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A Deacon is a Servant Acts 6:1-5; I Tim. 3:8-13 By David Turner www.BibleStudies-Online.com
Servant-Leaders in the Church The Bible speaks of two groups of leaders in the church: Overseers, also referred to as Elders, Pastors, teachers, etc.. Oversee the spiritual welfare of the body Focus on prayer and the ministry of God’s Word Deacons Relieve the overseers of duties that would hinder prayer and ministry of the word.
Who were the first deacons? What did they do? Why are there deacons?
Acts 6:1–5 (ESV) 1 Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. 2 And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve (diakonos) tables. 3 Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
Acts set a precedent for deacons The word deacon means servant. Deacons are seldom mentioned in Scripture; far fewer times than overseers/elders. When Paul established churches he appointed overseers: Acts 14:23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed. Deacons were added as churches grew and the need was felt. When ministry was detoured from prayer and the word, deacons were added.
Acts set a precedent for deacons In Acts they were chosen to fulfill a specific need (it wasn’t an office). When Paul spoke to Titus (a minister to a small church in Crete), only overseers/elders are mentioned (Titus 1:4- 9). When he spoke to Timothy (a minister to a larger established church in Ephesus) he speaks also of deacons. Paul doesn’t define the functions of deacons (we conclude this from the definition and Acts 6), only the qualification (I Tim. 3).
What are the qualification? As we look at these qualifications, remember: These are virtues of a servant. In Christ, one can’t be a leader without the virtues of a servant. Since they are the qualifications/virtues of a servant, they should be the expectations that you hold for yourself. What is to follow are simply standards of what it is to be a good Christian. Use this to judge yourself.
1 Timothy 3:8–13 (ESV) 8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 9 They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
Virtues of a servant 8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. Dignified – respectable, honorable, serious demeanor. Double-tongued - hypocritical, insincere, two-faced Not devoted to much wine Not shamefully greedy
Virtues of a servant 9 They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. hold fast the deep truths of the faith. Clear conscience Paul (cf. “good conscience” - there must be nothing in the conduct of these men that was glaringly inconsistent with their professed beliefs. In other words they must not profess one thing but practice another.
Virtues of a servant 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. Don’t jump into making one a deacon. Let them show themselves first. They should be free of accusations.
Virtues of a servant 11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. Lit. “women, likewise dignified” Can refer to wives or to a group of women who serve as servants. Romans 16:1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, Slanderers – diabolous from which we get the name “devil” means – accuser, separator, complainer
Virtues of a servant 12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. Lit. “a one woman man” All agree it prohibits polygamy and promiscuity. Does it disqualify someone that has been divorced and remarried, or widowed and remarried? Manages children and household well.
Rewards of a servant 13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus. Διακονήσαντες – serve as servants. Gain - an excellent standing before fellow Christians who understand and appreciate the beauty of humble, selfless, Christlike service. Gain great confidence (assurance, boldness) in the faith
Deacons (servants) are not: Overlords of the church Board of directors (the decision makers). They are included, but not necessarily their function. Overlord of the Overseers. Making sure overseers act as servants (doing deacon’s chores). Chosen: because they are popular, community leaders, personable, talented, wealthy, powerful, etc.
What does a deacon (servant) do? Servants serve Though the NT is not specific and clear as to what a deacon does (flexible), it appears: The focus of the deacon is to free up the overseers so they can concentrate on the ministry of prayer and the word. What areas may deacons serve? Taking care of the administrative affairs of the church, especially regarding widows, orphans and strangers. Care of facilities, visitation, oversight of finances, etc. Oversight over ministries other than ministry of the word
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