NASB (New American Standard Bible)
Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, 9 but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach. 11 Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. 12 Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households. 13 For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 3:8-13)
NET Bible (New English Translation)
Deacons likewise must be dignified, not two-faced, not given to excessive drinking, not greedy for gain, 9 holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And these also must be tested first and then let them serve as deacons if they are found blameless. 11 Likewise also their wives must be dignified, not slanderous, temperate, faithful in every respect. 12 Deacons must be husbands of one wife and good managers of their children and their own households. 13 For those who have served well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and great boldness in the faith that is in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 3:8-13)
Notice the bolded difference in these two translations? The Greek word is gunaikas, which can be translated as “women” or “wives” depending on the context. There is considerable scholarly debate over which choice is the proper translation in this particular context. Most translations translate it as “wives,” but some, such as the NASB, translate it as “women.”
How one translates this word in this passage is important to the doctrine of ecclesiology. If gunaikas refers to “women” in general, then we must conclude that the office of deacon can be held by either gender. If gunaikas is referring to the wives of deacons, however, then we must restrict the office of deacon to men.
New Testament scholar Andreas Kostenberger argues that the proper translation is “women,” and thus Paul is referring to women deaconesses. You can read his arguments here. The NET Bible offers the following footnote that summarizes some of the same arguments presented by Kostenberger et al, but argues that gunaikas is better translated as “wives” in this context:
The Greek word here is γυναῖκας (gunaikas) which literally means “women” or “wives.” It is possible that this refers to women who serve as deacons, “deaconesses.” The evidence is as follows: (1) The immediate context refers to deacons; (2) the author mentions nothing about wives in his section on elder qualifications (1 Tim 3:1-7); (3) it would seem strange to have requirements placed on deacons’ wives without corresponding requirements placed on elders’ wives; and (4) elsewhere in the NT, there seems to be room for seeing women in this role (cf. Rom 16:1 and the comments there).
The translation “wives” – referring to the wives of the deacons – is probably to be preferred, though, for the following reasons: (1) It would be strange for the author to discuss women deacons right in the middle of the qualifications for male deacons; more naturally they would be addressed by themselves. (2) The author seems to indicate clearly in the next verse that women are not deacons: “Deacons must be husbands of one wife.” (3) Most of the qualifications given for deacons elsewhere do not appear here. Either the author has truncated the requirements for women deacons, or he is not actually referring to women deacons; the latter seems to be the more natural understanding. (4) The principle given in 1 Tim 2:12 appears to be an overarching principle for church life which seems implicitly to limit the role of deacon to men. Nevertheless, a decision in this matter is difficult, and our conclusions must be regarded as tentative.
I think these two sources present some of the most compelling arguments in behalf of each view. You be the judge as to which is correct.
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