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The Church - Lesson 15

The Church in 25 Lessons

Jon Gary Williams

Lesson 15 - The Church: Deacons

In God's design for the church he intended that when men were qualified there were to be deacons appointed in the local congregation. Working under the oversight of the eldership, deacons are to play an important role in the function of the church. A wide range of responsibilities fall to these men. What does the New Testament reveal about deacons?

I. The meaning of the word "deacon"

A. In a broad sense the word "deacon" is used referring to a servant, an attendant, or
a minister. It is derived from the Greek word "diako" which means to "run" or the
"hasten." This suggest that "diako" is an action word, alluding to active service. In this general sense it includes:

  1. Evangelists (Eph. 6:21; Col. 1:7; I Tim. 4:6
  2. Any of the faithful servants of Christ (Jn. 12:26)
B. In a special sense "diako" refers to men assigned to duties within the local congregation. Since they are spoken of in connection with the elders, it is understood that they are considered to hold a type of official relationship within the local church.
  1. Phil. 1:1 - Here elders and deacons are distinguished from the saints in general.
  2. I Tim. 3:8-13 - Spoken of in the context of a qualified group (along with elders) indicates that deacons held an established, constituted position.
II. The position and work of deacons
A. By definition a "deacon" is contrasted with an "elder." While the word "elder" refers to one who overseers, "deacon" signifies one who is a helper, a minister or assistant. 

B. Acts 6:1-6
  1. These men were selected to relieve the apostles of secular duties and 
responsibilities so they might give themselves more fully to spiritual matters.
  2. These men were selected from among the congregation to fulfill a role. They 
were received and appointed by the apostles.
  3. The work for which they were selected and their performance of it was 
significant of a special responsibility. 

III. The qualifications of deacons
A. I Tim. 3:8-13
  1. Grave
  2. Not double tongued

  3. Not given to wine

  4. Not greedy for money

  5. Holding the faith in a pure heart
  6. Proved
  7. Husband of one wife
  8. Ruling their children and homes well 

B. Acts 6:1-6
  1. "A man of honest report" - a good reputation both within and without the church.
  2. "Full of the Holy Spirit" - bearing the fruit of the Spirit. (cf. Gal. 5:22-24)
  3. "Full of wisdom" - a man of prudence and sound judgment.
In a general way a deacon has the same responsibility and owes the same service to Christ as does every Christian. He, however, is one upon whom special responsibility has been laid. The church, as is true of every institution, needs leaders. It needs men who will not shun or evade the carrying out of their tasks.