Please turn to 1 Timothy 3:8-13. In writing this letter, Paul was giving the Ephesian church God's vision for ministry in the local congregation as well as specific instructions that were to be followed by all churches. As a result, Paul addresses matters that are very practical yet spiritually significant as well. In verses 8-13, Paul describes the work of deacons and the moral character of deacons which he considers to be very important for the health and for the growth of a local congregation. As such, he addresses the job of deacons, the qualifications of deacons, and the reward of deacons in the local church. And while Paul does not describe the reason for deacons per se in this passage, the qualifications point to the job description and the job description points to the reason. Therefore, before discussing the job, qualifications, and reward of deacons, it is important to review what Scripture says about the reason for deacons.    

I. The Reason for Deacons. 

In addition to this letter from Paul, we are also given guidance from Luke in Acts 6:1-7 regarding the reason for deacons. In this passage, we read that the church was growing and very active in caring for people in need, especially widows. You remember that the godly Jewish people of old and the early Christians were very concerned about widows and orphans and those who were in need who were part of the believing community. They were deeply concerned to minister to them. And the Christian church in Jerusalem was apparently doing a pretty good job. However, a controversy arose. Specifically, in verse 1, Luke says, “a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food.” At God's leading, the apostles chose to appoint seven godly men to provide mercy ministry to those in need. The reason for this is because Christ's love needed to be tangibly manifested in the congregation. And the elders needed to devote themselves to the shepherding work of teaching and praying and leading the congregation in discipleship. So, the elders say to the people, “Here are the qualifications for the men that are going to lead in the mercy ministry in our congregation. Now you pick some men that meet those qualifications.” And so the apostles appointed those men as the first deacons of the church because Jesus told the disciples that their witness to the world would depend on the way that they tangibly loved and served one another. In the church today, the deacons’ work is to complement the elders’ ministry of the word and prayer, and the deacon is to lead in the local congregation's ministry of mercy to those who are in need in the local church. It is an office of service and deed, and it is an office that embodies Jesus’ example in ministry. 

II. The Job of Deacons. 

For Paul, the job description of a deacon is that of a man who wants to concretely and tangibly show the love of Christ in the body of Christ. The office of deacon is emphatically an office of service, not just in some generic sense, but really and specifically. The deacon is not out for power or prestige. He is a man who wants to serve; he wants to help when the people of God are hurting; and he wants to aid them. When the people of God are in need, he wants to comfort and assist them. He wants to make the Christian claims of love tangible. In other words, when a man approved by God is elected to the diaconate, his desire is to faithfully serve the flock in the ministry of mercy. Thus, in choosing deacons, we want men called by God who love serving the Lord's people in their time of need.

III. The Qualifications of Deacons. 

In verses 8-10, Paul says, “Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, but holding to the mystery of the faith with a conscience. And let these also be first tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach.” In verse 12, he says, “Let deacons be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and of their own households.” Notice that just like with the qualifications for elders in verses 1-7, Paul's list of qualifications for deacons is primarily moral. First, Paul says that deacons, just like elders, are to be good family spiritual leaders. It is vital that if they are going to spiritually serve the congregation that they know how to spiritually serve their own families. Next, Paul says that deacons are also to be tested before they are set apart for this particular work. Finally, a man must meet specific moral qualifications for the office of deacon. Specifically, the deacon is to have self-control in speech, in drink, and in the area of money. Paul wants deacons to be men of upstanding moral character. They need to be men of dignity, husbands of one wife, and good managers of their children and households. Again, Paul’s pattern is to point to fundamental godliness as the qualification for the office of deacon.

IV. The Reward of Deacons. 

In verse 13, Paul says, “For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and a great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.” Paul is saying that those who serve in the often quiet, behind the scenes work of deacons, will be rewarded with high standing. Though they may be last in the eyes of the world, they will hear “well done, my good and faithful servant” from the Lord Jesus Christ. And Paul goes on to say that they will have great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus. They will have great assurance and courage and boldness and freedom. And so as these deacons give themselves away in washing the feet of the brethren, in serving others in mercy ministry, they attain high standing and great confidence in the Lord. But deacons, my friends, are also an example to us, because the deacon does by duty what all of us ought to do by love. As believers, we are Christ's disciples. And so the work of the deacon, just like the work of the elder, is vital for the evangelistic witness of the church. As we love one another in this way, the world sees God's presence in our midst, and the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. May God apply the truth of His Word to our hearts and may we glorify Him with our lips and with our lives as we faithfully serve others.