Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:Philippians 1:1
Last week we looked at the office of elder. This week we will look at the office of deacon.
And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.Acts 6:1-6
As the Family of God, the early church watched out for each other’s physical and spiritual wellbeing. As the church grew, several widows had their physical needs neglected. The Apostles (some of whom eventually became elders) understood that they could not neglect either the spiritual or physical needs of the church family. They asked the church to bring qualified men to take care of the physical needs of the church. The Apostles would take care of the spiritual needs.
These men who were appointed to take care of the physical needs of the church members were called deacons. The word deacon is a Greek word that literally means servant. Deacons are to serve the physical needs of the church.
Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.1 Timothy 3:8-13
As with elders, deacons are to be men of proven character. Not only would people in the community see them as visible representatives of the church, but they would also be entrusted with church monies as they cared for the physical needs of the members.
And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.Acts 6:8
And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.Acts 21:8-9
Deacons were not limited to just physical service. Stephen was also a great preacher. Philip was an able evangelist. It is not necessary to be able to preach or teach to serve as a deacon; however, deacons can preach and teach if they are gifted in that area.
And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.Acts 6:7
The end result of a church that has good deacons and elders is the growth of the church.