What Qualifies a Deacon?

In 1st Timothy 3:1-12 is a passage with as much authority as any other in the entire Bible. There are two very important words used by the Apostle Paul from God’s Spirit in these lists describing Elders & Deacons. The word “MUST”, in v2, and also the word “LIKEWISE” in v8. They reflect the seriousness of God’s will in these lists. They make the descriptions actual requirements before the office is appointed to any man. Why are these lists to be used as requirements? Because “must” & “likewise” necessitate accountability. When problems arise in any service, no Elder, Deacon or Evangelist should be able to say, “sorry, but I’m not qualified to do the job, so don’t blame me for at least trying”. If a congregation requires men to meet these descriptions, the congregation has the right to get answers when things go wrong.

You might be asking, ‘but where is the willingness to forgive in all this’? Forgiveness is always desired and indeed can be experienced when anything goes wrong with a ministry, but forgiveness does not mean we do not get answers. When a person says sorry, it’s not genuine unless the person gives admission and at least gives reasonable explanation for trying to prevent it from happening again. The whole reason Jesus teaches forgiveness is for all of us to have an equal footing for growth. We are all sinners and should live a life of repentance. Read Matthew 18:15-22 and ask yourself this question, “Would forgiveness be experienced In the binding and loosening of the conversation between the offender & offended?” Yes indeed, because that conversation is where both people realize their battle against sin needs actions based on promises to prevent it from happening again. No matter how many times it happens, we must always try to reach forgiveness. Seventy times seven means we never stop trying to forgive. Without offering forgiveness, no one can learn to grow in righteousness and overcome evil in our life.

With this determined desire to hold the office of a Deacon, let us hold each description as a requirement.

Deacons are to be of good character, and not two-faced – HONESTY

Not addicted to alcohol – SELF-DISCIPLINED

They are not to use shameful ways to make money – JUST

They have clear consciences about possessing the mystery of the faith – DIVINE PURPOSE

They are to be evaluated with a proven good reputation – EXPERIENCED

Their wives should also be of good character, not gossiping – (EXEMPLARY IN LOVE)
Their wives should control their tempers and be trustworthy in every way. (EXEMPLARY IN SUPPORT)
He has only one wife & manages their children well. (EXEMPLARY IN TRAINING)

Perhaps the most peculiar requirement concerns possessing the mystery of the faith. This is a reference to the whole point of the gospel. The mystery is revealed so clearly in Ephesians 3:4-6. Where God proclaims that both Jew & Gentile are co-heirs in Christ, being equal members of the same body. The gospel of Christ’s forgiveness is to be shown in our work, by treating each person as an equal. This is how the ministry of a Deacon started in Acts 6, when the quarrel between Hebrew & Hellenist Christians began. The fair distribution of God’s grace towards all widows was hard work. Herein we need Deacons, so let us appoint men who want to prove the grace of God in meeting people’s needs regardless of who they are. Never let anyone say of any congregation that there is even a hint of prejudice among us. God is love and let us prove it in our leadership that can set a Biblical example for everyone.

What is a Deacon?

As a church, we really must emphasize the need for male spiritual leadership. It is sadly lacking in the world and most families suffer from the absence of a man that will take a stand spiritually for the health and safety of the family God has given him. During the next couple of Sundays our congregation will look at the possibility of asking our Elders to shepherd us with the assistance of appointed Deacons. Our Elders want us to have Deacons that will be fully qualified male spiritual leaders, ably suited to fulfilling responsibilities needed to keep our congregation working and meeting God’s expectations.

The word “Deacon” is a special word and has it’s root in the ancient Greek idea of a servant that follows up on a work. He is a worker that can see a project to the end. Efficiency and accomplishment are his middle name. He is not just a worker, he is an experienced and proven laborer that makes sure a job is done right.

In Acts 6, we have an example of what Deacons are supposed to be, and the word is used as a verb, instead of a noun in verse 1, translated, ministry. It is a little like the word describing what an Evangelist does by doing evangelism. Likewise the word describing what a Deacon does is ministry (Diakonia). These men which the Apostles appointed in verses 3-6, are ready to do a physical job, while holding spiritual qualifications. There is so little told to us about them, so the Apostle Paul elaborates on the qualifications in his letter to Timothy (1st Timothy 3:8-12). The reason these men are holding qualifications, is because they will be held accountable for their work by the Leaders of the church which appoints them.

It is very interesting that the Christian named Epaphroditus in Philippians 2:25 is called a minister-leitourgon, brother-adelphon,
co-worker-synergon, messenger-apostolon, and a soldier-systratroten, but he is never referred to as a Deacon! Yet it was obvious that Epaphroditus did the work of a Deacon. It is obvious that he didn’t hold the position because he was never appointed. Perhaps he was missing one of God’s qualifications? Who knows, maybe he wasn’t married? Whatever the case, his example is set for all of us to follow in service for each other. Just because you don’t hold all the qualifications does not mean you should not be busy working for the Lord. Another example is a sister Phoebe, commended by Paul (Romans 16:1). She is called a deacon of the church in Cencherea by Paul, but she was obviously not an appointed Deacon who held the qualifications, because of what Paul wrote to Timothy. One of the qualifications of a Deacon is that he must be a husband, and that was impossible for Phoebe. She was probably the wife of an appointed Deacon and did the work of a Deacon with her husband. The likely reason for Paul describing her as a Deacon is because of her unity with her husband as an appointed Deacon. But obviously she didn’t hold the office, and it was her husband that would be held accountable if anything went wrong with their ministry.

Being a husband, is one of the requirements a man must have proven, before he can be appointed a Deacon. Why? Because a Christian husband is fully aware of how much physical work is involved in executing spiritual leadership in a family. Providing your wife and children spiritual food, worship, teaching and an example, means that a husband must work to get that all accomplished physically. It’s not just about leading a prayer at the dinner table, but rather, the physical work involved in encouraging your wife and children to be a integral part of the church. There is real labor needed in getting this job done so well, that the leaders of the church can see that your wife and children actually want to be a part of the church. That is why Deacons are appointed servants of the church which have proven they can finish a job well, they are personally involved in the details of meeting people’s physical needs for a spiritual purpose.

Let us pray and learn that a Deacon should be exactly what God’s word shares with us. Therein lay a Church that can be working to please God, and not ourselves.