Supplemental Notes and Documents

A letter, from the elders, to the people of Fellowship Bible Church; Greenville, S.C.

A letter, from the elders, to the people of Fellowship Bible Church; Greenville, S.C.


PLEASE READ ACTS 6:1-5, and 1 Timothy 3:8-12, w/Philippians 1:1.


In the passage from Acts 6:1-5 we may see what, virtually, all are agreed upon, is the biblical introduction to the church, of the office of deacon. The concern that brought it about was that of apparent discrimination between the Hellenistic and the Jewish widows in the meeting of their respective needs. This brought Peter forward with the declaration that it was not fitting that they, the apostles, should permit their appointed functions of teaching and prayer to be hindered by adding to those duties, the activity of ministering materially to the flock of God. He, therefore, advised that the people of this early church look out among themselves ‘seven men of good report, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.’—Acts 6:3.

Is this not remarkable, as it appears that Peter was divinely informed that there were seven such men among them. It would not be surprising if he even knew precisely who they were upon whom the Lord had given the Holy Spirit and wisdom to meet the needs of this office. Be that as it may, seven men were put forward, and the apostles laid their hands upon them, thus appointing them over ‘this business.’

In Paul’s first epistle to Timothy, in chapter three, we may read of further requirements for this office. Paul, the apostle, has written to Timothy (and to us) of the qualifications necessary to the offices in the church of Jesus Christ. Having first designated the necessary qualifications for a bishop (that is, an overseer, or elder), he proceeds to refer to the qualifications for the office of deacon, beginning in verse 8, of that same chapter three. He has written, the following words:

Deacons in like manner must be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them serve as deacons; if they be blameless.—1 Timothy 3:8-10 [ASV-1901]; continuing in verse 12, with; 

Let deacons be husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For they that have served well as deacons gain to themselves a good standing, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.—1 Timothy 3:12-13 [ASV-1901]. 


Here, Paul has added to, or embellished, the directives given by Peter, some years earlier; adding several items to those initially given to the church at Jerusalem. While Peter had called for men of good report, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, Paul has added several items, when he wrote that they must be grave, namely, serious, or in some translations, dignified; Vine suggests that “the word we want is one in which the sense of gravity and dignity is combined.” While solemn, or sincere may come to mind, the only criticism of ‘grave’ may be its relative antiquity; ‘out of date.’ Sincere, solemn, grave, is the point. 

Secondly, ‘not double-tongued.’ This is the rendering that the great majority of the best English translations employ. It implies the ‘saying a thing to one person and giving a different view of it to another.’ John Bunyan probably hit the nail on the head with his personification of such a man, whom he named, ‘Mr. looking-both-ways,’ i.e. two-faced.

    Third, ‘not given [enslaved] to much wine,’ not abusing the privilege unto intoxication, sober. Fourth, ‘Not greedy of filthy lucre,’ this is plain, on its face; it is the spirit of a Judas Iscariot.

    Then, fifth, turning to positive things, Paul includes, ‘holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.’  What is the ‘mystery of the faith?’ Is it not the same as spoken of in vs. 16? And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness;

He who was manifested in the flesh,

Justified in the spirit,

Seen of angels,

Preached among the nations, 

Believed on in the world,

Received up in glory.

‘The mystery of the faith,’ spoken of by the apostle in the previous words of verse nine; we believe, ‘what is meant by the mystery of it is the once secret or hidden nature of the things about which the distinctively gospel faith is conversant, now brought to light by the revelation of Jesus Christ.’—Patrick Fairbairn. Should not men intended for service to the church of Jesus Christ have a fair understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ, upon which His church has been founded? And do we not have remarkable examples of this understanding in the instances of two of those early deacons, Stephen and Phillip; Acts 7, and Acts 8, in which these two demonstrated great faith and understanding of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ? 

    Should not deacons in the 21st century be capable of defending the truths regarding the gospel, as Stephen so ably did, even just before committing his soul unto His Lord? And should not our deacons be able to respond to the inquiries of strangers, as did Phillip when he explained to the Ethiopian eunuch, Who it was that Isaiah was speaking of in his prophecy?

    The end of the matter is declared by the apostle at the end of this third chapter from his ‘pastoral epistle.’ He stated his reasons for writing such things as are discussed above, when he informed his readers, saying, These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly; but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how men ought to behave themselves in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.


    So then, people of God at FBC, please follow the directive of Peter, from Acts 6:1-5, and be looking out among yourselves, ‘men of good report, full of the spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.’ Then shall individuals be able to address our fellowship as did Paul, the fellowship at Philippi, To all the saints in Christ Jesus, that are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


    If you believe that our Lord has enabled you to recognize any man among us meeting the requirements given us by God the Holy Spirit, through the apostle Paul, please advise one of the elders of this perception. If not, then please continue praying for our Fellowship, that God would be pleased to provide such men for us. Thank you.


In the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of His Church,

The elders of Fellowship Bible Church


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