Diakonia en diakonoi in het Nieuwe Testament
Riessen, J.P. van
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The Greek words διακονία and διάκονος refer to a wide range of services, more specifically the service of waiting at tables. In the New Testament texts these words have very different meanings. In Pauline letters we see that διακόνοι become officers who lead the community and preach the gospel. The apostle Paul refers to himself and his colleagues as διακόνοι, thereby claiming his authority as one being sent by God to fulfill this special διακονία. In the gospels we find Jesus referring to himself as the one who came to serve and not be served. He instructs his disciples to be servants like himself and uses the word διακόνοι for servants. In the Book of Acts we see the apostles preaching the gospel and providing for the widows in the community, by providing them with meals and the word of God. Assistants are oppointed to fulfill this duty for the gentile community. The assistants become preachers and are considered to be sent to do their διακονία by God, Christ, the church or their local community. In later letters we see that διάκονος refers to the apostles (particularly to Paul) or other leading officials of christian communities, who work as assistants to the apostles or the local church leaders. When looking at the New Testament, we must conclude that διάκονος refers to an official with a wide and differing variety of tasks, all of which are forms of διακονία, which is basically the service to the community and other people. This is not just a task for the διάκονος. All members of the community are called to διακονία.