In the controversy of Acts 6, is the apostolic requirement that these leaders (the Seven) be full of the spirit, respected, and faithful still the rule for us today? And is this passage talking about the appointment of servants or deacons? - Rudy Latinos (Managua, Nicaragua)
Yes, I think so. As you note, servant and deacon are the same. ("Deacon" is only a transliteration of diakonos [Greek], and not very helpful, since it tells us nothing about its meaning. Sometimes the word is translated minister [Latin], which is slightly better, although that word also tends to obscure the sense of diakonos.) Through the centuries, the church has normally understood Acts 6:1-6 to be recording the appointment of the first deacons. (To deny this, and some do, on the grounds that the word deacon doesn't appear in the text is unconvincing, since the related words diakonein (the verbal form of the word) and diakonia (the noun meaning service) appear in verses 3 and 4.)
But notice this:
- The apostles let the community select the people. They were not chosen directly by the apostles, only affirmed.
- The apostles turned it over to them — trusted them — and didn’t micromanage.
- All seven of these men were Greeks. Look at their names — all Greek. That is, they were representatives of the minority that was being overlooked.
- These men may all have been powerful leaders / preachers. (We have only details on Stephen and Philip.)
- Deacons in the early church focused on the needy. Not so much the needy outside the faith community, but on those inside!
Hope this helps. For more, go to the website and use the search word deacon.