Jesus: The First Deacon
Down through the years, what is required to be a Deacon has not changed; God’s word is clear on this. According to Pastor John Phillips, “one is called to the work by the Holy Spirit”. In other words, Godly men are handpicked by the Holy Spirit for leading the church. They literally minister to the needs of the church. Contrary to what it appears to be, Deacons actually follow their flocks. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “there go my people, I must follow them!” We smile at such imagery; however, this is exactly what a Deacon does. He follows and ministers to his flock - much the way Jesus does with us. Pastor Phillips said, “the word “minister” is a nautical word, literally meaning a rower on a ship, such as a galley slave; it refers to one serving in a subordinate capacity, somebody under orders.”1 In those days, rowers were beneath the floor of the main deck, in the very bowels of the ship – therefore they were the lowest of the low, “under-rowers” as it were. This relationship of humble servitude was first modeled to the men of the church by their very Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He made Himself lowly and unassuming. He might hardly ever have been noticed except that the very breath of God came from his mouth.
John Phillips Exploring Acts: An Expository Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1986), 117, 252.
The First Deacon
Jesus was the first Deacon. He set an example not only for the apostles, but for Deacons, and Christians down through the ages to follow. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). Not so with you; instead the one who is greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the one who serves [diakoneo] (Luke 22:26 NET). The Greek word “diakoneo” means “to serve, or to minister”. The root of this word ‘diakonos’is used of a servant or a table-waiter.  “It is in this light that we are to see Christ’s insistence that His coming was in order to minister (Mk 10:45): significantly this claim is set in Lk 22:26f in the context of table - service."1 Oh the irony! The Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah, Creator of the universe, a table-waiter of His people!”
I.H. Marshall, A.R. Millard, J.I. Packer, and D.J. Wiseman New Bible Dictionary Third Ed. (Downers Grove Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1996), 261,262
Deacons are to be:
- Of Honest Good Report (Acts 6:3): someone who modeled honest, good behavior, and who had a good reputation that members of the church could look up to and emulate; Someone like Jesus. Someone they could trust. He would be able to demonstrate love and the ability to control himself. He was essentially to be a “good man”.
- Full of the Holy ghost (Acts 6:3): Deacons of the Church could be as honest as the day was long, but if they were not guided by the Holy Spirit it would come to naught. These men would have to devote themselves to prayers and seek the will of God as ministered unto them by the Holy Spirit. Only by making sure they were being guided by the Holy Spirit could they be sure that they were not being governed by their own wishful thinking. Wise men often seek the guidance of Godly others in important matter. They diligently read God’s holy Word to make sure what they were doing lines up with God’s divine guidance, seeing God involved in the very arrangement of their circumstances. These men were also known to have the fruits of the Spirit in their hearts; they were loving, kind, gentle, and faithful.
- Full of Wisdom (Acts 6:3). These men seek no controversy. They are peaceful and patient, and members of the church believe that they are in good hands with them, that things can be worked through.
The Good, the Bad and the Snarling Beast
When the church has a good and Godly man at the helm, it’s evident to all. Should such a man fall from grace, parishioners can often feel betrayed even if they do not know him personally. Many churches have been torn apart when good men fell.
When a Deacon is unable to minister to his flock when they are in crisis, or when they disagree with one another in principle and are unable to negotiate their way through the conflict, a Deacon can watch helplessly while his church is torn apart. Nothing less than ceaseless prayer may be required to save such a church.
In a sermon about “ministering”, Pastor C.H. Spurgeon said, “Where brotherly love continues, and saints walk in holy unity, the witness they bear is powerful, and the increase they gather is palpable.” Further, he says, “they [must] walk together…bear each other’s burdens….united as one man, first to Christ, and then to one another3”, he implores, “keep together brethren, keep close to Christ; close up your ranks.3” For the enemy waits, fangs bared, restlessly pacing, waiting, calculating, watching for an opportunity to destroy us. We are all called to be deacons to some degree. Let us minister to one another. Let us keep together, close up ranks, and pray for those who minister to us, that we may all be preserved unto the day that Christ returns to claim His bride, and wrap up history.
Spurgeon, C. "Good Earnests of Great Success by C. H. Spurgeon." Blue Letter Bible. Last Modified 18 Apr, 2001. https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/spurgeon_charles/sermons/0802.cfm Paragraphs 1, 3, 4
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© 2019 Susan Grove