Deacons and Evangelism

Churches easily misconstrue the role of deacons, elevating them to a place of prestige, power, and political clout. Scripture, however, paints the opposite picture. Contrary to prevailing opinion, deacons do not form a governing body. Instead, they carry out delegated instructions and perform routine, mundane tasks. As such, they minister discreetly and without applause. For those who fulfill these duties in a faithful manner, God provides a remarkable commendation.

Those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. (1 Tim 3:13, NKJV)

This statement foreshadows two eventual, compelling benefits for those who carry out their duties well. To “serve well” means to fulfill your responsibility in a way that is accurate, right, and good. The result of doing this will be a “good standing” and “great boldness in the faith.”

The first result (“good standing”) does not refer to a formal promotion in rank within the church, like “climbing the corporate ladder” in the secular business world. Instead, it most likely refers to developing an excellent reputation among people over time, whether within the church or in the community at large, as they witness your faithful service and a job well done.

“Great boldness in the faith” most likely refers to increased confidence in sharing the gospel with others. Scripture consistently uses boldness to describe confidence in proclaiming one’s faith (Acts 4:1329319:272913:4614:318:2619:8). Furthermore, two of the original deacons clearly demonstrate this outcome. Stephen, a deacon (Acts 6:5), suffered martyrdom for his courageous witness (Acts 7:1-60). He also influenced the eventual conversion of Paul the apostle (Acts 7:58, cf. 9:5). Then Philip, a deacon (Acts 6:5), shared his faith with confidence in Samaria, and many converted to the faith (Acts 8:5-25). He also witnessed effectively to a foreign government official and evangelized in many other cities (Acts 8:26-40). So effective was his gospel witness that the church eventually recognized him not only as a deacon, but as an evangelist (Acts 21:8). So, recognizing the example of these two deacons, it appears that Paul alluded to this outcome for other faithful deacons as well, even those who serve their churches today (1 Tim 3:13).

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