What does 1 Timothy 3:8 mean?This verse transitions from leadership qualifications for elders to those of deacons. The root word used in this passage is diakonos, literally meaning a "servant". Though Acts 6:1–7 does not refer to specific men as "deacons," that event appears to be the first time a similar group was created. It should be noted that Paul begins this list with the word "likewise," meaning deacons were to share many of the similar qualifications as elders. Not all of the same ideas are repeated, but those that are should be applied in similar ways.
First, deacons are to be "dignified," a word meaning respected or honorable. As with elders, this speaks to their reputation both inside and outside the church.
Second, they are not to be "double-tongued" or literally "speaking double." The idea seems to be one of a hypocrite or liar. It can also refer to those who put on a different "face" for different groups of people—showing a deceptive or dishonest streak. A man known for this practice was unfit for the role of deacon.
Third, a deacon was not to be "addicted to much wine." As with elders (1 Timothy 3:3), drunkenness was not fitting for a church leader. Note, again, that Paul does not take this obvious opportunity to condemn all alcohol consumption. Drinking alcohol was permitted and sometimes even encouraged (1 Timothy 5:23). Drunkenness, however, is clearly a sin and those prone to addiction are not suitable for the role of deacon. The Old Testament includes many examples of godly men who became drunk and suffered negative consequences, such as Noah and Samson.
Like elders, deacons cannot be greedy. Both groups of leaders steward the resources of the church and must be able to operate free from the love of money (1 Timothy 6:10).