In Acts 6 you see the establishment of church leadership. The Apostles are unique in that they were personal disciples of the Lord Jesus and as eye witnesses to his life and teachings therefore were given the authority to preach and teach the Word had a situation arise within the church in Jerusalem leading them to set aside seven men to serve tables.
Acts 6:1 – 2: “Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. 2 So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, ‘It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables.'”
Let’s see what happened: a problem surrounding the daily serving of food arose amongst the body; you could say this points to any human problem within the church that does not involve the teaching of the Word. To solve the problem, which required human effort, organization, service and care of the widows, the Apostles appointed seven men.
Acts 6:3: “Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.”
These men would establish the work of a Deacon who have served in this same capacity within the church since then.
After the Apostles decided to appoint seven men to serve they say:
Acts 6:4: “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
The point here is the centrality, significance and preeminence of the ministry of the Word. As Jesus the Word is preeminent in the existence of life in general and the church specifically then the ministry of the Word is likewise preeminent in the church.
Thus any men preaching and teaching the Word would be the preeminent ministers within the church. Paul writes in I Timothy 3:2 that an overseer should be ‘able to teach’ and in Titus 1:9, “holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.”
Deacons are central to the functioning of the church as is seen in the situation in Jerusalem with the widows however they are not handling the Word so their position is second to the Apostles as the preachers and teachers of the Word.
What was the result of the Apostles decision?
Acts 6:7: “The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.”
As the Apostles were free to preach, teach and minister throughout Jerusalem ‘the word of God kept on spreading’.
Do evangelists preach and teach the Word? Must they be able to teach the Word to the lost and those confused within the church and refute the lies of the world? Does the evangelist want ‘the Word of God’ to spread and bring to life the Church?
Most definitely! All men who persevere in the work of the evangelist know that it is a ministry of the Word and prayer. Evangelists see and live in the reality of the Scriptures; i.e. they communicate with men dead in sin, mockers and scoffers, those who seek to lead others into sin, the civil magistrates, religious leaders, idolators and they minister and pray with souls. Prayer is not a religious idea to the evangelist but a necessity.
Evangelists as overseers play a vital role in the church for the Word of God to spread and the number of disciples to increase.