Acts Part 10: The Seven

Acts 6:1-7 NIV

In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 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. Brothers and sisters, 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 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”

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. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

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.

V. 1: Growing Pains

  1. The Spirit-filled Church was growing. Growth can be good or bad. In this case it was good, but growth always increases the potential for conflicts and issues of all kinds (cf. Proverbs 14:4).
  2. The ethnic makeup of the Church was almost exclusively Jewish, although there was a cultural and linguistic difference between the Hellenistic Jews and the linguistic Jews, which contributed to misunderstandings and disparities among them.
  3. This setup also presupposes the Church had a feeding program for the widows and others living on the margin (Acts 4:35; 1 Timothy 5:3-16).

VV. 2-4: Setting Order

  1. The Apostles could no devote no more time to this matter because it was causing them to “neglect the ministry of the word of God and prayer.”
  2. The Apostles proposed to the rest of the disciples that they should select seven servants to administrate the Church’s feeding program.
  3. The qualifications of the servants: “full of the Spirit and wisdom.” “Full of the Spirit” meaning they had received the filling of the Spirit first seen at Pentecost, which impled they were capable of preaching (Acts 2:1-4; 4:31). “Wisdom” referred to their reputation of prudent and godly living (cf. 1 Timothy 3:8-13).

VV. 5-6: Seven Servants

  1. The seven men selected all have Greek names, suggesting that there was no ethnic partiality in their selection. Race, class, and other external considerations, are NOT a qualification for leadership.
  2. Two of the men, Stephen and Philip, would be highlighted in the chapters to come. Hands were laid on them in a solemn ceremony to show the transference of power and authority. These servants were not mere volunteers or interns. This occasion sets the precedent for the office of a deacon, and signifies that new Spirit-filled leaders were being raised up!

V. 7: Room to Grow?

  1. The solution allows for the Apostles to minister, the widows to be fed, and the word of God continued to spread! This demonstrates how those gifted with administration help serve the mission of the church.
  2. However, the Church will soon outgrow Jerusalem, and God will sovereignly expand its borders, both geographically and ethnically.

Are you a Spirit-filled leader that will help take the Church to the NEXT LEVEL?

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