Foundations of the Diaconate

Thus, diakonia was a central concept to Jesus and the apostles; therefore, it belongs to all the members of the church, through baptism, to help bring about God's reign on earth. For example, in Paul's letters we read of the Holy Spirit who empowers different members of the church, calling some to be teachers, some prophets, some apostles. "All these are activated by one and the same Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:11)."

The New Testament provides accounts of the development of the orders of bishops and deacons in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and in Philippians 1:1. Outside of the New Testament, evidence for the development of the orders of ministry exists in the writings of Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, who was martyred around 112. Ignatius is the earliest example of the three-fold understanding of ordained ministry within the church. The Bishop symbolized the unity of one God for all people, presbyters represented the Council of the Apostles, and deacons symbolized Christ. Ignatius said of deacons, "Everyone must show the deacons respect. They represent Jesus Christ, just as one bishop has the role of the Father, and the presbyters are like God's council and an apostolic band. You cannot have a church without these. --Letter to the Trallians"

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