Summary: God led the Church in Jerusalem to select men of Godly character to meet a specific service need of the congregation, and then blessed the position by including through Paul, led by the Spirit, high qualifications and responsibility for men so selected.
Deacons: Origin and Qualifications
In my opinion, the Church got into something that it should not have.
I. Faulty Situation.
Act 4:32-37 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36 Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet.
A situation developed where the Church found itself in the business of feeding people, particularly widows. Although we can agree that Jesus encouraged us to take care of the widows and orphans, it was never part of God's plan that they sell their possessions and become wards of the Church. However, since that was where they were, it was a reality they certainly could not ignore.
II. Functional Solution.
Act 6:1 Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.
The Church had a problem. There was at least a perception that some of the widows were not being cared for properly.
Act 6:2-4 And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, "It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. 3 Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word."
The twelve (the eleven plus Matthias) saw the importance of the pastors not being distracted by the need of serving tables. They saw the importance of being able to devote themselves to the Word without distraction. They saw a need and saw a solution to meet the need: deacons.
Note the primary requirements were spiritual: Good reputation, full of the Spirit of God, and full of wisdom.They understood what God was trying to achieve and were willing to let God lead the way.
Notice that verse three states, "appoint to this business or duty". The Greek "taute'" is a dative, accusative and genitive case for the word that means "this specific task or business at this time." It is therefore assumed that deacons are selected to be servants of the Church for the specific needs of the Church at the time selected.
Act 6:5-6 And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. 6 These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.
There was agreement on both the idea and the men selected. These were ordained: set before the apostles, prayed for, and commissioned. Ordained means selected, set aside and commissioned.
Act 6:7 And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.
It is obvious to me that God honored the first selection of deacons, servants of the Church. Look how they prospered.
It was even further honored by being the only other position besides pastor that had spiritual and practical qualifications, recorded by Paul, given by God through His Holy Spirit, recorded in His eternal word. Let's look at those further qualifications.
III. Further Standards. 2 Timothy 3:8-13.
1Ti 3:8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain.
Intrestingly that the name "deacon" does not show up in Acts 6. However, it is used in Paul's instruction to the Church's special servants. The word is used in Greek as a waiter. But look at the requirements.
A. Character Qualifications.
1) Honorable, dignified.
2) Never adjusting the story for the benefit, not double-tongued.
3) Not dependent upon the bottle.
4) Fair in all dealings, not greedy when an opportunity presents itself.
1Ti 3:9 They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.