Special Servants: Deacons
The early church wasmade up of members who had some very important responsibilities (just as Christians today have). These members worshipped God faithfully, taught non-believers about Jesus, and took care of the daily needs of the poor Christians. The work that God was doing through the saints in Jerusalem and in other places caused the church to grow rapidly.
As the early Christians gave food to the needy, they overlooked one group. There were some widows who were not being given food. When this problem was brought to the apostles’ attention, they called a meeting of all the Christians to decide how the situation could be resolved.
At the meeting, the apostles told the people that it was not good for the inspired apostles to stop teaching the Gospel in order to serve food. So, the apostles instructed the congregation to select seven special men who could be put in charge of serving the widows. The selected men had to have a good reputation, and be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. Many believe that these men were the first deacons.
The congregation selected Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas. The work of these men solved the problem of the widows needing assistance, and helped the church to grow. We don’t read much else about these servants, except for Stephen and Philip. Stephen became the first Christian martyr whose death is recorded in Acts 7:54-60, and Philip had the honor of teaching the Gospel to the Samaritans and to the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8).
The elders of a congregation of the church often assign deacons to do special jobs for the benefit of the other members of the church. The deacons’ tasks are important, even though they might go unnoticed. Paul gave the specific qualifications for the deacon’s office in 1 Timothy 3:8-13. So when churches think of appointing deacons, they must make sure that the potential deacons fulfill all of the qualifications mentioned in the Bible.
Whether deacons are keeping the church’s facilities in order, assisting the needy, teaching Bible classes, or taking care of the Lord’s money given by the church, their work is important (1 Timothy 3:13). They are God’s special servants—special because the elders have given them important, specific assignments.
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