Acts 6:1-15

Stephen begins to serve and witness

1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.

[A murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews] A quick bit of history: Under God's direction and with his blessing the Hebrews returned from Egypt to Canaan and established a political nation, Israel. Despite warnings from Moses and subsequent prophets, the nation Israel was unfaithful to God and adopted, or at least assimilated, the customs and religions of the surrounding people. As punishment God caused nearly all of the Israelites to be carried away from their homeland and dispersed among the nations of the world.
In time the Greeks under Alexander the great became the dominant rulers of the Mediterranean and middle east areas (the world as they knew it) and Greek culture and language prevailed. Later Rome supplanted Greece and extended its rule into Europe, however Greek culture continued to have great influence.
The Grecians, often referred to as Hellenists were Jews who had lived in foreign lands and absorbel some of the Greek culture and language. By contrast, many Jews in Jerusalem were native born and had been careful to avoid any contamination of their religion by outside influence, even to the point of clinging to the ancient Hebrew language. They tended to think of themselves as a little more pure. Obviously, even though all members of the church were Christians, a little ethnic tension existed.

[Their widows were neglected in the daily ministration] In Acts 4:32-35 we saw that the more prosperous in the church at Jerusalem gave freely to provide assistance to those in the church who had need. Whether or not the distribution was indeed unfair, the continuing dispute became a distraction to the work of the apostles and the church at large. (Now who could be behind something which could interfere with the spread of the Gospel? Revelation 12:12).

2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

[It is not reason that we should leave the Word of God,] A good management decision. One subject often overlooked by theological schools is
How to manage an organization. 1. Set goals. 2. Determine the tasks required to meet those goals. 3. Appoint the most mature and productive people available to those tasks. 4. Appoint people with good potential to the support roles so that they might learn and mature. 5. Frequently prune activities which detract from the goals.

5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:
6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

[And the Word of God increased.] The Holy Spirit led them to avoid a problem and continue persuing the main goal. Notice that even priests, some undoubtedly who had been initially led astray by their leaders, were coming to understand Scripture and accept Jesus Christ

8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.

[Stephen, full of faith and power,] Verse five describes Stephen as "Full of faith and the Holy Ghost". What is the key verse of Acts? Acts 1:8.

9 Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.
10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.

[Disputing with Stephen] These appear to be foreign Jews who had come to Jerusalem and encountered Stephen and felt obligated to defend their stalled version of the Jewish religion against the teaching of Stephen and the apostles. The Holy Spirit was making Stephen's teaching irrefutable..

11 Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.
12 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council,
13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:
14 For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.

[Then they suborned men,] So then, the only thing left to do was hire liars to discredit Stephen and his message in the hope of doing away with him. It is somewhat surprising that the Sanhedren permitted such accusations to be accepted in the court. It was old news and old tricks which had already been used against Jesus. For example, the claim that Jesus had promoted the destruction of the temple was already understood by the Jews and the Romans as referring to his own death and resurrection. After the crucifixion the priests had asked the Romans for a guard at the tomb to prevent the disciples from stealing Jesus' body to make it appear that Jesus' prediction about himself had come true. Matthew 27:62-66.
Oh well. When one needs an excuse, any old excuse will do.

15 And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.

[His face as it had been the face of an angel] This was a physical manifestation which could not be ignored by the onlookers. Did it cause them to be a little careful in their judgement of Stephen?


This page updated 02/17/2008

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