Posted on Wed, May 6, 2009
Acts 6 gives us the origin and meaning of deacons in the church context. The word deacon was not used in this passage. It was not an office but a function that was being performed. The words "daily ministratrion" is the word "diakonia." Several things can be noted. 1) it was a "waiting on tables ministry." 2) Godly men were needed 3) It was "business" "needs", or "necessity" that brought them into existance.
look ye out among you seven men of honest report,
full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom,
whom we may appoint over this business."
NIV Acts 6:1-7
1. In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4. and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word." 5. This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. 7. So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.
I Timothy 3 gives us the spiritual qualifications for elders and deacons. Deacons and Elders are paired ministry teams. They work hand in hand. They compliment one another.
NIV I Timothy 3:8-13
8. Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. 11. In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. 12. A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13. Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.
Deacon is a special New Testament word. It is translated as servant, minister, and deacon. In its origin use in Acts 6 it was correlated with "waiting on tables." It also meant "to run on errands"
The English word "deacon" only appears five times in the New Testament, four of which are in First Timothy. Yet in the original Greek language in which the New Testament was written it appears over 60 times as diakonos (29 times), diakoneo (32 times), and diakonia (32 times). Many words in the English New Testament are not adequately, nor consistently translated. The word "deacon" is just such a case in point. Yet in the Greek the term "diakonos, diakonia, and diakoneo" are frequently used to describe the office and activity of one who is a "deacon." The apostle Paul uses the term "deacon" in close proximity with the ministry of "elders."
If we take the root of deacon from the Greek word and the complexion changes altogether. We find a variety of English words used to translate the idea of deacon - words like servant, minister, to serve, to minister
- Acts 6:1-7 - Deacons are appointed to assist the elders (apostles) in their ministries.
- Philippians 1:1 - Paul ties deacons and elders together as essential church ministries. "Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:"
- I Timothy 3:8-13 - The qualifications of deacons, which immediately follows the qualification of elders.
1249 diakonos (dee-ak'-on-os )
probably from an obsolete diako (to run on errands, cf 1377);
AV-minister 20, servant 8, deacon 3; 31
1) one who executes the commands of another, esp. of a master, a servant, attendant, minister
1a) the servant of a king
1b) a deacon, one who, by virtue of the office assigned to him by the church, cares for the poor and has charge of and distributes the money collected for their use
1c) a waiter, one who serves food and drink