By Lowell Sallee
For a man to serve in the office (work) of a deacon he must meet the qualifications given by the Holy Spirit. These qualifications are listed in Acts 6:1-6 and I Timothy 3:8-13. First, let’s take a closer look at the qualifications found in 1 Timothy 3:8-13.
1 Timothy 3:8-13
For one to serve in the office of a deacon, he must first of all be a man. The Scripture says, “Likewise must the deacons. . . ” (1 Tim. 3:8) and “likewise” indicates that the subjects that Paul is addressing are men, which he introduced in 1 Timothy 3:1, “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office. . . . ” The New American Standard Version (NASB) says, “Deacons likewise must be men of dignity” (1 Tim. 3:8). We see further that deacons are men when the Holy Spirit says, “Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife” (1 Tim. 3:12). A women then cannot serve in the office of a deacon.
Deacons must be grave (1 Tim. 3:8, KJV) or “men of dignity” (NASB). The Greek word is semnous which means “august, venerable, reverend; to be venerated for character, honorable. ” A deacon must then be an honorable man; one that is serious, dignified.
Deacons are not to be double-tongued (1 Tim. 3:8). In the Greek, the phrase is ma dilogous (ma – “not, by no means, never at any time”; dilogous – “double-tongued, double in speech, saying one thing with one person, another with another (with intent to deceive).” Thus a deacon is not to be a tale-bearer, but rather a straight-forward man and by no means a gossip.
A man that is qualified to serve in the office of a deacon is not given to (or addicted to, NASB) much wine” (1 Tim. 3:8). In the Greek the phrase is, ma oino pollo prosechontas (ma – “not, by no means; never at any time”; oino – “wine”; polio – “abundant, plenteous, much”; prosechontas – “to be given or addicted to”). The literal meaning of the phrase is “not to be addicted to much wine.” A man cannot be a deacon if he is a wine, beer, and/or whiskey drinker, whether it be social or privately in one’s own home.
A deacon is not greedy of filthy lucre (fond of sordid gain, NASB) (1 Tim. 3:8). The Greek says ma aischrokerdas (ma -“No, by no means; never at any time”; aischrokerdas – “eager for base gain; sordid”). The idea is, a deacon is not to be a man who loves money to the point of being dishonest and greedy.
A deacon is one that is holding the mystery of the faith in a pure (clear, NASB) conscience” (1 Tim. 3:9). He is one that is standing firm in the faith of Jesus Christ and his conscience is one of conviction and application of the faith. The deacon is a man that is completely trustworthy and pure toward every scriptural doctrine and practice.
The Holy Spirit says that before a man may serve in the office of a deacon he must first be (tested, NASB) proved (1 Tim. 3:10). The Greek is de dokimazo proton (de C 6 also, moreover, also”; dokimazo – “to test, examine, prove, scrutinize”; proton – “first, at the first, in order of time”). We should be very careful who is appointed to serve as a deacon. The church should know the man well enough to have “tested” and “proved” him to be qualified. Do you know him well enough to know if he is or is not qualified? Is he a worker? Is he willing to work? We must understand that not just any man will do.
A deacon must be blameless or beyond reproach (1 Tim. 3: 10). The Greek word anepilampton means “one against whom no evil charge can be sustained; one who is above an established charge of evil.” Please understand that if there is a charge, it must be “established.” Paul said, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Cor. 13:1).
Deacons are to be the husbands of one wife (1 Tim. 3:12). If a man’s wife dies and he remarries, he still is the husband of one wife (Rom. 7:1-3). If a man has scripturally put away his wife for the cause of adultery, and then remarries, he’s still the husband of one wife (Matt. 19:9). Understanding, however, that deacons’ wives have qualifications too (1 Tim. 3:11).
Deacons are married men that are ruling (good managers) their children and their own houses well (1 Tim. 3:12). The Greek is proistamenon which means “to set over, to be over, to rule, to superintend; to preside over.” The Holy Spirit did not say that the deacon’s children had to be Christians. This implies that deacons are generally going to be younger men whose families are still young. However, the deacon must have his family under control.
Now, let’s turn our attention to the qualifications that are found in Acts 6:3. The Scripture says, “Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among, you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint &er this business.”
Deacons must be men of honest report or good reputation (NASB). Deacons are men that both in the community and the Lord’s kingdom have lived such a life as to have a “good reputation.” Some men do not have good reputations because of bad business dealings or immoral conduct. A deacon must be above all these types of charges.
A deacon is one that is full of the Holy Spirit. This does not mean that a deacon must have miraculous abilities. It does mean that he “be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). All Christians are to be filled with the Spirit, that is, guided by the Spirit of God. Deacons must possess, as all Christians should, the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22).
A deacon must possess wisdom. Wisdom is a necessary quality for any office or work. Deacons must be men of practical knowledge and ability that can and will get the job done.
These qualifications were given by the Holy Spirit for a purpose, God’s purpose of attending to the physical needs of the local church. The men that serve in the office of a deacon must be qualified men. “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 Tim. 3:13).
The Lord built the church and gave it a work to do. To accomplish that work, God ordained the offices of elder, deacon, and evangelist. Each of these offices is to be filled by a scripturally qualified man who desires to serve the Lord. To serve as a deacon in the Lord’s church is one of high honor and one that each member of the body of Christ should respect. Let us all respect and honor God’s Word and his work.
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 22, pp. 680-681
November 16, 1989