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Deacons - Part 2

Scripture: 1 Timothy 3:8-13; Text: 1 Timothy 3:13

When the infant church grew rapidly, the needs were too numerous for the apostles to attend to and have proper time for the study of God's word and prayer. Since these were their principal duties, they were directed to encourage the church to select seven men, who were to become deacons of the church. Their duty was primarily a secular one since they were to provide for the needs of the widows. As time has changed things and the world has become increasingly complex, their duties have increased to seeing about the church finances, such as paying the insurance and electric bills and keeping the buildings in good repair. The original deacons did not have such duties because there was no insurance and electricity did not exist, neither did they have a building in which to meet. However, the original duty remains in tact, they are to make sure the widows are adequately cared for, even though most are provided for by retirement and government funds.

If the office of the deacon is to be a place of honorable "service" in the kingdom of our Lord, we must be careful to select and ordain men who will fill the office as God intended. Therefore, God spelled out the qualities that are to be sought in deacons. He said they are to be men "of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom." (Acts 6:3). Deacons are to be selected by the church body, not the pastor, deacons or an appointed committee. The progress of the church will be hindered or helped by those who are ordained as deacons. Since all the church will be affected, all members are allowed to have a voice in their selection. It is your solemn duty to prayerfully select men who are Biblically qualified. If you select them for any other reason, you shall bear part of the blame for their failure. Because it it such a serious matter, it is needful for me to teach you what the Bible requires us to seek in a deacon.

To study these qualifications, we will go to the writings of 1Timothy, chapter three. Notice that it begins with qualifications for ministers. If you were seeking a pastor, you would need to focus on the first seven verses. Since we are considering deacons, we will begin our study at verse eight. Let us look at the various qualifications Paul mentioned to Timothy and to us.

Likewise must the deacons be grave - It tell us us that there are similarities between the qualifications of minister and deacons. Many of the requirements are the same and a careful study will reveal that truth. Of course there are some differences since ministers are called by God and deacons are called by the church. However, the church needs spiritual men to fill both positions. They are both to be "grave." Of course this is not the same as the place the dead are buried. This word seems to mean to be honest and is translated in that way in Philippians 4:8. It is not just to be honest in their dealings, but the idea is that they are honest and respectable. Therefore, a deacon is to be a man of integrity.

Not doubletongued - Immediatedly following the declaration of honesty, they are cautioned about being dishonest in their speech. A doubletongued person may think one thing and say something else, if he thinks it's what the person wants to hear. He will also say one thing to one person and something altogether different to someone else. You cannot depend on what that person says. How could such a person possibly serve the church in a beneficial way? The church will always need men of "sound speech" (Titus 2:8).

Not given to much wine - It was not required in that day that a man be a total abstainer, but it was said that he should not be a frequent indulger of wine. One reason that abstinance was not required is that wine was a form of medicine to some. Their medical resources were very limited and so Paul encouraged Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach's sake and his infirmities (1 Timothy 5:23). However, in our day we have a great variety of medicines and probably people who drink today, want the alcohol, not the medicine. Alcoholic drink can ruin a man and one who has a desire for it probably should not be ordained.

Not greedy of filthy lucre - Obviously, if a man loves money too much, he may not always choose the ethical path of obtaining it. Greed is a powerful inner force, that motivates people to lie and steal. It has been the instigator of many sinful practices (1 Timothy 6:10). Judas loved money too much and he betrayed our blessed Lord. If a deacon loves money too much, he may betray the Lord and the people of the church who provide it. There is simple logic here, ordain a greedy man and you will never be sure where the money goes. Ordain an honest man, and you will have no worries about monies that are spent.

Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience - It means that a deacon is to cherish the word of God as the mystery of godliness. The inspired word of God is the "faith once delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). The word of God contains doctrines and truths about God and His grace to man, that are to be believed and loved by those ordained as a deacon. However, it goes beyond that, he is to endeavor to live according to the teachings of the Bible. If he knows the truth and is trying to live by Biblical principles, he can have a pure conscience. If he says one thing and does another, living in sin, he cannot have a good conscience before God. So deacons are to love the truths of God's word and live by them.

And let these also first be proved - This statement means that you are not to ordain someone who has recently joined the church. It is true they may have a great zeal in the Lord, but all ministers have seen some people come into the church with great fervor and later burn out and leave the church. On the other hand, some have come in and been faithful year after year. After enough time has passed to feel confident they are growing in the Lord and will remain faithful, they can be ordained. Paul cautioned about ordaining a "novice" as a minister in verse six. The same idea is presented here and in 1 Timothy 5:22. There are deacons in churches who will not attend church, they are not doing the church any good. Proving a man will help prevent that from happening.

Then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless - Once they are ordained, deacons are to take the responsibility to become a good deacon and use the office for the glory of God and the good of the church. This can be accomplished as they endeavor to be blameless. Blameless means they live such a good life, that no one has anything bad to say of them. This idea is beautifully revealed in Philippians 2:15. It does not mean they can live without sin any more than we can. It does mean they are genuinely trying to do so and they overcome sins and root them out of their lives, by the grace of God. Living such blameless lives enables a deacon to shine as a witness to Christian values.

Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things - You might wonder why their wives are now brought into the picture. Well, a man and his wife are one in the sight of God (Genesis 2:24). He will be helped or hindered by his wife. If a man has a wife who will oppose him in the service of God, it is better for the church to select another man who will not have to struggle against such insurmountable odds. Ministers are sometimes held back by a wife who hates the work he does. The same thing happens when a wife resents the time her husband spends in church work. It takes time to see about church business and a deacon's wife needs to share in his love for the church. She should be honest, not spread rumors, not be intoxicated, and be faithful to God. If she is, they will share the joys of God service.

Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife - That means he is not to be divorced from one wife and married to another wife. The same holds true for the minister (verse two). It does not mean they are evil people. Many good people did all they could to save their marriage and their partner was unwilling to do so. The reason God places this limitation on the minister and deacons, is because people sometimes look up to them. Therefore, the highest principles of God are to be endorsed by their life. God designed marriage to last a lifetime (Mark 10:9). If this principle is not upheld by those who are to be most spiritual and live by the word of God, then children growing up will not strive for this holy standard.

Ruling their children and their own houses well - This means that deacons are to require high moral standards of their children and to set the example before them. They are to be the spiritual leaders of their homes and to endeavor to "bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). Once they reach adulthood, there is very little any of us can do to control their actions. This statement is about children growing up in the home and fathers who try to bring them up right. If a man is not trying to do so, he is not to be ordained as a deacon.

For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus - The lengthy statement before us is intended to draw a conclusion based on all that has been said. There are SPIRITUAL requirements for those who will see about the SECULAR business of the church. In other words, if a man meets the above qualifications and is ordained as a deacon, what then? Here is the answer. The negative side of failure and regret is not even mentioned. They assume and expresse a confidence in those who are ordained as deacons. If they are willing, they can use the office well. If they do not try, they probably will not. However, using the office of a deacon well, does have its rewards. The more he uses the office well, the greater it will bless his heart and enrich his life. The office of deacon is not an exalted position among men, it is a place of servitude among the saints. It takes a man who greatly loves the Lord Jesus and wants to serve Him in His church. He seeks not glory for himself, but desires to glorify the Lord Who saved Him. He gladly labors, serves; that he may please Jesus Christ. That deacon will use his office well and the result is that he will gain a good standing among those who love the Lord. He will be held in high esteem and respect by faithful members of the church. They will also have the boldness necessary to stand against the evils of satan. Boldly they will oppose the enemy, satan. Boldly they will also serve the Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Deacons are very important to the local church. These are the kinds of deacons every church needs and every deacon should strive to become. If we want this, we must continue to prayerfully and carefully select those we ordain. If they want these good rewards, they must pray for grace and direction in the perfect will of God. We have many good men in our church, but we cannot ordain them all. We must make a choice from among them, if we decide to ordain more deacons. When the early church ordained deacons, there were great blessing for the church as well (Acts 6:7). If we move forward, may God bless and guide us and make them a blessing to our church.

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This page last updated on June 7, 2014