Called to Serve

There is a great need today for individuals who will be faithful servants of the church. Many temporal and spiritual needs exist with which a congregation must deal. There are offerings to collect and distribute, cleaning and chapel maintenance projects, events to organize, the sick to visit, and the poor to help. It is a great blessing to the body of Christ for there to be faithful, consistent servants who quietly and yet diligently attend to these duties.

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Scriptural Qualifications of a Deacon

(1 Timothy 3:8-13 and Acts 6:3)

  • Full of the Holy Ghost.
  • Sober-minded.
  • Not a drunkard.
  • Truthful and honest. Not deceitful.
  • Not greedy of money.
  • Believing and living the true doctrine.
  • Faithful.
  • Proven. Not a novice but experienced.
  • Full of wisdom.
  • Of honest and good report.
  • Blameless.
  • The husband of one living wife (polygamy/adultery prohibited).
  • Wife is to be sober, dignified, faithful, and not a gossip.
  • Children are in subjection.
  • Home is in proper care and order.

Editorial

“Those who are deacons of the mysteries of Jesus Christ must please all men in all ways. For they are not deacons of meats and drinks [only] but servants of the church of God” (Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians, 2nd century).

The topic this quarter is about the office of deacons. It is a very important subject, and I am convinced that if it were understood and taken more seriously, the gospel work would operate much more smoothly and congregations would be in better condition. It was not until I was in the middle of research and study that I concluded it is a difficult subject. Shortly thereafter, I was reading in The Apostolic Church and found where C. E. Brown came to the same conclusion: “The study of the office of the deacon is perhaps the most difficult of any phase of the constitution of the early church.”

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Ministers and Money

The apostles had the congregation in Jerusalem choose seven men to handle the financial affairs of the church. This came about when the Grecians were complaining about unfair treatment in the charitable distributions. While not always possible, it is the better part of wisdom for a minister to step back from being a trustee or from dealing with the financial affairs of his local congregation to avoid potential snares of the enemy. It frees the minister to be able to preach without regard to who is financially supporting him. After the pattern of the scripture, ministers should, as much as possible, allow men of good report among the congregation to oversee the financial affairs of their local congregations.

The Office of a Deacon

While there are many spiritual gifts, the offices of the bishop and of the deacon are the two official offices that exist in the biblically defined New Testament church for leadership and operation under the authority of the Holy Spirit (1 Timothy 3:1, 8).

The office of the bishop is synonymous in scripture with that of the elder and is a term to denote the called and qualified preachers of the Word of God. There are many proofs that bishops and elders were the same, and it was not until the apostasy of the Roman Catholic Church that a distinction was created.

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Questions and Answers Concerning the Office of a Deacon

What is the difference between a trustee and a deacon?

While the office of trustee is not a biblically-mandated office prescribed in the Scripture, the role of trustee is scripturally appropriate as trustees are stewards. A board of trustees or board of directors is often a legal requirement for the registration and operation of a corporation in most countries. Often, a trustee is chosen or elected by the congregation for a period of years as set by the legal charter of the church.

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Corrupt Deacons

The Shepherd of Hermas (c. 150 A.D.) wrote concerning corrupt deacons:

“They that have spots are the deacons that exercised their office ill and plundered the livelihood of widows and orphans and made gains for themselves from the ministrations they had received to perform” (Sim., IX, 26).

A Poor Wise Man

Jesus has called His followers to a simple life of humble servitude. In a religious world where people too often strive for position, recognition, and power, consider the story told by a king of ancient Jerusalem about a poor wise man:

“There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it: Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man. Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard. The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools” Ecclesiastes 9:14-17.Read more

Ministerial Ordination

Ordaining ministers was a practice of the early morning church and it is scriptural and right to follow the example and precepts set down in the New Testament. Ordination throughout history has been political at times—misused and abused; however, this does not mean the church should forgo the true doctrine and practice of ordination.Read more

One Order of Ministry

In the Scripture, there is an ordination for elders and an ordination for deacons. When a minister is ordained, he is ordained as an elder. In the early morning church, while there were different gifts and offices and there were local ministers and general ministers laboring in the larger field, there was one order of ministers. The word elder is an umbrella term for bishop, presbyter, overseer, etc., and is sometimes used interchangeably in the scripture. Titus 1:5 uses the word elder (presbuteros=presbyters) and then proceeds to give the qualifications using the word bishop (episkopos=overseer) in verse seven. It is one and the same office and was only polluted by the apostasy that would come at a later date. On this subject, commentator Adam Clarke stated: “It appears that those who are called elders in this place are the same as those termed bishops in Titus 1:7. We have many proofs that bishops and elders were of the same order in the apostolic church, though afterward they became distinct.”Read more