for the office of deacon in only three instances. The term originally designated the person who served at table or took care of others. While every Christian is a servant, special duties may carry the designation “minister,” meaning a leadership function in church and mission work (e.g. 1 Cor. 3:5; 2 Cor. 3:6; Eph. 3:7; Col. 1:23; 1 Tim.). The special office is mentioned in Philippians 1:1 (“to all the saints … with the bishops and deacons”), definite evidence, then, in the New Testament of the office held by deacons alongside the leadership position of the elders and overseers, as also is 1 Timothy 3:8–13, with separate qualifications for the overseers and the deacons.


  • diaconate;
  • Greek word diakonos in the new testament, as “servant”;
  • the new testament, office held by deacons, elders and overseers;
  • Romans 16:1, proving that the church, had deaconesses;
  • office of deaconess, in Greek, byzantine church;
  • social ministry, the deacons' first priority;
  • the diaconate, merely a preparation for the presbyterate;
  • the western church, giving up office of deaconess, to avoid ordaining women;
  • second vatican council, women not permitted to become deacons