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Doctrine of Deacons

January 28, 2011

Deacons
Philippians 1:1, “Paul and Timothy, slaves owned by Christ Jesus, to all the saints in union with Christ, to those who are presently located in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons.”
The word translated “deacons” in Philippians 1:1 is the noun diakonos, which refers to those male believers in Philippi who hold the office of deacon and does not refer a spiritual gift.
A deacon can have the gift of administration, helps, encouragement, mercy, etc. Being a deacon in itself is not a spiritual gift but simply an office of leadership in the church, which is designed to aid the pastor-teacher in administrating the church so that the pastor-teacher is free to fulfill his responsibilities of studying, teaching and praying.
The noun diakonos in secular Greek was essentially “one who waited on tables, and one who served food, but the diakonos performed a wide range of duties including those of a baker, messenger, (of a woman) maid, cook, etc. Plato used it in connection with the polis where it referred to someone who served the community and thus was an honorable title. The noun diakonos was also used in classical Greek of a group of individuals overseen by a priest in the cult of Serapis and Isis. Josephus used the word in reference to a servant of God (Wars of the Jews 3.8.3).
The noun diakonos appears 31 times in the Greek New Testament. The noun diakonos appears in the Gospels where the Lord Jesus Christ uses the word of the responsibility of every believer to follow in His footsteps and serve his fellow believer.
Matt 20:26-28, “It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant (diakonos), and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Matt 23:10-12, “Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant (diakonos). Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”
John 12:26, “If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant (diakonos) will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.”
The word diakonos is used in some contexts in reference to church age believers and is translated, “minister, servant.” The word was used in Romans 13 in the political sense with reference to governmental authority, whose
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responsibility is to function as a servant of God by administering justice for its citizens.
Rom 13:3-4, “For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister (diakonos) of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister (diakonos) of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.”
In Romans 15:8, it is used in reference to Christ as a servant to Israel who confirmed the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David.
Rom 15:8, “For I say that Christ has become a servant (diakonos) to the circumcision (Jews) on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David).”
The word is ascribed to a woman named Phoebe in Romans 16:1 who faithfully served the church at Cenchrea.
Rom 16:1-2, “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant (diakonos) of the church which is at Cenchrea; that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well.”
Romans 16:1-2 has been taken by some expositors of the Word of God to mean that women can hold the office of deacon (deaconess) but the context of Romans 16:1 does not signify that diakonos refers to the office of deacon and a comparison of Scripture with Scripture reveals this is emphatically not the case.
For example, a woman cannot fulfill the following qualification that appears in 1 Timothy 3:12.
1 Tim 3:12, “Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households.”
Furthermore, women are not to hold positions of authority over men.
1 Tim 2:11-14, “A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”
The word diakonos was ascribed to false teachers who were described by Paul as disguising themselves as “servants” of God but are in reality serving Satan (2 Cor. 11:15). Diakonos was ascribed to the apostles, prophets, pastor-teachers and evangelists in the church who serve the Lord Jesus Christ by communicating the Gospel, to the unbeliever for salvation and the believer for spiritual growth (Rom. 11:13; 1 Cor. 3:5; Eph. 3:7; Col. 1:7; 1:23; 1 Thess. 3:2; 1 Tim. 1:12).
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The noun diakonos is ascribed to those who hold the office of deacon in First Timothy 3:8, 12 and Philippians 1:1. The pastor-teacher and the deacons are the only other leadership positions ordained by the Lord and the apostles for the church, thus they form the administration or government of the local church.
The office of deacon was a position of honor and was commissioned by the apostles so that they might be able to maintain their priorities, namely prayer and the ministry of the Word (Acts 6:1-9).
The function of a deacon is to serve the individual members of the local assembly by seeing to it their needs are met, thus by doing so the deacons would enable the apostles (communicators of the Word) to fulfill their responsibilities of being devoted to prayer, study and teaching the Word of God.
Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Acts 6 records a crisis that arose in the early days of the church during the 1st century A.D. The apostles dealt with this crisis by exercising their delegated authority by creating the office of deacon. Remember the Lord delegated authority to the apostles.
Matt 16:17-19, “And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”
The Lord gave the apostles authority and in Acts 6 we see the apostles exercising this delegated authority that they received from the Lord. Out of this crisis arose the office of deacon.
Acts 6:1, “Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food.”
“Hellenistic Jews”: Greek speaking Jews, who could not speak the native Aramaic language and were descendants of those Jews dispersed during the Babylonian captivity and were immersed in the Greek culture, including language, of the countries in which they were born in the dispersion and were considered inferior by the Hebrews, or Palestinian Jews, who were the majority in the church. “Native Hebrews”: Aramaic-speaking Jews who lived in Israel.
Acts 6:2-3, “So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good
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reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.”
“Select” is 2nd person plural aorist (deponent) middle imperative form of the compound verb episkeptomai (e)piskevptomai). The verb episkeptomai denotes choosing or selecting someone for a position of service in the local church on the basis of having investigated them carefully, thus the word means, “to select carefully, to choose after careful investigation.”
The deacons were men elected by their fellow believers. This election gave a precedent for the office of deacon, which is mentioned in First Timothy 3:8-12 and Philippians 1:1.
The prepositional phrase “from among” you is important in that this is the 1st law of Christian service meaning that those employed in serving the church should be members of the church. This condemns the practice of placing unbelievers in positions of administration in the local assembly.
Acts 6:3, “Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.”
“Good reputation”: A deacon must be respected by and have credibility with those he serves.
“Full of the Spirit and of wisdom” contains the figure of speech called hendiadys and is composed of the following: (1) Accusative masculine plural form of the adjective pleres (plhvrh$). (2) Genitive (of means) neuter singular form of the noun pneuma (pneu~ma). (3) Conjunction kai (kaiV). (4) Genitive (of product) neuter singular form of the noun sophia (sofiva).
The adjective pleres in Acts 6:3 does not mean “full” in the literal sense but rather is figurative in meaning describing someone who is “totally and completely under the influence of” God the Holy Spirit. The believer is influenced by means of the Spirit when he makes it a habit of obeying the Holy Spirit’s voice, whose voice is heard through the communication of the Word of God.
The noun pneuma in Acts 6:3 does “not” refer to the Person of the Holy Spirit but rather it refers to the wisdom that the Spirit imparts to the believer who obeys His voice, whose voice is heard through the communication of the Word of God.
Heb 3:7, “Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE.”
Rev 2:7, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’”
The anarthrous (without the article) construction emphasizes the quality of the noun pneuma, thus emphasizing an operation (producing wisdom in the believer) of the Spirit here rather than His personality.
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The noun pneuma in Acts 6:3 is a genitive of means indicating a deacon must be totally and completely influenced “by means of” the Spirit.
Ephesians 5:18, “And do not permit yourselves to get into the habit of being drunk with wine because that is non-sensical behavior, but rather permit yourselves on a habitual basis to be influenced by means of the Spirit.”
The noun sophia in Acts 6:3 means, “wisdom” that is acquired from obeying the voice of the Spirit, whose voice is heard through the communication of the Word of God.
The noun sophia in Acts 6:3 is a genitive of product indicating that being totally and completely influenced by means of the Spirit “produces” wisdom in the believer.
Therefore, we could translate the expression plereis pneumatos kai sophias (plhvrei$ pneuvmato$ kaiV sofiva$), “totally and completely influenced by means of the Spirit, who produces wisdom.”
Hendiadys takes place when 2 nouns are used to express 1 idea or concept and it literally means “one by means of two.” This figure of speech takes place when the author uses 2 words but only 1 idea is intended. The two words are of the same parts of speech, i.e., 2 nouns, and are always joined together by the conjunction “and.” The 2 nouns are also always in the same case. One of the 2 words expresses the thing, and the other intensifies it by being changed (if a noun) into an adjective of the superlative degree, which is, by this means, made especially emphatic.
Here in Acts 6:3 the nouns pneuma and sophia are both in the genitive case, and are separated by the conjunction kai, “and” therefore, if we take into account the figure of hendiadys we could translate this expression plereis pneumatos kai sophias (plhvrei$ pneuvmato$ kaiV sofiva$), “totally and completely influenced by means of the Spirit, yes-by means of the Spirit who produces wisdom.”
Corrected translation of Acts 6:3, “Therefore, brethren, carefully select from among you seven men of good reputation, totally and completely influenced by means of the Spirit, yes, by means of the Spirit, who produces wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.”
The deacons are to be individuals that possess wisdom as a result of obeying the voice of the Spirit who speaks through the Word of God.
Ps 111:10, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.”
Prov 2:6-7. “For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity.”
Prov 9:10, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
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Prov 15:33, “The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, and before honor comes humility.”
Col 4:5-6, “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”
1 Cor 1:22-31, “For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”
Acts 6:4, “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
“We will devote ourselves” is composed of the following: (1) “We” is the emphatic use of the 1st person nominative (subject) plural form of the personal pronoun hemeis (h(mei~$). (2) “Will devote ourselves” is the 1st person plural future active indicative form of the verb proskartereo (proskarterevw).
The verb proskartereo is a compound word and is composed of the following: (1) Preposition pros (pro$), used intensively meaning “towards.” (2) Verb kartareo (karterevw), “to be strong.” Thus, the word literally means, “to be strong towards, to persevere or persist in a thing.”
In Acts 6:4 the verb proskartereo is employed with an object and means, “to occupy oneself diligently with,” or “to devote oneself to” the ministry of the Word.
2 Timothy 2:15, “Diligently study to present yourself to God approved, a workman not ashamed, accurately communicating the Word of Truth.”
The apostles are saying here in Acts 6:4, “we will devote ourselves to” prayer and the ministry of the Word.
“The ministry of the Word” is a play on words and is composed of the following: (1) Dative (of indirect object) feminine singular definite article te (th~|). (2) Dative (of indirect object) feminine singular form of the noun diakonia 2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 6
(diakoniva). (3) (Objective) genitive masculine singular definite article tou (tou~). (4) (Objective) genitive masculine singular form of the noun logos (lovgo$)
The noun diakonia means “service” referring to the activity of Christian service in the form of feeding believers their spiritual food, namely the Word of God and the definite article indicates that this particular service is distinct from that of serving food that is for the body.
The genitive substantive tou logos, “the Word” is an objective genitive meaning it functions semantically as the “direct object” of the verbal noun te diakonia, thus instead of translating the phrase “ministry or service of the Word,” we should translate it, “serving the Word.”
Corrected translation of Acts 6:4, “But we, all of us (apostles) without exception, will devote ourselves to serving the Word.”
If we compare Acts 6:2 with this expression te diakonia tou logou, “serving the Word” in Acts 6:4, there is an obvious play on words by Peter under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit.
Acts 6:2, “So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, ‘It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables.’”
Peter is saying here that the number 1 priority and responsibility of the apostles is to pray and serve spiritual food to the souls of the flock of God, namely the Word of God instead of serving food for their bodies.
The deacons were to serve food for the body to members of the congregation while the apostles were to serve the Word of God, which is food for their souls.
Ps 119:103, “How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”
Jer 15:16, “Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.”
Matt 4:4, “But He answered and said, “It is written, “MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'”
Acts 6:5, “The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch.”
“They chose” is the 3rd person plural aorist middle indicative form of the verb eklegomai (e)klevgomai), “elected to privilege.”
1 Cor 1:27, “but God has elected to privilege (eklegomai) the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,
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Eph 1:3-4, “Worthy of praise and glorification is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He elected to privilege (eklegomai) us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.”
The verb eklegomai in Acts 6:5 indicates that these 7 men were elected to the honor and privilege of serving the body of Christ. It is an honor and a privilege to serve God’s people in any capacity.
“Stephen” is the noun Stephanos (Stevfano$), which literally means, “victor’s crown.” Luke named Stephen first in the list in Acts 6:5 and he rapidly stood out according to Acts 6:8 by the grace and power he demonstrated because he was continually influenced by means of the Holy Spirit. Stephen was the 1st martyr of the church. It is significant that a deacon became the 1st martyr of the church since the Christian way of life can be described as service to both God and man. Stephen was quite a theologian for he dynamically defended the Christian faith against its enemies.
Acts 6:5, “The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch.”
“Full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” contains the figure of speech called hendiadys and is composed of the following: (1) Accusative masculine plural form of the adjective pleres (plhvrh$). (2) Genitive (of means) feminine singular form of the noun pistis (pivsti$), which is pisteos (pivstew$). (3) Conjunction kai (kaiV). (4) Genitive (of production) neuter singular form of the noun pneuma (pneu~ma), which is pneumatos (pneuvmato$). (5) Genitive (of simple apposition) neuter singular form of the noun hagios (a%gio$), which is hagiou (a(givou).
As was the case in Acts 6:3, the adjective pleres in Acts 6:5 does not mean “full” in the literal sense but rather is figurative in meaning describing Stephen as someone who was “totally and completely influenced” by God the Holy Spirit.
The believer is influenced by means of the Spirit when he makes it a habit of obeying the Holy Spirit’s voice, whose voice is heard through the communication of the Word of God.
The noun pistis in Acts 6:5 does not mean “faith” or “trust” in the active sense but rather is used in the passive sense denoting the content of what Christians believe in, thus it means “doctrine.”
The noun pistis in Acts 6:5 is a genitive of means indicating that Stephen was a man who was totally and completely influenced “by means of” Bible doctrine. The
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noun pneuma in Acts 6:5 is a genitive of production meaning that the Holy Spirit produced Bible doctrine or in other words, He inspired the Scriptures.
2 Peter 1:20-21, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”
2 Tim 3:16-17, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
Once again we have the figure of hendiadys here in Acts 6:5. Hendiadys takes place when 2 nouns are used to express 1 idea or concept and it literally means “one by means of two.”
Here in Acts 6:3 the nouns pistis and pneuma are both in the genitive case, and are separated by the conjunction kai, “and” therefore, if we take into account the figure of hendiadys we could translate this expression pleres pisteos kai pneumatos hagiou (plhvrh$ pivstew$ kaiV pneuvmato$ a(giou), “totally and completely influenced by means of the Christian doctrine, yes-by means of the doctrine produced by the Holy Spirit.”
Corrected translation of Acts 6:5, “The statement found approval with the whole congregation; And they elected to privilege Stephen, a man totally and completely influenced by means of the (Christian) doctrine, yes, by means of the doctrine produced by the Holy Spirit and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch.”
The names of these men elected by the congregation to be deacons are all Greek, thus clearly indicating that they were Greek-speaking Jews. This is significant because the majority in the congregation were Aramaic speaking rather than Hellenistic or Greek-speaking Jews. This demonstrates the Holy Spirit’s work in the lives of these believers. The deacons were all chosen out of a minority group. They would be in charge of the distribution of food to the entire church including the Hebrew speaking Jews, thus no possible complaint could be lodged by the Greek-speaking Jews for they were now in charge. Language was not a barrier in the early church.
Acts 6:6-7, “And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them. The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.”
The office of deacon came into existence as a result of a need. The twelve apostles were administering the “helps” ministry. They were engaged in an essential ministry, but it was taking them away from their primary responsibility, namely, the ministry of the Word. From this came the origin of the office. The apostles brought the need before the church. They pointed out that an undesirable
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situation had arisen. They gave them a directive to select seven men to cover this ministry. This, they noted, would free them to devote themselves to praying, studying, and teaching. They outlined the qualifications the seven deacons should possess. The church responded to the leadership of the apostles. They saw the spiritual issue at stake and responded immediately. They sought out men who fulfilled the qualifications. They picked seven men who were Greek speaking Jews to diffuse the complaint of the Greek-speaking believers. They then brought the seven to the twelve for final approval. The seven were then ordained and the result is stated in vs.7.
Choose deacons according to needs as they arise in the local church. The rationale for a deacon is to free the pastor-teacher so his time can be devoted to his responsibilities to pray, study and teach the Word of God. The spiritual leadership, as well as the general congregation, should have a role in the selection process. Although the office of deacon appears to be a temporary responsibility here in Acts 6:1-9, First Timothy 3 and Philippians 1:1 clearly indicate that the position became a permanent position in the church since it was growing by leaps and bounds in the 1st century.
Acts 6 clearly indicates that the church had growing problems and was not perfect, yet they had the understood that their number priority was, namely, proclaim the Word of God!
The 1st organization of the church: (1) Spiritual (2) Simple (3) Sufficient.
Acts 6:1-9 is instructive regarding the proper function of the local church for the following reasons: (1) The church took very seriously the combination of spiritual and material or temporal concerns in carrying out its Commission to proclaim the Gospel. (2) It stressed prayer and the proclamation of the Word of God but never to the exclusion of being compassionate and helping those in need and correcting injustices. When the church found it necessary to divide internal responsibilities and assign different functions, the early church saw these as varying aspects of 1 total ministry. (3) The early church was flexible and was prepared to adjust its procedures, alter its organizational structure and develop new responsibilities in response to existing needs and for the sake of the propagation of the proclamation of the Word of God. (4) The early church refused to get involved in the “blame-game” when things went wrong and instead worked to finding resolutions to problems and delegating authority to certain individuals who were spiritual and thus qualified for positions of authority.
The proper function of the deacons is absolutely essential for the spiritual growth of the local assembly since it enables the pastor-teacher to fulfill his responsibility to pray, study and teach the Word of God. If the deacons do not function properly in their positions and do not serve the body of Christ and aid the pastor-teacher, the local church will suffer immeasurably spiritually.
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The pastor-teacher cannot function properly in his position if the deacons are not functioning properly in their positions. The deacons and the pastor are to function as a team, with the deacons under the pastor-teacher’s authority.
The office of deacon is one of two offices authorized for the local church (1Tim.3:8-13) and the other is that of Pastor-Teacher (1 Tim. 3:1-7).
1 Tim 3:1-8, “It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain.”
“Dignity” is the adjective semnos (semnov$). The adjective semnos in First Timothy 4:8 means, “dignified” and describes someone who is noble in character, possessing spiritual self-esteem (i.e. confidence in the Lord) and understands that he is serving the King of kings. This adjective semnos describes an individual who is serious and not a clown, yet not devoid of a sense of humor.
“Not double-tongued” is composed of the negative particle me (mhV), “not,” and the adjective dilogos (dilovgo$), “double-tongued.” This expression refers to someone who talks out of both sides of his mouth meaning he tells something to someone and another thing to someone else.
A deacon must not be an individual who betrays confidences or talks about others in derogatory terms.
Prov 17:9, “He who conceals a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends.”
Prov 11:13, “He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy conceals a matter.”
The adjective dilogos describes someone who is honest, not hypocritical and possess integrity of character.
“Not addicted to wine” refers to a person who abuses alcohol or in other words is an alcoholic.
Ephesians 5:18, “And do not permit yourselves to get into the habit of being drunk with wine because that is non-sensical behavior, but rather permit yourselves on a habitual basis to be influenced by means of the Spirit.”
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“Not fond of sordid gain” refers to an individual who loves money.
1 Tim 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
Heb 13:5, “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU.”
1 Tim. 3:9, “but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.”
“Mystery of the (Christian) faith” refers to the fact that a deacon must be possess knowledge of the essentials of the Christian faith and in particular that body of doctrine that appears in John 13-17 and the New Testament epistles that was not revealed to Old Testament saints but has now been revealed to believers in the church age. This body of doctrine coined by Paul “the mystery of the faith” reveals the modus operandi (i.e. mode of operating) and modus vivendi (i.e. manner of living) for being conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Rom 16:25-27, “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.”
Deacons must base their decisions upon the Word of God. It is not enough to sit in meetings and decide how “to run the church.” They must base their decisions on the Word of God. While it is good to know the bylaws in and regulations in your church constitution, it is important to manage the affairs of a church on the basis of the Word of God. The Scriptures were the “constitution” of the early church!
A deacon who does not know his Bible is an obstacle to progress in a local assembly. He can handicap a pastor-teacher. The church’s constitution is not to be revered as much or more than the Bible. A deacon who does not know his Bible cannot manage the affairs of the local assembly. Simply because a man is popular, successful in business, or generous in his giving does not mean he is qualified to serve as a deacon.
1 Tim. 3:10-11, “These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach.”
“These men must also first be tested”: (1) A deacon must be a man who has maintained his spiritual priorities of learning and applying the Word of God in the midst of adversity. (2) A deacon must be a man who has gained the respect and trust of those whom he is to serve in the local church.
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An untested Christian is unprepared to hold any offices in the church and will hurt the testimony of the church. In fact, an untested Christian can be hurt immeasurably spiritually by being promoted to a position he has no capacity for.
Men must first have the capacity to lead before they can hold positions of authority in the local assembly. The capacity to serve is developed by applying the Word of God in the midst of adversity, which in turn produces in the believer greater confidence and trust in his relationship with God.
1 Peter 1:6-7, “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
2 Cor 8:22, “We have sent with them our brother (Titus), whom we have often tested and found diligent in many things, but now even more diligent because of his great confidence in you.”
A man must be faithful in the little things before he can be promoted to greater responsibility as a deacon.
Matt 25:21, “You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’”
All the great leaders of the Bible were first tested as servants before they were promoted: (1) Joseph was a servant in Egypt for 13 years before he became prime minister of Egypt. (2) Moses served as a shepherd for 40 years before God called him to lead Israel out of Egypt. (3) Joshua served as Moses’ chief of staff before he became Moses’ successor. (4) David was serving as a shepherd of his father’s flock when the prophet Samuel anointed him as king of Israel. (5) The Lord Jesus Christ served as a carpenter before He began His ministry.
1 Tim. 3:11-13, “Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households.”
“Husband of only one wife” refers to the fact that a deacon, if he is married, must be the husband of one wife.
“Good managers of their children and their own households”: A deacon must be a man whose wife and children respect his authority in the home and is a capable manager of the affairs of his family.
The reason that a deacon must be a good manager of the affairs of his own home is given in 1 Timothy 3:4-5, which in context deals with one of the qualifications for the man who aspires to the office of pastor-teacher, but also has application for men who hold the office of deacon.
1 Tim 3:4-5, “He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not
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know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?)”
1 Tim. 3:13, “For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.”
Those who faithfully fulfill their responsibilities as a deacon obtain 2 things: (1) “High standing”: They gain the respect and esteem of those whom they serve. (2) “Great confidence in the faith”: They’re confidence in their relationship with the Lord grows.