Benjamin L. Merkle has made another contribution to the literature on the Pastorals:
Merkle, Benjamin L. “The Authority of Deacons in Pauline Churches.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 64.2 (2021): 309–25.
Abstract: The New Testament office of deacon is disputed primarily because of the paucity of information. Consequently, many look to the following in order to determine the role of deacons in the church: (1) the lexical meaning of διάκονος and its cognates (διακονέω and διακονία); (2) the function of the Seven in Acts 6:1–6; and (3) the qualifications for deacons in 1 Timothy 3:8–13. Additionally, one’s view of the role of women in ministry can influence how one perceives the function and authority of deacons. This essay argues that deacons held an official and authoritative, yet nonessential and subordinate, position in the Pauline churches. I support this thesis by considering: (1) the official title of deacons; (2) the official function of deacons; (3) the official qualifications of deacons; and (4) the official period of testing and honorable standing of deacons.
I took a class on the Greek text of the Pastorals with Dr. Merkle and benefitted greatly from it. I’m thankful for his commitment to thinking through issues in these letters and publishing the results for the benefit of both church and academy, as well as his work behind the scenes in the ETS Pastorals study group. Other publications of his on the Pastorals include:
“Are the Qualifications for Elders or Overseers Negotiable?” Bibliotheca Sacra 171.682 (2014): 172–88.
“Ecclesiology in the Pastoral Epistles.” Pages 173–98 in Entrusted with the Gospel: Paul’s Theology in the Pastoral Epistles. Edited by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Terry L. Wilder. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2010.
The Elder and Overseer: One Office in the Early Church. Studies in Biblical Literature 57. New York: Lang, 2003.
“Hierarchy in the Church? Instruction from the Pastoral Epistles regarding Elders and Overseers.” The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 7 (2003): 32–43. Reprinted as “Hierarchy in the Church? Instruction from the Pastoral Epistles concerning Elders and Overseers.” Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry 2.1 (2004): 45–62.
“Paul’s Arguments from Creation in 1 Corinthians 11:8–9 and 1 Timothy 2:13–14: An Apparent Inconsistency Answered.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 49 (2006): 527–48.