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Chapter 6

Chosen to Serve

 

6:1 Now in those days, when the disciples were growing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Greek-speaking Jews against the native Hebraic Jews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.

 

As the church began to grow so did the problems begin and in this instance it was because some were being cared for while others were neglected.   I do not thing this was purposely done but because of the tremendous quick growth in the number of believers they were not able to cope.   The complaint came from the Greek speaking Jews whose widows were missing out on the distribution being made by the apostles (Acts 4: 35).   '

 

6:2 So the twelve called the whole group of the disciples together and said, "It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to wait on tables.

 

The problem was not pushed to one side, but was immediately addressed by the apostles.   They called a meeting of all believers to discuss the problem and to bring it out into the open air.   There was in fact two problems, the one mentioned in verse one and here we see that the work of the apostles to proclaim the word of God was being hindered because they were too busy seeing to the physical needs.   Moses was faced with the same problem until the Lord directed him through his father-in-law, Jethro (Exod: 18: 13 - 23).   '

 

6:3 But carefully select from among you, brothers, seven men who are well-attested, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this necessary task.

 

The answer to the was for them to chose from among themselves well proven believers to look after the practical side of the ministry (1 Tim. 3: 6 - 7).   They had to have a good character and reputation, be filled with the Holy Spirit and the wisdom that He, the Holy Spirit, gives (see James 1: 5).   Although the body of believers were to choose these men it was the apostles that would appoint, or approve of them.  

 

6:4 'But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word."

 

This would then release the apostles to give themselves up to continually praying, preaching and teaching the word of God.   Note - prayer is listed first !   This does not mean that the practical activity of caring is on a lower level but each one must fulfil his role according to the gift that God has given (Rom. 12: 4 -8).   '

 

6:5-6 The proposal pleased the entire group, so they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a Gentile convert to Judaism from Antioch. They stood these men before the apostles, who prayed and placed their hands on them.

 

This suggestion pleased the whole assembly and they chose seven men whom they brought before the apostles.   First of all they prayed for them.   What do you think their prayers were for these men ? Do we pray for those whom God has appointed to serve in the church ? Then they laid their hands upon them as an act of ordination, that is, to show that the apostles were transferring authority and responsibility to these men (1 Tim. 4: 14, Heb. 6: 2).   '

 

6:7 The word of God continued to spread, the number of disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly, and a large group of priests became obedient to the faith.

 

After this was done the message of God kept spreading and the number of those who believed greatly increased even among the priests as they responded to the Gospel call.

 

Stephen - Full of Faith and Power

 

6:8 Now Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and miraculous signs among the people.

 

Not only does the scripture say that Stephen was full of the Holy Ghost, wisdom and faith, here it adds that he was full of power, that is, he moved in the power of the Holy Ghost.   Some translations have for '"full of faith"" in this verse, '"full of grace""  that is, the Lord was blessing and using him mightily.   He is the first one that we are told of that did many signs and wonders, apart from the apostles.  

 

6:9 But some men from the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, as well as some from Cilicia and the province of Asia, stood up and argued with Stephen.

 

Trouble however was just round the corner.   We often find that when the Lord is moving or wants to do a work that Satan starts to kick against the people of God.   The opposition this time was a group of people called the '"Synagogue of the Freedmen"" (NKJ).   These were descendents of people who had been formerly Roman slaves who had gained their freedom.   They began to argue with him over his claims concerning the scriptures in relation to Jesus Christ.   '

 

6:10 Yet they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke.

 

But they could not overcome him for he stood his ground against them, so much so that they lost the argument in effect (Isaiah 54: 17).   We are not at the mercy of men of argument even though they may be more educated and intelligent than we are, for we have the word of God, the Holy Spirit and our testimony.  '

 

6:11-14 Then they secretly instigated some men to say, "We have heard this man speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God." They incited the people, the elders, and the experts in the law; then they approached Stephen, seized him, and brought him before the council. They brought forward false witnesses who said, "This man does not stop saying things against this holy place and the law. For we have heard him saying that Jesus the Nazarene will destroy this place and change the customs that Moses handed down to us."

 

Because they lost they incited men, most probably paying them to do so, to say that they heard him speak blasphemous things against Moses and God.   Doesn't it seem strange that they put Moses before God and yet strictly speaking it is only against God that one can blaspheme. They stirred up the people, elders and scribes (teachers of the law) so that they came and seized hold of Stephen and dragged him before the Sanhedrin and just as they did with Jesus they brought false witnesses to testify against him.   Added to the charges in verse 11 are those of speaking blasphemous words against the Temple and the law of God (Mark 14: 58).   Also saying that Jesus came to destroy the Temple and change the law given by Moses (see Math. 5: 17 -18).   '

 

6:15 All who were sitting in the council looked intently at Stephen and saw his face was like the face of an angel.

 

All the member of the council were transfixed as they looked upon Stephen and saw the glory of the Lord radiating from him as he was full of the Holy Ghost (2 Cor. 3: 18).   He looked like an angel !

Do we shine for Jesus ?  Can others see and feel the love of Jesus in us ?   '

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