The biblical role of deacons is to take care of the physical and
logistical needs of the church so that the elders can concentrate
on their primary calling. The distinctions between decons and
elders is found in Acts 6:1–6. The apostles were devoted “to
prayer and to the ministry of the word” (v. 4). Since this is also
the primary calling of an elder, deacons are chosen to handle
the more practical matters in order to allow the elders the
freedom to carry out their their work.
The only passage of Scripture that specifically mentions the
qualifications for elders, a deacon must not be an addict (v. 3,),
not greedy for dishonest gain (v. 3), blameless (v. 2; Titus 1:6),
the husband of one wife (v. 2), and an able manager of his
The focus of the qualifications is the moral character of the
person who is to fill the office: a deacon must be mature and
above reproach. The main difference between an elder and a
deacon is a difference of gifts and calling, not character. If a
moral qualification is listed for elders but not for deacons, that
qualification still applies to deacons and the same goes for
those qualifications listed for deacons but not for elders.
For example, a deacon should not be double-tongued (v. 8).
Paul does not explicitly say this about elders, but no doubt
it applies to elders since Paul has said that elders must
be “above reproach,” which would include this prohibition.
The most noticeable distinction between elders and deacons is
that deacons do not need to be “able to teach” (1 Tim. 3:2).
Deacons are called to “hold” to the faith with a clear
conscience, but they are not called to “teach” that faith (1 Tim.
3:9). This suggests that the deacons do not have an official
teaching role in the church.
In addition to the delegated duties listed under the elder's
duties, the duties of the deacons also include:
Ushers: The deacons could also be responsible for distributing
bulletins, seating the congregation, or preparing the elements
Logistics: Deacons should be available to help in variety of
ways so that the elders are able to concentrate on teaching
and shepherding the church.