A STUDY COURSE
Dr. Harold Davis
A STUDY COURSE FOR PROSPECTIVE DEACONS
"Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that
needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of
truth," II Tim. 2:15.
Introduction: The Biblical word for deacon means servant. To be a servant of Christ and a servant of a New Testament church is
a great honor. The Psalmist said, "I had rather be a
doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents
of the wicked," Psalm 84:10. One may truly say today, "I had
rather be a servant of the Lord in a church than to dwell in
the penthouses of the world."
The following are some questions which the prospective
deacon should ask himself:
1. If this church should ordain me as a deacon, will I
faithfully serve both the Lord and this church? Will I
be faithful in attendance to the church?
2. If, as I study the qualifications of deacons, I should
see that I just could not qualify, would I have the grace
to decline the office of deacon?
3. If, after being ordained, I should see that I do not
qualify as a deacon, would I have the grace to resign the
4. If, for some reason, the church does not ordain me, would
I still faithfully serve the Lord? Would I continue to
work for Him in this church? Would I feel that I had
been honored just to even be considered?
5. Do I know of any reason why I cannot work in harmony with
the deacons presently serving this church? Do I hold any
grudge against any of them?
6. Knowing how I expect other Christian leaders to live and
knowing how I will be expected to set a good example, do
I feel that this would be too restrictive on my
7. Can I work with my present pastor and cooperate with him?
Can I work with a new pastor?
a. If I should not like a pastor, would I continue to
give my best to the Lord and to the church?
b. If I should feel that a pastor did not like me,
would I let that hinder my service to my Lord and to
c. Would the wrong doing of anyone else justify me for
not doing my job?
8. If ordained as a deacon by this church, would I seek to
do my best in this office?
I. Qualifications of a deacon
(There are two passages of Scripture for analysis: I
Tim. 3:8-13 and Acts 6:1-6.)
A. I Timothy 3:8-13 lists several qualifications for
1. A deacon must be grave, I Tim. 3:8.
a. The Greek word translated grave is defined
by Harper as grave, serious, dignified.1
b. Grave is defined by Webster as sedate,
C. This does not mean that the deacon should
not smile nor laugh, Acts 13: ; Gal. .
d. It does mean that the deacon is to be one
who is not frivolous, but rather he is to
be serious in his desire to serve his God,
his fellow man, and his church. It means
also that he is to have some dignity in
2. A deacon must not be double-tongued, I Tim.3:8.
a. This term is equivalent to the term two-
b. It is bad to have any person in the church
membership who is double-tongued and two-
c. It is much worse to have a double-tongued,
two-faced deacon. (A church could not
long maintain harmony with any such
3. A deacon must not be given to alcoholic drink,
I Tim. 3:8.
a. Many jokes have been made about the deacon
being limited to only "not much" wine,
whereas the preacher is not to be given to
wine at all.
b. This may be good for a few laughs, but
when the laughing is over any serious
minded (grave) person will realize that
alcoholic drink is treacherous and should
be avoided altogether, Pro. 20:1.
c. Please, for your sake, for your family's
sake, for the church's sake, and for the
Lord's sake leave liquor alone in all its
1 Harper's Analytical Greek Lexicon, pg. 365.
2 Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, pg. 361.
4. A deacon must not be greedy, I Tim. 3:8.
a. A person who is primarily interested in
promoting self is not likely to be
interested in promoting Christ nor His
b. His interest in others is likely to be
governed by business opportunities.
c. His time, which will be in demand as a
deacon, will be constantly unavailable
when needed on church matters.
d. With his affections set on the things of
the world, it is evident that they are not
on the things of
5. A deacon is to hold the mystery of the faith in
a pure conscience, I Tim. 3:9.
a. This involves salvation. (The non-
Christian does not hold the mystery of the
faith at all. A deacon should not only be
one who has professed salvation, but he
should give evidence in his life that he
b. It involves doctrinal belief. (His
beliefs should be such that he is sound in
"the (doctrinal) faith," Jude 3.
c. This involves stability. (A deacon should
not be unstable in his beliefs, constantly
changing from one belief to another. A
man should be willing to change when he is
wrong. This is essential and is
commendable. However, a man who is
constantly switching back and forth is
unstable and undependable.)
6. A deacon should be a man who is proven and
tried, I Tim. 3:10.
a. One should not be ordained in hopes that
he will make deacon material. (It should
already be demonstrated that he is deacon
material before he is ordained.)
b. A man may be proven by the following ways:
(1) If he has held membership in other
places, his conduct there may either
disqualify him or recommend his as
being worthy of the deaconship.
(2) His life in the church of his
present membership may either
disqualify him or recommend him as
being worthy of the deaconship.
(3) Any training program given by the
ordaining church may be part of the
(4) Being questioned by the presbytery
at the ordination service will be a
part of the proving process.
7. A deacon must be of good reputation, I Tim.
a. Blameless in this verse does not mean
perfection. (If it did, there would be
none to qualify.)
b. It does set a high standard of living for
c. The word translated blameless means not
accused or called in and carries the idea
of being a person whose life is not called
in serious question.1
8. A deacon's wife must be grave, I Tim. .
a. The Lord has given the wife as a help-
meet. (He said, "...they shall be one
flesh," Gen. 2:24. There is hardly a
greater opportunity for a woman to serve
her Maker than as a help-meet in the noble
task of the deaconship. It is essential
that the deacon and his wife be ONE in
purpose in this God serving work. This is
necessary not only because of the help
that a wife can give to her deacon
husband, but also because of the hindrance
that she could become if she isn't.)
b. The same things said of the deacon being
grave may also said of his wife. (See
9. A deacon's wife must not be a slanderer, I Tim.
a. Any slanderer in a church is a dangerous
person, Jer. 9:8.
b. The wife of a deacon can be especially
destructive to the cause of Christ because
more people are watching her and are more
apt to listen to her.
1 Young's Analytical Concordance To The Bible, pg. 97.
2 Webster's New Vest Pocket Dictionary, pg. 202.
c. She should be careful to avoid both
voluntary slander and slander which others
may try to pick out of her.
10. A deacon's wife must be sober, I Tim. .
a. Webster defined sober as Not drunk,
b. Self-control seems to be the primary
thought. (Of course, they should not be
drunk with alcohol either.)
11. A deacon's wife must be faithful in all things,
I Tim. 3:11.
a. Faithfulness, dependability, is a valuable
b. To be faithful in all things takes in such
things as Sunday School, preaching
services, B. T. C., and other activities
of the church. (It also requires that she
be a faithful companion, true to her
husband and to her family.)
12. The deacon is to be the husband of one wife, I
a. There are two primary views of this verse:
(1) That it means that the deacon should
never marry but one woman period (the only
exception being in the case of a deceased
wife); (2) That the Scripture meant only
to forbid polygamy which was in common
practice among the Gentiles in that day.
b. Either way the verse was intended, it
may bring much criticism upon a deacon
and upon his church if he has been
involved in a divorce or has remarried.
13. The deacon is to rule his house well, I Tim.
a. A deacon's children are watched almost as
closely as a those of a preacher.
b. Wild, unruly children in the deacon's family
are a reproach to him and to his church.
c. A caution is in order: Being overly hard
on the children, without exercising
patience and kindness, is not ruling one's
d. The deacon is to be the head of his house.
(However, to rule does not mean to rule
with an iron clad fist. It does mean to
exercise wisdom and leadership. One who
is a good leader at home will probably be
a good worker in the church.)
B. The selection of the first deacons reveals some
qualifications which all deacons should have, Acts
1. A deacon must be a man of honest report, Acts
6:3. There are at least two good reasons why
this requirement was made:
a. These men were going to handle finances
which belonged to the church. Therefore,
they were to be men of unquestionable
b. Few things can hurt a church more quickly
or more permanently than deacons who will
not pay their debts or who are dishonest
in any way in their dealings with others.
2. A deacon should be a man who is full of the
Holy Spirit, Acts 6:3.
a. How can the people of a church tell if a
man is full of the Holy Ghost?
b. They cannot look into his heart and see
the condition of his heart.
c. But they can look into his life and see if
the fruitage of the Spirit in his life,
3. A deacon should be full of wisdom, Acts 6:3.
a. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of
wisdom, Psalm 111:10.
b. Wisdom is needed in the handling of the
material affairs of the church.
c. Wisdom is needed in dealing with other
people both inside and outside the
membership of the church.
4. A deacon must have practical knowledge and
ability to oversee material projects and tasks,
a. There might have been other good men in
seek out men who could carry out the work
assigned to them.
b. Regardless of one's other qualifications,
if a person is not capable of handling
material affairs, there is little use of
selecting him to handle them.
C. There are some common misconceptions about the
qualifications for the deaconship:
1. Some have the misconception that the Bible
requires a deacon to be able to lead public
a. There is no such requirement of the deacon
in the Bible.
b. The closest thing to such a requirement is
that he must be full of the Holy Ghost and
c. It is good for a deacon to be able to lead
public prayer, but it is not required that
he do so.
2. Some have the misconception that the Bible
requires a deacon to be apt to teach.
a. The Bible does not require a deacon to be
apt to teach.
b. This requirement is made for pastors, I
c. Of the seven deacons named in Acts 6:5,
one can be certain that only two were good
teachers, Stephen and Philip, Acts 6:9;
; and 8:26-40.
II. The doctrinal belief of the deacon
(It has been noted in I Timothy 3:9 that a deacon must
hold the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. This
involves the doctrinal faith of the deacon. See page 3.)
A. A deacon should believe the Genesis account of the
creation of the universe.
1. Mythology and idolatry have produced many
fanciful stories about how and why the gods
made the earth and the heavens.
2. Scientific theories have varied in a large
degree. However, those who reject the Bible
account have one basic theme: According to them
the universe evolved from material substance
already in existence.
3. Genesis 1:1 reveals that God created the whole
universe, including the material substance.
(The Bible believer accepts that as a fact.)
B. A deacon should believe the Genesis account of the
creation of man.
1. Some scientists theorize that man developed
from the lower forms of life through the
process of evolution.
2. Genesis 2:7 declares, "And the Lord God formed
man of the dust of the ground, and breathed
into his nostrils the breath of life; and the
man became a living soul."
C. A deacon should believe that the Bible is the
inspired Word of God.
1. The Old Testament is inspired of God, II Peter
2. The New Testament is inspired of God, John
3. Both are inspired of God, II Tim. 3:16-17.
D. A deacon should believe in one God, with the God-
head consisting of the Father, the Son, and the Holy
1. Scriptures concerning the Father are numerous.
A few are: Matt. 3:16-17; Luke 22:29; and John
2. A few Scriptures concerning Jesus as the Son of
God are: Matt. 3:17; Mark 14:61-62; Luke
; and John 3:16.
3. The terms Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit speak of
the same person in the Trinity. A few which
speak of the Third Person of the Trinity are:
Matt. 12:32; Mark 13:11; and Luke 11:13.
4. Scriptures which speak of all three in the
Trinity are: Matt. 28:19 and Matt. 3:16-17.
5. The Hebrew word, Elohim, which in Genesis 1:26
and other passages is translated God, allows
for a Trinity. Elohim is a plural form and
would very definitely allow for a Trinity.
Other Bible passages require the Trinity. See
number 4 above.
6. Yet there is but one God, I Tim. 2:5.
E. A deacon should believe in the miracles of the
1. An example of Old Testament miracles is the
leading of the Children of Israel across the
2. An example of New Testament miracles is the
calling of Lazarus from the grave, John 11:39-
3. An example of miracles performed by the
disciples of Jesus is the healing of the lame
man at the gate Beautiful, Acts 3:1-8.
F. A deacon should understand that the gift of miracles
and the gift of tongues ended with the completion of
the Bible, I Cor. 12:1; 13:8-13.
G. A deacon should believe that salvation is entirely
1. Grace means unmerited favor.
2. Since salvation is unmerited, it is obtained
works, Eph. 2:8-10;
3. Salvation is also kept by grace and not by the
works of man, I Peter 1:5.
H. A deacon should believe in the security of the
believer, I Peter 1:5; John ; -30.
I. A deacon should believe that the Lord established
His church at
1. Jesus instructed the disciples to "...tell it
to the church," Matt. 18:17. If there were no
church to tell it to, this would have been
2. The church at
Pentecost as many believe.
3. The following are some of the negative
arguments showing that the church was not
established on Pentecost:
a. There was no prophecy showing that the
organization of the church would take
place on Pentecost.
b. There is no record of any organization
taking place on Pentecost.
c. There was no authority given on Pentecost
except for the speaking in tongues.
d. There were no apostles set in the church
on Pentecost, I Cor. 12:28.
e. There were no rules or instructions given
f. There was no commission given on Pentecost
outlining the work to be done.
g. There were no ordinances given on
h. There was no field of labor assigned on
i. There was no form of church government
given on Pentecost.
j. There was only one new spiritual gift
added on Pentecost, the gift of tongues.
k. The only change in the work of the Holy
Spirit on Pentecost was that the Spirit
was to empower, to enlighten, to lead and
to comfort the church, Acts 1:8; John
; 14:16-17. (Some say that the Holy
Spirit was not active in the world until
Pentecost and there could be no church
without the Holy Spirit. But the truth is
that the Holy Spirit was active in the
world before Pentecost, Luke 1:41, 67;
4. The following are some of the positive
arguments showing that Christ established His
church before Pentecost:
a. There was already a called out assembly
before Pentecost, John -45; Matt.
-22; Acts 1:13, 15.
b. The twelve apostles had already been
called and ordained before Pentecost, Mark
c. The church had already been commissioned
before Pentecost, Matt. 28:18-20.
d. Jesus already had a flock before
Pentecost, Luke 12:32. A church is called
a flock in Acts and I Peter 5:1-3.
e. The two pictorial ordinances had already
been given before Pentecost, Matt. 26:26-
30; Matt. 28:19.
f. The field of labor had already been
outlined for the church before Pentecost,
Matt. 28:19; Acts 1:8.
g. Jesus had already instructed His church
concerning discipline before Pentecost,
h. A new apostle had already been elected to
take the place of Judas before Pentecost,
i. There was a church roll before Pentecost,
j. On the day of Pentecost about three-
thousand were added to the roll, Acts
k. Jesus instructed His church to tarry at
high, Luke 24:49.
J. A deacon should believe that a church is a
local visible body and not a universal
invisible body. There are a number of proofs
showing that a church is a local body:
1. The Biblical word for church means a called-out
2. A church can meet for business, Acts 1:26.
3. The church at
discipline her membership, I Cor. 5:1-5.
4. The New Testament speaks of many churches, Gal.
5. A church man be small enough to meet in a
house, I Cor. 16:19.
6. There is no basis for believing in a universal
church, because one is born into the family of
God and not into a church, I John 5:1.
7. One can speak to a local church, but not to a
universal church, Matt. 18:17.
K. A deacon should believe in church discipline, II
Thes. 3:6, 11-15; I Cor. 5:1-13; Titus 3:10; I
L. He should believe that the Great Commission was
given to a local church, Matt. 28:18-20.
1. It was first given to the church which was
2. Each successive New Testament church would fall
heir to that same Commission.
3. Therefore, the authority to baptize rests in a
local New Testament church and not in
4. Therefore, no association nor any other
ecclasiastical organization has a right to tell
a church what she must or must not do, Mark
M. A deacon should believe in the virgin birth of
Jesus, Isaiah 7:14; Matt. 20-23.
N. A deacon should believe in the bodily resurrection
of Jesus, Matt. 28:5-7; John 20:24-29.
O. A deacon should believe in the bodily return of
Jesus to the earth, Acts 1:10-11. There are two
phases of His return:
1. Jesus will return for His saints, I Thes. 4:13-
2. Jesus will return with His saints, I Thes.
; ; Rev. 19:14.
P. A deacon should believe in a place of everlasting
punishment for the lost, Mark -48; Rev. 20:15.
Q. A deacon should believe in a place of everlasting
bliss for the saved, Matt. 5:3.
R. A deacon should be firm against union services with
those who teach works for salvation and other such
perversions of the gospel, Gal. 1:8-9.
III. The work of the deacon
A. The work of a deacon can be better understood by
understanding the original purpose of a deacon.
1. The church at
the purpose of taking some of the material
responsibilities off the preachers so that they
could give themselves to prayer and the
ministry of the Word, Acts 6:3,4.
2. Therefore the responsibilities of a deacon
today is to take some of the material
responsibilities off the preacher so that he
can give himself to prayer and the ministry of
the Word of God.
3. These material responsibilities originally
involved only the daily feeding of the widows
and orphans, Acts 6:1.
4. However, any way that the deacon can relieve
the preacher of material responsibility and
give him more time for prayer, study of God's
Word, and the preaching of God's Word is a way
of fulfilling the purpose for which he was
B. A word of caution is in order: It is not the work
of the deacon to run the business of the church,
1. It is not the business of the deacons to hire
or fire the pastor.
2. It is not the business of the deacons to make
decisions for the church and then expect the
church to rubber-stamp their decisions. (Any
recommendation presented to the church by the
deacons should be given due consideration by
the church. But the church is under no
obligation to adopt them. The church may
either adopt, reject, or amend the
recommendations made by the deacons.)
3. The deacon has no greater authority after his
ordination than he did before his ordination.
(He does have a greater responsibility and a
greater place of leadership. But he has no
authority over the church whatsoever. Neither
does his wife.)
C. There are several practical ways a deacon can
fulfill this purpose. The material needs of a
church are divided into three general headings:
building, finance, and benevolence. (There is, of
course, some overlapping of these headings.)
1. Here are some building needs which deacons may
oversee as directed by the church:
a. Custodial services
c. expansion programs (planning and executing
the building program)
d. Miscellaneous building needs such as
heating, cooling, lighting, filling or
draining the baptistry, etc.
e. Trusteeship of the property (It is not
required that a trustee be a deacon, but
he may be.)
2. There are some financial needs which the
deacons may oversee as directed by the church:
a. All monies raised by a church should be
spent according to the vote of the church.
Yet a church may authorize deacons to
spend monies for miscellaneous items
without having to come before the church
for a vote on each item. Light bulbs,
toilet tissue, cleansers, and waxes are
examples. All monies spent by the deacons
which come out of the church treasury
should be verified by a receipt, bill, or
statement marked paid. This is for the
protection of the treasurer as well as for
the protection of the purchaser.
b. During the ministry of Jesus, Judas
Iscariot, one of the apostles, carried the
money bag, John 13:29. After the death of
Judas, it seems that all of the apostles
shared in the responsibility of keeping
the money, Acts 4:32-37. Since deacons
were elected to oversee the distribution
to widows, it seems that they collectively
oversaw the handling of the money of the
church. It is more practical, however, to
have one man responsible for the handling
of the money. While it may not be
required that the treasurer be a deacon,
it seems that this would be best. It is,
at least, in keeping with the original
responsibility of deacons.
c. It is the responsibility of the deacons to
lead in the raising of finances for the
church. Not that the should have bear the
brunt of the financial load themselves,
but they should take the lead in raising
funds for the regular budget and raising
funds for special goals. This kind of
leadership requires a lot of patience and
3. There are benevolent needs which the deacons
may oversee as directed by the church.
a. Widows and orphans in the
were the objects of material assistance
from the church, Acts 6:1-3; James 1:27.
There are others who may need help and the
church is to assist in these cases when
possible, Gal. . The church has a
greater responsibility to help Christians
than it does those who are not Christians.
b. Caution should be used before spending
money on those who seem to be in need.
The widow who has children capable of
supporting her is not the responsibility
of the church, I Tim. 5:3-4.
c. The responsibility of leading in
benevolent work belongs primarily upon the
deacons rather than upon the pastor. (No
doubt, he will be glad to help, but the
time consuming part should be assumed by
4. The field of advertising is a growing need for
every church in which deacons may assist.
5. Yet in all these areas it should be remembered
that the decision making process belongs to the
church and not to the deacons. (A suggestion
or motion does not have to originate with the
deacons or come through the deacons. It may
originate with any member in good standing and
may be presented directly to the church by that
member without prior consultation with the
6. Any way that a deacon can help take the load
off the pastor and allow him to give more time
for prayer and the ministry of the Word is
fulfilling the purpose of a deacon.
1. The deacon is to be willing, qualified, doctrinally
sound, and informed as to his task.
2. Paul said, "For they that have used the office of a
deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and
great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus,"
I Tim. 3:13.
3. Brethren, you have a great work. Pray daily and, by
God's grace, be equal to the task. May God bless you