Acts 6:1 “…against the Hebrews by the Hellenists…”
Unrest among the new believers. The Hellenists were Jews from outside Israel who spoke Greek as their native language. Apparently there was some prejudice between those born in Israel and those without so that the Hellenist widows were being overlooked during the daily distributions. So far we’ve seen obstacles of interpretation of the scripture, the truth of God’s plan, obstacles of the religious leaders and of persecution and suffering, obstacles of sin among the believers, pride and disrespect. Now we have the obstacle of prejudice and the need for delegation.
3-4 “…seek out from among you…we will give ourselves continually to prayer…”
The apostles saw the need, but they also realized they could not continue to be the immediate source of guidance for so many people. Much like Moses when he led the children of Israel out of Egypt. The apostles took a similar approach. Choose godly men to take care of the maintenance work while they continued with what Christ left them to do, study and teach the word. Even the Levites used similar methods. Not all were priests. Others had duties they performed as needed.
5 “…Stephen…Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas…”
The ones most see as the first deacons or servants. They were men of good reputation, wisdom, and full of the Holy Spirit, but they weren’t given great authority over anyone. They were to be servants of the people in true fashion as Christ was a servant.
7 “…great many of the priests were obedient to the faith”
The religious leaders had a hard time believing, but some of the priests recognized the truth. Very encouraging.
8 “…Stephen, full of faith and power…”
God uses whom He wishes. Here we see that He has chosen to open doors of service to Stephen. And Stephen was faithful to the opportunities.
9 “…Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia)…”
Commentaries say these were Jews from other areas, some had been captives of Rome that were released, others were from different geographical areas. At any rate, they were practicing Jews and objected to the teachings of the believers. However, when they tried to contend with Stephen, they could not withstand his reasoning, being powered by the Holy Spirit.
11-14 “…they secretly induced men…stirred up the people…set up false witnesses…”
Some things never change. Whenever a group cannot withstand the truth of another and they realize they have no basis for their own beliefs in the face of opposition, they turn to personal attacks to try and discredit their enemies. People will choose to hold on to lies rather than face truth, especially when it doesn’t allow them to have their own way or do as they please.
15 “…saw his face as the face of an angel”
Stephen is so filled with the Spirit it begins to manifest itself in his physical appearance. Interesting, the religious have been given several opportunities to do what was right, to recognize the power of God among them and follow Him. Yet they turn down all chances. Hearing the truth will turn them again to hatred, anger, and murder.
I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word. May it accomplish what He desires. Please feel free to comment or post questions. Thanks for reading!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.