but we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry [di·a·ko·niʹa] of the word.” (Acts 6:1-6) This was the principle; but it does not necessarily hold that the seven men selected were, in this case, not qualified as “older men” (pre·sbyʹte·roi), for this was not a normal or regular situation but a special problem that had arisen, one of a rather delicate nature due to the feeling that discrimination existed because of nationality. Since it affected the entire Christian congregation, it was a matter calling for “spirit and wisdom,” and thus the seven men selected may, in fact, have been “older men” in a spiritual sense, and accredited as such, but who were now taking on temporarily an assignment of work such as that which “ministerial servants” might normally handle. It was business that was “necessary” but not of the same importance as the “ministry of the word.”
The apostles showed their proper evaluation of matters in this action, and it may be expected that the bodies of overseers in the congregations that developed outside of Jerusalem would follow their example in assigning duties to the “ministerial servants.” There were doubtless many matters of a more material, routine or mechanical nature that required attention, such as procurement of seating materials, perhaps the purchase of material for copying the Scriptures, or even the copying itself.
The qualifications to be met by the ministerial assistants provided standards that would protect the congregation from any legitimate accusation as to its selection of men for particular duties, thus maintaining a right standing with God and a clean reputation among outsiders. (Compare 1 Tim. 3:10.) The qualifications governed morality, conduct and spirituality, and, where observed, would bring into service men who were sensible, honest, conscientious and reliable. Those who ministered in a fine manner would acquire for themselves “a fine standing and great freeness of speech in the faith in connection with Christ Jesus.”—1 Tim. 3:13.
God has permitted the governments of this world to operate until his due time to bring them to an end, after which Christ’s kingdom will rule the earth undisputedly. (Dan. 2:44; Rev. 19:11-21) During the time of their tolerated rule, they perform many services for the people, such as the building of roads, operation of schools, police and fire departments and other services. They also have laws to punish thieves, murderers, and so forth. Therefore, as they perform these services and justly carry out these laws, they are ‘ministers’ (di·aʹko·noi) of God. If anyone, even a Christian, violates such laws, the punishment he receives at the hands of the government is in an indirect way from God, for God is against all wickedness. Also, if the government protects the Christian from violators of the law, it is acting as a minister of God. It follows that if the ruler misuses his authority and acts against God, he is responsible, and must answer to God for it. If such wicked ruler tries to get the Christian to act in violation of God’s law, then he is not acting as God’s minister, and will receive punishment from God.—Rom. 13:1-4.
There are men who claim to be ministers of God, but who are hypocrites, actually ministers of Satan fighting against God. The apostle Paul had to contend with such ones who were troubling the congregation in Corinth. Of them, he said: “Such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself keeps transforming himself into an angel of light. It is therefore nothing great if his ministers also keep transforming themselves into ministers of righteousness. But their end shall be according to their works.”—2 Cor. 11:13-15.
The appearance of such false ministers was foretold many times in the Scriptures. Paul told the overseers of the city of Ephesus that, after his going away, oppressive wolves would enter in among the congregation and would not treat the flock with tenderness, but would speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves. (Acts 20:29, 30) Paul also warned of such apostate ones in his letters (2 Thess. 2:3-12; 1 Tim. 4:1-5; 2 Tim. 3:1-7; 4:3, 4); Peter described them (2 Pet. 2:1-3); and Jesus Christ himself foretold their existence and destruction.—Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43; see MAN OF LAWLESSNESS.
The work and service performed by a minister, servant or attendant responsible to a superior authority. In ancient Israel, the Levites served as Jehovah’s ministers. Prophets were also used to minister in a special way. (Deut. 10:8; 21:5; see LEVITES; MINISTER; PRIEST.) However, with the coming of Jesus Christ to the earth, a new ministry began. He commissioned his followers to make disciples of people of the nations. (Matt. 28:19, 20) Accordingly, to a world alienated from God, Christians bore a message of reconciliation to God through Christ.—2 Cor. 5:18-20.
Those who responded favorably to the “ministry of the reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18) needed to be trained, taught, assisted and directed in a proper way in order to become and to remain firm in faith, as well as to accomplish the disciple-making work themselves. (Compare 2 Timothy 4:1, 2; Titus 1:13, 14; 2:1; 3:8.) Therefore, after his ascension to heaven, Christ Jesus, as head of the congregation, gave “gifts in men,” apostles, prophets, evangelizers, shepherds and teachers, “with a view to the training of the holy ones, for ministerial work, for the building up of the body of the Christ.”—Eph. 4:7-16; see GIITS FROM GOD.
Another aspect of the ministry inside the congregation concerned caring materially for needy but deserving brothers. The ministry to which Stephen and six other certified men were appointed involved the distribution of food supplies to Christian widows. (Acts 6:1-6) Later, the congregations in Macedonia and Achaia shared in a ministry of relief for the poor brothers in Judea. (2 Cor. 8:1-4; 9:1, 2, 11-13) When the contribution was finally gathered together, and Paul was preparing to take it to Jerusalem, he asked the brothers in Rome to pray along with him that this ministry of relief would be acceptable to the holy ones for whom it was intended.—Rom. 15:25, 26, 30, 31.
Some years prior to this, a similar demonstration of love was made by the Christians of Antioch, in Syria, as they shared in a relief ministration for the brothers dwelling in Judea during a time of famine.—Acts 11:28-30.
An ancient kingdom that was divinely summoned to fight against Babylon. At that time Minni was allied with the kingdoms of Ararat and Ashkenaz, all under the control of Cyrus.—Jer. 51:27-29.
The exact location of this ancient kingdom and its people is uncertain. Some map makers have placed it in the region between Lake Van and the Araxes River, to the NE in eastern Armenia. But most commentators are of the opinion it lay in the general area SE of Lake Van, either in the region of the upper Great Zab, a tributary of the Tigris River, between Lake Van and Lake Urmia, or more to the S of Lake Urmia.
If the Mannai or Mannaeans were inhabitants of Minni, as some scholars say, then according to cuneiform inscriptions Minni was intermittently under subjugation, first by the Assyrians and then by the Median Empire. The Babylonian Chronicle says that many Mannaeans were taken captive in a battle between Assyria and the forces of Nabopolassar. But by the time Babylon fell in 539 B.C.E. Minni was dominated by the Medo-Persian Empire.