Acts 06

Acts 6

A. The appointment of deacons

1. (1) A dispute about the distribution of assistance to widows.

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 of food.

Satan had attacked the church from without - who by?

What kind of attack has he launched now? 

(Internal. Divide and conquer. Corruption)

Does he still use this form of attack? (breach Unity)

Who were the Hellenists and Jews? Were they Christians

Jews: “they are unspiritual”. Hellenists: “they are holier than thou”???

Temple still had obligations to widows. Were they discriminating against Christians?

Does the church have such obligations? (1 Timothy 5:3-16)

Was the church still growing? 

Did the problems arise because of this? 

They were organised enough to know the numbers, collect and distribute necessities but admin demands were growing.

This may have been an oversight - does Satan use oversights as well as deliberate actions?

2. (2-4) The apostles arrange for deacons to be nominated.

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. 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; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

Does the apostle’s response seem evidence of superiority?

Or do you think they were correct?

“Wait on tables” Did the “table” relate to money changer table and practical administration.

Did the apostles do as they said they would? (See V1, 7)

Did they follow Moses’ example in Exodus 18:24-26? (delegation)

Who were to choose the seven men? (on a daily roster?)

What criteria must they meet?

Should the church follow this example? 

(1 Timothy 3:8-13  “Deacon” word not used in Acts)

3. (5-7) The selection of deacons.

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, whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them. 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.

How well did the apostle’s idea go down?

Was this democracy? Or an example of Christian unity? Government by consensus?

Were the 7 selected a good mix?

Why was important for the apostles to “lay hands on them”?

Distribution (Acts 6:1) and ministry (Acts 6:4) have same Greek word with the idea of service.

Were the roles of more or less importance/authority/respect? (John 13:1-5)

Did these changes help or hinder the spread of the gospel?

How would the authorities react to “a great many of the priests came to faith in Jesus.”?

B. Stephen’s witness and arrest.

1. (8-10) Stephen’s witness for God.

And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke.

Stephen was one of the 7 chosen to “wait on tables”. What else did he do?

How did he manage this - what enabled him?

Why couldn’t they resist Stephen when they disputed with him?

Could we be able to follow his example?

2. (11-14) The opposing Jews, defeated in debate, induce false accusations against Stephen.

Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” And they stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; and they came upon him, seized him, and brought him to the council. They also set up false witnesses who said, “This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us.”

Could you describe the opposing Jews as “poor losers”?

“False accusations”! “Fake news”? How contemporary is this?

Can false accusations win the day? What’s the defence?

Charges of blasphemy are rare in Australia - but not elsewhere! Examples?

What is an example of blasphemous words against Moses, this holy place and the law?

Jesus is greater than Moses.  Jesus is God. Jesus fulfilled the law

How had the crowds effectively protected the Christians (Acts 2:47)?

What is the example of crowds turning against Christians in Luke 23:18-23 and Matthew 26:59-61?

Why should we never let popular opinion shape the vision or focus of the church?.

3. (15) Stephen’s countenance when accused.

And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel.

How would you describe Stephen’s situation?

How did he look? 

How do you suppose he felt?

How is this like Exodus 34:29ff.  Matthew 17:2?  Matthew 28:20  Hebrews 13:5-6

1397 Modified: 31-08-2022
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