Deacon Topical Study

Preaching and Worship Resources about Deacon

Different denominations and traditions today use the word "deacon" in varying ways and to refer to varying offices in the church. In general, however, the function of the deacon is associated with the distribution of offerings as part of the church's broader ministry to the poor and needy, both within a given congregation and in the wider community. Many see the office of deacon as originating in Acts 6 when the apostles said they could not "wait on tables" (the Greek verb "diakonein") as this work was taking time away from their primary ministry of prayer and preaching. Thus, seven people were appointed — the most famous being Stephen, who was soon martyred for the faith — to carry out the practical ministries of caring for widows and the poor. After Acts 6 the words "deacon" and "deaconess" occur only six more times in the New Testament, four of which are in 1 Timothy 3, where Paul gives instructions to Timothy on the qualifications for the office of deacon. Over time, many churches developed the diaconate as a primary office in the church alongside of elders and pastors. Outside specific church settings in the ancient world, a deacon was a slave or a servant who served by taking care of the details of meals and hospitality and performing any number of other practical household chores.

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Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.