The office of Deacon in the Christian church is one that is anchored in servanthood. “References have been found in extra biblical writings where the Greek word “deacon” meant “waiter,” “servant,” “steward,” or “messenger.”1 Therefore the qualifications to be addressed are for one that is to be a lead servant in the body of Christ. The qualifications according to the Holy Bible and to Dr. Willmingon are nine fold. Caution should be exercised in these qualifications because a deeper and sensitive subject of gender that will be uncovered. For the sake of this discussion addressing that five separate roles in the church, those being Pastor, Elder, Deacon, Member, and Attendee are of importance. This discussion will be addressing the third role, Deacon, and directly what the Bible and scholars say on the issue.
Dr. Willmingon states that there are nine qualifications listed in 1 Timothy chapter 3 for the office of Deacon. The assumption should be made that the Holy Bible and Dr. Willmington are directing leadership roles and not the ability to serve the church body. Every believer regardless of these listed qualifications is to use the spiritual gifts endowed to them to build the church. Romans 3:23, states that “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”(NIV), therefore Christians have histories and testimonies but should be giving time to the church in servitude.
These nine qualifications are as follows:2
- He must be a man of dignity
- He must not be double minded
- He must not be given to wine
- He must be no lover of money
- He must possess a pure conscience
- He must not be a novice
- If married, he must be the husband of a godly wife
- He must be the husband of one wife
- He must rule his own house well
Notable in these qualifications is the use of the male pronoun and based on the Bible and Dr. Willmington research the office of deacon should be held by a male according to Genesis 2, man was first formed, then woman from the man. Additionally, scripture exists in Ephesians 5:22, 1 Corinthians 11 that supports the God ordained order in the church.3
A deacon must be a man of dignity meaning to carry himself as a man to be respected and viewed a man to be followed by evidence of Godly living. He must not be double-tongued, therefore not a liar or deceiver; a man that lets his yes be yes and no be no. He must not be given to wine; not addicted or placing alcohol before anything in life. He must understand the stewardship of finance and be appreciative of the gifts of all monies from the Father. A deacon must be of pure conscience doing all things for the glory of the Father, not out of selfish ambition. Humility rather than pride should be a mainstay in a deacon’s presence. A deacon should be experienced to handle the Word of God and be able to teach and apply the doctrines of our faith to others. Fruit in ministry should be available as a proof of this use of knowledge. A deacon could be married or single but if married his wife should also be of Godly character. If a man is not a leader to his own wife he should not be a leader to others. A deacon should not be united with any other woman but his wife; a divorced man could serve as a deacon as long as repentance is evident in his walk. Finally, a deacon must be able to lead his household well. The proof of his ability to lead in the house of God would be evidence of managing his own affairs with excellence.
Deacons should be chosen with prayer and discernment as was revealed in the choosing of the first deacons in Acts chapter 6. Godly order in a church is paramount to the growth of the church. The church is blessed to have these God ordained requirements put forth in 1 Timothy as a guide and mandate to order in His church.
Harold L. Willmington (2011). Great Truths from God's Word. Forest, Va:Bible Network Institute.