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[Ministry & Service]:
[The Callings]:
The Deacon
Written on October 16th, 2004 - 2:57AM
Last Updated: January 26th, 2006 - 5:43PM

or service, let us give ourselves to service; or he who teaches, to his teaching; (Romans 12:7)

The spiritual office of deacon is very important to the success of the Assembly, both as a whole and in its individual congregations. It is important to understand what this office truly is as describe from the Word of God, rather than being confused with modern-day re-definitions, so that Christ's prayer for unity might be answered. When the Assembly understands and accepts the gift of deacon, it will become built together in a much, greater, easier, and more joyous way. Let us first look at the word "deacon" itself.

As noted in the main page about the Ministry of God, the word "minister" is a synonym for "deacon." They both come from the Greek word "diakonos" which is also defined on that page. Its meaning has a couple possibilities: 1) one who becomes "through [dia] dirt [konos]" because of the type of humble work being done. A deacon is one who becomes stained with serving others. 2) one who follows after others, who pursues them making sure their needs are met (from the primitive verb, "doiko").

The First Appearance of the Office of Deacon

Knowing the meaning of the word, it is easy to see why it is used of this particular office in the Assembly. It is first seen instituted in Acts chapter 6, when the work of serving (verb form of "deacon") widows became too much for the apostles. Listen to their reasoning:

1Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, a complaint arose from the Hellenists{The Hellenists used Greek language and culture, even though they were also of Hebrew descent.} against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily service. 2The twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, "It is not appropriate for us to forsake the word of God and serve tables. 3Therefore select from among you, brothers, seven men of good report, full of the Holy Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. 4But we will continue steadfastly in prayer and in the ministry of the word." (Acts 6:1-4)

Notice the language used by the apostles in verse 2, "it is not appropriate for us to forsake the word of God..." Clearly, the apostles knew the boundaries of their calling, and did not cross them in order to please others in the flesh. Their place in the Body was to continue in the prayer and to serve the Word (vs 4). We would do good to follow their example, by obeying God even if it seems it will distress others in the process. The Bible shows us that there are clear divisions of spiritual office, where one person is not supposed to do the spiritual work of another—in fact, it is considered "inappropriate" to do such a thing. Why? Because, "God has set each one of the members in the Body as He has desired" (1 Corinthians 12:18). It is His choice to place us in His Son's Body, therefore it is logical that to become out of place is to be acting inappropriately, because we are transgressing His revealed will.

The apostles, though acknowledging it wasn't their job to serve tables, also acknowledged that it needed to be done. Our Lord Jesus gave us the example of serving others, teaching us it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35), and showing that the one who serves shall be the greatest in the Kingdom of Yahweh (Matthew 23:11). Christ noted that humans have the need to eat, and even did a miracle to meet this vital need on two separate occasions! In the same way it must be a responsibility of the Assembly to meet the needs of its people.

The command to the disciples was simple: select from among yourselves seven men of good report, who were full of the Holy Spirit and of wisdom, who could be appointed by the apostles, over the service of tables. These requirements are no different today, and with good reason:

  1. Of good report: being continually (#5746) witnessed (#3140) by others to be something specific. To have a person without good reputation serving in the Assembly could bring great disgrace once they are found to be in sin, or not who they say they are. Having them be approved by the disciples around them acknowledges that public opinion is important to the Assembly, not because of the people themselves, but because it is the representative of Jesus Christ on earth, being His Body and bearing His Name. In addition, this good witness was to be continuous.
  2. Being full of the Holy Spirit: this ensures that these men would be walking in the Spirit, not seeking to satisfy their own desires, but caring about others by serving freely in Christ's love. The deacons must be "full" (#4134) of the Holy Spirit, not empty, and not partially full. As Paul says in one of his letters, we are not to be drunken wine, but continually filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). When we walk in the Spirit, we "will absolutely not carry out the lusts of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16). When we are full of the Holy Spirit, we receive great boldness and ability to do what God has called us to do (Acts 4:31).
  3. And [being full] of wisdom: this ensures that the deacons will have the ability to discern the true needs of the congregation. True wisdom (#4678) is a gift from God (James 3:14-17). Who decides where the food goes when there is not enough to go around? Who needs it the most? What needs are in fact not needs at all, but people simply being gluttons and getting drunk off of the Assembly's service (1 Corinthians 11:20-22)? Wisdom is needed to discern the truth in each situation of a great multitude, just as King Solomon asked, "Now, Yahweh Elohim, let your promise to David my father be established; for you have made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude. Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can judge this your people, that is so great" (2 Chronicles 1:9-10)? Those appointed to the service of the Assembly must be full of wisdom!
  4. Whom we may appoint over this matter: Lastly, the ones chosen by the disciples must be approved by the leaders of the local congregation, in the case of the very early church, the apostles, and in the later church and today's congregations, the overseers/bishops (Acts 20:28). After being chosen by the congregation, then and only then, they will be appointed (#2525) by the apostles over this same (#5026) necessity or duty (#5532). The ones who remain in leadership over the congregation must have final word because the charge of their fold was given to them by Christ Himself.

Qualifications for the Office of Deacon

8Servants{or, Deacons.}, in the same way, must be reverent, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for money; 9holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 10Let them also first be tested; then let them serve{or, serve as deacons} if they are blameless. 11Their wives in the same way must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. 12Let servants{or, deacons} be husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13For those who have served well{or, served well as deacons} gain for themselves a good standing, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 3:8-13)

Seeing before the general purpose of a deacon in the eyes of God, we must also look to see the qualifications are for one who has been chosen as a deacon by God. In this way, the Assembly can ratify the calling of the Lord on the deacon, without letting pseudo-deacons, or willful impostors, to mar the Ministry with fleshly ambitions.

Deacons must be:

  1. Reverent: a Greek word (#4586) coming from a root meaning to be worshipful. Thus, a deacon must be one who is steadfast in his worship of God, and of his religious commitment to the Most High. Paul in his first letter to Timothy (I Tim. 1:9), lists one group of people for which the Law was laid down—the ungodly (#765), also being translated as unreligious, or non-worshipers—those who do not pay respect or homage to God. Deacons, on the other hand, must be, like overseers, ones full of worship and religious service to Yahweh in Christ.
  2. Not double-tongued: an interesting word (#1351) coming from "two" (#1364) and "word" (#3056), thus having the idea of being double worded, or double speaking. This can mean two things; 1) repeating the same thing twice, intimating the idea of needlessly repeating words, or 2) saying one thing to one person and another thing to another person. #2 is more likely given the rest of scripture's teaching. Deacons are not to ones who give one testimony to a certain person, but give a different testimony to another. This kind of behavior was first condemned in the Torah, condemned again by Lord Jesus (Matt. 5:37), and condemned in other letters by Paul as well (II Cor. 1:18-20). It is the antithesis of God-like behavior, and as all believers are to be imitators of the Lord (I Thess. 1:6), even more so those in a place of public service, deacons, must not practice such behavior. Deacons are then to be ones who speak the same word to all people.
  3. Not addicted to much wine: a rich phrase, meaning to not be continually (#5723) given (#4337), or to be clinging oneself (#2192) towards (#4314), much wine. Deacons are not to be in a constant attitude of dwelling (thinking) upon, and thus of drinking, much wine. Many live today with the attitude of constantly "medicating" themselves with alcohol, dulling their senses, and masking their memories. Paul warns that deacons, especially, are not to be of such an attitude. This phrase, along with the rest of scripture, also makes it clear that the drinking of wine in and of itself is not sinful, but the abuse of, preoccupation with, drinking wine, is! Ministers, therefore, must be careful not to become addicted to much wine.
  4. Not greedy of money: an old Greek word (#146) coming from two words meaning gaining or making advantage (#2771) in a dishonorable way (#150). The Jews, John the Baptizer, and the Christ all looked down upon the practices of many of the tax-collectors, because they were making an increase above what was honorable, by lying about the prices. Their act of repentance was to "collect no more than that which is appointed to you" (Luke 3:12, 13). Paul tells the assemblies that deacons are likewise not to be making increase from dishonorable methods. Time would fail to detail the many instances of this happening in the modern Assembly, mostly by make-believers, but also by true Christians. Paul's charge to the Assembly is ever more needed to be heard today, especially by those in the office of deacon, and by those appointing them.
  5. Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience: this phrase begins with the same word and conjugation (#2192) used to describe the practice of being addicted to much wine, however this time in a positive charge; deacons must rather be continually dwelling upon the mystery (#3466) of the faith (#4102), with a clean, or pure (#2513) conscience, or act of continual beholding (#4893). Conscience here has the idea of perceiving something that another could perceive, of comprehending something. Deacons must be continually applying themselves to the mystery of the faith, in or with a pure act of perceiving. They must be thinking on good things (Phil. 4:8), not being make-believers or ones who are constantly in doubt, but continually give themselves to a pure beholding of the mystery of the faith of God in Christ Jesus. These Christians are those who are qualified to be servants of others, according to the apostle Paul.

These qualifications are wide in their scope, and prove the foreknowledge and plan of God Almighty, in preparing a beautiful, well-organized, and strong building of people together. The Assembly is made of diverse people, and diverse gifts, and here we see the detail of one particular Member of the Body, the deacon, or ministering servant. Summarily, these are to be living in love, acting appropriately, seeking the welfare of others as they meditate upon the faith, not envying, or rejoicing in unrighteousness or keeping records of wrongs, but enduring all things (I Cor. 13:4-7). However, there is one last step in ordaining an deacon to a local assembly in the Body;

  1. But, be letting them first be proved: Paul tells the Assembly, in light of all these qualifications, first let them be being (#5744) proved (#1381). The Greek word for prove here ultimately comes from the root meaning to decide how something seems, or to form an opinion of something. By conjugating this word in the present, passive, imperative, Paul is telling the elders of the assemblies to constantly be looking upon those who desire to be deacons, letting them be proven in the eyes of the elders. Deacons must show by their lives and words that they meet the qualifications Paul just listed, and those in authority are to constantly be "proving" or "scrutinizing" them to see if they match the goodness God intended for His servants in the Assembly. This is very important, for often we take a person at their word, without knowing them, and do not follow the scriptural precedent of making sure works are put with one's faith. Paul seeks to correct this, and ultimately prevent it, by requiring deacons to be in a state of continual examination before they are appointed in the local assembly.
  2. Then let them be ministering being blameless: again, Paul connects his previous thought to the current one with a specific word, "then" (#1534), meaning "after that," or "next." Only after they have been continually scrutinized by those in authority in the local church may "let them be continually (#5720) ministering (#1247)," being (#5607) continually (#5752) blameless (#410). What wisdom Paul shows, having received such from the Lord! Once proved to be true, leaders are to let the deacons be ministering, being blameless. Blameless here is simply the Greek word for the opposite (#1) of someone having an accusation brought against them (#1458). The deacons are to continually be in this state. Paul tells the assemblies to only let the deacons be serving, if they are continually being without reproach by another. As the first apostles decided in Acts 6, detailed at the beginning of this study, the first requirement was that they be "of good report." Paul here affirms this requirement, necessitating that deacons must not being have accusations brought against them if they are to be ministering. The service ordained God for the Assembly is to be blameless, just as was the service of Christ on earth. We are to emulate His ministry, and therefore His ministers are to be without reproach as well. These deacons are to be appointed and allowed to serve after meeting the qualifications, just as was done in Acts 6.

Last Accessed: July 12th, 2024 - 12:00PM
Times Read: 3350
 
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The Good Message

As you read this site, you will hopefully come to know Yahweh more fully.

But all of this continuing knowledge is useless unless and until you come into union with Him. I use the word union because it is truly a marriage. It is that deep connection we all seek, for which we most often look in other people. However, the truth is that our hearts will only be fulfilled when we enter that union in fullness with the One Who made us.

This is the grace of God, that He has not stayed distant for us only to worship as Creator. But He has come unto us, even become one of us—in His Son, Christ Jesus—in order to share an intimate union with us. He desires such closeness that it truly will envelope our entire life, transforming us into something new and wonderful.

You may have already entered this union with Him and only seek to know Him better through reading here. But if you have not, as you do read, let this Gospel sink into your heart as you read it now.

God loves you, and has cast your sins into the sea. He has sent His only Son as the Savior of the world—that includes you.

That Son, Jesus Christ, was born as a man through a virgin who had given her life to Yahweh; He lived without sin, reflected the glory of His Father, God, in all His words and deeds, and was persecuted even unto death because of it.

His death upon a cross was the powerful explosion that separated you from your life of death. It remains for you, now, to enter into that death with Him. As you die to the one you are now, a person separated from God from your many sins, you will be born anew, with a nature predisposed to live rightly. This gift is free to you, with nothing you can do to earn it. It is the mercy of God to offer it to you, as He loves you so much! All you must do is receive it by trusting Him to have delivered you. Simply place your life in His hands and embrace the freedom that came through that death on the cross.

The Gospel is that Jesus did not remain dead, but rose again on the third day after His crucifixion! Death could not hold Him, as He was without sin. And so death will not be able to hold you, as you identify with Him fully through your trust in Him. Let go of yourself and confess Him as Lord of your life. The power of His death and resurrection will work in you all that your Creator has destined for you. You will truly enter a new life and experience that intimate union you have been seeking all of your life.

So ponder these words as you read here of this great God—Yahweh—and all that He has revealed to His creation. Let His Spirit testify to your heart that these words are true, that God is Love, and that He sent His Son so that you might receive the life that is unbound by time and space. As you feel that witness in your heart, simply believe and receive what He is offering to you, even now, and begin your new life as a child of God.

Please write to me and let me know when you take this step, as I will be your brother in Christ—we will be one in Him!

 
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