Biblical Deacons: What and Who?

We recently attended a deacon’s conference at Cubao Reformed Conference entitled Care for the Shepherds. It was a refreshing conference especially since our church will be ordaining three deacons next month. Here are the first lecture notes provided by Ptr. Noel Espinosa speaking on the theological aspects of the Diaconate Ministry. You can also watch the entire conference here.

It is not right that we should give up preaching the Word of God to serve tables (deacon). Therefore, brethren, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty

Acts 6:2, 3

Premise: A Reformed Baptist Church recognizes the NT polity of two offices – pastorate/diaconate Acts 6:1-6 – diakoneo = serve tables = attending to household needs

Note: The calling of servanthood is universal to believers

  • All disciples are “deacons”
  • All Christians have diaconal graces and obligations; some have diaconal gifts
  • Of those who have diaconal gifts, some may be consecrated into diaconal office

Teaching: There are two resident offices in the local church – pastorate and diaconate

  • Concept of Office – a position with conferred responsibility/authority in jurisdiction.
  • Foundation-stage offices in the church do not perpetuate – apostles and prophets
  • There are now only two perpetual resident offices in the church – neither is priestly
    • (1) Teaching and ruling – office of pastor
    • (2) Serving and supporting – office of deacon

Office of the Deacon: Supporting the Pastor: Serving the Congregation

  1. The need to administer the temporal affairs of the church
    Note: Temporal concerns in church can complement, or hinder, spiritual matters
    Point: Deacons were appointed to look after temporary concerns in the church
  2. The need to unburden the ministry of the Word
    Point 1: Benevolence is a valid mandate of the church
    Point 2: Benevolence is subordinate to the ministry of the Word

Qualifications for the Diaconate: Acts 6:2. 3; 1 Timothy 3:8 – 13

Note: The qualifications are imperative (‘must be’) – in none must deacons be negative

Point: As character-graces, they are subject to degrees and growth… not static

  1. General Character: Based on Acts 6:2, 3
    • (a) Men of Good Reputation – a respectable testimony in public
    • (b) Full of the Holy Spirit and Wisdom – spiritual graces; application of the Word
  2. Evidences of Qualifications: Based on 1 Timothy 3:8-13
    • (a) Dignified – appropriate behavior that invites dignified treatment and respect
    • (b) Verbal sincerity – ‘not double-tongued’ = not resorting to deliberate dishonesty
    • (c) Self-control – ‘not addicted to much wine = moderation in appetite and lifestyle
    • (d) Financial integrity – ‘not greedy for dishonest gain’ = honest livelihood
    • (e) Conscientious orthodoxy – ‘hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience
    • (f) Domestic Piety – ‘husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well’ = household must exhibit exemplary headship
  3. Limitations to the Qualifications: The diaconate is different from the pastorate
    • Note: The pastoral office also covers diaconal functions: but not vice-versa
    • Point: It is not necessary to seek strictly pastoral qualifications for the diaconate
      • The deacon is not required to have teaching gift which is pastoral requisite
      • The diaconate is not a stepping ladder to the pastorate – not next in rank
      • Even among deacons, there can be a variety of giftedness in different area
      • Adminstration – Benevolence -Logistics
  4. Requisite Demonstration: Let these first be tested… seasoned in church service
    • Not a novice (new in the faith)
    • Not a new church member

Beware: When there is dispute between pastorate and diaconate, the church suffers

Prayer: Let pastorate and diaconate be in harmony, and what a blessing to the church!!
CHALLENGE: May our deacons be profitable servants and models of servanthood

To God be the glory!

Published by Jeff Chavez

Sinner saved by grace

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