Thursday, April 27th, 2006

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, 3:9 but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 3:10 These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach. 3:11 Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. 3:12 Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households. 3:13 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. (I Timothy 3:8-13)

NET Bible

Deacons likewise must be dignified, not two-faced, not given to excessive drinking, not greedy for gain, 3:9 holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 3:10 And these also must be tested first and then let them serve as deacons if they are found blameless. 3:11 Likewise also their wives must be dignified, not slanderous, temperate, faithful in every respect. 3:12 Deacons must be husbands of one wife and good managers of their children and their own households. 3:13 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. (I Timothy 3:8-13)

Notice the difference in the two translations (the bold-faced words in particular)? The underlying Greek word behind these two different renderings is gunaikas. The word 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 does the NET Bible: wives. Some, however, translate it as “women.” Many translations note that it could be translated either way.

Why does this matter? It is important to the doctrine of ecclesiology. If gunaikas refers to “women” in general this is positive proof that the office of deacon can be held by women as well as men. If “wives” is the correct translation, however, it is not.

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 for the superiority of translating gunaikas as “wives”:

Or “also deaconesses.” The Greek word here is γυνακας (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.

While this is only an introduction to the debate, 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.


Jonah Goldberg over at National Review Online wrote the following concerning the proposed bill in Spain:

Lord how [I] hate it when people do those DNA comparisons. I’m all for being nice to monkeys and gorillas, but please. We share a lot of the same DNA with dogs and, if memory serves, a big chunk of our DNA matches up nicely with some fruits and vegetables. What, exactly, should that tell us? We share 100% of our DNA with fetuses — as Ramesh would likely note — and yet that never seems to argue much in their favor among the crowd that wants animals to have rights.

This is a powerful argument to make when dealing with PETA people who are typically pro-animal rights and pro abortion rights.

I would add to Goldberg’s list that mice are said to 97.5% genetically similar to humans.Will the Socialist Party in Spain include them in the bill?Of course not.Clearly it’s not all in the DNA.

Turning to the evolutionary aspect of this discussion, the amount of genetic similarity between man and chimps is not surprising given the amount of morphological similarity between chimps and man (By the way, the article claims the two are 98.4% similar.Actually, it’s more like 95.2%).It’s important to understand that the genetic similarity does not mean the genes function in the same way.It is similar to the way in which authors use most of the same words and yet write radically different stories. As William Dembski wrote:

It’s like going through the works of William Shakespeare and John Milton, and finding that almost all the words and short phrases they used are identical. Such a similarity would not be surprising since what separates Shakespeare from Milton is not so much their vocabulary but how they used their vocabulary to express their thoughts. Different authors might use nearly identical sets of words. The crucial difference is in how those words are utilized in their respective contexts. The overall meaning only emerges from the way the words are put together. Likewise, two organisms might have nearly identical sets of genes, and even situate those genes in roughly the same order; and yet they can utilize those genes so differently as to produce markedly different organisms.

While the genetic alphabet of man and chimp may be the same, the way in which those letters are put together create vast differences.Consider the following to sentences:

Charles Darwin was a scientific god.

Charles Darwin was a scientific dog.

Both sentences contain the same number of letters, and in almost identical order.The slight difference, however, makes their meaning very different.The same goes for living things.The gene sequence diversion between humans and chimpanzees has been “found to have significant effects both on the amino-acid sequences of proteins and on the ways those proteins are regulated.”[1]About 20% of proteins are different between the two species.An examination of chimp and human brain cells reveals that humans have accumulated 5.5 times the changes as chimps over the same period of time.The human brains produce 31% more proteins than chimps.

Evolutionists tend to overemphasize the similarities between chimps and humans and underemphasize the differences, but the challenge of evolutionists is to explain their differences.

Physical Differences between Humans and Chimpanzees[2]

(1) The feet of chimpanzees are prehensile, in other words, their feet can grab anything their hands can. Not so for humans.

(2) Humans have a chin, apes do not.

(3) Human females experience menopause; no other primates do (the only known mammal besides humans to experience menopause is the pilot whale).

(4) Humans have a fatty inner layer of skin as do aquatic mammals like whales and hippopotamuses; apes do not.

(5) Humans are the only primate whose breasts are apparent when not nursing.

(6) Apes have a bone in their penis called a baculum (10 millimeters in chimpanzees); humans do not.

(7) Humans have a protruding nose.

(8) Humans sweat; apes do not.

(9) Humans can consciously hold their breath; apes cannot.

(10) Humans are the only primates that weep.

For humans to have come from chimps (actually it is said to be a hominid ancestor common to both man and chimps) we have to explain how 600 million base pairs in the DNA sequence were changed over a period of only 6 million years.There are only about 600,000 generations during this expanse of time, and given mutation rates we end up with a mere .6% change in DNA (and this assumes that every mutation is inheritable).This is 7x short the 4.8% genetic difference we find between man and chimps.The math simply does not add up even in optimal circumstances.

[1]William Dembski, “Reflections on Human Origins”; available from; Internet; accessed 11 January 2005.

[2]Taken from Geoffrey Simmons, What Darwin Didn’t Know (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House, 2004), 274-278, as found in William Dembski, “Reflections on Human Origins”; available from; Internet; accessed 11 January 2005.

One day in Spain a Spaniard might be able to sue a gorilla, or better yet, be sued by a gorilla. The Socialist Party in Spain will introduce a bill to the Congress of Deputies to give simians (chimpanzees, gorillas, and apes) the same moral and legal protections given to human beings. Why? Because our DNA is so similar! This is where evolutionary, reductionistic thinking leads: the obliteration of the doctrine of human exceptionalism (the idea that humans are qualitatively different from all other animals. These people reason that if humans are valuable, and simians are genetically comparable to humans, simians must be just as valuable as humans. They fail to realize that our value is not rooted in our DNA, but in the One who created us. We are valuable because we are created in the image of God. But what else should we expect from materialists? In a materialistic worldview DNA and functionality are the only contenders for value-defining properties. There can be no such thing as transcendent value beyond the material realm. Check out the news release for yourself.

In Stand to Reason’s February newsletter, Moments of Truth, Greg Koukl addressed the issue of unbelievers who dismiss the Bible as “only written by men.” How do we respond to this? As an apologetics organization you would expect the newsletter to detail the many reasons we can be confident that the Scriptures are divinely inspired, and encourage believers to whip out those evidences for an unbeliever when the first opportunity arises. Greg took another route. He talked about how it is that he—and most other Christians—come to believe the Bible is the Word of God. Interestingly, it did not begin with evidentiary lines of argumentation. I will quote Greg at length:

For years I have taught six of these reasons in a talk called, “The Bible: Has God Spoken?” If you’ve heard the talk and are able to recall the points and explain them, you may get someone thinking. It’s a way of putting a stone in their shoe, so to speak. But this approach is much more effective after something else has happened first. Before I tell you what that is, I have a confession to make. Though I give this talk often, these are not really the reasons I believe the Bible is God’s Word. They are sound evidences and they have their place…, but they are not how I came to believe in the Bible’s authority in the first place. I suspect they’re not the reasons you believe, either, even if you’ve heard the talk and thought it compelling.

I came to believe the Bible was God’s Word the same way the Thessalonians did, the same way you probably did. They encountered the truth firsthand and were moved by it. Without really being able to explain why, they knew they were hearing the words of God and not just the words of a man named Paul. I think I understand better now what happened then. Now I know there is a powerful role the Spirit plays that is very hard for us to describe. This is not something we’re able to explain very well to others.

For one, it is personal, subjective. Two, it’s non-rational. In a sense, we were not persuaded, as such. We were wooed and won over, and that’s very different from weighing reasons and coming to conclusions. Note, I didn’t say it was ir-rational, but non-rational. God used a different avenue to change our minds about the Bible.

Even so, the reasons I give in the talk are still vital. Here’s why: The objective reasons are important to show that our subjective confidence has not been misplaced, that what we’ve believed with our hearts can be confirmed with our minds. The ancients called this, “Faith seeking understanding.” … When you start giving people reasons to change their minds—to believe in the Bible, for instance—their first instinct is to resist, to keep on believing what they’ve always believed. It’s human nature. Don’t get me wrong. I think offering good reasons is a fine approach. I do it all the time. In this case, though, they’ll find reasons for the Bible more compelling if something else happens first. First they must listen.

When soldiers were sent to arrest Jesus, they returned empty handed. Why had they disobeyed orders? They had listened. “Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks,” they said (John 7:46). Jesus didn’t start with reasons why they should believe His words. Instead, he let the words do the work themselves. And this they did because they were the very words of God.

If you want people to believe in the Bible, the best way to succeed is not simply by giving them reasons. First, try to get them to listen to the Word. … Talk about the biblical view of the world. Encourage him to simply listen to Jesus for a while, then draw his own conclusions. Most people respect Jesus. They’ve just never listened closely to what He’s said. They’ve never allowed the words to have their impact.

Don’t get into a tug-o-war with skeptics about inspiration. Instead, invite others to engage the ideas first, then let God do the heavy lifting for you. The truth you’re defending has a life of it’s [sic] own because the Spirit is in the words. Once your friend has listened a bit, any further reasons you give for biblical authority will have the soil they need to take root in. (emphasis mine)

I find this important for three reasons. First, it demonstrates how powerful the Word of God is. If we let it speak for itself it will speak volumes. Secondly, it emphasizes the importance of presenting information in the right order: first the Word of God, then the evidence. Thirdly, it explains why evidentiary apologetics is so important for those who already believe the Bible is the Word of God. It demonstrates to the believer that what he believes is intellectually credible, and rationally justified. It increases his confidence in what he believes. Christianity is not something we believe just because, but rather because.

In its bare essence faith is simple trust. We trust in God rather than in ourselves, or something else. But more specifically faith is a persuasion based on reasonable evidence. Those who initially come to faith in Christ have reasons for placing their trust in Him, even if the reasons for such trust are minimal, not well thought out, or rationally justified. But where faith is really seen to be “a persuasion based on reasonable evidence” the most is in the growth of the believer. While they already possess some level of justification for their decision to trust Christ, they grow in that trust as they discover more and more reasons that their trust is properly grounded in reality; i.e. based on reasonable evidence. Evidence is a vital component of faith. The author of Hebrews made this clear when he said faith is the assurance of things hoped for, and that this assurance comes from the evidence of things unseen. A mature faith is trust based on evidence—trusting in things you have reason to believe are true. As we grow in knowledge we will also grow in faith.