Summary: This study deals with deacons in the church. It is the eighth sudy in the book of Acts
The Helpers (Deacons) that were Needed and Chosen
Acts # 08
As we look at this text I am using the term deacon but I am not positive that these men where in fact the first deacons. But I do believe they are a model of what the deacons where. Acts is the model of the early Church so these men were the model of the first deacons.
It is also interesting to note that the only time the Greek word for deacon is used in this passage it is used in verse 4 in the term ministry of the Word.
It is again interesting to note that there are three words in the Greek which maenad deacon. diakonos (Servant), diakonia (Service), diakoneo (to serve), these words are used over a100 times in the New Testament. The original sense of these words means service or serving. Only in two places in the New Testament where these words are transliterated rather then translated and that is in 1 Timothy 3 and in Philippians 1.
I. The choosing of the first Deacons. 6:1-7
A. The reason for the need of help. 6:1
1. The number of believers was increasing.
2. There were needs that were not being met.
NOTE: Luke here mentions there were Greek Jews and there were Hebrew Jews. He also pointed out that the Greek Jews widows were being over looked in the distribution of food. The original meaning of the term deacon means to wait on tables. These to sects of Jews did not get along. Some Bible teachers feel that the reason that the needs were not being met was because of the tension between the sects.
B. The decision of the twelve Apostles. 6:2-8.
1. They gathered together the believers.
2. They made clear what their responsibility was.
a. Not to serve tables.
b. To minister the Word of God.
3. The instructions of the Apostles. 6:3
a. To select seven men.
b. The requirement for the selection.
1) They must have a good reputation.
2) They must be filled with the Spirit.
3) They must have Wisdom.
4) They must be able to handle responsibility.
4. The responsibilities of the ones to be chosen.
a. To wait on tables.
b. To make sure people needs were met.
5. The responsibility of the Apostles.
b. Ministry of the Word.
6. The pleasure of the group. (This pleased the group. 6:5
7. The deacons were chosen. 6:5b
1) Full of Faith.
2) Full of the Holy Spirit.
g. Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch.
NOTE: All of these men were Greeks. The bible does not tell us much about these men. In order to learn about them we must turn to extra-biblical sources.
1. Stephen: Stephen was martyred not long after the election. We know that he was full of faith and full of the Holy Spirit. He was the first Christian Martyr. He was mighty in the scriptures that no one could refute him. 6:10,
2. Philip: The man who loved to evangelize. Philip took the gospel to Samaria. He led the Ethiopian eunuch to a saving knowledge of Christ. After that the Spirit led him to an evangelism ministry and he settled in Caesarea. Acts 8:39-40. We do not know any thing about Philip for another 20 years until Paul mentions Him in Acts 21:8. Paul stayed with him on his last journey to Jerusalem. He had four unmarried daughters that were prophetesses. Acts 21:9
3. Prochorus: (Could be Procorus) The name means leader of a chorus or dance. There is no other information about this man.
4. Nicanor: Personal name meaning conqueror. There is no other information about him either.
5. Timon: Name means Honorable; no other information is available.
6. Parmenas: Name means Faithful or I abide; No other information available.
7. Nicolas: Name means conqueror of people. The bible text tells us that he was a proselyte, which is a gentile convert to Judaism. He was from Antioch. Some have tried to link him with the heretical sect called the Nicolaitans, mentioned in Rev. 2:20-25, 2:6, 15. This group taught immorality and idolatry. They have been linked to a type of heresy taught by Balaam (see numbers 25:1-2, 2 Pet. 2:15. They had pagan feast and orgies that apparently propagated in the first-century church. But there is no real evidence that can link this group to the Deacon Nicolas because it was a very common name in that day.
8. The setting apart of the seven. 6:6
a. They were presented to the Apostles.
b. The Apostles prayed for them.
c. The Apostles laid hands on them.
NOTE ONE: Laying on of hands: Laying hand of hands was done for several reasons. In the Old Testament it was used in prayer or for invocation of a divine blessing. It was also a way to transfer ones sin to the animal sacrifice. In the New Testament it was done for blessing, by Jesus for the little children. It was also done for healing by Jesus and the Apostles. It was also used for a rite of ordination to Christian service. But what ever the reason was it was always done by, in the OT a leader in the NT by the Apostles or the elders of the church.