PHBC June 27, 1999

Series: First Peter, Ser. #72


Part II


TEXT: 1 Peter 4:11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

INTRO: In this message I ask you to give your attention to the these words: if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth. The word minister comes from the Greek word DIAKONOS (diakono").

In the Greek language there are four words that are translated servant. First, there is the word DOULOS (doulo") that denotes a bondman who maintains a permanent servile relationship to a master or owner. This word is used frequently in the New Testament. It is interesting that in at least one passage it is used in connection with the word that is translated minister in our text and elsewhere. Mark 10:43-44 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: 44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.

Second, there is the word THERAPON (qeravpwn) which denotes voluntary service of a free man or a slave. Even if this service is performed by one who is a slave, it must be voluntarily done for THERAPON to be used. This word is used of Moses. Hebrews 3:5 And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after.

Third, there is the word HUPEIRETEIS (uJphrejpwn) which denotes the subordination of one person to another as a soldier who is subordinate to officers in the military.

As I have already indicated, the word in our text is the fourth word we will look at. It is DIAKONOS (diakono"). This Greek word, says the Lexicographer, Thayer, represents the servant in his activity for the work; not in his relationship to others as servile or voluntary. For instance, Jesus, who was Lord and Master of the disciples, served them by washing their feet. In this service to them he ministered but this service had nothing to do with the relationship of Lord and master. We will look more at the meaning of this word in a moment since it is the word used by Peter.


A. The word is used of a servant to a king. Matthew 22:13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

B. The word is used of the person who humbles himself to serve others. Matthew 23:11But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.

C. Paul used it of himself showing his serving the Lordís people as the minister of Christ, doing whatever was necessary to advance the welfare of those to whom he ministered. Colossians 1:23-25 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; 24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his bodyís sake, which is the church: 25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God.

D. Paul used the word to describe the service of those who enforce civil law. Romans 13:1-4 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

1. I remind you that this word represents the servant in his work, not his relationship to the one he serves.

2. The magistrate or other government official may be a lost man but in the activity of his work he is still a minister of God.

E. Paul used the word to speak of the instrumentality of the preacher of the gospel in bringing men to faith. 1 Corinthians 3:5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?

F. The word indicates that the minister or servant of God serves even when it involves much hardship. 2 Corinthians 6:3-10 Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: 4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, 5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; 6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, 7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; 9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; 10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

G. Paul used the word again in referring to Timothy as a minister of the gospel, one who serves both God and man in this capacity. 1 Thessalonians 3:2 And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith.

H. The word, in one of its variations, is used to indicate one who waits on tables. Acts 6:2-3 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. 3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

I. When I started the study of this word, I thought I would deal every instance in which it is found in Scripture but found that would be too exhaustive. I did find that it is used much more often to refer to a minister of the gospel than to those who were servants of the church as in Philippi. Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.

1. As a matter of fact, I am not sure that this would be better translated minister here than deacon, which is a transliteration.

2. It very well could refer to other preachers in the church who were not pastors.

3. I suspect the church of England translators transliterated it Deacons here to magnify their office of deacon which was a probationary office on the way to becoming an ordained preacher and pastor.

J. Let me now point out, as I have before, that any person who serves the church faithfully, especially in some specific capacity, may be called a deacon or a deaconess and that no special ordination is required for this.

1. The feminine form of this word was used to refer to Phoebe. Romans 16:1 I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea.

2. Any person who serves one of the Lordís churches, in whatever capacity, may be called a deacon or deaconess.

a. This is true of the pastor, who is a minister of God and of the church.

b. It is true of the treasurer, the clerk, Jennifer who makes the tapes, those who speak in my absence, the pianist, the organist.

c. During our Bible conference almost every man and lady in this congregation become deacons and deaconesses in the true sense of the word Peter has used in our text and in other Scripture.


A. We should recognize that God does not give all men the same ability. Romans 12:6-8 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

B. Let me draw an analogy from one of the Lordís parables. Matthew 25:14-29 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. 16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. 18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lordís money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. 20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. 21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. 26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. 28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. 29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.

1. Note that this man distributed his goods to his servants according to their ability.

2. He did not expect the 2 talent man to perform on the same level as the 5 talent man so did not give him but 2 talents.

3. In our situation, God is the giver of our abilities and talents and he does not give all the same abilities and talents.

4. And, God never expects more from us that he gives us the ability to perform.

C. Peter reminds us here that the abilities we do have are from God so boasting is excluded.


A. When we speak as the oracles of God it is not so that we will be praised for our great knowledge of the word but that God may be glorified for giving us such a wonderful, all-sufficient, pure and powerful word.

B. When we minister according to our God-given ability it has as its end the glory of God. Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

C. We are his servants and all that we do should be done for his glory. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are Godís.

D. Whatever we do, if it is to mow the lawn, keep the records, make the tapes, send the flowers, wait the tables, or whatever, we should do it all for his glory. 1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

E. Therefore, whatever ever work is set before us and for which God has given us the ability let us do it heartily as unto the Lord. Colossians 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.

F. If Lazarus could suffer sickness and death so that God could be glorified, should we not serve faithfully so that God can be glorified in our lives. John 11:4 When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.

G. If Martha and Mary could suffer grief and sorrow so that Godís glory might be revealed, should not we suffer and serve so that God might be glorified. John 11:40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

H. Let us do all things with the prayer that what we do may redound to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 4:15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

CONCLUSION: In closing let me point out something that I think is at least inferred in this verse we have studied. Peter admonishes that if any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God with the end of that and other things being the glory of God. I suggest there is a strong inference here that if one does not speak as the oracles of God, his preaching does not glorify God. Some people believe that God is glorified by preaching that is not Scriptural as long as the speaker is sincere. I suggest to you that is not so. God is glorified when his word is magnified and held up and proclaimed in purity and truth.

A man in an athletic contest, though he be the apparent winner, is not crowned unless he follows the rules and runs according the to specified rules. We will not be rewarded unless we strive lawfully. And God is so greatly glorified when we worship, preach, proclaim, and serve according to his word and according to the ability he gives to us.

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