Paul addresses the church at Philippi in these words, “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus that are at Philippi, with the bishops [elders] and deacons” (Phi. 1:1). In this verse it is evident that the organization of the New Testament church included men called deacons. The qualifications of deacons as given in First Timothy 3:8-13 tells us the kind of character God wants those men who serve as deacons to possess. Acts 6:1-6 shows us the need of special servants to serve in the Lord’s church and serves as an example how men are to be selected to both the work of elders and deacons. I believe the implication is clear that the complete organization of a local congregation includes both elders and deacons, thus making up the scriptural organization of the body of Christ.
But what is the work of deacons? First, let’s note some things they are not: They are not elders or even junior elders. They are not the overseers. Their authority is limited to the authority delegated to them by the elders. And deacons are not apprentice elders. They may one day qualify and serve as elders, but deacons are not in an apprenticeship for elders. Neither are they the overseers of the physical while the elders are overseers of the spiritual. Elders are overseers of both the physical and spiritual for they are the overseers of the whole congregation. But they are official servants of the church. They are outstanding men who meet the qualifications given by the Holy Spirit and are thus appointed by Him. Appointed to serve under the oversight of the elders in whatever capacity the elders give them, that is scriptural. They are due the love and respect of the congregation.
The most common mistake made in regard to the deacons is a failure to use their talents to the fullest degree. Elders have the responsibility and opportunity to make sure that deacons serve to the fullest. And the congregation has the responsibility to work with them in doing the great work of the Lord. Thank God for godly men to serve as deacons and congregations who recognize and use their talents.