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Deacons - Part 1

Scripture: Acts 6:1-7; Text: Acts 6:3


In the beginning of this passage, we notice the reasons that deacons were initially ordained by the church. There was neglect among some of the widows in the church, namely the Grecians. It is generally accepted that these were Jews with a Greek background. If that assumption is true, they were called "Hellenist" and were Greek-speaking Jews. At any rate, the number of the disciples was growing and the apostles of our Lord were unable to cover all the bases and see about all the needs adequately.

The Apostles called the church together and explained that the work would require them giving up their study and prayer time, in order to see about all the needs among the widows. You may recall that Moses became overworked in leading the children of Israel and later chose others to assist him in the work, referring only the most difficult cases to him. That is basically what happened to the Apostles, they needed help and so deacons were chosen and became their assistanse by attending to the temporal service, as they attended to the spiritual service.

It should be clearly evident that the ministers first and most important job is to pray and study the Word of God. We cannot preach what we do not know and if we are to learn the will of God as expressed in the holy scriptures, we must spend much time in study and prayer. There is no question but what Christian principles are embraced in the passage of James 1:27, where visitation is encouraged. Certainly a minister cannot be a pastor if he does not follow this Biblical principal and visit among those who are burdened and broken. However, visitation is a job to be shared by all the members of the church, but only the minister is called to preach. If all his time is spent seeing about physical needs, there will be no time to see about spiritual needs. Both are to occupy the time of the pastor, but we must all remember that the study and preaching of the Bible, is the ministers chief task. To this end the deacons were ordained and that is re-emphasized in verse 4.

Unfortunately, some churches want a pastor to be an executive figure in the business of the church. They are seeking administrative skills as they seek a pastor. Some want a real promoter and a real go-getter. Others may want a man so versatile that he can be everything to everyone, but where does that leave preaching the word of God in the order of priorities? Ministers are called to preach the word of God (2 Timothy 4:2). Therefore there is a difference between a pastor's office and a pastor's study. If a man preaches the word faithfully, hopefully God will bless him with some portion of the other qualities that churches feel a need for. Let us all keep focused on our purpose of proclaiming and living the word of God, and deacons do help achieve this goal.

While looking at our scripture passage, we might briefly look at the 7th verse. As the word of God increased, so did the disciples. Deacons fill a vital role in helping this objective be realized. If deacons are rebuffing the pastor for preaching things that people do not want to hear, the word may diminish. If deacons are encouraging, assisting and praying for the pastor and supporting the preached word, by the sanction of their words and lives, then the word spreads. Thank God for such deacons here.


In our text we notice that there are three desirable and necessary qualities to be sought in a deacon. (1). They are to be of honest report, (2). They are to be full of the Holy Ghost or Spirit, (3). They are also to be filled with wisdom. Notice that it does NOT mention that: they have to be a successful businessman, nor one of the most popular men in the church, and it is not reqired that they be wealthy. I mention these because I have heard of people wanting to ordain men as deacons, for these reasons. (Thank God I have heard none of you say you are looking for these qualities.) It is not that they are bad qualities, its just that they are not sufficient. If these qualities exists among those who first fill the qualifications of God, they are a bonus. However, it is a grave mistake for a church to elect deacons on that basis, when the spiritual qualities are so much more important and necessary.

First, a deacon must be a man of unquestioned honesty. Everyone who knows him must feel confident that he is honest. If there are a few sho doubt his honesty, he is not qualified to be a deacon. God said that he is to be reported to be an honest man. All God's children are to be honest (Romans 12:17). But it is absolutely required in a deacon. If he cannot be trusted by some, he will always be limited in the effectiveness of his office. Pastors sometimes need to confide in deacons about matters that do not need to be spread all over the community. Such honesty will assure confidentiality. Deacons are to be honest and truthful in what they say. There is an old adage that may have some measure of truth. It says that if a man will lie to you, he will steal from you too. This is a concern, since people give the Lord's money to His church and it is to be used according to the will of God and the church. If it slipps through the fingers of a deacon and is unaccounted for, then people will lose confidence and may withhold their gifts. The church will suffer and so will the cause of Christ. We must remember the words of Proverbs 22:1, and seek it in our personal lives and require it among those we ordain as deacons.

Second, a deacon is to be full of the Holy Spirit. That means he is to be a very spiritual person, following the leadership of the Spirit in his life and wanting to do the will of God above all else. If a man is half full of the Spirit, then he is likely to be half full of carnality. You never know which way the scales will lean and which feeling he will follow. In a deacon, there must be a spirituality of such magnitude, that he desires the spiritual side of life and listens intensely to the leadership of God's Spirit. He will have a great interest in the church and its varied activities, because he wants the church to prosper in all it does, to the glory of God. All of us are led by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:14), and none of us follow Him all the time, but a deacon should follow Him more than most. We all need to grow in grace and seek to become more filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), but that should already be achieved to a great degree by those who are deacons. Christ should be their example, the word of God should be their guide, they should have a strong love for the church and prayer should be the avenue of finding directions for life.

Third, a deacon should also be filled with wisdom. People may enjoy being around people filled with levity and foolishness, but the kingdom and service of God is a serious matter and the church needs men who are serious minded. Therefore, deacons need wisdom, not man's wisdom but the wisdom of God as Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 2:4&13. Wisdom is more than knowledge, it is the ability to use what we know in the most beneficial way. The Bible has a great deal to say about wisdom and its value to the people of God, but one verse that really brings the subject into focus in Proverbs 9:10, where we are told that wisdom begins or has its origin in the fear of God. Many of us will readily acknowledge the we do not have as much wisdom as we need. God has given us the remedy in James 1:5, as He tells us to pray and ask Him for this blessing and He will surely give it.


As I conclude our study, let me make just a few additional observations. We noticed in the scripture reading that 7 men were ordained. I do not understand that to be a necessary number required by God, for all churches. If so, it would require some churches to ordain every male member to have that many deacons. I believe that the number seven in these scriptures represents perfection or completeness. God finished His work of creation on the sixth day and rested on the seventh, so He hallowed it (Genesis 2:2-3). When the Tabernacle was constructed, there was a lamp with seven lights to give the light needed for the worship of God (Exodus 25:37). Also, in the Book of Revelation, the number seven is used to denote the complete church (Revelation 1:20). It seems to be a good number, but not a necessary one.

In the scripture passage, the word deacon is not used. We know that those men were deacons from other scriptures, and so we refer to them as deacons. Actually the word "deacon" is found only 5 times in the Bible. It is translated from two Greek words, Diakonos and diakoneo. Diakonos is translated three times as deacon and diakoneo twice. Other words have been translated from these words and they give us some further insight into the idea of deacon. Diakonos which is translated as "deacon" three times, is translated as "minister" some twenty times and as "servant" seven times. Diakoneo which is translated as "deacon" twice, is translated as "minister" some twenty-three times and as "serve" ten times. It should be obvious to all who seriously ponder these words, that deacon is synomous or similiar to one who minister and serves. Certainly deacons are to minister and serve God and His church in the earth.

Finally, we need to recognize that while the "church" is to choose or select them, we should do so on the wise counsel of God. God calls men to preach, the church calls deacons to serve. If we pray about the selection of a pastor, we should also pray about the selection of deacons. It is a very serious matter for good deacons can greatly help the church for years to come, but poor deacons can actually impede the progress of the church for years. We have many good men in our church, but we are not supposed to ordain all of them. God said to the church, "look ye out among them" or from among these good men. Let us pray that He will lead us and that we can be united in their selection. Pray for God to lead US in the selection and THEM in the work, as together we serve our risen Lord and Saviour. He loved us and died for us and we are to love Him and live for Him.

(One final observation, just because men get old and unable to serve does not mean they are no longer deacons. The same holds true of minister, Bro Charlie McClendon had to give up pastoral work and somewhere in the future he may not have the stength to preach any more. But in honor and love, he will always be "Elder" Charlie McClendon. Brothers Byron York, Billy Torbert and Oscar Tillman have gotten to the age where they are no longer physically able to serve as deacons. But they will always be loved and respected as "deacons." Unless a minister or deacon lives in such an ungodly way as to disqualify themselves, they are "Elder" and "Deacon" until God calls them home. We love them and may God continue to richly bless them.)

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This page last updated on June 7, 2014