When the Bible Talks About Deacons (1)

When the Bible Talks About Deacons

Philippians 1:1 provides a snapshot of a fully organized local church.

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons…

Each member of a local body has work to do (Eph 2:10; 4:12).

  1. Among the “saints” at Philippi, some were serving as “overseers” and others as “deacons.”
  2. Without “overseers,” significant work is “unfinished” (NIV); full potential is “lacking” (NKJV, Tit 1:5).
  3. Without “deacons,” issues of utmost spiritual concern and oversight can be easily neglected (Acts 6:2).

When the Bible talks about deacons, what can we learn?

Three Words from the Original Language of Scripture to Enhance our Understanding

  • Diakonos (noun): servant, helper, deacon.
    • “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Matt 20:26).
    • “And where I am, there will my servant be also” (John 12:26).
    • “For he is God’s servant for your good” (Rom 13:3-4).
    • “For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised…” (Rom 15:8).
    • “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae” (Rom 16:1).
  • Diakoneo (verb): to wait on, to serve, to care for, to help or support.
    • “Whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies” (1 Pet 4:11).
    • “I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me” (Philem 13).
    • “Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve” (Matt 20:28).
  • Diakonia (noun): service or ministry.
    • “That my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints” (Rom 15:30-32).
    • “Martha was distracted with much serving” (Luke 10:40).
    • “They have devoted themselves to the service of the saints” (1 Cor 16:15).
    • “Do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Tim 4:5).
    • “To equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Eph 4:12).

The Development of Deacons in the New Testament

  • In the “infant” days of the life of the Lord’s church (Acts 6), men were selected to serve.
    • Very real physical needs of believers were being neglected (6:1).
    • It was not right for the twelve to give up preaching the word of God to serve tables (6:2).
    • Seven men were picked out from among the disciples and appointed by the apostles (6:3-7).
  • As Paul, Barnabas, and others proclaim the gospel throughout the Gentile world and seek to appoint elders in every church (Acts 14:21-23), it only makes sense that elders would depend upon deacons to cover and resolve a wide variety of physical needs (Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 3:8-13).
  • These men are not:
    • Inferior (Matt 20:25-38).
    • The holders of an honorary (but idle) position (1 Tim 3:10).
    • Elders-in-training (1 Tim 3:13).

Just as elders serve under the oversight of the chief Shepherd (1 Pet 5:4), deacons serve in the footsteps of the chief Servant (John 13:1-20).

This sermon was delivered on September 15, 2013.

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About Jason Hardin

Jason lives in southern Indiana with his wife Shelly and their three daughters. He works with the Charlestown Road church of Christ. Jason has written three books and a variety of workbooks. He's a fan of photography, baseball, mountains, wildlife, BBQ, banana pudding, and coffee. You can contact him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

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