“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16)
Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate – The Church of Alexandria

St. Mary & St. Athanasius Coptic Orthodox Church
Reaching out to Somerset and Hunterdon Counties in NJ

Diaconate History & Evolution

The Order of Deacons
His Grace Bishop Matteos

Deacon, is a Syrian word meaning servant. The responsibility of the deacon is to help the priest or bishop perform the religious ministry. The first church appointed seven deacons who were full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom to help in service, The twelve summoned the multitude of disciples and said: Seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom whom we may appoint over this business (Acts 6:2,3). When they were chosen, they set them before the apostles and when they had prayed they laid hands on them (Acts 6:6). The apostles stipulated the following three conditions for nominating deacons:

  • They must be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.
  • They should be appointed by the apostles through the laying on of hands with prayers.
  • They should carry out certain responsibilities in the church.

Our teacher St. Paul also specified the requirements of a deacon, in his First Epistle to Timothy (3:8-13): Likewise deacons must be:

  • reverent
  • not double tongued
  • not given to too much wine(drunkenness)
  • not greedy for money
  • holding the mystery of faith with a pure conscience
  • ruling their children and their houses well
  • should be tested first, and then proved and found blameless, so they can be ordained (1 Timothy 3:10)

Although the rank of deacon is the most junior rank of priesthood, St. Paul praises it saying, For those who served well as deacons, obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 3:13).

There are five ranks of deacons. In ascending order, they are:

  • Epsaltos (hymnist)
  • Ognostis (reader)
  • Epideacon (subdeacon)
  • Deacon (full deacon)
  • Archdeacon (leader of deacons)