A Brief Look at the Deaconess in the Early Church
"There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."- Galatians 3:28
Radical feminists in the various churches will point to this verse as a proof text for the ordination of women as presbyters or consecration as bishops. Of course, to do so they must do violence to the verse by removing it from its context, which simply states there is no discrimination with regard to salvation. God has not somehow removed gender or gender roles. Husbands are still commanded to love their wives, and wives commanded to submit to their husbands. (Ephesians 5:22-33) Does this mean women can serve no role in the church? Not at all. The church has always recognized the role of women in the ministry of the Deaconess.
The first mention of the Deaconess is in Paul's epistle to the Romans:
"I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess of the church in Cenchreae."- Romans 16:1
We should also note that the qualifications of a deacon listed in I Timothy 3:8-13 apply equally to women called to this ministry.