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By Gilbert Hughes, written on Wednesday the 28th of October 2009





To fill an early need in the congregation at Jerusalem, men were appointed to a status, as servants that correspond to what would later be known as the work of deacons. Acts. 6:1-6.

In our day, ambition is usually connected with some form of self-seeking motivated by selfish desires. It generally refers to a person with some very self-centered, hidden agendas. Such ambition in leaders and in any Christian is a curse to be avoided because leaders with such agendas will always end up manipulating and using others for selfish ends.

Leaders must follow the warning the prophet Jeremiah gave to Baruch in Jeremiah 45:5, “Are you seeking great things for yourself? Do not seek them.”

God is not looking for men who are aspiring for “position” (rank; status; title); Jesus made this clear to the disciples. The church needs men who want to serve the body for the glory of God and the blessing of others.

Deacons are a vital part of what God has provided to make the church strong and effective in its work. The office of deacon is important and needed.

Deacons and Elders Are the Two Distinct Offices in a New Testament Church
The two New Testament offices are mentioned together in Philippians 1:1 and in 1st Timothy 3 , bishops and deacons. In 1st Timothy 3 the qualifications are spelled out for the two offices, bishops in verses 1-7, and deacons in verse 8-13. The qualifications are similar, but not identical. For example, the bishop is required to be “able to teach” whereas the deacon does not have that expectation.

 Meaning Of "Deacon"

In the original language, the word, "Deacon" is derived from the Greek diakonos simply means attendant, servant
In the Bible, words have meanings. Here is how the word has been defined in its various forms:

"Diakanos Its primary meaning is one who serves at tables." Acts 6:1-7"

"Diakoneo and its derivatives, as their etymology suggests, are used mainly for personal help to others."

The book of Acts chapter 6 gives us the origin and meaning of deacons in the church context. The word deacon was not used in this passage. It was not an office but a function that was being performed. The words "daily ministration" is the word "diakonia." Several things can be noted. 1) it was a "waiting on tables ministry." 2) Godly men were needed 3) It was "business" "needs", or "necessity" that brought them into existence.

"Look ye out among you seven men of honest report,
full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom,
whom we may appoint over this business."


In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, 'It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.  Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.  We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.

This passage shows that the twelve apostles saw their need to stay focused on the spiritual matters of ministry. So they created deacons (which means “servant”) to support and serve the spiritual leadership and the church by taking care of the physical aspects of ministry which today would also include things such as finances, support staff, maintenance, and the church’s property.  This allows the spiritual leadership to not become consumed by the physical things that need to be taken care of in the church. It seems there is a natural tendency to get pulled into focusing on things in the physical world that we can touch and feel which often leads to neglecting the more important spiritual things.

A.                Though the word "deacon" does not appear there, Ac. 6:1-7 records the appointment of men who were to serve the congregation at Jerusalem -- these men were called simply "the seven" in Ac. 21:8.

B.                 That the work of deacons is what these men were appointed to at least three considerations:

1.     They were specifically selected and appointed to render service on behalf of their brethren.

2.     Their service would free others for other responsibilities.

3.     The process of elimination excludes any other appointed office or service in the early church.

The Office of Deacon Was Established to Free the Apostles to Pray and to Prepare to Minister the Word

The Office of Deacon Was Created for the Purpose of Handling the Benevolence Ministry

"It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word." Acts 6:2-4 (NKJV)

They were chosen by the believers and confirmed by the apostle


The Qualifications of Deacons

The qualifications that God requires of the men who do this work are needed for the work to be done well.

These qualifications are marks of identification and confirmation. They make the person who possesses these qualities a marked person with the brand of Jesus Christ emblazoned across their lives. Today, the church has lost its distinctiveness because, far too often, you can’t tell believers from unbelievers—and I am not talking about manner of dress. Rather, I am referring to values, priorities, pursuits, and godly character.

A.                Those to be selected and appointed to this work of service were to have certain characteristics.

1.     "Men Of good reputation".  Whom others bear good witness. ). He is one who takes his life and work seriously

2.     "Full of the Holy Spirit". To be filled with the Spirit means to be guided by the Spirit's truth and to exemplify the fruit borne when one is so led. Gal. 5:16-26.

3.     "Full of . . . wisdom" .Wisdom is the skill of applying knowledge, "a right application of knowledge"

To these qualities of godly character are added the qualifications Paul lists in   1 Tim. 3:8-13.
8. Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.
11. In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. 12. A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13. Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus. NIV



Deacons are to be respectful, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience, blameless, husband of one wife, ruling children and homes well. Of honest report, full of the Spirit, Full of wisdom. ( Acts 6:1-6.).

I Timothy 3:10 indicates that these should "first be tested, then let them serve as deacons if they are above reproach."



"But let these also first be proved; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless" (1 Tim. 3:10). They are to be examined first, and only admitted to serve as deacons if there is nothing against them" Tested . . . beyond reproach  (1 Tim. 3:10). Before a man is asked to serve as a deacon, he is to be observed over a period of time to see if he is qualified for that ministry. If he is found to be beyond reproach (if there are no violations in the qualities needed to serve), he may then be chosen to serve as a deacon



1.     "Not double-tongued", the deacon must be a man of integrity. He is not a hypocrite who says one thing to one person and something contradictory to another. He speaks the truth, is honest. He does not destroy his credibility by words that are contradictory.

2.     "Not given to much wine". Is he free from any form of substance abuse (alcohol, drugs, etc.) or any kind of addiction which might take control of his life, cause belligerent and irresponsible behavior, and cause weaker Christians to stumble (Rom. 14:13-21)?

3.    "Not greedy for money". Not "eager even for dishonorable gain". Wrong motives kill a man’s ability to serve the Lord and love others. He cannot serve God and mammon or self-seeking goals.

4.     "Reverent" (1 Tim. 3:8). "Worthy of respect".

5.     "Holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience"  (1 Tim. 3:9). ).         “The mystery of the faith” refers to the body of Christian doctrine to which we hold (believe and live by) through faith. “With a clear conscience” means he seeks to honestly live by the truths of Scripture. (Rom. 10:17; 2Cor. 5:7; Col. 1:24-29; 2:18-19; Jude 3)



The character and conduct of deacon’s wives greatly affects the work their husbands do in the Lord.

"Likewise their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things"     (1 Tim. 3:11).

Specific qualities of deacons' wives are required.

a.                 "Reverent"  "Their wives should be "Serious, honorable, dignified.

b.                 "Not slanderers"  "women who will "not gossips", "not malicious talkers".

c.                  "Temperate"  "women of self-control", "sober-minded".

d.                 "Faithful in all things" "trustworthy in every way", "quite reliable", confidence.

Deacons must be good heads of their families. "Able to control their children and manage their own households properly"

"Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well" (1 Tim.3:12).

Husband of one wife "This condition means just what it says: a deacon must have one wife, he must have less that two and more than none.  A man who demonstrates a character of loyalty and trustworthiness in such personal relationships is qualified in this area. He is a man totally devoted and faithful to his own wife so that he is not distracted by other women.

One who manages his own household well. Does his wife love, respect, and follow his leadership, and are his children believers, under control, respectful of authority, and responding positively to God?



The purpose of deacons is to serve the Lord by conducting the caring ministry of the church - doing the work of benevolence, visiting the sick, being alert to the spiritual needs of the congregation - and by promoting unity within the church, thus freeing the pastor to focus on prayer and the ministry of the Word, and facilitating the spread of the gospel.

"For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 3:1).

"Those of them who carry out their duties well as deacons will earn a high standing for themselves and be rewarded with great assurance in their work for the faith in Christ Jesus"


 see also elders

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