Acts 6:1-7 : Selection of Deacons
“Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.” – Acts 6:7
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Now, we’re in the sixth chapter of Acts and we continue to see the church growing from the birth of the church in Acts 2. Jesus had already appointed His apostles as leaders in the church, and they led many people to Christ through the preaching of the gospel. In verse 1 of chapter 6, we see that a problem arose within the church:
“Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.” (Acts 6:1)
Remember there were Jews from several places assembled in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost who obeyed the gospel. Now that the church was growing, the Christians who spoke Greek (the Hellenists) were complaining against the Hebrew- and Aramaic-speaking Christians who weren’t taking care of their widows.
So the apostles got the church together: “Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, ‘It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business'” (Acts 6:2-3).
The apostles were busy men. They had been preaching the gospel, dealing with imprisonments and threats, distributing goods to the disciples as they had need, and healing the sick that were brought to them. And they wanted to solve the problem but still give themselves “continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4).
So the apostles had the church to choose seven men among them who could help serve the daily physical needs of the church while they preached the gospel and ministered through the teaching of the Word. These men that were chosen were to be servants. The apostles said that they didn’t have time to serve tables (Acts 6:2).
“And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them” (Acts 6:5-6).
While the text here in Acts 6 does not use the word deacons, we can look at the meaning of the word deacon for more insight into the position for which the Seven were chosen. The Greek word for deacon is diakanos and it means, “servant, minister, a person who renders service and help to others” (Strong).
From that meaning of the word deacon in the original language in which it was written and the fact that the apostles appointed the Seven for the specific purpose to serve, we can logically reason that the seven men who were chosen were deacons.
And the Bible gives specific instructions about how deacons in the church are to be selected. They must meet the qualifications as outlined in the Bible. Notice 1 Timothy 3:8-9:
“Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience.” (1 Tim. 3:8-9)
The Scripture goes on to say that chosen men must “first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless” (1 Tim. 3:10). And they are to be the husband of one wife; this means that deacons must be married men (1 Tim. 3:12). And “their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things” (1 Tim. 3:11).
Since deacons are working closely in the church with members of the body who are in need of service, they don’t need to have wives who are gossipers or disrespectful to their husbands or other people. It could cause a lot of problems – especially if they are unable to control themselves.
Just recently I was around a bunch of women in a secular setting who were indescript of the kind of woman a deacon is to be married to. They gossiped about others and were rude and quite disrespectful. My natural inclination had a rise of anger and indignation begin to build up in me in response to their behavior. But, the Word of God was on my heart and in my mind, and I decided to pray for them and their souls instead of get upset.
I chose to let their irreverent words roll off my shoulders and worked to provide a positive comment, whenever I could, each time they said something negative. Your words have no power over me. When people sit and talk about others or you, that shows how important and special you are to them. I don’t have the time, energy, or care to be enthralled with somebody else’s life like that to focus on their every word, move, or action.
I even gave those women information about Christ, the Bible, and obeying the gospel. Yet, no one wanted to talk about those things. It’s interesting how it can be so easy for others to gossip and talk about any- and every- thing and body else, but when it comes time to talk about God and heaven, everybody gets silent.
The kind of wife a deacon is to have is different than that. And we can be like those wives – faithful, not gossipers or slanderers, and respectful. We can build each other up instead of purposely trying to tear each other down.
Note that there is no mention of a deaconess in the Bible. The Word says that a deacon is supposed to be a husband – meaning, that he is a man. Women cannot serve as deacons. It’s un-scriptural if they do. Some denominations appoint women as deacons. However, they are not following what the Bible teaches about deacons.
Deacons are also to have children and be able to demonstrate that they can rule their households well (1 Tim. 3:12). A man who does not have children cannot serve as a deacon. And if he hasn’t shown that he can rule his household well, then he cannot serve either. “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” (1 Tim. 3:13).
The apostles were making wise decisions, as they were led by the Holy Spirit. They appointed deacons in the church to serve the needs of the body of Christ. And, in restoring New Testament Christianity, we must also do the same in the same way that the Christians did in the New Testament and by the same standards. Then we can be and do what they were and what they did. They were Christians and they did the will of God.
“Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.” – Acts 6:7
If we want to be Christians like they were, then we must obey the gospel of Christ. That means, we must believe that Jesus is Lord, we must repent of our sins (change our wrong ways and do right), we must confess Jesus is Lord to others, and we must be baptized for the forgiveness of our sins. Then we must live a faithful life toward God. That’s how we obey the gospel.
Have you obeyed the gospel? Are you a member of the church that has deacons like the ones of the New Testament? If not, then why not?
Obey the gospel call today.
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