The Choosing of Fellow Workers (Acts 6)

LarryMiles1The Choosing of the  Seven: Acts 6:1-17

Luke tells us that this was a  time when the early church  was  growing  by  leaps and bounds. In verse 1 we have the  first mention in the book of Acts  of the  word  “disciple.” Verse one  also tells us  that there arose a dispute between the  Hebrew and  Hellenistic (Greek Speaking) Jews. Who were these  groups? The  Hebrews were the native  born Jews who had  accepted Jesus as the Messiah and the  others were  Jews who had been born  or grew up in places where the Greek culture as  prevalent and the  Greek  language  spoken. Luke  tells us that the  widows in this  group were being  neglected in the  daily  serving of  food. We’re not told why, however.

We are told that the apostles called the people together. The Twelve told them that they did not have time to wait on tables themselves.  It was their ministry to be in prayer and teaching the Word. Verse 3 gives us the qualifications for, what some have said, is the office of deacon. It does not say they were deacons. It is interesting to note that the qualifications for a deacon as found elsewhere in Scripture, are not the ones mentioned here.  R. J. Kidwell writes the following,

“The men chosen in Acts 6 were selected for a ‘particular’ need in a ‘particular’ city at a ‘particular’ time and the word ‘deacon’ does not appear in the text. Since there were no ‘elders’  in the church at this time, if these men were actually deacons, it would mean that this office was established before the eldership. The qualifications for these ‘seven’ are not he same qualifications set forth later for the office of ”deacons.’  It is also observed that when we read of these men later they were not serving in Jerusalem as ‘deacon’ but some were preaching evangelists in far cities from Jerusalem. Note also when one of them is referred by Luke in Acts 21:8 he is not called a deacon but rather ‘one of the seven.’ This phrase may well be the best way to designate them: ‘the seven’, 

Verse 6 tells us that the apostles, after prayer, laid their hands on the seven. In verse 7 we are told that the Word of God  kept spreading and that the number of the Body kept increasing in Jerusalem. Also many priests came to know Jesus as the true Messiah of Israel.

The Ministry of Stephen. Acts 6:8-15

Of the seven who were chosen to serve the church in Jerusalem, only Stephen and Phillip get further  mention in Acts.  We will mention Phillip later in our studies. At this time and in the 7th chapter, we are going to center our thoughts on Stephen, the first Christian martyr.

In verse 8 we see Stephen doing great works and performing signs and wonders. This would be as a result of the laying on of the hands of the apostles. But he came upon some persecution in verse 9.  It says that some from the Synagogue of the Freedmen were debating  and arguing with Stephen. The verse also tells is where they were from.

Verse 10 tells us that the  Jews were  unable to hold their ground with  Stephen. These  Jews were  from provinces where the Greek  culture was predominant. Stephen was  speaking with the backing of the Holy Spirit. Verse 11 reminds one of the trial of Jesus. Juts as the  authorities could not  find anything  to  condemn Jesus, they could not  find anything with Stephen. We’re told they brought in false witnesses to  twist the truth. They  brought in people who were willing to lie about what they had heard the Christians preach and teach. Does that not remind you of the  trial of the  Lord of Glory?

Verse 12 tells us that the ones from the  Synagogue of the Freedmen were the ones  who stirred up the  people. Then they  dragged Stephen before the  Sanhedrin on the  trumped up charges of  blasphemy. They  accused him of teaching things  contrary to the  Mosaic Law.  Verse 13 says that that  the  false  witnesses came  forward and lied about  Stephen’s  actions, twisting  his   words. Stephen was accused of preaching that Jesus was  going to destroy the  temple and  alter  Mosaic Law. The concluding verse in the  chapter says that the Council, as they gazed on Stephen’s face, saw  Stephen’s face as that of an  angel

Please read the  7th chapter  of Acts. We will see how this man of God handled his defense before the Sanhedrin, The title of the next lesson will be “Stephen Gives the Sanhedrin a History Lesson.”



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