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Public Reading of the Text: Acts 6:1-7

Title of Sermon / Textual Idea: Why a Deacon? / The New Testament church was growing rapidly and
chose seven special men to serve in the very unique office of deacon to allow the church to continue to grow
and reach the lost to God’s glory.
Dominating Theme: Deacons are servants that serve to glorify God.
Introduction / Burden: Tonight is a special night for these men, their families and for our church. Last week,
we as a church, and by way of a congregational vote, affirmed the calling of these men for the office of deacon.
Having witnessed their lives over a period of time and recognized their spiritual qualifications. Now
traditionally the church, more specifically the Southern Baptist church has recognized that there are two Biblical
offices in the New Testament church: Elder / Bishop / Overseer / Shepherd / Pastor and Deacon. Now the
Elders are the ministers of the Gospel that are appointed in the church for the ministry of the Word. And the
deacons are the ministers in the church appointed for the ministry of service. We hear both offices used
together in Philippians 1:1, “Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ
Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons”.
Now in the New Testament we can find the spiritual qualifications for the office of deacon in1 Timothy
3:8-13. We can be sure of that because the Apostle Paul used that very word in that passage, “διακονους”, a
word that is not translated in our Bibles, but rather transliterated right into English. Since the English word
deacon doesn’t really mean anything, we have to determine what the Greek word means in this context. Well
there are a few variations of this same word in our New Testaments that essentially all mean the same thing;
service, or ministry. Now originally it is thought that the word was used to describe “waiters”, or those that
served tables, but ultimately it came to be used to describe any kind of service. And so the title deacon means
simply, one called to serve others. And when we look closely at the spiritual qualifications found in the
Timothy passage we find out right away that they are almost identical to those of a Bishop, or Pastor, with the
exception of a few things, specifically the ability to be, “apt to teach”. According to Paul in 1 Timothy 3:8-13,
“Likewise must the deacons be grave (dignity), not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of
filthy lucre (fond of sordid gain); Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also
first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be
grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their
children and their own houses well. For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to
themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus”. And so though they are
called to a high standard of Christian witness, as we all are really, they are called to that position in order to
serve the body of Christ. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 23:11, “But he that is greatest among you
shall be your servant”.
Now you might be thinking, “I thought we were all called to serve just like Jesus”. Well, yes we are,
just as Matthew 20:26-28 states, “But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you,
let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son
of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many”. But a deacon
is one that is set apart by God to do a special work of service in the body to aid the ministry of the word, and
specifically the minister of the Word, the Pastor. And tonight we are merely recognizing God’s choice and
affirming as a congregation that we will support and pray for these men as the seek to serve us in a spiritual
capacity. And tonight we are going to look at another passage in the New Testament, that does not specifically
use the word deacon, nor give the official description of a deacon’s duties, but one that does embody the
ministry that God has called every ordained deacon to.
Interrogative: What does this passage say about deacons?

Transition: This passage reveals three reasons why deacons serve.

The Purpose Bridge: To challenge the new deacons to serve according to the Bible’s guidelines and to
challenge the church to support and submit to that service.
Point # 1
Division Title: For His Glory
Text: Acts 6:1-2, “And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a
murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily
ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that
we should leave the word of God, and serve tables”.

Explanation: First and foremost you men are here to the glory of God. What I mean is that you have come
forward and accepted this call and look forward to serving to the glory of God. God is always glorified, or seen
as manifestly holy when the church is doing what the church is supposed to do and when men are serving in her.
And God is always glorified by the godly service of Christian men. Think of what Jesus said in the Sermon on
the Mount in reference to your service as deacons, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your
good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven”. You see Jesus said that Christians are the “light of
the world”, and as such when the world sees us love one another and serve one another they see Jesus and in
that He is glorified. For Jesus the work of the cross was first and foremost a work of glory to God as He said in
John 17:4, “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do”. And for
the believer that fulfills God’s perfect will in their lives by obediently answering the call when it comes, then
we too glorify God on earth.
Let’s go back to that first verse for just a minute. You might ask, “What is the biblical job description
for a deacon”? And that’s a good question, but one that can be difficult to answer for many deacons, but not
one that is difficult to answer if we just look at the text of the Bible. Jesus talked about “letting your light
shine”, and that seems somewhat universal, but that’s ok because so is the biblical job description for a deacon;
serve others. This passage in Acts lays the foundation for the office of deacon and does give us a little more
insight into what they are to be doing in the church today.
1. They were called to meet the demands of a growing church, “And in those days, when the
number of the disciples was multiplied”. Praise God the church was growing and alive! And when the
church grows, changes have to be made to meet the needs of the ministry. God always equips each and
every church with what they need and who they need to do His kingdom work and this church was well
aware of that fact.
2. They were called to meet the demands of a groaning church, “there arose a murmuring of the
Grecians against the Hebrews”. But with growth often comes strife and differences and struggles; the
early church was no exception, but notice how God’s plan was a plan to bring unity to the church. And
so a chief reason for deacons is to bring unity to body. This early church was struggling because there
were many Hellenistic or Greek Christians joining with the ranks of the Palestinian Christians and it
seems that their widows were not being ministered to like the Hebrew widows. Historians tell us that
the Jewish people had a strong commitment to meeting the needs of the widows and the poor and the
needy and that commitment was based upon the Old Testament.
3. They were called to meet the demands of a giving church, “because their widows were neglected
in the daily ministration”. The early Christians kept up that tradition of feeding and serving the
widows, but some were being neglected. William Barclay tells us that every Friday morning in the
synagogue two collectors went to the market and homes to collect money and goods to give to the poor
and needy. Some got temporary support and others got long term support called the “Kuppah” or
Basket.
As a Deacon your ministry will be to these people first and foremost. As we grow as a church you will be
called upon to serve those new families that come into your care. At the same time your ministry will be one of
unity to combat the groanings that sometimes associate that growth. To do this you will have to stay on top of
those families and their needs. That will require you to make relationships with them that allow you to know
their needs. And finally as a Deacon your ministry will be one of giving; giving of time, prayer, support,
counsel, and distribution so that we as a church might closely follow God’s instructions to serve the body.
Point # 2
Division Title: For the Gospel
Text: Acts 6:4-7, “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the
saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and
Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: Whom
they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. And the word of God
increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the
priests were obedient to the faith”.

Explanation: The church exists to glorify God and to spread the glory of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Therefore the second purpose for the Deacon ministry is for the propagation of the Gospel. If you notice the
church was growing, but it was growing by the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And the Deacons were
appointed because those tasks slowed that work and hindered the Bishops / Pastors from what the Bible calls the
“ministry of the word”. Now if we look at verse 3, “Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men
of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business”, we can find
the place that many people confuse the biblical role of the Deacon. The Apostles appointed the Deacons to care
for the “business” of the church right? And what was that business? It was the daily ministration that they did
not have the time to do; it was the serving of the tables of the widows. The Greek word used in that passage for
“business” is interesting, in 49 New Testament uses, only once is it translated business, for the word itself
means “need, or necessity”. And so the Deacons were called to do the business of meeting the needs of the
church from the very start. But that is crucial to the preaching of the Gospel. For as a result of the choice of
these men, and their appointment to this office, “the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples
multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith”.

1. Their ministry met the needs of the Gospel preachers, “But we will give ourselves continually to
prayer, and to the ministry of the word”. There is a reason why the qualifications that we looked at in
Timothy are almost identical to those of an Elder or Pastor, it is because the Deacons are called to aid
him and minister to him in these areas, that he might be free to preach the Gospel and minister himself.

2. Their ministry met the needs of the Gospel hearers, “And the saying pleased the whole
multitude”. They were happy that God had a plan to meet these needs, and that these people would not
go un-served. But notice what happened next, it was the church that actually elected these men and that
is exactly why we did that very thing last Sunday night. Tonight as we ordain these men, we are merely
setting them apart symbolically for something that God has already gifted and qualified them for in the
past.

As Deacon your ministry will be one that supports the Pastor in the gospel ministry and supports the people in
the overall ministry of the church. This is not merely physical service, but spiritual service as well for the text
is clear that as Deacons you must be qualified spiritually. Not only that you have each been given spiritual gifts
by God at salvation that are still to be used in the overall work of this church. At times you will likely be asked
to give spiritual counsel as your qualifications require you be able to do, “Holding the mystery of the faith in a
pure conscience”.
Your duties can be found in two categories; Practical and Spiritual. Practically the Deacon will support the
work of the Pastor and staff. He will faithfully attend worship services, Sunday school, discipleship training,
outreach events, and special ministry events. He will show a consistent commitment to Biblical stewardship of
all things, including finances, time and talents. And finally he will faithfully attend Deacon Meetings and
events. Spiritually he will minister to those families in his watch care through visitation of the sick and
grieving. Through a constant obedience to the Great Commission expressed in personal evangelism, and to help
lead the church to fulfill it’s mission.
Point # 3
Division Title: For Our Good
Text: Acts 6:3, “Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy
Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business”.

Explanation: As a church we receive the benefits of the office of Deacon in many ways. As we can see in the
text, these men are appointed by God to aid in our own lives, to help us through and to lead us spiritually
towards Christ likeness. In that sense we can see that the ministry of the Deacons is for our own good. As such
we are all called upon to pray for them, to support them, and to aid them in any manner we can. And from time
to time when hard decisions are made you are called to follow their lead and to encourage them as fellow
believers in Christ. Every deacon holds two buckets when he faces a problem, one is filled with water and one
with gasoline, which ever he chooses to use will decide the outcome and the impact on the health of the church.
Biblical deacons must choose water, and Christians must ever urge them to use the other.

Vows for Deacon


Question: Brother, you have been elected by the vote of this church, to serve in the office of Deacon. Will you
accept this great honor and responsibility and strive to fill the position of Deacon? Will you seek to promote the
interest of this church, assist the Pastor in all things whenever you can do so, and look out for the poor and
needy of the church, seeing that none can suffer if it be in your power and abilities?
Answer: I will, the Lord being my Helper.

Question: Will you affirm your allegiance to Christ, the church and the Scriptures?
Answer: I will, the Lord being my Helper.

Question: Will you promise to faithfully perform the duties of service required by this office?
Answer: I will, the Lord being my Helper.

Question: Will you promise to do all that you can to bring harmony and unity to this body at all times?
Answer: I will, the Lord being my Helper.

Vows for Church


Question: Will you, members of this church, acknowledge and affirm this brother as a deacon?
Answer: We will, the Lord being my Helper.

Charge to Deacons:
I now charge you, in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, that you ever strive to fill
your office to the best of your knowledge, and that you will seek divine guidance in all your work.