Chapter 6: Acts 6: 1- 15, Church growth, Conflict resolution, Stephen
Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your inspired, infallible, inerrant, timeless, and precious word to us. We pray that You will prepare, soften, enlighten, and mold our hearts as we open to the book of Acts 6, in Jesus’ name, Amen
V1, 1 Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.
The first-century Christian church grew rapidly from 120 disciples before Pentecost to 8000 disciples after Pentecost. The apostles were overwhelmed by the rapid church growth and could not cope up with the demands of the daily food distribution. There were two groups of Jews, the Hellenist, Greek-speaking Jews, and the Hebrews speaking Jews. The Greek-speaking Jews claimed that they were unfairly treated by the Hebrews speaking Jews in the daily distribution of food.
VV 2-7, 2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit 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 the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, 6 whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them. 7 Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.
The apostles appointed seven Spirit-filled deacons, of good reputation and wisdom, to oversee the daily food distribution. They chose Stephen, Philip, and five other deacons with Greek names. The apostles prayed and laid hands on them. The Word of God multiplied and the church continued to grow in numbers. Even many of the priests, who were Sadducees, believed and were converted.
VV 8-15, 8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen. 10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. 11 Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12 And they stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes, and they came upon him, seized him, and brought him to the council. 13 They also set up false witnesses who said, “This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law, 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us.” 15 And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel.
Stephen stepped onto the scene. He was Spirit-filled, full of faith, wisdom, and knowledge. and did many great signs and wonders among the people. Some Hellenistic Jews from the Synagogue of the Freedmen became jealous of Stephen’s sudden rise to fame. Unable to beat him in arguments, they plotted malice against him by framing false charges against him. They falsely accused Stephen of blasphemy against Moses and God. The elders and scribes arrested Stephen and brought him to the Jewish religious council for questioning. False witnesses were brought in to testify against Stephen. They charged Stephen for blasphemy against the temple, the law, and Moses. Stephen’s face shone like an angel.
The first-century Christian church has to deal with the issue of sudden growth and conflict resolution. They came up with the right solution by appointing deacons of good reputation into a working committee. This is an example that we can follow.
Stephen’s sudden rise to fame attracted jealousy and opposition from hostile Jews who plotted against him. Avoid jealousy. Jealousy is dangerous. There is no place for jealousy in the kingdom of God.
Heavenly Father, speak to us through Your words as only You can. We pray for soft, teachable, fruitful, obedient, listening, and humble hearts. We pray for biblical literacy, insight, and knowledge. We claim the promise that Your word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. We pray for spiritual heartburn to keep our hearts burning, in Jesus’ name, Amen.