The Choosing of the Seven: Acts 6:1-7

     Luke tells us that this was a time when the Body Of Christ was growing by leaps and bounds.  In verse 1 we have the first mention, in the Book Of Acts, of the word Disciple.  Verse 1 also tells us that there arose a dispute between  the Hebrews and the Helenistic Jews.  Who were these groups? First of all, the Hebrews were the native born Jews who had accepted Jesus as the Messiah.  The Helenistic Jews were the ones who had been born in or  brought up in places where the Greek language was spoken and the Greek culture was predominant.  These also had come to Jesus as the Lord in their life.  Luke tells us that the widows in this group were being neglected in the daily serving of food.  We are not told why just that they were.

     We are told that the twelve called the people together. The Twelve informed them that they did not have the time to wait n 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  here that they were deacons.  It is interesting to note that the qualifications  for a deacon as found elsewhere in Scripture, are not the ones that are mentioned   here.  R.J. Kidwell, professor of Bible at the Cincinnati Bible College,  gives us this insight,

     “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 are no elders in the church at this time, if these men were actually deacons, it would mean that  the  office was established before the  eldership. The qualifications for these ‘seven’ are not the same qualifications set forth later for the office of ‘deacons.’ It is also observed “that when we read of these men later they  are not serving in the Jerusalem as ‘deacons’ but some are 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.’”

     What were the qualifications for “the seven?” Men  of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit,  of wisdom.  The apostles said that the ones chosen would be put in charge of the task of serving the widows in the daily serving of food. Verse 4 gives us who  the church in Jerusalem chose as “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 in creasing 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 the Book  of Acts, We will be mentioning the ministry of Phillip later in our :
study.   At this time, and in the next chapter, we are going to center our thoughts on Stephen, who became the first Christian martyr.

      Verse 8 informs us that Stephen was doing great  works and performing signs and wonders.  This  would be as  a result laying on of the hands of the twelve. 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 informs us where these men came 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. We  are told that he was speaking with the backing of the Holy Spirit.  Verse 11  reminds us of the trial of Jesus Christ.  Just as the authorities could not find anything to condemn Jesus, they could find nothing against Stephen.  So, we are told that 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 not that 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 preaching things contrary to the Mosaic Law.  Verse 11 say they accused him of blasphemous words against Moses and against God. Verse 13 tells us that the false witnesses came forward and lied about what. Stephen had taught .  In verse 14 were informed that they were misquoting Stephen’s words.  Just as they twisted the words of Jesus Christ, they were twisting the words of His servant Stephen..  Stephen was accused of preaching that Jesus was going to destroy the temple and alter the Mosaic Law.  The concluding verse in the chapter says  that the Council, as they gazed on Stephen face, saw Stephen’s face as that of an angel.

     Please read the 7th chapter  of Acts in preparation for  our  next  study. 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.”

Larry Miles is Co-Editor of Work & Work and attends Cherry St. Church of Christ in New Albany, IN.