1 Timothy 3:8-13
“Likewise, must the deacons be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. 11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. 12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13 For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
The idea of an “office” of a deacon is rooted more in Church tradition than a faithful translation of the Greek (diakoneitoesan, [dee-ak-on-eh’-o) which means “to be an attendant, i.e. wait upon (menially or as a host, friend, or figuratively teacher]; technically, to act as a Christian servant. What is more certain is that those who serve as deacons must meet certain Biblical qualifications.
A deacon must be grave. The word in the Greek, semnos, means to be honorable. The Church needs men of honor, men who are honest.
A deacon must not be double-tongued. The Greek word (dilogos) refers to a liar. Those who are known to lie, those who say different things to different persons on the same subject cannot be trusted.
A deacon must not be given to much wine (oinos). Even a happy drunk is unacceptable.
A deacon must not be greedy of filthy lucre or a lover of money. The heart of a deacon must be that to serve and give, not be selfish and take.
A deacon must be a man who is holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. Every deacon must maintain a good conscience and be able to demonstrate the mysterious power of faith. There must be grace under pressure. The loss of a job or the failure to get a promotion must not destroy a person’s faith in God.
A deacon must be a man who has first been examined and tested by Church leadership over a period of time. “Let them be proved.” The deacon must not be a new convert. Let every deacon first be tested and proved worthy of serving, and able to keep themselves from being lifted up in pride and falling in the same manner Satan did. Men must seek to hold a towel, not a title.
A deacon must be blameless. The Greek word (anengkletos) does not mean to be without any fault whatsoever, but it does mean to be “unreproveable”. A deacon must be free from evil and reproach.
A deacon is to be married to a woman that is able meet certain qualifications, which are four in number.
Four Qualifications for Wives of Deacons
First, the wife of a deacon must be grace, meaning honest and honorable.
Second, the wife of a deacon must not be a slanderer, a false accuser, or one who lashes out against others.
The Greek word is diabolos. A deacon’s wife must not be a little devil. Third, the wife of a deacon must be sober, (Greek: nephaleos), not drinkers of wine. Drunkenness has no place in the Christian church.
Fourth, the wife of a deacon must be faithful in all things. The wife of a deacon must be a woman the Church can trust to keep confidences, to handle resources properly, and not to become ambitious on behalf of her husband, advance herself, or him, above measure. The service of a deacon is that of humility, not self-promotion.
These qualifications apply to wives of bishops, deacons, deaconesses, and Christian women in general.
The assumption is that a deacon will be married. Whether or not a deacon must be a married man is not under consideration. What is certain is that a good man who would be a good deacon, in and of himself might become disqualified if his wife is disruptive within the Church.
A deacon must be the husband of one wife. This does not mean one wife at a time, in a series of marriages, but “one wife.” As God is faithful to His bride, the Church, those who lead (bishops, pastors, elders), and those who serve, are to reflect that Divine relationship of consistency and eternal faithfulness.
A deacon must be the recognized ruler of his own house.
It is possible for a good man in the congregation to never qualify as a deacon because his wife dominates the household, or the children are not under proper parental submission.
While a deacon may be recommended by the congregation, in the Church structure, every deacon is ultimately under the authority of the bishops (pastors, elders), and are to be officially appointed and ordained by elders.
As far as the number of deacons in a local congregation, the Scripture define no maximum number for elders or deacons. It does dictate a minimum number for elders – two.
When scripture speaks of the appointment of elders or of elders serving in a congregation, it is always in the plural. Paul left Titus in Crete to appoint elders (plural) in every city (Titus 1:5). Paul and Barnabas appointed elders (plural) in every church that they had established (Acts 14:23). Every church had elders (plural). Since in many places there would be one church in a city, when elders (plural) had been appointed in every city they had been appointed in every church. “Elder” is singular when it speaks of an individual who is an elder, or of the qualifications of an elder for each individual elder must meet specific qualifications.
How many elders should there then be? The minimum is set by scripture. The maximum is unspecified.
How many deacons should there be in a local congregation? The logical answer is that there should be as many deacons as is necessary to help the bishops (pastors, elders) take care of the flock.