Monday, January 12, 2009

What is a Deacon? (part two)

Paul outlines the qualifications for those who desire to take leadership in the church through the office of deacon. More broadly applied these verses teach us qualities of an excellent servant and leader in the church. In verse eight we are taught four of these qualifications. He must be one with ‘dignity’. The office was more than custodial. The apostles said the first deacons were to be, “men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (Acts 6). So Paul requires that candidates must have honorable character. He must not be ‘double-tongued’. An excellent servant is one who demonstrates truthfulness. A gossip, slanderer, or rabble-rouser neither honors the Lord nor builds up the church. He must not be ‘addicted to much wine’. An excellent servant is unhindered by alcohol and his judgment is not be clouded. He must not be ‘fond of sordid gain’. Deacons' reputations should be marked by integrity and be found trustworthy as it concerns money.

In verse nine Paul says that he must be one who ‘holds to the mystery of faith with a clear conscience’. Deacons are not required to teach but they must have a thorough understanding of the gospel and live in such a way that is consistent with the gospel.

Then in verse ten Paul says that he must be ‘tested before serving’ and be ‘beyond reproach’. The candidate must have his character and service tested and observed before he is given the responsibility of office. An excellent servant in the church is one who proves himself a deacon before being given the title.

Verse eleven describes women who serve in the church- more on that in the next blog entry. Paul continues in verse twelve saying that he must be the ‘husband of only one wife’. As with pastors Paul is concerns with a man’s moral and sexual purity. He must be a ‘one women man’. We can dissect this a thousand ways but the bottom line is that his character and reputation must be marked by his faithfulness to his spouse. Finally, he must be a ‘good manager of his children and his own household’. Like pastors, deacons are to prove their spiritual leadership in their home first. If one does not lead by the Word of God at home how can he lead by the Word of God at church?

Paul closes this section of his letter by emphasizing the reward of excellent service, particularly for those who function as deacons. He receives “high standing” which means trust and appreciation from his fellow believers. He also receives “great confidence” which describes the joy in seeing the power of Christ at work in ministry. Finally Paul reminds Timothy of the responsibility of the church as a whole- not just pastors and deacons- to be a display of God’s glory.

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