May 20th Acts 6 Seven deacons chosen
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. 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. 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.
8: And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. 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. 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. 15: And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.
In the multitudes of people that believed there were Greek speaking and Hebrew speaking Jews. When it came to the provision of daily food for the poor widows of Jerusalem the Greek speaking widows were being missed out in the distribution of food. This could have easily lead to a division in the church. The twelve apostles called together the whole multitude and said. It is not reasonable that we should leave our work of Prayer and the ministry of the word to serve at tables. Its not that it was beneath them rather the work that were doing already was top priority. So they said, You go away and look out from among you seven men and bring them to us and we will appoint them over this work. The apostles gave the criteria of the men that were to be chosen. They were first to be honest men. There was to be no underhand carryings on or corruption. They were to be men full of the Holy Spirit. This means that their life and ministry was to exhibit the characteristics of living in the power and direction of the Holy Spirit. And they were to be men of wisdom. They were men who were alert, clever and understanding the ways of God and men. This really pleased the disciples and so they chose Stephen a man of outstanding faith and obvious manifestations of the Holy Spirit. And they chose six other men mostly if not all Greek speaking Jews. These seven were put before the Apostles and they laid hands on them and ordained them to the work. The result of this administrative adjustment was that the preaching of the word of God increased and there was a large increase in the number of the disciples. A great number of priests were converted too. Stephens ministry increased immensely He was full of faith and power of the Holy Spirit. And he did great wonders and miracles. When we meet l would like him to tell me what they were. Stephen eventually started to face opposition. In the synagogue there was a party called the Libertines. They joined with the men of Cyrenia, Alexandria, Cilicia and Asia to oppose Stephen. However they soon found that God had a champion in Stephen he was more than able to preach the word of God. They were unable to resist the wisdom and spirit of his teaching. So true to form they turned to plot his murder. They had to give this an appearance of legality so they bribed false witnesses (thus breaking the Mosaic Law) They testified that Stephen has spoken blaspheme against Moses and God. Notice they said Moses first. They regarded blaspheme against Moses as greater than blaspheme against God. They stirred up trouble and arrested Stephen and brought him to the Jewish Council. They accused him of the same crime as Christ himself. Who they said that he said he would destroy this temple and that he would change the customs and laws of Moses. Notice again this Freudian slip. They were more concerned with their customs that the law of Moses. The Mishnah had taken over in the Jewish mind the place of scripture. They all looked at Stephen but he stood before then in manner like an angel of the Lord.
- What was the problem that the Jerusalem church faced regarding the distribution of food?
- How did the apostles handle the situation?
- What was the effect of this administration?
- What sort of person was Stephen?