The Role of the Deacon
The word deacon means servant. We use the term "diakonate" for deacons as a body, and the term "diakonia" to describe the work that deacons do (service, support, ministry). The Apostle Paul gave Timothy instructions concerning deacons. He said the deacons must be worthy of respect, not double-tongued but sincere. In essence, 1 Tim. 3:8-13, is all about character, so deacons are expected to serve the church by the example of their character, as well as by their deeds.
In the Early Church deacons were chosen (as the need arose) to assist the elders in the temporal work of the church. Their origin is given in Acts 6, which tells how the Jerusalem church selected seven men to administer the finances, to serve tables, and to care for the poor of the congregation (Acts 6: 1-6).
A grave situation had developed in the First Century Church. The size of the church grew to the point where the apostles could no longer care for the physical and emotional needs of the church, and still be responsible for the spiritual ministry. Certain widows were neglected in the daily distribution of material things. The church sensed the need for enlarging its leadership capacity, and so seven men were selected to care for the physical needs of its members.