The Scriptorium

Qualifications for Deacons

Sound church structure requires faithful deacons. 1 Timothy 3.8-13

The Pastoral Epistles: 1 Timothy 3 (3)

Pray Psalm 102.24-27.

I said, “O my God,
Do not take me away in the midst of my days;
Your years are throughout all generations.
Of old You laid the foundation of the earth,
And the heavens are the work of Your hands.
They will perish, but You will endure;
Yes, they will all grow old like a garment;
Like a cloak You will change them,
And they will be changed.
But You are the same,
And Your years will have no end.”

Read and meditate on 1 Timothy 3.8-13.

Reflect.

1. Read Acts 6.1-6. What is the role of deacons in the church?

2. What kind of people must deacons be? What promise does God make for faithful deacons? 

Meditate.
The Greek word διάκονοςoriginally indicated one who was assigned to wait a table, to serve the people as they ate. We see this idea embodied in Acts 6.1-6, where men were appointed to serve the church in Jerusalem by attending to the needs of a particular segment of that body. Their work facilitated the mutual care and edification of what had become a very large congregation.

Historically, the work of deacons in the Church has followed this example, focusing on the material needs of church members and the congregation as a whole. They must be men of a similar character as elders, who have first proven themselves as servants of others before they are actually placed in the office of deacon (v. 10). Notice also the characteristics of the wives of deacons (v. 11). Because their husbands were involved with people who had various material needs, their wives, who would support and probably work with them in ministry, had to be trustworthy, even-tempered, and faithful as well. 

Whereas Paul added a warning to the work of elders – against pride (vv. 6, 7) – he adds a promise to the work of deacons: good standing and boldness in faith. Paul was undoubtedly thinking of Stephen in this (cf. Acts 6.8-10), a faithful deacon who – because of his role in Stephen’s martyrdom – was never very far from Paul’s mind (Acts 22.20).

Reflect.
1. Why do you suppose faithfulness as a deacon leads to “great boldness in the faith”?

2. What does it mean to hold “the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience”?

3. How can you see that the work of elders – watching over the souls of God’s people – and the work of deacons – caring for material needs – are both essential to the health and growth of a local church?

Observe how he requires the same virtue from the deacons as from the bishops, for though they were not of equal rank, they must be equally blameless, equally pure. John Chrysostom (344-407), Homilies on 1 Timothy 11

Lord, You have called us all to serve others in love. Help me today as I…

Pray Psalm 102.18-28

God calls us to worship and serve Him in all we are and do. Pray that He will make you alert to every opportunity to serve Him today.

Sing Psalm 102.22-28.
Psalm 102.22-28 (Leominster: Not What My Hands Have Done)
Yet let us tell God’s Name and praise His glorious grace.
Let all as one His love proclaim together in this place. 
Though now our strength is low; though shortened grow our days,
our God will not forsake us so, but keep us in His ways!

Of old You made the earth and heavens by Your hand.
Though they shall perish You endure; forever shall You stand.
They change, yet You remain the same, without an end. 
Our children shall Your favor gain, and theirs shall be Your friend.

T. M. Moore

Whatever our calling in life, we are sent to bring the joy of Christ to the people around us. Our book, Joy to Your World!, can show you how to fill your Personal Mission Field with more of the Presence, promise, and power of Christ and His Kingdom. Order your copy, as a supplement to our study of 1 Timothy, by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.