Summary: A look at the biblical role of deacons in the churh
The First Deacons
July 13, 1997 Coy Wylie
The Role of Deacons
The First Deacons
1. In a few weeks our church will select, ordain and install some men in our deacon body.
As we shall learn from this passage, deacons are a vital asset to any church. As your pastor,
I don’t want you to take this process lightly. We need to carefully and prayerfully consider
who should take this important office. Therefore, we need some teaching from Scripture
about the role of deacons in the local church.
2. Church tradition, especially Baptist church tradition gives much authority to the office of
deacon that is not found anywhere in the pages of Scripture. Therefore, as we begin this
introductory message on the role of deacons, we need to begin by learning what deacons are
A. Deacons do not have the responsibility of policing the pastors. No where
in the Bible are they to oversee the overseer and undershepherd of the church.
Unfortunately, many deacons have seen themselves in this role. The pastor
answers to Christ and to the congregation.
B. Deacons are not the ruling body of the church. In the N.T. the churches
usually had a plurality of elders, God-called pastors who gave spiritual
leadership to the church. The deacons served and ministered to the physical
C. Deacons are not the defenders of church tradition. In many churches, the
deacons are the guardians of the past. They become "turf shepherds" and their
most common expression is "We’ve never done it that way before."
D. Deacons are not the old men of the church. Over the years many churches
have decided that only older men could attain the office of deacon. The Bible
places no specific age requirement.
E. Deacons are the controllers of the church’s finances. There is no mention
in the N.T. of deacons controlling money. The only possible reference is that
they may have controlled benevolence funds to help widows.
F. Deacons do not have the final say-so on church decisions. Every N.T.
church is autonomous under Christ. Though deacons have a special role, they
have no more power or authority in the decision-making process than any
3. Since we have discussed what deacons are not, it is important that we also consider what
deacons are or at least what they should be. Let’s examine four roles of deacons in the
G. Deacons are SERVANTS. The word "deacon" comes from the Greek term
diakonos, which originally referred to a waiter, an attendant, one who ran
errands or other menial duties. The early church used this work to describe a
special servant commissioned by God to serve the church. The English word
"deacon" only appears 5 time in the NKJV. It does not appear in our text.
However, diakoneo the verb form is found in the phrase "serve tables" in v.6.
H. Deacons are ADVISORS. Because of the strict qualifications for deacons,
both here and especially in 1 Tim.3, deacons must be godly, spirit-filled men.
Therefore, they are often important advisors to pastors and congregations.
I. Deacons are EXAMPLES. According to 1 Tim.3:10, deacons are to be
"found blameless." They are to have such character, dedication and integrity
that others in the church can look to them as examples and role models.
J. Deacons are LEADERS. Because of the very nature of their calling and
work, deacons are to lead out in the church. As pastors lead by equipping the
church spiritually, deacons lead by equipping the church physically.
4. From this passage dealing with the calling of the very first deacons, let’s examine four
aspects of the ministry of deacons.
I. The NEED for Deacons (vv.1-2, 4).
A. Deacons were needed because the Church was Growing.
1. v.1 say "in those days" that "the number of the disciples
was multiplying." They were experiencing rapid church
growth. 2:47 says "the Lord added to the church daily those
who were being saved."
2. As the church grew, so did the problems. There were more
people to be taught, more people to be helped, more people to
be visited, more people to be fed. The infrastructure of the
church needed change.
3. Our church has the same problem, as we reach more people,
add more people and minister to more people, we need more
leaders to help meet those needs. You can’t minister to 100 the
way you did to 50. You can’t minister to 200 the way you did to
100. We can’t minister to 300 the way we do to 200!
4. We need more deacons to help us facilitate more growth!
B. Deacons were needed because the Church was Dividing.
1. There was a "complaint" raised "against the Hebrews
[Jewish believers] by the Hellenists [Greek believers] because
their widows were neglected in the daily distribution."