Qualifications of Deacons

The term “deacon” refers to “one who executes the commands of another… a servant, attendant, minister” (Thayer).  Elders, also called Bishops or overseers, oversee the local church; Deacons are their special helpers to whom they delegate certain tasks.

Let us in this study, divide the qualifications into four groupings: (1) implied qualifications; (2) positive qualifications; (3) negative qualifications; (4) family qualifications.


  1. A deacon is to be a man and not a woman.   He’s to be the husband of one wife (1 Tim.      3:12).
  2. He is to be well-known by the congregation (1     Tim. 3:10).
  3. Age is not as much of a factor as it is with elders.  Yes, he is to be married and have children (1 Tim. 3:12).  This implies a certain amount of age.  However, it is not required that his children be “faithful children” (cf. Titus 1:6).  His children may or may not be old enough to have obeyed the gospel.


  1. He must be “grave” KJV, “reverent” NKJV, “of     dignity” NASB (1 Tim. 3:8).  This word means “serious… honorable… ‘grave’ and ‘gravity’ fail  to cover the full meaning… the word we want is one in which the sense of gravity and dignity is combined… The word points to seriousness of purpose and to self-respect in conduct” (Vine’s).  In other words, he should be one that presents himself in such a way that all can see that he is conscientious, and serious about his duties and responsibilities especially in the   area of Christianity.
  2. He is to be “proved” KJV, “tested” NKJV/NASB and found “blameless” KJV,  “beyond reproach” NASB (1 Tim. 3:10). He should be someone who is well-known and   trusted by the congregation.  He should be known to meet the qualifications.
  3. “Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure   conscience” (1 Tim. 3:9).  He should be a man striving to live by the Book.  He should examine himself and be able to say with a pure conscience that this is the case.


  1. He is not to be “double-tongued” (1 Tim. 3:8).    What does it mean to be doubled-tongued?  It means to be deceitful, “saying one thing in one place and another in a different context” (J.J. Turner, Deacons Wake Up).  He is to be “truthful, not talking two ways to suit the company he is in” (David Lipscomb, Commentary   on 1 Timothy).
  2. He is not to be “given to much wine” KJV, “addicted to much wine” NASB (1 Tim. 3:8).  Now this shouldn’t be taken to mean that he can be given to wine but not “much wine”, any more than he can be greedy for lucre but not “filthy lucre” (1 Tim. 3:8), or that one can run to riot as long as it is not “excess of riot” (1 Peter 4:4), or that it is okay to be wicked so long as one does not “overflow” with wickedness (James 1:21 NKJV).  Clearly, this is teaching that one is not to be a winebibber.
  3. He is not be “greedy of filthy lucre” KJV, “greedy for money” NKJV, “fond of sordid gain” NASB (1 Tim.  3:8).  Some will do just about anything for money, even dishonest things.  Such a one should not be considered.


  1. He is to be the husband of one wife (1 Tim. 3:12).   This eliminates bachelors, widowers,  polygamists, those in unbiblical marriages.
  2. He is to have children (1 Tim. 3:12).  I do not believe that this necessitates a plurality of children (see: Gen. 21:7; Lev. 25:40-41; 1 Tim. 5:4; Luke 14:26).  Each should be convinced in their own mind.
  3. He is to rule his children and his house well (1 Tim. 3:12).  He is one who had demonstrated the     fact that he has Biblically tried to manage his family.  He has instructed his family (Eph. 6:4) and sought to restrain his children (cf. 1 Sam. 3).
  4. His wife is to be of a certain character (1 Tim. 3:11).  (A) She is to be “grave” KJV, “reverent” NKJV, “dignified” NASB [see: positive point 1].    (B) She is not to be a “slanderer” KJV, “malicious gossip” NASB.  “The reference is to those who find fault with the demeanor and conduct of others and spread their innuendos and criticisms in the church” (Vine’s); “In the LXX it is used of hostile speech, especially slander… In the New Testament the main stress is on the malicious nature of the speech” (Kittle’s).  She is not to be one who stirs up problems and agitates with her speech.  (C) She is to be “sober” KJV, “temperate” NKJV/NASB.  The word literally refers to an abstainer from intoxicants.  Figuratively it is used of one who is clear thinking and possesses self-control.  (D) She is to be “faithful in all things”.  This indicates that she is to be trustworthy.  She is someone who can be depended on, trusted, and even confided.

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
This entry was posted in Church Organization, Elders and Deacons, Word Study and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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