USE OF THE TERM "DEACON" IN THE NEW TESTAMENT:
A. Definition -- The word deacon comes from the Greek word, "diakonos", which means, one who renders service to another; an attendant, servant. Harper's Analytical Greek Lexicon. "...one who executes the commands of another, especially of a master; a servant, attendant, minister." Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon.
B.The word is used in the New Testament to apply to;
1. Those who serve food and drink, Jno. 2:5,9; a waiter.
2. Those who render general service, Mt. 20:26.
3. The work of the apostles, 2 Cor. 3:6.
4. Those who do evangelistic work, 1 Tim. 4:6, compare 1 Thes. 3:2.
5. All who are followers of Christ, Jno. 12:26.
C. Specifically applied to special servants of the church. See Phil. 1:1 and 1 Tim. 3:8-13. It is this last use of the word we are dealing with in this lesson.
SOME SUGGESTED DUTIES OF DEACONS:
1. The first duty that every deacon should learn, is that he is under the oversight and accountable to the elders.
2. Care for needy or sick members of the church by a practical serving of their needs.
3. Keep the church building comfortable, clean, and in good repair.
4. Count money, make deposits, keep records.
5. See that the baptistry is filled, warmed, etc., etc.
6. See to the physical aspects of serving the Lord.
Any money that is spent or any work of a physical nature that is done by the deacons, is to be within the scope of the elders' oversight. The church needs deacons who not only know but will do their duty. Members need to know the duty of deacons and be willing to give them assistance whenever called upon. The work of deacons is often left for the elders and preacher to do. Or, more often, it is left undone. Deacons, have a special place in the church, but they are subject to the elders just as the other members and preacher are. They do not have equal voice with the elders in the oversight of the congregation. They are not co-rulers with the elders. The elders do not necessarily have to go to them before they make a decision. Of course, many times the elders call in the deacons to discuss a project of the church before they make their final decision. Sometimes other members are called in for consultation on a proposed plan. In some cases, all the male members are invited to sit in on a discussion of a proposed activity of the church. I am not aware of any time that the elders called women into their meetings to discuss the physical or spiritual aspects of the congregation. I also think that congregations that gather together, both male and female, to discuss the work of the church and the projects that are in mind for the congregation, and where the female members have equal voice in the decisions of the meeting, will have a hard time showing scriptural precedence for such. I know that such does happen in many congregations throughout the land.
Young men should set their goal in life to be an elder or a deacon. God will bless faithful deacons, 1 Tim. 3:13. Deacons are to be selected and appointed in every congregation. As the congregation looks out from among them men that they feel are qualified for elders, they should likewise look out from among themselves men whom they feel are qualified for the deaconship. Deacons should never be appointed before elders are appointed, because in doing so an office is created in the congregation without overseers to rule the church and to oversee even the office of deaconship. Where deacons are appointed before elders, many times the deacons may take to themselves the oversight of the congregation, which does not belong to them. But it does not follow that deacons have to be selected and appointed on the same day that elders are selected and appointed. Even though this would be scriptural as far as I can tell. Since it is not right to appoint men to the deaconship where there are no elders, it would follow that where an eldership is dissolved for some reason, health, death, moving, resignation, sin, etc., that the deaconship should also be disolved until such time as the eldership was re-established.
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