Deacons The Original Pattern|
in those days, when the number of he disciples was multiplied, there arose a
murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were
neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the
disciples to them, and said, it is not reason that we should leave the word of
God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you
seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom,
whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually
to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole
multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost,
and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a
proselyte of Antioch: Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had
prayed, they laid their hands on them. And the word of God increased; and
the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company
of the priests were obedient to the faith. And Stephen, full of faith and power,
did great wonders and miracles among the people (Acts 6:1-8).
We will start out taking under
consideration the three primary qualities of the man chosen to fill the
office of deacon; starting with the first one, which is that a deacon must be a
man of an honest report. The Greek word that is translated in the KJV
as honest report is the Greek word martureo, (mar-too-reh'-o)
which means to be a witness. This is where we get our English word martyr. As
we search the scriptures, we find that this word is used no less than
twenty-five times in the New Testament meaning to bear witness. In
Hebrews 11:2, we find that the elders obtained a good report, meaning
that people who knew them spoke of their good and upright qualities. In
the very same chapter we find that these were those who had obtained a good
report though faith, (Heb. 11:39). The word literally means, To affirm
that someone has seen or heard or experienced something that good in quality or
No matter what a man may say about
himself, if people outside of the church cannot or will not say good things
about him, he may not be a good candidate for a deacon. A mans character ought
to be blameless so as to not bring about harm to the Church of Christ. The
general opinion of him and his character should be at least favorable concerning
his personal conduct, not only at and around the church membership, who respect
or admire him, but above and beyond what are the facts of his conduct outside of
the church? Not hearsay, but facts. For example, if he has a proven record of
not paying his debts, or is known to frequent places that are of ill reputation.
This would without a doubt bring dishonor to Christ and His church.
I want to add here that there may be times
when it is right to defy public opinion, especially when it is from those who
hate our Lord and would falsely defame His name and His servants. Thats
the very reason that Paul tells us in 1st Timothy 3:10, let these also first
be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.
Second, a deacon must be full of the
Holy Ghost. The word full occurs many times in the scriptures.
Stephen was a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost. He gave
his life to the cause of the gospel of Christ (Acts 6:59-60). Luke tells us
that Jesus was full of the Holy Ghost (Luke 4:1). John tells that the
Word of God was full of grace and truth (John 1:14). In addition,
Barnabas was full of the Holy Ghost and of faith (Acts 11:24).
What does it mean to be full of the Holy
Ghost? Does it mean a spiritual quantity like one part faith and two parts Holy
Ghost? Or does it refer to a spiritual quality? Yes and as I said before
this most certainly must refer to a quality and not a qualification,
a quality as in their character and sincere zeal for the cause of Christ and His
church. The word full is the Greek word pleres (play'-race),
which means, to be covered in every part, thoroughly permeated with, complete
and lacking nothing. This refers to his whole being; his wholeheartedness, his
total and complete dedication to Christ and His Kingdom Church.
No man ought to be considered, much less
be placed within the office of deacon who is not growing in his spiritual and
personal outlook. A man without a stable and mature spiritual outlook would
quickly become a curse and not a blessing to the church where he is expected to
serve, and as has been the case from time to time a deadly foe to the
advancement of the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour. There can be much harm and
despair that come to those who carelessly move to select and place a man who is
without this important quality.
The men who are called to the office must
be men who are first and foremost spiritual men. Their focus must be to seek
first the Kingdom of God (the Church) and His (Jesus Christ) righteousness,
as it is in keeping with the Lords commandment in Matthew 6:33. This must be
firmly established from the start; real and true spirituality is to be found
first, not in words, but in a personal and living relationship between the man
being considered and the Holy Ghost, of which can be clearly viewed in his walk
and manner of life.
Third, a deacon must be full of wisdom.
The English word wisdom comes from the Greek word sophia (sof-ee'-ah),
and it refers to a wisdom that comes from God Himself, of whom James says, If
any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally,
and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him (James 1:5). We find this
expression no less than fifty-one times in the New Testament. Luke tells
us that the child Jesus that He increased in wisdom and stature, and in
favour with God and man (Luke 2:52). The Apostle Paul tells us that Jesus
Christ is the power of God, and the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24). This
wisdom has a twofold meaning, first, and primarily it refers to that which can
only be borne in a relationship with God the Holy Ghost. Secondly, it refers to
that one who is wise to the way and manner of the world and its corruption. He
understands the words of the Apostle Paul when He tells the church at Galatia, A
little leaven leaveneth the whole lump, (Gal. 5:9).
Its only in this relationship with God
that men are able to make wise choices, and thats because they are wisely led.
I will add here that learned men are not necessarily wise men. What is required
in a deacon is wisdom of a highest spiritual order.