The Preaching Of A Deacon
Book of Acts Chapters 6-7
The word “deacon” from the Greek word “diakonos” means “minister” or “servant”.
“whosoever will be great among you let him be your minister”
Again Jesus said:
“If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all and servant of all”
Jesus said these that choose to serve can be my deacons.
The Church has adopted the office of “Deacon” and this office originates from the passage we will study today. It was the “deacon” that allowed the Apostles to devote their time to “prayer” and “the ministry” that the Lord Jesus had given to them.
We should see that the office of “Deacon” is to be inferior to and assisting to the Pastor, the Elder of a Church. It is the function of the Pastor, the Elder, to preach and to teach the congregation and the function of the deacon to assist to and to see that the material needs of the congregation are cared for.
Another thing we should see is that the Church does not tell the Pastor what to do and the Pastor does not tell the Church what to do they must both work together to find the will of God for everyone BUT the Pastor must be the leader of that local assembly.
The qualifications of the “deacon” are given in 1Timothy:
1Ti 3:8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
1Ti 3:9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
1Ti 3:10 And “let these also first be proved”; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.
1Ti 3:11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
1Ti 3:12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
1Ti 3:13 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 Church as the “Body Of Christ” is a living organism and compared in scripture with the human body BUT the head of the Church must always remain “Jesus Christ”!
It is the Pastor, the Elder that is to feed the flock until the Chief Shepherd reappears.
1Pe 5:1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
1Pe 5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
1Pe 5:3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
1Pe 5:4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
God is a God of order so there should never be changes in God’s Church nor God’s Word!
Oh, and when we see those words “not given to much wine” it means that these men have been proved to be in “absolute denial of the use of wine”, just as the Elder!
There is no place for alcoholic beverage in the House of God and this includes wine!
Pro 23:29 Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes?
Pro 23:30 They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.
Pro 23:31 [Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright].
Pro 23:32 At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.
If we are not even to look upon wine, then we surely are not to drink of it!
*****Act 6:1 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.
We might ask ourselves when were “those days”?
The last verse in Chapter 5 tells us the answer:
Act 5:42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
It is the preaching of Jesus Christ that had allowed the Church to grow!
We know that the first church had grown from 120 when 3000 were added and now 5000 more were added and we know that more were added daily.
The church had been at one time, all in one accord but there had been some defection from this. Ananias and Sapphira had tried to deceive the Church and this was handled by the Holy Spirit, God Himself.
Now we see the Church experiencing growing pains!
What is murmuring? Murmuring is complaining. Murmuring is grumbling. Murmuring is sinful.
In Chapter 4 we found that some of these local Jews had sold their possessions and had given the proceeds to the Apostles to distribute to all those that had need:
Act 4:34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold
them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
Act 4:35 And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
But as always we find that there were some that were being neglected and not always purposely.
These Grecians were not Greeks nor Gentiles but rather Jews who had been raised outside of Palestine and spoke the Greek language.
These Hebrews were Jews of Palestine and they held themselves superior to these foreign Jews.
This murmuring did not come from among these widows but because of them!
It was probably because the Hebrew followers that had been assigned to distribute to the needy, and these widows from outside of Jerusalem could very well have been overlooked.
So we see the early church was not free of hypocrites and they were not always clear of feuds and contentions.
This is how Satan gets into the Church to try to gain a foothold!
The Apostles wisely began a process to deal with these things.
We should see that when the Church faces a serious problem it is a time to come together and not to grow apart.
The Pastor and the members must seek solutions.
It is not time to divide as this only allows Satan to win!
We must regularly examine the ministries of our Churches to see if they are according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and meeting the needs in our lives and every members life.
*****Act 6:2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we
should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
Act 6:3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
Act 6:4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
The Apostles accepted that they were to blame. They had not only tried to be obedient to the Word of God and to meet the spiritual needs but they had tried to meet the day by day physical needs of the flock.
They realized that they could not do both!
They could not allow the preaching of the Word of God and the needed ministry of prayer to suffer or the Church would suffer!
The words “ministration” and “serve” are where we get the word “deacon”. The men that are chosen at this time are not called deacons at this time but the office of “deacon” came from this activity of the early church.
Every Church needs qualified leaders to handle some of the things of the Church so the Pastors can devote more of their time to the study and the presenting of God’s Word and to prayer.
These seven that were chosen did also engage themselves in spiritual and worldly needs of the members.
The Church was instructed to search out these that met certain qualifications and then it was the Apostles that appointed them and gave them direction.
This is basically the same approach we use here at Gethsemane!
*****Act 6:5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:
We should notice that all seven of these men had Greek names. This indicates that they would serve the Hellenist of the early Church or those that came from places other than Jerusalem which had been neglected.
One man Nicolas was a proselyte and was probably the only Gentile among these seven and there was probably a particular reason that he was chosen.
A proselyte was a Gentile who had been converted to Judaism and now Nicolas was a Born Again Christian.
Of these seven only Stephen and Philip are mentioned elsewhere in scripture but this does not mean these others did not serve their purpose.
Stephen was destined to become the first Christian martyr unless we include John the Baptist and it is “OK” to include him as he certainly knew who his Savior was!
We also will find that Philip became a great and powerful Evangelist and “tradition” says that the other five did also.
*****Act 6:6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
Again we can see that any problem in the Church can be solved when the congregation can come together!
The next thing we should see is that there is no great mystery in the “laying on of the hands”!
This the first time that the “laying on of the hands” was used in the early church.
There is “no great transfer of spiritual power” through the “laying on of hands” this was a “symbolic” gesture only!
In fact it was more “a symbolic sign of prayer” that God would provide these men with the necessary gifts they would need to perform these duties.
These men had already been filled with the Holy Ghost when they were saved as noted in [verse 3].
So what is this meaning?
In the Book of Leviticus, the sinner would place his hand on the animal to be sacrificed. This meant that this animal was to be sacrificed in their place.
When these Apostles put their hands on the heads of these that would be deacons it meant that these men would be partners with them in the ministry of the Church.
This method of ordination is still used in most churches today and most Pastors go through this ordination.
It meant that these men had been set aside for this office of the early Church!
This was a social service within the assembly in Jerusalem.
This church tried to meet the needs of it’s own members and every house of God should use this as an example.
*****Act 6:7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
I believe we can see that there were still many sincere and godly priests in Jerusalem at this time and by witnessing that the veil had been rent, and the conversion of Nicodemus, the lame man, and many other signs and wonders and they would be well aware of the teachings of Jesus.
With the truth of the resurrection of Christ Jesus they began to understand the Word of God they had been so zealous for.
These were once the true descendants of Levi but now had turned to the Lord.
It could be said that it was the preaching of Stephen, as we will find out in verse 14, that caused more an more of these Jewish priest to convert from Judaism to Christianity. If so, then we can also see how this caused such turmoil with Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin court.
These actions by the early church allowed the Word of God to increase and the Church to grow.
Church growth cannot and should not always be measured by numbers, this Church in Jerusalem was also growing “Spiritually”!
It is sad that the world does not see this spirit of harmony in our places of worship today and to be honest there is much to much turmoil even in our Baptist Churches to the point where many are ashamed to call them selves Baptist.
I consider myself “a Christian first” and then I attend this Baptist Church here at Gethsemane because I believe the “Apostle’s Doctrine” is followed here. If that changes then I will seek one that teaches the “Apostle’s Doctrine” in some other place and could even be some other denomination.
I love our church here and we must strive to always be in harmony and for the most part we are.
Being “obedient to the faith” means “faith in the work of Jesus Christ Our Savior”!
Php 1:27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or
else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the
faith of the gospel;
Php 1:28 And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.
*****Act 6:8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.
Stephen is the first preacher/teacher who was not an apostle whose work is mentioned.
Stephen not only did the work of a servant but he sought diligently to lead people to Christ Jesus. We can see that God truly did give Stephen some powers.
God used Stephen to bear witness to the religious leaders of Israel and it is after this time of Stephen that the “gospel” began to spread to the Samaritans.
*****Act 6:9 Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.
These Libertines were “freedmen” who were formerly slaves of Rome and had been freed by their masters.
All of these groups were Jewish immigrants to Jerusalem from other lands.
It is said in research that there were a great number of synagogues in Jerusalem that were for the use of foreign Jews who were visiting.
The Cyrenians were from upper Libya.
The Alexandrians of Egypt probably made up the largest group of these foreign Jews.
Those of Cilicia in Asia Minor would include Saul of Tarsus and those from Asia would be of Asia Minor near the Aegean Sea.
All these were very legalistic and very zealous of the Mosaic traditions, especially involving the Temple worship!
*****Act 6:10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.
None of these including Saul, could match or resist Stephen’s wisdom and power!
Jesus had promised this:
Luk 21:15 For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.
These groups could only see one alternative, they knew they would have to destroy Stephen!
*****Act 6:11 Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.
Most of these Jews were wealthy and they had no problem using their wealth to bribe some false witnesses.
That word “suborned” actually means to employ type of “secret agent” to take one of their place, and to instigate or secretly instruct him on what to say in a court of law.
And we just thought that secret agents were a modern thing.
*****Act 6:12 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught
him, and brought him to the council,
Act 6:13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:
This is similar to the way the Jewish leaders had treated Jesus.
These Jews were jealous over their law and did not want to believe that Christ Jesus had come to fulfill those laws!
They were extremely proud of the Temple that Herod had restored and refused to believe that God would allow it to be destroyed.
This verse is not part of our lesson today but let’s look anyhow:
Act 7:42 [Then God turned, and gave them up to worship] the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness?
These Jews along with the world we live in now and certainly including America do not believe that God will give them up to worship as they please but they are wrong!
America is trying to remove the one true God from everything and from everywhere, trying to boot Him out of this nation!
This verse says that God will just allow a people such as these to worship as they wish.
When this happens Satan takes control and evil abounds throughout the land. We see this happening before our very eyes just as it happened in Israel:
Amo 5:27 Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the LORD, whose name is The God of hosts.
and it is happening in America and everywhere where Christ Jesus is rejected:
Rom 1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves:
Rom 1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
and we know that God has a purpose for everything He does:
Rom 9:11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)
And we also have no right to question anything that God does or has done or what He allows to be done:
Rom 9:20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
Rom 9:21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
Rom 9:22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
We must only believe:
Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Jesus preached that it was His body that is the Temple of God, and these Jews had indeed destroyed that Temple!
These Jews were not about to allow Jesus into their false religious beliefs!
Jesus had also warned them that their physical Temple would also be destroyed and that happened in just a few short years in 70 AD.
As I have already pointed out, the enemies of Jesus Christ will continue to attempt to undermine the Christian faith, by using distortions of the Word of God.
They cannot use facts because all true facts of Scripture, all true science and all true history supports biblical Christianity!
*****Act 6:14 For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.
This enemy of the Church came upon Stephen suddenly and arrested Him while he was preaching.
They took Stephen before the same court that had tried Jesus.
They took him before the same court that had tried to stop Peter and John.
*****Act 6:15 And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.
They saw something marvelous in his face. This man came closer to being an angel than any man before him.
It was not even necessary for Stephen to speak because the glow of his face told everyone on this council that this was a true servant of God!
These Jews knew all about the shining face of Moses. Stephen was not against Moses because he was like Moses and God was pointing that out to them!
*****Act 7:54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.
Stephen had just reviewed the entire history of Israel along with the contributions made by the honored patriarchs.
Stephen had proved with their own scriptures that the Jewish nation was guilty of worse sins than those they had accused him of committing.
They had not understood their spiritual roots.
They had rejected the prophets sent from God.
They had disobeyed their own laws and made up some new laws that they honored even more than God’s laws.
They were stubbornly resisting their God and His truth!
There was a reason that Jesus had come at this time:
Gal 4:4 But when “the fulness of the time” was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
I believe the answer is also given to us:
Eph 1:10 That “in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ”, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
Eph 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
Eph 1:12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
God is gathering “in one” all things of Jesus Christ.
This is the time we live in now and is known as the “Church Age” and it will soon be coming to an end and God will again deal with the Jews!
When these Jews heard these things they were cut to the heart!
These upper class Jews of Israel became a hungry pack of wolves and Stephen knew it meant his death!
*****Act 7:55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
Since God is a spirit then there can be no actual “right hand of God”!
This phrase indicates The Place Of Prominence and The Place Of Honor!
The FACT that Jesus is at the right hand of God teaches us that His saving work is finished but it does not mean He is not still working on our behalf!
Every born again child of God needs to take note here!
Our Lord Jesus stood up just to receive His child Stephen into Heaven.
Jesus is waiting on us all with open arms and He stands up to receive all His children especially those that have took their stand on His Gospel.
This world may not want God’s children but when our work is done on this Earth, we have a Father in Heaven who is tickled to death that we are coming home!
*****Act 7:56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
Jesus had used this phrase “Son of man” at least 80 times but this is the first time one of His disciples used this title.
Jesus had told this same mockery of a trial where they could find Him:
Mat 26:63 But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living
God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.
Mat 26:64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
Stephen said, “I see Him”, He is right where He said He would be.
Normally Jesus is often presented as sitting at the right hand of God acting as our “Intercessor” and our “Advocate”.
Normally a defence counsel remains seated in the presence of “The Judge”, rising only to make an objection when His client comes under sever attack.
Stephen said “I see my Lord standing” and “I am going on home”!
How long will He stand?
Act 2:35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool.
1Co 15:28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
*****Act 7:57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,
This pack of angry wolves could stand it no more they became what they were:
Jesus had described them earlier!
Joh 8:43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
Joh 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
Joh 8:45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.
Joh 8:46 Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?
Joh 8:47 He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.
*****Act 7:58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.
Saul and Stephen meet for the only time they would be together. They were enemies and stood on opposite sides of the cross at this time.
This gives us an idea of just how far Saul had to come but we also know Saul never forgot this day.
Act 22:19 And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee:
Act 22:20 And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.
*****Act 7:59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
John the Baptist had died for preaching the truth. It was God the Father that had sent John.
The Lord Jesus Christ had died because He is the truth. It was God the Son sent to save us.
Now Stephen died for preaching the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was God the Holy Ghost who had filled him with His Spirit.
Through this act against the Church the “Gospel” would now spread next to Samaria and then throughout the world.
*****Act 7:60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, [lay not this sin to their charge]. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Stephen fell asleep in peace and in grace while still loving the sinner but not the sin!
When a Christian dies they fall asleep:
1Th 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
That old unsaved flesh sleeps while the spirit goes on to be with the Lord:
2Co 5:6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:
2Co 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
2Co 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
Heb 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
Heb 12:23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
When Jesus returns He will bring back those spirits of those that are asleep to be reunited in glory:
1Th 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, [even so them also which sleep in Jesus “will God bring with him”].
1Th 4:15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
1Th 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
1Th 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
When our loved ones that know the Lord die we do not weep in hopelessness for we know we shall meet them again when we die or when the Lord returns.
We need to realize that when the “Gospel” is preached powerful forces are at work on each one that hears it.
The Book of Acts will now turn its attention to Saul of Tarsus and the Gospel extending to the Gentiles.
If we believe in prayer and we must, then the Apostle Paul was the result of the prayer of Stephen!