The office described by this title appears in the New Testament as the correlative of bishop. [Bishop] The two are mentioned together in (Philemon 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:2,8) Its original meaning implied a helper, an assistant. The bishops were the "elders," the deacons the young active men, of the church. The narrative of Acts 6 is commonly referred to as giving an account of the institution of this office. The apostles, in order to meet the complaints of the Hellenistic Jews that their widows were neglected in the daily ministration, call on the body of believers to choose seven men "full of the Holy Ghost and of wisdom," whom they "may appoint over this business." It may be questioned, however, whether the seven were not appointed to higher functions than those of the deacons of the New Testament. Qualifications and duties. Special directions as to the qualifications for and the duties of deacons will be found in Acts 6 and (1 Timothy 3:8-12) From the analogy of the synagogue, and from the scanty notices in the New Testament, we may think of the deacons or "young men" at Jerusalem as preparing the rooms for meetings, distributing alms, maintaining order at the meetings, baptizing new converts, distributing the elements at the Lord's Supper.
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