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Diakonia in the New Testament: A Dialogue with John N. Collins

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The word ministry is widely used, though difficult to define. Within the New Testament, ministry most often translates the Greek word diakonia. For many years scholars were agreed that diakonia meant humble service but the work of John N. Collins has challenged this consensus. This paper seeks to evaluate Collins’s work and to ask what his study contributes to an understanding of ‘ministry’ within the church. Its conclusions are that there are no substantial problems with Collins’s interpretation of diakonia and its cognates. Most occurrences of the word are better understood to mean ‘the carrying out of a commissioned task’ than the more traditional ‘humble service’. This can offer some helpful insights into the meaning and shaping of ministry within the church today.

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