Wherefore brethren look ye out among you
Or "choose out among you", as the Syriac version adds, and as the Arabic and Ethiopic versions render it; which shows that this sort of officers, deacons, must be members of the church, and of the same church to which they are ordained deacons; and that they must be chosen to that office by the whole community, or by the common suffrages and votes of the people. So the F2 Jews
``did not appoint (onrp) , (which may be rendered) "an overseer of the poor", in a congregation, without consulting the congregation;''which officer seems pretty much to answer to a deacon.
Seven men, of honest report;
why the number seven is fixed upon, perhaps no other solid reason is to be given, but that that number was judged sufficient for the care of the poor in that church, and at that time; nor is it obligatory on other churches to have just so many, neither more nor fewer; for such officers are to be chosen as the church requires: perhaps some regard might be had to (ryeh ybwj) (hebv) , "the seven good men of the F3 city" among the Jews, who had great authority in their synagogues, and who had power to sell them, when old and useless; and who seem, according to Maimonides F4, to be the elders of the people. It is necessary that this sort of officers in the church should be men "of honest report"; that have a good testimony both from within the church and without, of their honesty and fidelity; since they are intrusted with the church's stock, and have the care of many devolved upon them: so the collectors of alms among the Jews were to be men (Mynmanw Myewdy) , "known and faithful" F5; men of known probity and integrity: and, besides this good and honest report they were to have from others, they were also to be men
full of the Holy Ghost, of wisdom;
they were to be men, not only that had the Spirit of God in them, but who were eminent for their rich experiences of grace; and who had superior gifts of the Spirit, whereby they were capable both of defending the truth against opposers, and of speaking a word of exhortation to duty, or of comfort under distress, or of reproof to members, as circumstances required; and it may be at this time when the church consisted of some of all nations, as seems from ( Acts 2:9-11 ) it might be necessary that they should have the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, especially that of speaking with divers tongues, that they might be able to converse with persons of different languages: and "wisdom" is highly requisite in them, that they may be good economists of the church's stock, and dispose of it in the most prudent manner: and conduct themselves agreeably to the different tempers and spirits of men they have to do with, and especially in composing differences among members.
Whom we may appoint over this business;
assign or make over that part of their office to them, which hitherto they had exercised, and install them into it, and invest them with it.
F2 T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 55. 1.
F3 T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 26. 2. & 27. 1.
F4 In Misu. Megilla, c. 3. sect. 2.
F5 Maimon. Hilchot Mattanot Anayim, c. 9. sect. 1.