Churches Of Christ/Elders and deacons


QUESTION: Hello bro Joe,

What is the difference between elders and deacons?

In Christ,

ANSWER: There are slight differences in the qualifications listed for each position. Please compare the two in 1 Timothy 3. We know that local churches are supposed to appoint men as Elders and Deacons.

The elder must already be a man above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent, but gentle, not quarelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his household, how will he care for God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. He must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

When we look at the requirements for a man to be appointed a Deacon we see these things. Deacons must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. Then we are told the man must be tested first and only after they are tested can they let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

One major difference is that the man being considered for the position of Deacon must be tested first and proven themselves to be blameless. This seems to indicate that the men being considered as deacon are younger because the men being considered for Elders seem to have already proven themselves blameless and there is no need for them to be tested prior to being appointed. Also, a deacon is not required to be "able to teach". There are other slight differences in the requirements but these two stick out the most.

Now also, the role they have is much different. Elders (overseers, shepherds, bishops) are appointed to oversee, protect and guide the local church. They are to be our spiritual leaders in the local work. The deacons are appointed to specific areas of local church work and are to organize and ensure the area they are assigned for is run well and done in ways that honor God. A deacon might be in charge of benevolence and are guiding the local work in that area. The Elders oversee the entire congregation and deacons oversee specific local work - like caring for widows and orphans.

I do hope that I have helped explain things well, please let me know if you have further questions.

In Christian Love, Joe Norman

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


Thank you for your reply. I still have some thing to ask.

1. Should the deacon have faithful children (Baptised in christ).I think the elder must have children baptised in christ.

2. Can women be appointed as deacons?

3. What kind of test is the bible talking about?

In Christ,

Hi brother Praywin,

The scripture just says the Deacon must manage their children and household well. To me, the differences are probably because the man being considered as a Deacon is young and probably doesn't have grown children. This would also explain why he should be tested first. As for women, it should be obvious that women cannot be appointed as deacons because one requirement of a deacon is to be husband of one wife. As for the question of what kind of test is the Bible talking does not answer that for us. I think it's safe to say some kind of test to determine if he is truly spiritually mature and knowledgeable and able to serve as a Deacon. It is a responsibility. Some things are left to us to figure out.

In Christian Love, Joe Norman

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Joe Norman


I can answer questions regarding acceptable worship, organization of the church, or any apsect of the Christian life. I am the son of a preacher and have studied the Bible from cover to cover since I was 12 years old. I am strong in my research skills and do not follow teachings of men. Many will label me as conservative and some might label me as liberal, but I just seek to be biblical. I understand proper exegesis and hermeneutics and apply them. My desire is to share my knowledge of God's Word with others. Please always keep in mind that none of us who are listed as experts here are divinely inspired and therefore it is possible to get incorrect answers from any one of us. Study the Scriptures and decide for yourself if what is taught is true.


I am the 4th generation in my family to be a faithful member of the church of Christ. I was raised by a preacher and have studied the Bible everyday since I was twelve. I am 45 yrs old now. I am not a "scholar", but I am very familiar with the scriptures.

member of the church of Christ, served as a Deacon for a few years at LakeShore church of Christ in Waco, Tx. I currently live in the North Dallas area and am still very active within the church of Christ teaching, leading Bible Studies, and songleading as well. I am also actively involved in online ministry. I hope to open my own webpage eventually.

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