1 Timothy 3:8-13 (CSB) Deacons, likewise, should be worthy of respect, not hypocritical, not drinking a lot of wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. They must also be tested first; if they prove blameless, then they can serve as deacons. Wives, likewise, should be worthy of respect, not slanderers, self-controlled, faithful in everything. Deacons are to be husbands of one wife, managing their children and their own households competently. For those who have served well as deacons acquire a good standing for themselves and great boldness in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
What do we know about what a deacon is?
The first calling of deacons
Acts 6:1-7 (CSB) In those days, as the disciples were increasing in number, there arose a complaint by the Hellenistic Jews against the Hebraic Jews that their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution. The Twelve summoned the whole company of the disciples and said, “It would not be right for us to give up preaching the word of God to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and wisdom, whom we can appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” This proposal pleased the whole company. So they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a convert from Antioch. They had them stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
So the word of God spread, the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly in number, and a large group of priests became obedient to the faith.
In our modern day church, the title and calling of “deacon” might be synonymous with along the lines of taking care of things that would not be pastoral nor preaching. As the Apostles once said, “give up preaching of God to wait on tables.” But this certainly does exclude deacons from fulfilling the Great Commission.
Acts 6:8-10 (CSB) Now Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people. Opposition arose, however, from some members of the Freedmen’s Synagogue, composed of both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, and they began to argue with Stephen. But they were unable to stand up against his wisdom and the Spirit by whom he was speaking.
For whatever responsibilities Stephen may had have within the church, he continued on:
- performing great wonders and sings among the people
- full of grace and power.
Which reminds me of the call of ministry upon Paul, who summed it up like this:
Romans 15:14-21 (CSB) My brothers and sisters, I myself am convinced about you that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another. Nevertheless, I have written to remind you more boldly on some points because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, serving as a priest of the gospel of God. God’s purpose is that the Gentiles may be an acceptable offering, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Therefore I have reason to boast in Christ Jesus regarding what pertains to God. For I would not dare say anything except what Christ has accomplished through me by word and deed for the obedience of the Gentiles, by the power of miraculous signs and wonders, and by the power of God’s Spirit. As a result, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum. My aim is to preach the gospel where Christ has not been named, so that I will not build on someone else’s foundation, but, as it is written,
Those who were not told about him will see,
and those who have not heard will understand.
Deacons, just like all Christians, are tasked with fulfilling what Christ has commissioned us to do. But because they are qualified, they might be responsible for more.
The qualifications of a deacon
There isn’t a lot of differences between the elder and the deacon sans for a few. The differences are not that important.
likewise, should be worthy of respect, not hypocritical
I don’t want to focus on the differences because the Bible doesn’t make a delineation between the two titles for the exception of being able to teach, and not a recent convert. But I can make the argument that a deacon would be likewise.
If you have anyone who is just not marked with parts of the fruit of the Spirit, then eldership nor deaconship may not be right for them. Think about it: would you put a man to be an elder who is not known to be gentle? What about a deacon who loves to argue on social media? They should be be worthy of respect, not hypocritical.
not drinking a lot of wine
Don’t be a drunkard. Drunkenness is a sin against God. We are called to be sober-minded. This does not exclude us from drinking beer, wine, nor spirits but like everything good from God, we must do so in moderation.
not greedy for money
This goes along with managing one’s money and household. I think you have to ask the question of one another, “Anything concerning finances, do you make a decision based on what you can earn?” A harder hitting question to ask: “Do you decide based on income potential but place it under the guise of ‘what’s best for my family?'” Only the Holy Spirit can reveal what’s really going on in your heart. Don’t ignore him if he is trying to tell you something.
holding the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience
Again, I would hold both the elder and the deacon to this standard especially concerning the modern times do we live in.
Some questions to ask:
- Do you explain away the harder parts of Scripture?
- Do you think there is a reasonable explanation for everything in Scripture?
- What do you do with the supernatural?
You would be shocked on how many Christians just casually explain away the mysteries of God. Paul warns us in Colossians:
Colossians 2:8 (CSB) Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elements of the world, rather than Christ.
Sadly, being born in a particular time period, you cannot help but assume what you assume. Sometimes we don’t know. But just because the everybody around you is trying to explain everything and fit everything in a nice little box, doesn’t mean you should. We don’t know because we are mere mortals and created imagebearers. We have finite minds. Don’t be afraid of not knowing everything. That is the mark of any Christian.
Likewise, we are not to be of this world and agree with this world when they say, “God was not clear on this particular subject matter” like identity and sexual preference. When you say things like that, that just exposes how little you engage with the word of God. Any good amount of reading of Scripture would help us see God is very clear on such matters.
must also be tested first; if they prove blameless, then they can serve as deacons
Guess what? As the old saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” This is why we use the Pastoral Epistles to cross-examine not only our local church’s philosophy of ministry but also our own.
Here’s a basic question: How quickly would you install a pastor or a deacon? Does your church takes its sweet time installing pastors?
“But I know him like my own brother?” Awesome. Let the church test them out to make sure they are “above reproach”.
Wives, likewise, should be worthy of respect, not slanderers, self-controlled, faithful in everything
You have one with a good reputation but the spouse not so much. What do you do? Maybe eldership nor deaconship is right for them.
This is not a management role at your local Fortune 500. Character matters. And it is not what we think is good and right but what God thinks.
The calling of anyone into ministry is a supernatural calling. I hope more and more churches see it that way.
to be husbands of one wife, managing their children and their own households competently
Want to manage God’s people? Want to love His sheep? (John 21) Start with managing your household first. Don’t read that as controlling or lording over your wife and kids. That is not what the word of God says.
Is your home stable? Secure? A safe place. A refuge of peace? Start by answering those questions and seeking answers from the Holy Spirit.
For those who have served well as deacons acquire a good standing for themselves and great boldness in the faith that is in Christ Jesus
Reputation, yes. But boldness of faith? Who can you think with boldness of faith?
All of your Scripture is breathed out by you and is profitable for teaching for rebuking for correcting for training us in righteousness so that we are complete ready for every good work that you have prepared for us to do. Lord, we have fallen short of your law and we falling further when we think we can use your law as a checklist for us to accomplish and move on with our lives. That is not your word that is not you. You have lifted up your Son Jesus Christ you have desired to see everyone to repent and turn back to you so that we would be your people and you would be our God. Be merciful and gracious. Amen.