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Some Widows Were Neglected Acts Six
"Perfect unity" is the term that best described the early days of the church. "And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul..." ( Act_4:32 ) As the church grew into a multitude some began to murmur. They felt that their widows were being neglected. The task of caring for everyone was just to great for the apostles. They needed help in seeing that the widows were properly cared for. They also needed much time for prayer and preaching.
Seven qualified men were selected to assist in caring for the widows. These were "seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom." When the seven men were selected the apostles prayed for them and laid their hands on them. The apostles wanted the widows cared for properly. The neglect had not been intentional. A mistake had occurred and the apostles wanted it rectified.
Even during this time the church continued to grow. "And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith." ( Act_6:7 )
Stephen not only helped to care for the widows, but he was also a powerful preacher. The Bible says that, "Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people." He was the first named, other than the apostles that performed miracles. Some disputed with Stephen but they "were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spoke." When they could not answer his arguments as a disputant they brought false wit-nesses against him. The false witnesses said, "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God." ( Act_6:11 )
When the council looked upon Stephen they "saw his face as it had been the face of an angel." ( Act_6:15 ) Stephen spoke with meek-ness. He was calm, clear, collected and fearless. His shinning face proved that he had not spoken blasphemous words against Moses or God. How would the splendor of heaven rest upon one that spoke in such a horrible way?
The first dissension in the church Act_6:1-4 : Until this time, the growth of the church had been great and the harmony of the church had been undisturbed. The number of disciples continued to grow rapidly. There were twelve, then a hundred and twenty, three thousand more, then five thousand more, and after that a multitude of men and women and now the number continued to multiply. In the midst of this time, "there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration." ( Act_6:1 )
The apostles found themselves unable to minister to every demand. When the Gospel is preached and there is an increase Satan does his best to get a footing. Have you ever noticed how often Satan is able to stir up trouble with the cry of "partiality?"
The Apostles did not feel that God would be pleased if they left the word of God to serve tables. They felt that they should commit themselves to the study of God's word, meditation upon it, and the preaching of it. It takes a great deal of time to collect for the poor, check out each case, and circumstances, and distribute to those needs. The apostles felt that they should reserve themselves for spiritual services.
The church selecting seven good men to be appointed over this work resolved the problem. These were to be men full of the Holy Ghost and of wisdom. Wisdom would allow these brethren to handle the benevolent needs in a most prudent manner. The apostles were then able to give themselves to prayer and preaching.
The complaint was heard no more Act_6:5-7 : The wisdom of the decision to appoint these seven men was obvious as it was accepted by the church. Seven Grecian men were selected and the apostles sanctioned the selection. "They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch." ( Act_6:5 )
The Apostles prayed for these seven men and laid their hands upon them. The laying on of hand was for the purpose of conferring of spiritual gifts and it likewise showed the confidence of the apostles in these men to do the work that needed to be done. The work of the seven brought satisfaction and no more complaints were heard. The result was the "word of God increased" and the disciples multiplied in number. "A great company of the priests were obedient to the faith." The faith is that system brought about by Jesus. Jesus Christ is the great object of faith. Faith is of no profit unless it is mixed with obedience. Those that are obedient to the faith cheerfully submit to New Testament teaching.
Stephen was accused of blasphemy Act_6:8-11 : The rapid growth of the church led to the third Jewish persecution. During this persecution, Stephen, one of the seven, became the victim. Stephen, a man full of grace and power, spoke for God with irresistible eloquence. He preached with power and performed great wonders and signs. Until this time we only read that the apostles had performed New Testament miracles.
Many of the people hated the doctrine that Stephen taught, and they envied his miracles. "Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen." ( Act_6:9 ) They disputed with Stephen concerning his doctrine, miracles and his authority for doing these things. They could not answer Stephen so they hired false witnesses to say Stephen had spoken "blasphemous words against Moses, and against God."
The face of an angel Act_6:12-15 : The Jews were unable to answer the things that Stephen taught about Jesus. They accused him of blasphemy against Moses and the customs he had delivered. They charged Stephen with blasphemy for saying Jesus would destroy the Temple. They stirred up the people against him and seized him with violence.
They said Stephen spoke "blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law" because they heard him say, "that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us." Though there was some truth in the testimony of the false witnesses, yet they put a wrong and malicious construction upon what Stephen had said. It is true that Jesus changed many things religiously. The wonderful sacrifice of Jesus caused all Jewish sacrifices to cease.
Joy in heavenly hope caused Stephen's face to shine as the face of an angel. This man of God displayed total calmness and serenity. Whenever character is under the influence of Jesus Christ it shines.
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.
Box, Charles. "Commentary on Acts 6". "Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany