Tuesday, 12 December 2017
Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, 1 Timothy 3:8
Paul now turns from the position of overseer (aka elder, lead pastor, etc.) to that of the deacon. The requirements for a deacon are likewise set in Scripture to ensure that only qualified men are ordained to such a position. The Greek term is diakonos, coming from two words which indicate “through” and “dust.” Thus, this is a subordinate position to the overseer. The deacon will carry out the necessary tasks which will assist the overseer. He will scurry through the dust, kicking it up as he goes, assisting in whatever manner he can in order to ensure the effective working of the church. In the gospels, the word is translated as “servant.”
At a very early time in the church, deacons were selected to meet the needs of the church. The selection of seven men to assist the apostles is recorded in Acts 6:1-7. Thus, the office of deacon within the church goes back to its very inception. The position is then noted at various times in Paul’s writings. His words help define some of the things that deacons were to do. Here in Timothy, he defines the character they are to possess, beginning with the note that they must be “reverent.” The word signifies that which is honorable, or which bears dignity. HELPS Word Studies says that it indicates, “deeply respected because viewed as majestic (having gravity).”
Next he notes that deacons should not be “double-tongued.” It is a word used only here in the New Testament. It carries the same meaning as “forked tongued” does today. It is a person who is deceitful because he says one thing at one time, and then says another. It is literally “two-sayings.” When a person is noted as such, he will take different sides of the same issue whenever it is convenient. Such should never be the case. When dealing with the word of God, we are to stand on it without equivocation or manipulation. The same is true when dealing with others at all times.
After this he notes that they should not be “given to much wine.” The words obviously speak of someone who drinks too much; a drunkard. It is sad that not being “given to much wine” has been manipulated by many scholars to mean “total abstinence.” Such is not to be inferred from the words, and it is wholly inappropriate to the entire tenor of both Scripture and the verse itself. Even a clumsy study of the word of God will reveal that the prohibition of alcohol is found in only two specific instances in Scripture, both in the Old Testament, and neither having any bearing on New Testament theology. Obviously, one “given to much wine” is wholly unsuited to serve in a leadership position, either in the church or in society at large. It is a state which is harmful to an individual, and it can only be harmful to the ministry if someone with such a proclivity is installed as a deacon.
Paul’s words of this verse finish with, “not greedy for money.” This has already been said of the position of overseer in verse 3 (at least in some texts). Those greedy for money have their priorities in the wrong place. If money is the objective in one’s life, then they will never be effective in the ministry. The heart must be devoted first, foremost, and with the greatest zeal to being an effective helper, not one concerned about getting rich off of the flock.
Life application: When a church is big enough to select men as deacons, they should be well-known already, carefully evaluated for the greater responsibilities, and not set on pedestals in the church. Each has a position which is to be filled, and none should be exalted over another. If the overseer is leading through hard work and dedication, how much more should those who are appointed to help him do so as well.
Thank You, O God, for those who help out at our churches, filling in with the meeting of many needs to ensure the church runs properly, and effectively meeting the needs of the people, while bringing glory to You. May our leaders and deacons be blessed with a special blessing as they conduct their tasks. And help them to closely stick to the tasks and requirements for their offices as laid out in Your word. May our times of gathering be times of blessing upon all through the work of their hands. Amen.