Deacon - Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words


[ 1,,G1249, diakonos ]
(Eng., deacon"), primarily denotes a "servant," whether as doing servile work, or as an attendant rendering free service, without particular reference to its character. The word is probably connected with the verb dioko, "to hasten after, pursue" (perhaps originally said of a runner). "It occurs in the NT of domestic servants, John 2:5, John 2:9; the civil ruler, Romans 13:4; Christ, Romans 15:8; Galatians 2:17; the followers of Christ in relation to their Lord, John 12:26; Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 1:7; Colossians 4:7; the followers of Christ in relation to one another, Matthew 20:26; Matthew 23:11; Mark 9:35; Mark 10:43; the servants of Christ in the work of preaching and teaching, 1 Corinthians 3:5; 2 Corinthians 3:6; 2 Corinthians 6:4; 2 Corinthians 11:23; Ephesians 3:7; Colossians 1:23, Colossians 1:25; 1 Thessalonians 3:2; 1 Timothy 4:6; those who serve in the churches, Romans 16:1 (used of a woman here only in NT); Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:8, 1 Timothy 3:12; false apostles, servants of Satan, 2 Corinthians 11:15. Once diakonos is used where, apparently, angels are intended, Matthew 22:13; in Matthew 22:3, where men are intended, doulos is used." * [* From Notes on Thessalonians, by Hogg and Vine, p. 91.]

Diakonos is, generally speaking, to be distinguished from doulos, "a bondservant, slave;" diakonos views a servant in relationship to his work; doulos views him in relationship to his master. See, e.g., Matthew 22:2-Matthew 22:14; those who bring in the guests (Matthew 22:3-Matthew 22:4, Matthew 22:6, Matthew 22:8, Matthew 22:10) are douloi; those who carry out the king's sentence (Matthew 22:13) are diakonoi.

Note: As to synonymous terms, leitourgos denotes "one who performs public duties;" misthios and misthotos, "a hired servant;" oiketes, "a household servant;" huperetes, "a subordinate official waiting on his superior" (originally an under-rower in a war-galley); therapon, "one whose service is that of freedom and dignity." See MINISTER, SERVANT.

The so-called "seven deacons" in Acts 6 are not there mentioned by that name, though the kind of service in which they were engaged was of the character of that committed to such.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words