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Sunday, September 24, 2017 am                                    NT Church 2017 Index

 

THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH 2017 (27b)
Leaders (7) - THE WORK OF DEACONS -2

     Last week we began studying the work and office of deacon.  We noted that the word deacon is a transliteration of a Greek word that describes one who is appointed to serve or minister.  The typical usage of the word is describing one who serves or tends to the needs of another.  Its focus is on the work one does – helping.  We noted that there are two words for servant in the Greek language  δοῦλος (doulos) and διάκονος (diakonos).  Typically, doulos describes the slave or servant and is concerned with one’s relationship to his master, while diakonos describes one’s relationship to his work.    We discussed this last Sunday night as we addressed why deacons must be men (answering the arguments made concerning 1 Timothy 3:11 and Romans 16:1, as well as other passages and thoughts advocating the “deaconess”).

We noted last week that it IS an office based upon Philippians 1:1 and 1 Timothy 3:8-11 where its usage distinguishes it from its usual usage.  We noted that for deacons to be appointed, elders need to be in place (or they would have authority over a congregation).  We then began to address the qualities that Paul mentions for one to be appointed and to serve as a deacon.

 I.                     Qualities of a deacon – continued

a.       Thus far we have noted that he is to be reverent, consistent (not double tongued), sober (not given to much wine), content and honest in his dealings (not greedy for money), and one who holds faithful to the word – he is grounded and proven to be a faithful Christian. 

b.       Continuing this study, a deacon must be:

                                                   i.      First tested, and then serve as deacons – this is not saying he is appointed on a trial basis, but rather he has been a Christian long enough to prove himself.  His manner of life and the work he has done is his test.
The maturity of elders is not required, but there needs to be a degree of experience and understanding to properly carry out the work. 

OFTEN, in considering appointing one to serve as a deacon, the elders might assign a task or two and see how they faithfully execute their instructions.  OR, they have simply worked for enough time doing what is asked of them and needs to be done.  Thereby they have proven themselves. 

                                                 ii.      Blameless – like elders (Titus 1:6-7), he needs to have lived a life where he can be trusted.  AND, in carrying out his “testing” he is proved to be of virtuous character. 
As with elders, this does not mean one has to have a perfect past, but in his service, he has to have a character where when accusations are made they “do not stick”.   
That is something that is developed in one’s character overtime.   
In Acts 6:3, the men chosen to help were “of good reputation.”
Again, we can see the importance of this in the work he will be engaged in.
NOTE: One’s whose character is continually being challenged, though not proved, ought to at least be cause to pause and consider a little further.  This is NOT saying to blindly assume the worst (in fact, the opposite – give the benefit of the doubt), just be cautious.  That way, you can stand behind the one who is serving.  He has proven himself. 
ALSO, if one is being investigated, don’t take it personally.  Our goal is the purity of the church. 

                                                iii.      Husband of one wife (vs. 12) - a deacon must be a scripturally married man.   He has a family and proven himself in that role. 
There may be tasks he is assigned which requires the assistance of his wife.
This quality excludes single men from serving! 
The importance of one’s household is seen in the qualifications of elders (1 Tim. 3:5, Titus 1:6).  You demonstrate leadership qualities in your home.

                                                iv.      Ruling their children and their own houses (households) well – the requirement is that one have children.   This demonstrates that one has been married for some time and has children old enough to understand instructions and to follow them.  The children must demonstrate a degree of control and respect. 
NOTE: Unlike elders, this says nothing about the children being believers, however a degree of respectful conduct is implied. 

                                                  v.      The quality of his wife – Vs. 11 – as noted, this verse has been the source of much controversy.  Some contend it is advocating women serving as deacons, but we have discussed why this is not a wise interpretation of this text (such as vs. 12 – the husband of one wife, etc.). 
Another question that arises from this text is whether Paul is dealing exclusively with deacons, or the wives of elders as well.  I am convinced it is both.  If a deacon’s wife has to demonstrate superior quality, then clearly an elder’s wife would need to be of the same character.  And the qualities of character would be the same for the wife of any leader, hence there is no need to be repetitive.  The possible exception with an elder’s wife would be a maturity commensurate to his as she stands by his side in the work he does.  (cf. Titus 2:3-5, etc.)
In this context, the wives of deacons (and probably elders as well) is to be exemplary.  This includes that she must be

1.       Reverent – dignified.  The same word used to describe deacons in vs. 8.  It is also the word “noble” in Philippians 4:8. She is one who conducts herself properly.  Again, as we consider how leaders represent the body of Christ, they do not need wives that detract from that in any way. 

2.       Not slanderers – during NT times, there was a problem with women and gossip (Titus 2:3, 1 Timothy 5:13 – gossips and busybodies. 
Not only do we consider this from a standpoint of confidentiality, but also one who will defend the Lord’s body before others (not speaking evil of the body or leaders before unbelievers).  Like every Christian, they need to control their conversations.

3.       Temperate - like her husband, she has to be living her life in control.  She doesn’t have to have everything the neighbors have.  She demonstrates discipline in her life- financially, in the home, her habits, etc. 

4.       Faithful in all things – she understands her role in the home.  But more than this, she is a Christian.    The fact that her husband is married to a Christian is a testament to his character and the choices he makes (even if he married an unbeliever and converted her, it is a testament to his character – and hers).

5.       Together, these qualities show that she is what a Christian woman ought to be.

These qualities will be an enhancement to one serving as a deacon (or as an elder).

 II.                   The Work of Deacons

a.       Unlike elders, where we are given specific instructions and examples of their work in scripture, the work of deacons is not specifically outlined.  But that doesn’t mean we cannot determine what their work is.  We can deduct their work based upon the qualities needed and some examples of servants in scripture.

b.       It is not necessarily “future elders in training” though often times one who is striving to become an elder will qualify to serve as a deacon while he is developing.  But to describe the work as “elders in training” would exclude some men who for varying reasons will never qualify to serve as elders, but they DO have the qualities required to serve as deacons.

c.        The work of a deacon is found primarily in the definition of the word – a servant.  He serves the flock.  He assists the elders in carrying out assigned tasks.  He might deal with material matters so that the elders can deal with shepherding the flock.

d.       It is not his job to teach publicly beyond that of any Christian, though he may also be a teacher (or preacher).

 

  III.                 The reward of serving as a deacon

a.       1 Tim. 3:13 says, “For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.  Because you are faithfully doing what you can, it will build you up spiritually.

b.       In Matthew 20:25-28 Jesus taught that those who desire to be great must be servants (diakonos).  God wants us to all be servants.  If you qualify and faithfully carry out your responsibilities as a deacon, God is well pleased.

c.        One final verse to consider, 1 Thess. 5:12-13 says, “And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves.   We are commanded to honor our elders (Hebrews 13:7, 17).  This verse also calls for us to recognize ALL who labor among us.  That would include those serving as deacons. 

 

Conclusion: The work of a deacon is an important role in a mature congregation of the Lord’s people.  He will help the flock to grow by facilitating things that need to be accomplished under the direction of the elders.  It is a noble task and one that our young men should aspire to as they grow in the faith.    May we not take this work, or ANY work of the Lord’s body lightly.  Think on these things.