The church of Christ in the first century had deacons who served under the oversight of the elders. Paul addressed an epistle “to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons” (Philippians 1:1) The word deacon means “servant” or “helper”. Therefore, their work would be to give assistance to the elders in taking care of routine physical duties, thereby freeing the elders to shepherd the flock. Seven special servants were selected to assist the apostles with the physical needs of the early church. (Acts 6:1-4) Such servants became known as “deacons” in the later development of the New Testament church, and were to meet certain qualifications before being selected and appointed. (I Timothy 3:8-13) Generally, every Christian is to be a servant of the Lord and his church, but special qualified servants were appointed for special duties. The modern day organization of a “board of deacons” who oversee and direct the affairs of the church is contrary to the directions we are given in scripture. This is the work of elders.

Michael Hollis