Men who are born again: First we need men who are born again Christians. This requirement is indicated in v. 3 where we read “Look ye out from among you”. These members in the church had a definite experience of their conversion. In Acts chapter 2 we learn that they had repented (v. 38.)
Peter preached unto them, repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins (v.41) Those who believed what Peter said were baptized (V. 42.).They joined with the other believers and devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, sharing in the Lord’s supper and in prayer. They became members of the church. One of the tragic weaknesses of many churches is that men have been placed into office who are not born again. When it comes to choosing church leaders, the first question we should ask is, “Does he have a clear testimony that he is a child of God?”
Men who are elected by the people: The apostles told the Jerusalem Christians to choose from among themselves men of honest report and full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom. The selection was not the decision of the apostles alone but the whole congregation. This process of selecting the leaders was well received by all. The congregation were to look out for seven men whom they can serve together with the apostles. The Lord’s choice in the leadership of the church was by the votes of the people themselves. God works through his people in the choice of the church leaders.
John Calvin himself was elected pastor and teacher of theology at Geneva in 1536 by the elders and the council with the consent of the people. A Latin proverb says ‘The voice of the people is the voice of God’. The election of the church leaders is a solemn and serious business. You must come to the Lord in much waiting and prayer. Those who are nominated must have a clear testimony of God’s calling and they must be able, available and willing to serve the Lord sacrificially.
A point for our attention is that the seven who were chosen were all different. They had different training and background. God needs different kinds of men because there are various kinds of ministries to be performed. All the seven men were Greek – speaking Jews chosen to minister to the needs of the Grecian widows.
Men of honest report: In verse 3 we read that the members are to select seven men of honest report. A man of honest report speaks of his good reputation. A person is well respected because he is honest in speech. He is “Not double-tongued” (1 Tim. 3:8). A deacon should be in control of his tongue. He should speak out for righteous causes. He also has a responsibility for being slow to anger. He is not a gossiper, talebearer or a slanderer.
Men full of the Holy Ghost. Verse 5 tells us to choose men full of the Holy Ghost. How can one tell if a man is full of the Holy Ghost. Will he say so? No. If he does so, beware of him. If a man is full of the Holy Ghost, the fruit of the Spirit will be manifested in his life (Gal. 5:22-23).
Men full of wisdom: Wisdom is more than knowledge. Knowledge is gained by study but when the Spirit fills a man, God imparts the wisdom to use and apply that knowledge correctly. True spiritual wisdom involves the knowledge of God and of His will. Paul’s prayer for the Colossian’s Christians that they might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Col. 1:9).
Men full of faith: In verse 5 we read that “they chose Stephen, a man full of faith”. It is important because the Lord’s work is a work of faith and the men who are appointed must obviously be men of faith; Men who know how to trust God. Stephen was one of these men. The emphasis in Stephen’s life is on fullness: he was full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom (Acts 6:3,10), full of faith (Acts 6:5), and full of power (Acts 6:8). In Scripture, to be “full of “means” to be controlled by”. This man was controlled by the Spirit, faith, wisdom, and power. He was a God-controlled man yielded to the Holy Spirit, a man who sought to lead people to Christ.
Men of accountability: After the men had been chosen, they were placed in front of the 12 who appointed them to their task by praying for them and placing their hands upon them. The ceremony of laying on of hands is practised in the B-P Churches. The laying of hands or ordination means a person is set apart to an office. The deacons are ordained to serve. When a person takes the responsibility to serve in the church, he is accountable not only to God but also to his congregation and to those who had ordained him into the ministry.
Men of spirituality: The qualifications required for those who desire to become church leaders is not popularity, seniority, nor even ability – but spirituality. Age alone, however, does not guarantee maturity or spirituality. A relatively young man could qualify. When Paul told Timothy, “Let no one despise your youth” (1 Tim. 4:12), Timothy was probably in his mid-thirties and held a position of authority in the church in Ephesus. Timothy was to show by his godly life that he should be followed. Likewise, all young men who desire to serve must demonstrate by their life that they are spiritually wise and mature.
Men of availability: The seven men were selected to serve the tables. The word deacon means “service”. Jesus for example taught that the test of greatness for spiritual leaders is not power, authority or influence. He said: “He that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” A leader is called to serve other people’s needs. That is what the Lord Jesus considers great. Jesus said he that is the greatest among you shall be your servant.