Q. Firstly thank you for your insight and answers to all the different questions people ask and need answers for. I would like to know firstly the difference between a Bishop and a Deacon or Elder. Also could you please tell me why a Bishop cannot drink wine (1 Timothy 3:3) yet a Deacon can drink a little wine (1 Timothy 3: 8)?
A. A Bishop is a presiding official or overseer. The word is equivalent in use to Elder. Bishops were teachers and preachers as well as overseers and were charged with guarding the church against doctrinal error. Deacons were subordinate to Bishops and handled the more mundane tasks of church administration. The Greek word for Deacon means “one who serves.”
The Greek word limiting the use of wine is different in the verse concerning Bishops than in the one concerning Deacons. For Bishops Paul used a word that actually describes a drunkard. In effect he said in choosing a Bishop, don’t choose someone who is given to drunkenness. But for Deacons, he suggested choosing men who would be wary of drinking too much. Since a Deacon might one day become a Bishop, someone who has learned to avoid over indulgence would be less likely to develop any drinking problems that would disqualify him later.
Most scholars believe the Bible does not prohibit the occasional use of alcoholic beverages, but does stand opposed to drunkenness.