Dr. Harold Davis

















     "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

         my church?

     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,

                  dignified, solemn.2

 C.  This does not mean that the deacon should

     not smile nor laugh, Acts 13:  ;  Gal. 5:22.

              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

                  his behavior.

       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

                   set on the things of God, Col. 3:1.

          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

                   is saved.)

               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

                         proving process.

                    (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. 3:11.

               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

                   page 2.)

          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. 3:11.

               a.  Webster defined sober as Not drunk,

                   temperate, grave.2

               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

              Tim. 3:12.

               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

                   house well.

               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,

                   Gal.  5:22-23.

          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,

              Acts 6:3.

               a.  There might have been other good men in

                   the church at Jerusalem, but they were to

                   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

                   Tim. 3:2.

               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;

                   7:50;  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

              1:32; 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

              Red Sea on dry land, Exodus chapter 14.

          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

         of grace.

          1.  Grace means unmerited favor.

          2.  Since salvation is unmerited, it is obtained

              without works, Eph. 2:8-10; Rom. 4:5-7.

          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 5:24; 10:27-30.

     I.  A deacon should believe that the Lord established

         His church at Jerusalem during His personal ministry

         on earth.

          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 Jerusalem was not established on

              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

                   on Pentecost.

               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

                   16:13; 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;

                   John 3:5-6.)

          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 1:43-45;  Matt.

                   4:18-22;  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 20:28 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,

                   Matt. 18:15-17.

               h.  A new apostle had already been elected to

                   take the place of Judas before Pentecost,

                   Acts 1:22-24.

               i.  There was a church roll before Pentecost,

                   Acts 1:15.

               j.  On the day of Pentecost about three-

                   thousand were added to the roll, Acts


               k.  Jesus instructed His church to tarry at

                   Jerusalem until endued with power from on

                   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 Corinth was instructed to

              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

         Tim. 5:19.

     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

              organized in Galilee and which was to tarry at


          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.

              3:13; 4:14; Rev. 19:14.

     P.  A deacon should believe in a place of everlasting

         punishment for the lost, Mark 9:43-48; 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 Jerusalem ordained deacons for

              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,

         Matt. 20:26.

          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

               b.  Repairs

               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 Jerusalem church

                   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. 6:10.  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

                   the deacons.)

          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