The Called Deacon
Deacon Fact Sheet # 10
The calling of the Deacon to service by God is a calling to a most important office of service within the church, for it is ministry designed to assist the Pastor in the care of the local church body. And it was not without significance that the first Deacons would be set aside at the place of the first great persecution, Jerusalem. The record of this event is commonly recognized to be set forth in the sixth chapter of Acts.
The requirements recorded for the selection of the Deacons were:
1. They were to be searched out from among the multitude of the disciples of Christ, by their fellow disciples (vs 3). This was the second time the people who were numbered among the disciples were required to exercise specific wisdom in securing someone for special work. The first time this had occurred was in Acts 1: 26 when the Apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell was filled. The number of these disciples as given in the first chapter were about one hundred and twenty. This meant that the first Deacons were drawn from a limited group of men who had been in special relationship with the Lord
2. They were to have three attributes that were in excess of the same attributes named among their brethren (vs 3). These three attributes were:
(1) honest report- They were of good reputation.
(2) full of the Holy Ghost- They walked in the Spirit (Romans 8)
(3) wisdom- Which biblically begins with reverence for God and continues on to include a spirit of discernment, concluding with the definition of wisdom as knowledge correctly applied.
3. The selection was to be tried by the prayers of the Apostles before the final approval (ordination or laying on of hands) would be given (vs 6). This was evidently to determine whether these men were beyond doubt being called by God to this particular place of service.
It is plain from the text that, as in the first selection made by the disciples of a replacement for Judas, a reliance on the supernatural and choosing presence of God in the affair was .being counted on. In short, they were relying on the Holy Spirit to guide them in their deliberations. The accuracy of the selections made by the disciples were ratified by the Apostles in their own deliberations. It was later proven to have been correct, not only because Stephen exhibited apostolic powers (vs 8) but also because he was chosen to be the first recorded martyr of the church age.
The laying on of hands signified the visible approval and endorsement of the Twelve, after receiving the approval of God upon the selection through prayer; the formal recognition of the men chosen for the service, and the special equipping coming through Apostolic blessing for this service to God. God had called out the first deacons through His servants. (This important event in the life of the church having been accomplished, hereafter the people referred to as disciples would become more general and not mean only those who followed after the Lord Jesus while He was on earth.)
The next evidence we have of the Deacon calling is in considering the qualifica-tions of the deacon contained in 1 Timothy 3. I refer especially to the one word Likewise (vs8) that begins the review of deacon qualification. In short this means that every quality that is named concerning the pastor is also applicable to the deacon. If we then consider the pastor to be a called area of service, we must also consider the deacon to be likewise a called area of service. Actually this calling can be made too much or too little of depending upon how one is wont to handle the things of God. For the truth is all who serve God in any capacity are called or their service is of the flesh. All who truly belong to God are indeed called to some place of service. Thus Paul, speaking under the authority of the Holy Spirit said, "I...beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called." (Ephesians 4: 1).
It is in the same chapter of Ephesians where the Ascended Christ's gifts of service to the church are named, that the offices of pastors and teachers are named. Now some argue that the words should be combined in the term pastor-teachers, but in any manner in which the text is read, it is clear the pastor is the first teacher in the church. How does this relate to the office of the deacon? The pastor must be "apt to teach" (1 Tim. 3: 2) and since the deacon is a "likewise" qualification, so must the deacon. This was clearly the case with the first deacons at Jerusalem, because it was after they were ordained: (Acts 6: 7)
1. The word of God increased.
2. The number of converts increased
3. Even priests of the Temple turned in faith to Christ Jesus.
Clearly their activity was not merely the distributing of benevolences. They demonstrated the character of the deacon's true ministry as they opened up the word, and unfolded its truth.
It is clear from the above discussion that the Deacon ministry is a called ministry of service. That it is a two-fold calling, for it requires both the activity of God and the activity of man. That it is a calling from a select group of uniquely qualified, spiritual men, who are so recognized within the group of outstanding men, and by the pastor of the church. The selection of such a man should please also the multitude within the church. (Acts 6: 5)
P. O. Box 752
Buchanan, Georgia 30113