Q: #285. What are the qualifications for and responsibilities of a deacon?
By: Steve Shirley
A: The qualifications for a deacon are found in (1 Tim 3:8-13). A deacon should:
Be a man of dignity
Not be doubletongued (doesn't say something to one person and something different to another
Not be a heavy drinker
Not be greedy for money (they may be handling church funds)
Be sound in Christian doctrine and live it with a clear conscience
Be tested and found beyond reproach before he may serve
Be the husband of one wife and a good manager of his children and household
Have a wife who is dignified, not a malicious gossip, temperate, faithful in all things
*** Many believe the last one is instructions for deaconesses, and is not referring to deacon's wives [same Greek word for wives or women]. This is partly based on the fact that there is no similar instruction about wives in the previous qualifications for a bishop/overseer/elder. There may also be precedent for women deacons (or deaconesses): see Phoebe in Rom 16:1 where Paul calls her a "servant" [Gr: diakonia][see next].
The word "deacon" comes from the Greek word "diakonos" which literally means a "waiter" or "attendant." This same Greek word is also used a number of times in the New Testament for a "servant" or "minister." We see this word in its literal meaning in what most scholars consider the first group of deacons appointed in the Bible in (Acts 6:1-6). In (Acts 6:2), the 12 apostles said, "It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve (diakoneo) tables." Following this, they appointed 7 men "of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom" to serve under them, so that they could fully "devote themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word." These men were commissioned by the apostles through "praying" and "laying hands on them" (still considered by most as the proper way to commission deacons today).
Deacons perform many different functions in the church today, which differ from denomination to denomination. Among the duties they may perform are: caring for the spiritual and physical needs of different families in the church, ushering, assisting in distribution of the elements for the Lord's Supper, taking up and distributing church funds, baptizing new converts, reading scriptures during the church service, taking care of church grounds, helping run church programs, etc...
(1 Tim 3:13)(NASB) finishes the discourse on deacons with this: "For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus."