Summary: Serving in the Church & Deacons. (Powerpoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request – email:


They must be respected (vs 8):

They must be genuine (vs 8):

They must be self-controlled (vs 8).

They must be honest (vs 8):

They must be biblical (vs 9)

They must be approved (vs 10)

They must be consistent (vs 11-12)

They must be industrious (vs 13)


A hope (vs 14).

A home (vs 15)

A hymn (vs 6)


• The great Italian violinist, violist, guitarist, and composer, Niccolo Paganini;

• Willed his marvellous violin to city of Genoa on condition that it must never be played.

• The wood of such an instrument, while used and handled, wears only slightly,

• But set aside, it begins to decay.

• Paganini's lovely violin has today become worm-eaten and useless except as a relic.

• It is a good illustration of Christian servant hood:

• A Christian's unwillingness to serve may soon destroy his capacity for usefulness.

Now every Christian is called to serve:


• Remember the example of Jesus (John chapter 13) washing the disciples feet;

• Then his challenging and thought-provoking Words (The New Living Translation):

“After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. 16 I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. 17 Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them”.

• Now although our passage tonight is primarily teaching about deacons;

• The principles and values should be the desire of every Christian.

• Every Christian is called to serve!

• So don’t think this does not apply to me;

• If you are a Christian then the principles and values mentioned apply to you as well!


• Now in the New Testament the word translated as “deacon” means ‘minister or servant’.

• Some form of this word appears 101 times in the New Testament;

• And only on five of those occasions does it refer to the office of the deacon.

• The rest refer to the lifestyle of a servant that EVERY Christian is called to become.


• In the general sense the word “deacon” (Greek: ‘diakonos’);

• Jesus uses this word (‘diakonos’) in Matthew chapter 20 verse 26 when he says:

• “Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant (literally- ‘deacon’)”

• So although the office of deacon is a specific role and calling;

• EVERY Christian is called to embrace a deacon’s or a servant’s attitude.

(1). The office of a Deacon

• As mentioned earlier the word “deacon” simply means ‘minister or servant’.

• And five of those 101 times this word is used in one form or another;

• Refers to the office of the deacon.


• The early church was very effective in meeting the practical needs of the people;

• So much so that according to Acts chapter 4 verse 34 says:

• “There was no needy persons among them” – that is quite a boast!

• But as the young church grew and grew;

• More and more people came under that circle of care and it started to fail,

• And very soon a serious problem developed.

• There came a time when not everybody was being helped and looked after.

• According to Acts chapter 6 verse 1:

• Some Grecian Jews started complaining that their widows were being overlooked;

• That they were missing out in the daily distribution of food.

• And the Hebraic Jews were getting more favourable care and attention.

• And so the church was called together to try to find a practical solution to the problem.

• Acts chapter 6 verse 2;

The apostles told the church (Acts chapter 6 verses 2-4)

• That it would not be right for them to neglect the teaching of the word of God;

• In order to wait on tables and serve food.

• Don't miss understand it was not that serving food was beneath them.

• It was a matter of priorities;

• We all have so much time per day;

• And the apostles did not want to get side-tracked with practical issues.

• So they chose seven men to be the first deacons;

• Seven men who could give their time sorting out the practical issues;

• Thus freeing up the apostles to concentrate on teaching the word of God.

• Although these seven men are not actually called deacons in Acts chapter 6;

• The word is used twice to describe their work.

• And most Bible scholars agree this is the very first instance of the office of deacons.


• Although seven men were chosen to do practical service;

• They still had to be men of spiritual character.

• Verse 3: they were to be men “full of the Spirit and wisdom”.

• Now in 1 Timothy chapter 3 verses 8-13 the apostle Paul;

• Gives us some more qualifications for those who want the position of deacon.

Verses 8-11: Qualifications for deacons:

In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.


• Verse eight begins with “likewise” which simply means “in like manner.”

• He links deacons to what he has just written concerning Elders (verses 1-7);

• And he says deacons must possess the same quality of maturity and character;

• That is expected of the Elders/Leaders of the fellowship.

• This integrity is exemplified by the use of the word “reverent” in verse eight;

• Which also can be translated “worthy of respect,” “dignified” or “serious.”


• A rather pompous-looking deacon was attempting;

• To impress upon a class of boys the importance of living the Christian life.

• The conceited deacon said to them: "Why do people call me a Christian?"

• After a moment’s pause, one youngster said, "Maybe it’s because they don’t know you."

• A deacon should be somebody that people respect, esteem and appreciate;

• A deacon does not just FILL the office, they LIVE, they practice the office.


• N.I.V.: “Sincere”

• K.J.B.: “Not double-tongued”

• This literally means that he does not have “divided words”;

• Or as we would say today, “Does not speak out of both sides of his mouth.”

• ill; Remember the old cowboy and Indian (Native American) films;

• When the Indian would say; “White-man speak with fork-tongue”.


• The ministry of a deacon would take him from home to home,

• It could be immensely harmful to the church for him to be double tongued;

• That is saying one thing at one house and something different in another.

• The deacon is to be sincere, he is to be straightforward.

• He is not to be cause of misunderstandings and differences.

• Deacons should be men whose words can be relied upon.


• Deacons were not told abstain from all alcohol completely;

• But rather to be sensible and level-headed.

• Deacons should not have a dependency on drink;

• And of course deacons should not get drunk.

• The idea is they should be disciplined and self-controlled.

• After all, if they cannot control themselves,

• How can they control the responsibility their office gives them?


• N.I.V.: “Not pursuing dishonest gain”.

• K.J.B.: “Not greedy for money”.

• The basic idea is that this person does not making a living by dishonest means;

• His integrity is to extend to his financial dealings.

• After all, deacons will need handle and spend and use money;

• It may be tempting at times of personal financial hardship;

• For them to be tempted to steal, or to use the funds in selfish ways.

• So the apostle says; If deacons can handle their own money above-board,

• They will also handle the Churches money with as clear conscience.


• N.I.V.: “They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith”.

• K.J.B.: “Holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience”.

• I like the way the New English Bible translates this verse:

• “They must be men who combine a clear conscience with a firm hold on the deep truths

of the faith.”

• Deacons are to be men of conviction.

• They must know what they believe and why they believe it.

• They should base the decisions they make on biblical principles;

• And back up their decisions by the way they live.


“They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons”.

• Most deacons are already busy serving others in practical ways;

• Long before the leadership appoints them to this office.


• A healthy human body cleans itself, scratches itself, exercises itself,

• Shaves itself, brushes its hair and teeth, feeds itself, waters itself etc.;

• As well as looking after the outside of our bodies;

• The human body has a built in capacity to keep all the things on the inside running as well.

• In other words, the body takes care of itself.

• More specifically, the parts of the body serve the other parts of the body.

• They do not wait to be told – they just do it!

• And every member of the body is involved in some capacity.

• No member of the body is unnecessary, each one has a function.

Likewise in a healthy spiritual body (i.e. the Church):

• Deacons will naturally be busy serving others in practical ways;

• Long before the leadership appoints them to this office.

• Notice that the apostle Paul does not say how deacons are to be tested.

• Obviously he is not referring to an “official” deacon’s test or even to a probationary period,

• But rather the testing of one’s reputation.

• In other words; does this person show evidence of a servants heart already;

• Are they honest and reliable people.

• The main point seems to be that anyone who would be a deacon;

• Must be able to handle the test of having the eyes of the whole church focused on him.


“In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.

12 A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13 Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus”.

Note: There is some considerable debate about who the women being discussed here are.

• There are two basic positions held by conservative Bible scholars.

• Two popular interpretations regarding these verses.

• First, the women being discussed are the wives of the deacons.

• i.e. wives assisting and helping and complementing their husbands in ministry.

• Secondly, this is a separate office (deaconess) held by women.

• i.e. women as deacons in their own right.

• ill: Romans chapter 16 verse 1 – Phoebe was a deaconess in the Church at Cenchrea.

• If you take time to study these verses the argument is actually very strong.

• Whereas Elders are clearly said to be male.

• Deacons would appear to be male and female;

• If I had another 15 minutes I would explain these verses deeper (you can study them for your homework!)

Notice: what the apostle draws out regarding the home life of a deacon (vs 12).

• “A deacon must be faithful to his wife”

• The deacon is to have one wife;

• His wife should be someone who whose respectability matches his own.

• “And (the deacon) must manage his children and his household well”

• The deacon is to be able to control his own children.

• After all, if he cannot manage his own house, why should he try to manage God’s house!


“Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus”.

• Those who serve in the local assembly will probably reap many rewards,

• But two are mentioned in this verse:

First: "Deep respect" or "Excellent standing".

• In other words the other members of the fellowship;

• Should really appreciate the deacons for all the hard work you put in to serving them.

• Question: Do we?

• When was the last time we told someone or prayed & gave thanks to God for our deacons?

Second: A personal "Assurance in their faith".

• As we serve others with the right attitude;

• So we get a personal assurance that our efforts are Christ like;

• And because of that God is pleased with our service!

(2). The Household of Faith (vs 14-16)

Now in these last few verses the apostle Paul gives Timothy 3 comforts:

A HOPE (VS 14):

• Paul had a desire to be with his friend and former companion Timothy.

• "I hope to come to you".

• That is his great desire….but

• Verse 15: "If I am delayed" that is “If I can't come to be with you.”

• Paul then gives to us the reason why he wrote this letter (1st Timothy)

• He wrote it so that Christians would know how "to conduct themselves".

• That is to "behave yourself", “to act in a way pleasing to God”.

• Being part of the Church is more than just attending the meetings;

• This letter was written so we might realise that we have a place in the local Church.


• Notice: that the apostle Paul uses four names in verse 15 for the fellowship/assembly:

• Four word pictures for our imaginations to unwrap.

• (1). "God's household".

• First and foremost the church is a family.

• So we need to build family ties and express family love.

• That involves accepting one another and spending time with one another.

• (2). "Church of the living God".

• The word ‘church’ means "Called out ones".

• Those individuals who have responded to the voice of God.

• We now belong to him, this is his Church not ours!

• And we need to function with that truth in mind.

• (3). "Pillar of truth".

• It may be Paul is not thinking of pillar as support, but more of beauty:

• Temple pillars were on public display for all to see.

• Maybe Paul is reminding these Christians they too are on display for all to see!

• ill: Remember the nearest people in the UK will get to the real Jesus is you!

• If they can’t see Jesus in us then they probably will never see him!

• (4). "Foundation of truth".

• The foundation is the support of the building. It is what keeps it standing, intact.

• The church is to support the truth against all those who would seek to destroy it.

• In a world where truth is compromised and diluted;

• The Church holds it up for all to see.


• Now as we enter our time of ‘open’ worship;

• Why not use this hymn as a springboard for our praise.


• “He appeared in the flesh”,

• That is the incarnation – Jesus took upon himself a human body!


• “Was vindicated by the Spirit,”

• Men rejected him and despised him.

• But God has vindicated him, justified him, shown him in his correct light!


• “Was seen by angels,”

• Many times angels are associated with the life and ministry of Jesus.

• Thy announced his birth and of course they proclaimed his resurrection.


• “Was preached among the nations”

• This of course is fulfilled in the book of Acts.


• “Was believed on in the world,”

• Again this is fulfilled in the book of Acts.

• And by ourselves today (we are Acts chapter 29!)


• “Was taken up in glory.”

• At the ascension he was received up in glory;

• That is the way he went;

• Don’t forget he promised that in the same way he would return for you and me!