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What does the Bible say about deaconesses?

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First Timothy 3:11 begins, "Women must likewise be dignified." Again, "likewise" relates back to an office of the church. Contrary to the King James Version's translation of that verse, we know Paul was not talking about the wives of deacons because he used no pronoun to refer to them. He didn't say their wives, or their women. Also, since there are no comments about the wives of elders, why would there be any comments about the wives of deacons? In Romans 16:1 we read, "I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant [diakonos] of the church which is at Cenchrea." Phoebe was recognized by the church for her service. It is possible that she served in an official capacity as a deaconess at the church in Cenchrea. The Greek word for "women" in 1 Timothy 3:11 is gunaikas. Apparently Paul used that term to be specific since there is no feminine form of diakonos. The same form of the word diakonos is both masculine and feminine; it would have been unclear for Paul to use just the ... more
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