The Church was in a season of tremendous growth and the Kingdom of God was expanding at an exponential rate. Things
were going well for the apostles and for all the saints there in Jerusalem. This passage reveals that not unlike our present-
day church there are natural matters that need attention and that need the wisdom of the Spirit to handle. The work of food
distribution within the covenant family apparently had become a daunting task. Thus, the advent of what we call ‘deacons.’ (
I Timothy 3:8-13)
Deacons, as we see in this passage, have the distinct task of handling physical matters such as food distribution and care
for those in need. This is a worthy work of love in Christ Jesus which is why the apostles were careful to prescribe certain
prerequisites for those who would be appointed as deacons; namely, they must be full of the Holy Spirit and be wise men.
(not gender specific)
You can see that there is an anointing needed for this office of deacon. That is what it means to be “full of the Holy Spirit.”
The anointing of the Holy Spirit enables someone to perform a God-given task that is greater than his natural strength or
capability. In fact, every work by the saints within the Church is above human capacity, be it the office of deacon or one of
the five ministry offices of Ephesians 4:11. We must have the God-factor working in us and through us in order to fulfill the
work to which we are called. The Holy Spirit is our success.
Notice the process of selecting deacons. This is important for us to understand. If we understand this, it will avoid what has
often been seen in the matter of deacon selection which is politicizing, jockeying for position, and congregational voting.
None of these is Scriptural. The apostles delegated to the saints the right to put forward the names of men who were
qualified. Then, they received the list of names and from the candidates they “appointed” the deacons. The final
appointment of deacons is a leadership function of Elders. (fivefold ministers) After prayer and prayerfully considering each
candidate the Spirit of God revealed to them who would stand in these sacred positions of Kingdom service. The choosing
was the work of God. How marvelous are the ways of God!
The office of Deacon is what I refer to as a ‘helps’ ministry. (Romans 12:3-8) The concept is simple – these men and women
help others in the church family. They feed the hungry, minister to widows and orphans, and serve in other ways to ease the
burdens of life. There is another aspect of their helping that is important, they help the Elders who lead the church by
serving in various capacities to ease their ‘natural’ burdens and enable these leaders to remain focused on ‘spiritual’
matters – prayer and the ministry of the Word. The ministry of helps is much like lubrication is to an engine; it makes things
One final thought. It is not a duty of a deacon to administer the sacred offerings given to God. They may be used to gather
the sacrifices from the saints and even to count the money; but to delegate to them the actual administration of what is holy
is not Scriptural. The shepherd of the flock (the one appointed by God as ‘first among equals’ among the Eldership)
administers these sacrifices before God at the altar. Jesus is the Head of the church and He instructs the shepherd
according to His word how the funds are to be apportioned.
This brief word of instruction adds insight into the structure of the local church. Jesus has not given to us the right to
develop our own system of local church government, so we look to the Scriptures and emulate those who have gone before
us who were led by the Holy Spirit. Things will go well for the church that does this.
“Then the twelve [apostles] summoned the multitude of the disciples
and said, ‘It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve
tables. Therefore brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation,
full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business, but
we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.’”
|The Work of the Deacon
By Bishop Randy Barnett