Deacons, Doctrine of

  1. Description: A deacon is a man that functions as an honored servant of God, the pastor and teacher, and the church. He is the person who, under authority of the pastor, willingly serves the church body by actively carrying out needed tasks for the benefit of the church.  Deacons are servants for the effective performance of God’s service.
  2. Scripture which speaks of deacons:
    • Philippians 1:1 lists deacons διακονος diakonos and the overseers επισκοπος episkopos as officials of the church.
    • Paul, in 1 Timothy 3:10-13, gives qualities of deacons. The standard is high. A deacon is to be dignified, honest in speech and not a trouble maker by what he says, have no addictions, honest in business, and honestly believing and holding to the faith. Furthermore, in people relations, a deacon must be married to only one woman and a good administrator and leader of his children and home. A deacon is to be clearly noted for these characteristics, yet, he, like all of us, still has a sinful nature that wars against the new man and the Holy Spirit; he is not a perfect person. Those deacons who have done a good job have honor in the church and rewards from the Lord.
    • Acts 6 illustrates the type of serving. These men likely are proto-deacons—an early case of a need for qualified men to take charge of service for needy widows.
  3. The title “deacon” is a transliteration (diakonos διακονος). It means a servant, a helper.  Cremer (177) says it refers “to the service or advantage rendered to another.”  Trench (32) says it “represents the servant in his activity for the work.”  Foerster (TDNT 2.81) writes that the verb “has the special quality of indicating very personally the service rendered to another…there is a stronger approximation to the concept of a service of love.”
  4. The deacon is under the spiritual authority of the pastor. The deacon is not an authoritative office in itself. A deacon gains authority by delegation from the pastor. He is set off from the church members by his serviceableness to the Lord, the pastor, and the church.
  5. All the spiritual gifts are useful for deacons:  leadership (Romans 12:8), administration (1 Corinthians 12:28), service (Romans 12:7); helping (1 Corinthians 12:28), showing mercy (Romans 12:8), encouragement (Romans 12:8); teaching (Romans 12:7), evangelist (Ephesians 4:11), and giving (Romans 12:8). If there is a separate gift of pastor apart from pastor and teacher, that would also be helpful.
  6. The selection of deacons is not specifically explained.  By comparing the doctrine of elder-bishop-pastor and teacher, the basic meaning of the “servant” word group, and 1 Timothy 3, we can conclude that the pastor, using the recommendations of the spiritually mature men in the church, ought to appoint them or at least be closely involved in the selection process. The length of service for a deacon is not stated.
  7. Practical requirements to serve well as a deacon include consistent commitment and loyalty to the Lord and the Bible, spiritual growth, the understanding of application of proper authority, a sense of responsibility, graciousness, humility, teachable, attendance at church services and function, and loyalty to the philosophy of ministry of the local church.
  8. Spokane Bible Church delegates different areas of need in the church to different deacons and to various individuals in the church.  Some of the areas functioning now or under consideration include encouragement and hospitality, grounds maintenance, finance and corporate records, interior sound, electrical, and maintenance, missions, music, nursery, and Sunday school. There are also special projects that go through the pastor and deacons.