Summary: The biblical basis of deacons, and the need for all of God’s people to be peacemakers.
In the book of Acts, we have a history of how the church began to carry out what Jesus had instructed His church to do. The church began with a leadership structure that consisted of the 12 apostles. That was it. There was no Sunday School teachers, no property committee, nobody designated to drive the van, just the 12 apostles.
As you read through the book of Acts, and the rest of the New Testament, you see that the church did not continue with the same leadership structure. There is a development that continues even to this day. You could safely say it was a changing church, as will always be the case with a growing church. You could also safely say that Jesus established the church for the purpose of fulfilling His instructions, which are encompassed in the Great Commission.
They had 3,000 saved right out of the starting gate, then a few days later, another 5,000. They were off to a great start! There are two things you can always count on happening when the Spirit of God starts accomplishing things through God’s people: 1) Some folks are going to get very excited about it. They had Jewish people from all over the civilized, who had gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover, and because travel was the way it was, a great number of them stayed the 50 days following to observe the Feast of Pentecost. The Feast of Pentecost was an annual Old Testament celebration, celebrating Moses going up on Mt. Sinai and receiving the Law from God, 50 days after coming out of Egypt. Acts 2:1 says, “When the day of Pentecost was fully come...” The ultimate meaning of that phrase is, “When God finally fulfilled what Pentecost had been pointing to all the time.” After what happened on the Day of Pentecost happened, people didn’t want to leave and go home. And they didn’t, they stayed, because they didn’t want to miss a second of what was happening. They would have filled a church building from the front, not from the back! There were a lot of excited people.
Well, I said there are two things you can count on when the Spirit of God starts accomplishing things through God’s people: 1) Some folks are going to get excited; but, there’s a second thing, and here it is: 2) Some folks are going to start murmuring. The definition of murmuring is a low, constant, behind the scenes grumbling. These people, in Acts 6, so it seems, had a legitimate complaint, but they had not matured enough in their faith, and they had not learned enough about the teachings of the Bible to know how to make their complaint. So they resorted to a method that the Bible constantly denounces, and that was murmuring. Do you think people in churches still murmur today?
The Apostles knew that Jesus had plainly taught that “a house divided against itself cannot stand,” so something had to be done. God showed them that they needed some special helpers, some good men, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom to take care of the church’s benevolent ministry, and to put a lid on this murmuring that was brewing up division, which if left unchecked, would eventually destroy their mission, which was to fulfill the Great Commission. They were not looking for men who would make sure the apostles didn’t make changes they wouldn’t like, they were not looking for men who would be a board of directors over the future direction of the church’s obedience in carrying out the Great Commission, they were looking for some men of good reputation, who were full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, who would free up the apostle’s time, so that they could center their attention more fully on what God had called them to do, which was prayer and the ministry of God’s word. And, they were looking for some men who could be “ordained peacemakers.”
It appears these seven men, who were chosen by the congregation, did a good job. The result, given in verse 7, is that the word of God spread, and the number of disciples multiplied greatly! Right there, is the bottom line of why we need anything that we need in church: that the word of God might spread, and the number of disciples might be multiplied greatly. If it doesn’t lend itself to that, we don’t need it, whether you’re talking about positions or possessions!
There has been a great deal of development in the church, since those early days as recorded in the book of Acts. It is most likely by design, that the Bible doesn’t really give much a job description for deacons. But it seems reasonable, and not at all contrary to the Scriptures, that good men, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we call, “deacons,” can bless the body of Christ in a number of ways, but their most basic and primary role, in the Lord’s church, is that of being peacemakers.