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Archive for the ‘Deacons’ Category

Acts on Deacons

Allow me to continue the history lesson from Acts, which paints a picture, telling how unified and selfless the Church was. As a result of miracles and the example of the Church, multitudes of men and women were added to the number of believers.  This number, we learn in chapter 6, continued to include not only Hebrews, but also Grecians.  Acts 6:1 says, “And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.” The Church was experiencing growing pains.  While caring for the poor and widows (let me ask for a moment when was the last time you gave food to a widow?), the apostles were overwhelmed.  They weren’t overwhelmed by scarcity of resources, or by where to find more needy people. There was plenty of food (because the believers shared their property, even selling off land, as anyone had need) and plenty of widows.  What the Church needed was a responsible group of men who could make sure the food connected to those in need.  The apostles were not commissioned distribute food, but to distribute the word of God.

Responding to changing dynamics in the Church, the apostles (Church leadership at the time) called a Church-wide meeting of the “multitude of the disciples” and asked for nominations of men to serve tables.  They asked for seven men of honest report (they would be handling valuable resources), full of the Holy Ghost, and of wisdom.

I never had a job as a waitress, but I wonder if any waiter since applied for a job required to have the qualifications of being full of the Holy Spirit and of wisdom.  Clearly, this was an important spiritual position as well. The Church had high standards for those representing it, as Paul would expound in his letters to Timothy and Titus.  Such men were available to be found as well.  The multitude chose seven men, two of whom at least were involved in other ministries. How were these men trained?  They weren’t. Their ministry was to be the least, to wait on the believers and serve food.  But they were commissioned with the same earnestness as Paul when he was sent on his massive missionary journeys: “When they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.” Thus were deacons first ordained.  (Though the title is not used in the passage, the word “deacon” is a derivative of the word for “ministry” or “service”, the activity the seven men were doing.)

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