Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Characteristics & Responsibilities of Deacons

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Characteristics & Responsibilities of Deacons  Submitted by Kay Crumley

As we prepare to vote for the men who have been selected as Deacon candidates, it is appropriate to consider what characteristics and responsibilities are identified in the Bible to describe these men. The first time this office is mentioned in the Bible is in Acts 6 as some concerns for serving widows arose in the early church. Paul also listed the characteristics of the men selected to serve the church in 1 Timothy 3. It will help to understand the purpose and function of the office of Deacon as we look at these passages. 

·       The first appointment of Deacons – Acts 6 

o The early church had grown to large numbers still located in Jerusalem.  The members were composed of both believers with Greek and Jewish cultural background.   

o Those from the Asian culture, Hellenists, observed that the widows from their group were not being treated as well as those form the Hebrew widowsThey presented their concerns to the Apostles. 

o That resulted in the Apostles recognizing the need to address the issue.  However, they did not want to take time away from the main focus of their mission, teaching, preaching, and praying to care for those in need.   

o They called for a group of seven men to be selected for the purpose of serving tables. Acts 6:2-42 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 tables.3 Therefore, brothers pick out from among you seven menof good repute,full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty.4 Butwe will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 

o The requirements were for them to be of good reputation (godly character and moral integrity), full of the Spirit and of wisdom (spiritually and practically minded).  They were elected to oversee the provision for the widows, the needy, among the fellowship.  This would free the Apostles to do what Jesus had instructed them to do, preach the gospel to bring others to faith in God.   

·       Paul listed the qualifications for those men desiring the office of overseer in the church in 1 Timothy 3:1-7This would be our pastor or elderThese are men with leadership authority in the church to govern the church according to the Word of God. He followed that list with one specifically for deacons: 1 Timothy 3:8-12 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued not addicted to much wine,not greedy for dishonest gain.9 They musthold the mystery of the faith witha clear conscience.10 Andlet 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 bethe husband of one wife,managing their children and their own households well. 

·      The Deacon must meet these standards of behavior and character: 

o Dignified or reverent: showing proper respect for both God and man. 

o Not double-tongued: one who speaks the truth the first time. 

o Not addicted to wine 

o Not greedy for dishonest gain: one who deals honestly in business and in life. 

o Holding the mystery of faith: one who sincerely holds to the doctrine of faith according to the Word of God. 

o Proven blameless: There must be nothing in his life others can use to attack the church. 

·      The Deacon’s wife is also required to live by high standards of character and behavior: 

o Dignified or reverent  

o Not a slanderer: translated ‘Not devils’ which includes backbiter and gossip.  

o Sober-minded or temperate: One not given to extremes, but she is reliable. 

o Faithful in all things: She is thoroughly trustworthy. 

·       Lastly, the Deacon must be committed to his wife and manage his children and household affairs well.    

These are high standards for the Deacon as well as for his family.  Having grown up as a Deacon’s child, I was aware that our misbehavior could reflect badly on my DadIt was important not to do things that would cause dishonor to our family and by extension our churchHowever, we often joked that our misbehaviors may have been the result of hanging out with the preacher’s kids who were anxious to turn that around on us being the instigatorsThen why would anyone desire to be a DeaconWe see the answer Paul gave in 1 Timothy 3:13 Forthose who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.  They are rewarded by God as they build faith in Jesus Christ among the body of believers they serveEven if they serve doing menial tasks with little recognition, they will have confidence they are being obedient to the calling of Deacon among God’s people. 

Deacons are servant leaders who are dedicated to meet the needs of others.  The Bible does not provide a list or outline of their duties.  The office, as established in Acts 6, was to care for the church body so that those called as overseers/pastors can devote themselves to prayer and ministry of God’s Word. That’s not to prevent them from serving but to ensure they are doing the “main thing” they are called to do by God.    

Devotional Archive