Acts 6

acts-6.jpgGreetings!  The church was just starting and already they had problems.  It is good that these examples are in the Bible so we can see that even those who saw signs and wonders and Jesus in person still had squabbles.  There is a way to work them out that glorifies God. 

The primary purpose of the church – the ministry of the Word – could not be neglected.  Helping the poor is a vital part of our personal and church lives.  And different Christians have different roles.  But those who preach a “social gospel” to the exclusion of preaching the Gospel of the cross are missing the point. 

The Choosing of the Seven

6     In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”

5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

Stephen Seized

8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. 9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia. These men began to argue with Stephen, 10 but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke.

11 Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We have heard Stephen speak words of blasphemy against Moses and against God.”

12 So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”

15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

These men may have quoted Stephen somewhat accurately, but obviously with sinister motives. 

Do we never stop speaking of Jesus?  I know I need to speak of him more.  Do our churches?

Stephen’s shining face reminds me of Moses in Exodus 34:29: “When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.”

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One Response

  1. Cilicia, as mentioned in verse 9, was a Roman province in the southeast corner of Asia Minor adjoining Syria. Tarsus, the birthplace of Paul, was one of its principal towns. Since Saul was from Tarsus, this may have been the synagogue he attended, and he may have been among those who argued with Stephen. We know he was present when Stephen was stoned (Acts 7:58). With this possibility, it makes his conversion all the more amazing and wonderful. It took a lot for him to sway from what he knew and believed.

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