Posted by: Pastor | August 1, 2009

Deaconology 101 (Study presented at a Bible insitute, 1999)

DEACON–A PRACTICAL STUDY OF THE DOCTRINE

Acts 6:1-7, I Timothy 3:8-13

The Origin, Obligation, Opportunity and Obstacles of the Deacon.

Acts 6:1-7 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. 2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. 3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full ofthe Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.  4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.  5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: 6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. 7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

Introduction:

Why study the doctrine of deacon (Deaconology)? Because there is a great need for us to come to a Biblical understanding and a practical application of this doctrine so that, “the word of God (might increase); and the number of the disciples (might be) multiplied greatly; and a great company….(might be more) obedient to the faith.” (Acts6:7)  This study will emphasize the practical truth concerning the Deacon in these three sessions: SESSION ONE–the Deacon: his person, SESSION TWO–the Deacon: his pastor (cooperation), and SESSION THREE–the Deacon: the people.  Instead of electing servants that are needed to carry out essential–albeit sometimes mundane–tasks and be helper to the pastor, today many churches elect deacons without  any real function in the church, “ordain” men to an honorary position of being “the deacon”–nothing more than a figurehead. Or because, “We ought to have a deacon or deacons.” Men are chosen because of social and economic status or “loyalty to the pastor” rather than because there is a need and there are qualified men to perform the task.  A pastor friend told me of a church of forty that had eight deacons! There was no need  for that many deacons; and, none of them appeared to be Scripturally qualified to serve.  It is also normal today to elect a “Deacon Board” and “Head Deacon” or  “Chairman of the Deacon Board.” Where is that taught in the Bible?  The Deacon Board or Deacon Committee is little more than an unscriptural oligarchy “the rule by a few” (Cf. the deeds of the Nicolaitines–which God hates! Revelation 2:6) which the pastor is compelled to go before and “get approval” (i.e. “get them on his side”) before bringing an item before the congregation. The pastor should seek advice; however, the approval must be from the Lord and his people–not from just a few deacons. (This approval seeking from a deacon or deacons is merely a form of “Presbyterianism”–“Elder Rule”–a vile remnant of Romanism. The practice is not Scriptural. The Biblical form of church polity is congregational rule under a pastor’s leadership. The first deacons were chosen after there was a formed and functioning church and pastorate.)   So, obviously, there is much unscriptural belief and practice concerning deacons in  our churches today. What is the cure? Faith in and obedience to the Scriptures! “Whatsaith the Scriptures” about the deacon?

THE DEACON

SESSION ONE THE DEACON: HIS PERSON

I. DECLARATION: There are two official servants in a church: I Timothy 3:1-13

A. Pastor, elder or bishop. I Timothy 3:1-7 (Cf. Acts 20:17,28)

B. Deacon. I Timothy 3:10, 13 (Note: “office” the Deacon is a separate office.)

II. DEFINITION: Deacon is the transliteration of “diakonos.”

A. The word, “diakonos,” means a “servant,” the NT gives examples of:

1. ordained servants elected by the church to the office of deacon

2. unelected servants who served the Lord in a general sense.

a. (The noun “diakonos” is used thirty times in the New Testament.

b. Three of those times refer to an ordained servant (Phil. 1:1,1 Tim. 3:8, 12)).

B. The verb “diakoneo” is found twice in 1 Tim. 3:10, 13, and is translated , “use the office of a deacon.”

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SERVANT Matthew 20:24-28 “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye

know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great

exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be

great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let

him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to

minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. ” (Cf. Philippians 2:5-9)

S–selfless: no possessions, no plans, no power

E–energetic: serves “heartily”–not “slothful”

R–respectful

V–volunteer

A–able, willing and ready

N–“nothing too hard, nowhere too far, now IS the time”

T–trustworthy I Corinthians 4:2

We are never more like Christ than when we serve others. Every service done in

His Name will receive a reward–even the giving of a glass of water!

III. DESCRIPTION The Deacon: Pious Servant

I Timothy 3:8-13 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. 11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. 12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13 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 DEACON’S PERSONAL CHARACTER v:8

a. Grave – serious in mind and character by way of honesty and holiness. Thus implying that he is to have great reverence for the matter of being a deacon. He understands the seriousness of spiritual issues and life itself.

b. Not Double-tongued – Saying a thing to one person and giving a different view of it to another.

c. Not given to much wine – To hold the mind towards, to adhere to, give attendance to. Much wine (strong wine or alcoholic wine).

d. Not greedy of filthy lucre – greedy of shameful gain. Doesn’t use his brother and sisters in the Lord.

THE DEACON’S PIETY v.9

a. Mystery – something that was hidden but now is revealed: i.e. all N.T. Revelation from Matt. To Rev. Adhere and cling to the gospel with sincere integrity.

b. One of growing spiritual stature (a Bible student).

c. One who possess a deep conviction about the truth of the gospel and its teaching in his life and the lives of others.

THE DEACON’S PRACTICE v:10

“Let these” imperative verb. to approve after testing. He does not become a deacon to be a servant in as much as he becomes a deacon because he is already a servant.

THE DEACON’S PURITY v:6-10

“Being found Blameless” Let them be appointed to this office, and fulfill its duties if nothing can be alleged against their character. Free from all legal charges, as well.

THE DEACON’S PATERNAL LIFE v:11-12

a. Healthy family relationship with a supportive wife concerning his decision.

b. Model of faithful devotion to one spouse–not divorced. He must be committed to the sanctity of the marriage bond.

c. Manage his own home well, loved and respected by his wife and children, firm but with the compassion and tenderness of Christ.

Based on the Scriptural requirements, concerning the deacon:

I. HIS SALVATION EXPERIENCE MUST BE IMPECCABLE

A. By his life

B. By his lip.

II. HIS SERVICE MUST BE FAITHFUL (I Corinthians 4:2)

A. To all services

B. To all tasks.

III. HIS SEPARATION MUST BE EVIDENT

A. Separated from sin.

B. Separated unto the Son.

IV. HIS SOLIDARITY WITH THE CHURCH

A. In doctrine–faith

B. In devotion–practice. (continued in next Session)

SESSION TWO: THE DEACON AND HIS PASTOR

V. HIS SENSITIVITY TO THE PASTOR

A. Sensitivity to the pastor’s needs

1. remuneration

2. housing

3. transportation

4. administration.

5. inspiration

6. relaxation

B. Sensitivity to pastor’s spiritual needs

1. prayer

2. encouragement

3. sermon preparation

4. handling problems

5. conducting services

C. Sensitivity to pastor’s family’s needs

1. encouragement

2. fellowship

3. acceptance

4. protection

5. understanding

D. Sensitivity to the pastor and church

1. respect

2. review the pastor’s finances

3. recommend and report needs to church

4. relate to pastor problems

5. remove self (discreetly) from office–if cannot support pastor.

SESSION THREE: THE DEACON AND THE PEOPLE OF THE CHURCH

HOW A CHURCH SHOULD SOLVE PROBLEMS–Acts 6:1-7

DEFINITION OF THE PROBLEM Vs. 1

The early church was made up of two distinct groups of Jewish Christians. There were

those who Hebrew or Aramaic (Hebrews) and those who spoke Greek (Grecians). The

Grecians felt that their widows were not getting the same treatment as the Hebrew

widows. This is the type of problem that can still cause problems in a local church today.

CONSULTATION AMONG THE LEADERS (APOSTLES/PASTORS) Vs. 2

It is obvious that the Apostles had discussed this problem before they actually met with the congregation to solve it. Leaders must communicate and work together to solve difficulties.

RECOMMENDATION TO THE SAINTS Vss. 2-4

Notice that the Apostles kept their own priorities in order by not leaving the job they were

called to do. They continued their ministry of preaching and praying, but recommended

that Godly men be appointed to take care of the problem. Delegation can often relieve a

pastor and other church leaders of tasks, which someone else can do.

IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SOLUTION Vss. 5-6

An election was held. Those elected appear to be members of the Grecian portion of the

church. The Apostles put their blessing on the ministry of these men.

DESCRIPTION OF THE RESULTS Vss. 7-8

The word of God increased.

The number of disciples multiplied.

Many priests believed.

APPENDIX: FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions):

1. If a man has served as a deacon in one church, should he automatically serve as a deacon in the next church he joins?

  • No. I have served as a pastor for twenty years in one church; however, that does not mean that I should pastor the next church that I attend.

2. If a deacon is an official servant of the church, shouldn’t he be paid?

  • No. Deacon is not listed among the gifts (of ministers) given to the church

(Ephesians 4). Those who labor in the Word (pastors, missionaries, and evangelists) should receive support.  (I Timothy 5:18,18 and Acts 6:4)

3. What are the specific duties of a deacon?

  • A pastor friend of mine answered this question: “The Scriptures do not list the specific duties. But given the information of Acts 6:1-8, it seems to me the primary responsibility is to help the pastor in any way he, the pastor, sees fit. If there is any way that deacons can set preachers free, not so much as free from as free to spend time in ministering and studying the Word. I strongly believe that the Lord created the office of deacon in order that it might make the pastor’s ministry more effective. These men were to substitute for the pastor in essential but mundane jobs previously done by the pastors. “.

. . .when the number of the disciples was multiplied. . . .Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them and said, It is not reason that we should leave the Word or God and serve tables. . . .But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and the ministry of the word.”

I feel this best explains the reason why that the qualifications are so similar in I Timothy. The deacon is an extension for the pastor.

4. Is the deacon over the pastor? Should the deacon have an attitude of being “church boss?” Or, being the “church protector.” I.e. “I was here before this new pastor came. And, I will be here when he is gone; so, I have to hold things together.”?

  • Although, one can understand the deacon’s thoughts on the matter (a deacon is always local; whereas, the pastor is many times called from afar) I feel that, absent doctrinal deviation or moral failure of the pastor, if a deacon reaches the point where cannot support the pastor and follow his leadership, he should resign rather than becoming an irritant to the pastor or the leader of a faction in opposition to the pastor.

I have often thought that when a church changes pastors it might be a good idea for all the deacons to resign and after a season for the church and pastor to adjust to each other, have the new pastor call for a new election. The spiritual men would be reelected.  Of course, as he is the pastor’s helper, a deacon will naturally become his counselor, “sounding board” and “fellow labourer.” The deacon is to be a servant—like our Savior. (Mark 10:45)

Suggested Reading List for Further Study

Criswell, W. A. “Criswell’s Guidebook For Pastors.” Nashville, TN:

Broadman Press, 1980.

Henderson, J. T. “The Office of Deacon.” Kingsport, TN:

Kingsport Press, Inc., 1928.

Moser, M. L. “Baptist Handbook for Church Members (Revised).”

Little Rock, Arkansas: The Challenge Press, 1983.

Naylor, Robert E. “The Baptist Deacon.” Little Rock, AR:

The Challenge Press, 1974. (Reprint)

Pennell, William. “The Independent Baptist Deacon.” Decatur, GA:

Forrest Hills Baptist Church, 1981.

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