Deacons are officers who serve the church body in practical ways. They care for the physical needs of the congregation so that pastors and elders may concentrate on spiritual needs. Deacons are not viewed as a governing body but as servant leaders. The term “deacon” is derived from the Greek word diakonos, which is usually translated “servant”. (Phil 1:1) Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.
The seven chosen in Acts 6 seem to be the prototype to this church office. (Acts 6:1-7) Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. 2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; 4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, 6 whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them. 7 Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.
Paul gives qualifications for deacons that include character traits that would be suitable for their service: (1 Tim 3:8-13) Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, 9 holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. 10 But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. 11 Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13 For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
Deacons are men called by God to serve in various capacities in the church, and so often they serve in the background with no need for recognition. Deacons prefer to take directions more than give them. Deacons today may be seen as ushers, distributing communion, counting tithes and offerings, opening and closing the church, involved in building maintenance, distributing benevolence to the poor and needy, and sharing in many other practical ways of service according to the needs of the church. Deacons exemplify the spirit of the teaching of Jesus: (Mark 9:35) . . . “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” Through their faithful and humble service deacons may expect much reward from the Lord! (Mat 6:4) . . . your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.