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Today, the word deacon designates a third rank of the ecclesiastical hierarchy.

But, in
the first Christian centuries, the deacon ministry was more important. The history of deacons
goes back in the beginnings of the church, having the beginning in the first years of the
church. ? having the beginning?
An overview of the deacons institution must start with the analysis of the Greek word for
deacons and their work: diakoneo, diakonos and diakonia.
The noun diakonos, or deacon (diakonoi in the plural), meaning servant, appears
thirty times in the New Testament as, for example, in Mark 9:35 And he sat down and
called the twelve; and he said to them, If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and
servant of all. Diakonos is also translated minister, as when Paul refers to himself in
Ephesians 3:7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace
which was given me by the working of his power.
Just as diakonos refers to ministers or servants, the noun diakonia means ministry or
service. Paul uses diakonia in Acts 1 for Peter's reference to the work of the Twelve as they
prepare to replace Judas. Paul speaks of varieties of service in 1 Corinthians 12:5. There is
the ministry of the word in Acts 6:4 and of reconciliation in 2 Corinthians 5:18. One
book on deacons is called Service in Christ.
In summary, diakonos, diakoneo, and diakonia appear to have been used in a general
way to refer to ministers, servants, ministry, and service in the church before diakonos was
used to designate the office of deacon. Nevertheless, an office of deacon came into being just
as did offices of presbyter (elder, later priest) and bishop. There were practical reasons for
these offices being developed.

The Book of Acts provides us information regarding the context in which the deacons
appeared:
[The Hellenists [Greek-speaking Jews] murmured against the Hebrews [Aramaic-speaking
Jews] because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve
summoned the body of the disciples and said, "It is not right that we should give up
preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, pick out . . . seven men of
good repute whom we may appoint to this duty. . . . These they set before the apostles, and
they prayed and laid their hands upon them. I (Acts 6:1-3, 6)
According to this account, the first responsibility of the deacons was to serve at tables
during the agape and to administer charity. We do not have information in the New Testament
regarding the name of the first seven deacons,? (ai numele enumerate in Fapte cap 7:
Nicanor Prohor Nicolae Stefan, ai numele acolo) but Irenaeus of Lyons (135-200 AD), an
early church father and apologist for Christian beliefs, wrote that Stephen, who was chosen
the first deacon by the apostles, and who, of all men, was the first to follow the footsteps of
the martyrdom of the Lord, being the first that was slain for confessing Christ ... (Against
Heresies). Thus Irenaeus articulated a tradition in the church that Stephen and the six others
were the first deacons. This tradition has lived into the present, but with dissenting opinions.
Not everyone agreed with Irenaeus that the seven were the first deacons, including the early
church father John Chrysostom, the great preacher who became bishop of Constantinople.
Whether the seven mentioned in Acts 6 were called deacons or not the tradition in the
church after Irenaeus considered them so. Aside from that tradition, a view of deacons from a
functional perspective places the charitable responsibilities of the seven within the realm of
the activities of the diaconate.

New Testament texts, other than Acts 6, reveal the presence of deacons in the church
less ambiguously by using the term directly. The first reference to deacons as officeholders is
in the salutation of Paul in the first verse of Philippians, which was written sometime
between 53 and 58 AD: To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the
bishops and deacons. Nothing is said in this letter of/on/about the duties of the deacons, but
their presence fortifies a/the thesis that deacons and bishops arose in Gentile churches such as
that of Philippi in contrast to Jewish-Christian communities, which produced elders or
presbyters on the model of the synagogue.
In Romans 16:12, Paul wrote about our sister Phoebe, a deaconess (diakonos) of the
church at Cenchreae saying that she has been a helper of many and of myself as well.
In 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and 5:17-22, Paul mentions bishops (episkopoi), elders,
(presbyteroi), and deacons - three offices in the church. Moreover, in 1 Timothy 3:8-13, Paul
described what kind of attributes a deacon should have:
Deacons likewise must be serious, not double-tongued, not addicted much wine, not;
greedy for gain; they must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them
also be tested first; then if they prove themselves blameless let them serve as deacons. The
women likewise must be serious, no slanderers, but temperate, faithful in all things. Let
deacons be the husband of one wife, and let them manage their children and their households
well; for those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great
confidence in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
Even if we cannot find many/a lot information about the deacons evolution in the
New Testament, some of the early church writings provides us those kind of/this information,
or, at least, they mention the existence of the deacons.

One early document that mentions deacons is 1 Clement, a letter written sometime
between A.D. 95 and A.D. 97 from the Church of Rome to the church at Corinth, which was
in revolt against its presbyters. Clement was a bishop or presbyter of the church at Rome. He
mentioned deacons but did not describe what they did.
Another early document, The Teaching of Twelve Apostles (The Didache), compares
the ministry of deacons and of bishops to that of prophets and teachers: You must, then,
elect for yourselves bishops and deacons who are a credit to the Lord, men who are gentle,
generous, faithful, and well tried. For their ministry to you is identical with that of the
prophets and teachers. You must not, therefore, despise them, for along with the prophets and
teachers they enjoy a place of honor among you.
A letter written sometime in a.d. 111-113 by the Roman administrator Pliny the
Younger of Bithynia, which was along the Black Sea, to the emperor Trajan appears to testify
to women deacons or deaconesses. In an attempt to find out more about the Christians, Pliny
tortured "two maidservants who were called deaconesses (Latin: ministrae).
Seven letters collected by Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna and eventual martyr, from
Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, mention deacons. Unlike Clement, who equated bishop and
presbyter, Ignatius referred to three separate offices of bishop, presbyter, and deacon. He also
said that deacons deserved respect and obedience: Everyone must show the deacons respect.
They represent Jesus Christ, just as the 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.

The early Christian writings also provides us information regarding the function of the
deacons within the Church.
Justin Martyr, in his First Apology (ca, a.d. 153-455) described the role of deacons in
the Eucharist as that of distributing the bread and wine to those present and absent?:
When the president has given thanks and the whole congregation has assented, those whom
we call deacons give to each of those present a portion of the consecrated bread and wine
and water, and they take it to the absent.
During the worship service, the deacons main role was to link the bishop or presbyter
and the people. In the centuries after Justin, the role of the deacon varied from his description
from less participation in the Eucharist to more participation. For example, by the third and
fourth centuries, the deacons were limited in some regions to offering only the cup to the
communicants. The bishop or presbyter distributed the bread. Deacons assisted the bishop or
presbyter by caring for the altar and its utensils and bringing the oblations of the people,
including the bread and wine for the Eucharist, to the altar to be consecrated.
In the absence of sufficient presbyters, bishops seem to have appointed deacons as
overseers of individual churches. These men, with apparent permission of their bishops,
celebrated the Eucharist and baptized, at least until councils of the church disallowed them
the right to celebrate the Eucharist. The council of the church at Aries in a.d. 314 observed
that the deacons were "offering [the Eucharist] in many cases." The council ordered this to
cease. A few years later in a.d.(ce e a.d.?) 325 the Council of Nicaea declared that deacons
could not distribute Communion to bishops or presbyters. Presbyters were becoming senior to
deacons in a growing hierarchy of church office, but deacons apparently continued to oversee
individual churches and to baptize throughout the fourth century.

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The documents of the years between the Apostolic Fathers and Constantine reveal that
the deacons had other liturgical roles. They took an active part in worship and may have
preached. They prepared candidates for Baptism and participated in the Sacrament of
Baptism itself. They also heard the confessions of dying persons.
Deacons arranged the placement of the congregation and kept order, preventing
whispering, sleeping, and disruption, and they were also the doorkeepers. They gave
instructions and asked those at variance with one another to reconcile.
The deacons also preached, but only to those congregations over which they were the
local overseers, and they were also giving sermons. Giving sermons si preaching e acelasi
lucru: suna asa: predicau si de asemenea predicau
The deacons were also responsible with the instruction of the Catechumens, and they
also participated in the Sacrament of Baptism itself. De asemenea.de asemeneade
asemenea
Closely linked to the liturgical roles of the deacons was their work in charity, as
reflected in the close link between worship and service in the early church. The Eucharist was
itself a bridge between liturgy and charity. The offerings of the people that were not eaten at
the common meal were given to the poor. Justin Martyr describes this in his account of the
Divine Service: Those who prosper, and who so wish, contribute, each one as much as he
chooses to. What is collected is deposited with the president, and he takes care of orphans and
widows, and those who are in want on account of sickness or any other cause, and those who
are in bonds, and the strangers who are sojourners among [us], and, briefly, he is the protector
of all those in need. (First Apology).
In/At the same time, the deacons were responsible to visit the sick persons, those in
prison and those working in mines.
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As we mentioned earlier, the church had not just/only deacons, but deaconesses also.
The first mention of a deaconess in the New Testament can be found in Romans 16:1-2,
where Paul talks about Phoebe: I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church
at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help
her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as
well.
Another document that specifically mentions deaconesses, in the sense of an office, is
the Didascalia, which dates from the first half of the third century. The Didascalia reflects
only the practices of the region of Syria, and not of the entire church.
Deaconesses visited women who were ill and helped them as deacons did for men.
They anointed the naked bodies of women as part of the baptismal rite and instructed them
afterward, a role forbidden to the widows in the Didascalia who were not supposed to teach.
After the institution of the Catechumenate was no longer needed, the deaconesses started to
disappear, being no more/longer needed.
The activity of the deacons wasnt uniform. Their responsibilities were different, from
case to case and from a church to another. Many canons laws were issued in order to regulate
the deacons responsibilities within the church. Many of those cannons managed to decrease
the role that deacons had within the church.
The first three centuries of the church were a golden age for deacons. Toward the end
of that era, there were premonitions of a change. In the course of the third century, the church
began to see the diaconate as a transitional step to the priesthood. Their liturgical role was
decreased and they started to become, from the servants of the community, the servants of the
priest.

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The fourth century, with the end of persecution and the legalization of Christianity in
the Roman Empire, would be an era of radical transitions in the church and its diaconate.
Despite the increasing role of presbyters, deacons remained important in the church. They
shared with bishops the responsibility of managing the extensive properties that the local
church inherited, now that the empire recognized the church as a legal entity capable of
owning property (a.d. 321).12 Deacons also had responsibility, under the bishop, for gifts to
the church. These consisted of (1) oblations brought to the altar at the Lord's Supper; (2)
money and goods for the poor; (3) provisions from the Roman state; (4) the property of
Roman temples; and (5) special collections. They were also involved in many administrative
problems, representing the bishop or the priest in some cases.
The decline of the deacons is closely linked with the hierarchical and administrative
changes what/which occurred inside of the church. The priests managed to gain more
liturgical functions and many dioceses emerged. Because the deacons were very important
and they had a huge influence, many cannons issued in the 4 th century constrained their
activity.
By the latter part of the fourth century the deacons had/have ceased to form the
bishops personal staff. As the presbyters take the place of the bishop in the churches of the
"diocese," the deacons become their assistants as well. The liturgical role of the deacons was
also restrained.
Even its importance decreased, the office of deacons survived during the centuries,
and in the last period, it started to regain its importance within the church. After the Trullo
Council/the Council of Trullo, the deacons have lost their role significance ? (Cannons 7, 16
etc.).

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Deacons evolved considerably since New Testament times, a time when they were
key figures in charitable work. They began in the first century with little, if any, obvious
place in the liturgy and a large role in providing for the poor. Gradually, they become/became
assistants to/of the bishops, they assumed some importance in the liturgy alongside their role
in social life of the church. By the third century, deacons had a function in the Rite of
Baptism. Both deacons and deaconesses were teaching. Some deacons celebrated the
Eucharist. It is controversial whether it was appropriate for deacons to preach. In the fourth
and fifth centuries, deacons became subordinate to presbyters. They retained a role in
property management at least into the fourth and fifth centuries. They lost this role by the
time of the Council in/of Trullo (a.D. 692). Eventually the deaconesses and widows were
absorbed into the monastic movement, and the male diaconate became a stepping-stone to the
priesthood. As deacons lost their social welfare functions, the church increasingly
emphasized their liturgical roles.

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