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.
(1 Timothy 3:8-13 and Acts 6:3)
- Full of the Holy Ghost.
- Not a drunkard.
- Truthful and honest. Not deceitful.
- Not greedy of money.
- Believing and living the true doctrine.
- Proven. Not a novice but experienced.
- Full of wisdom.
- Of honest and good report.
- 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.
“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.”
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.
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.