Each week we LIVESTREAM the Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, Lord's Day morning public worship at 11a, and Lord's Day p.m. singing (3p) and sermon (3:45), and the Midweek Sermon and Prayer Meeting at 6:30p on Wednesday

Thursday, November 17, 2022

2022.11.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Timothy 3:8–9

Read 1 Timothy 3:8–9

Questions from the Scripture text: What is the first thing deacons must be (1 Timothy 3:8)? What is the first thing he must not be? What is the second? What is the third? What must he be doing (1 Timothy 3:9)? 

What are the primary qualifications of a deacon? 1 Timothy 3:8–9 looks forward to the second reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these two verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that deacons must be dignified men who live consistently with their sound doctrine.

The qualifications of deacons are introduced here (1 Timothy 3:8–9), a brief procedure for recognizing and installing them stated (1 Timothy 3:10), including the character of the women who serve under them (1 Timothy 3:11), followed by further description of how their character is shown in testing (1 Timothy 3:12-13). The implication is that the women in 1 Timothy 3:11 are first/originally their wives in the home (1 Timothy 3:12) and then the women who are officially engaged in the diaconal service of the church. More on that in subsequent passages, but for our purposes this week, we’re just noting the place of 1 Timothy 3:8-9.

Qualifications appropriate to position. By saying “likewise,” the apostle refers us back to the more extensive set of qualifications he has just finished delineating for elders. Just as those qualifications were suited to the “good work” that the office of overseer engaged a man in, now the good work of overseeing material service as a deacon requires qualifications appropriate to the work.

The implication is that while these qualifications in verses 8–9 are necessary, they are not the only ones. We know this already because of our study in Acts 6:1–7

A deacon must be reverent. The word here is related to the “dignity” and “nobility” word from 1 Timothy 2:2 and 1 Timothy 3:5. Beyond propriety, seriousness, and majesty of manner, this cognate word refers to worthiness of respect. If there is a shade of difference in meaning, it is that not only is his behavior is respectable, but the dignity and nobility of his behavior is what best summarizes him as a person: both inwardly by the Spirit and outwardly in serious, worthy living.

A deacon must not be double-tongued. There is a word that is more literally “double-tongued,” but this one is more literally “double-worded.” He doesn’t say one thing to one man and a different thing to another. Neither inconsistency nor partiality change the way that he responds. Deacons are going to have to deal with tricky situations and will often have to be deciding between competing interests and worthy causes. Consistency of conduct and impartiality is vitally necessary for a deacon. 

A deacon must not be given to much wine. Note, of course, the word “much.” It is not that a deacon does not drink wine at all, but that he is always ready to exercise good judgment. Not only does he need to do this for the real-time decisions that may be involved in the exercise of his office, but it will also help him make wise denials of financial assistance where that would be harmful. 

There have always been those who need material help because they squander their resources on drink. To give them more material help would only harm them by facilitating their obtaining more drink. A man who himself is addicted to fleshly desires weakens his ability to say no to another such man.

A deacon must not be greedy for money. This is that same “shameful gain” word that we came across in 1 Timothy 3:3. It refers to a man who has few compunctions about gaining in any way (not just financially) that he can get away with. The man who is always looking for an angle, always looking to advance himself, must not be given the opportunities to do so at the expense of the church and of the members who are most needy.

A deacon must hold to the mystery of the faith. The New Testament word “mystery” doesn’t refer to something still hidden, but to something that has been revealed and that we wouldn’t know apart from special revelation. The doctrine referred to in 1 Timothy 3:9 is summarized as “the mystery of godliness” in 1 Timothy 3:16. The core doctrines of the faith are the very ones that produce godliness in believers. Christ's divinity and incarnation, His death and resurrection, His appearance to messengers, His saving through preaching, and His current ascension and reign. 

A man who doesn’t believe these things is not a Christian, let alone qualified to be a deacon. But the second half of 1 Timothy 3:9 explains the connection between the character in 1 Timothy 3:8 and the doctrine to which the man holds. The diaconate is not just for “decent” men but for “doctrinal” men, whose decency organically and obviously flows from theology. The good works of the church are to adorn the gospel; the men who oversee these good works should be models of how those two things go together in one’s life.

These are not the only qualifications of a deacon, but they are all necessary. A man who lacks one of these is not qualified or called to the office. The Lord bless His church by gracing men in such a way as to fit them for this office!

What characteristics in these two verses do you find most rare in the churches today? 

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for Your blessed gospel! Forgive us for how we often fail to hold to the good doctrine in Your Word, and we often fail to work it our with a pure conscience. So, we live silly and superficial lives. And we are inconsistent and impartial in our speech. And we let our fleshly desires control us. And we are always looking to gain for ourselves. O forgive us! Give us deacons whom You have much sanctified from such sin, and sanctify us from that sin as well, we ask through Jesus Christ, AMEN!

 ARP128 “How Blessed Are All Who Fear the Lord” or TPH128B “Blest the Man Who Fears Jehovah”

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