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Widows Among the Hellenists Neglected
Earlier, Luke told Theophilus that various ones sold some of their possessions and laid the money at the feet of the apostles. He further reported that the money was distributed among the brethren according to need. Now, Luke reports that a complaint arose among the Hellenists, who likely were converts from among the Jews who had been scattered throughout the world and now spoke Greek and followed the customs of those using the same language. They felt their widows were not being cared for as well as the widows of the Hebrews, or those who spoke Aramaic, in the daily distribution, or serving of tables. Whether the charge resulted through an accidental or intentional oversight is not known. However, the perceived problem obviously threatened the peace and unity of the young church ( Act_6:1 ).
The Apostles' Solution
The apostles said it was not appropriate for them to cease devoting their full energies to the word in order to serve tables. Instead, the apostles directed the members of the congregation to look among their own number to find seven men qualified to carry out this important task. It is always good for men who will manage monetary affairs or hold positions of authority to be selected by the people they will serve. The men chosen had to be men who were known among the brethren as good men. They had to be full of the Holy Spirit, which may have meant they had to possess miraculous gifts or it may simply have referred to their fully displaying the fruits of the Spirit. This writer believes the latter was intended. Of course, they also would need "skill in the management of affairs," which Thayer says is the definition of "wisdom." The apostles planned to appoint the seven selected to attend to this important matter. Meanwhile, they planned to continue to focus on prayer and ministering to others with the word of God ( Act_6:2-4 ; Gal_5:22-26 ).
Since that solution sounded good to all concerned, the whole multitude of believers set about the task of selecting men so qualified. They chose Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, who, Luke tells us, was a proselyte from Antioch. The seven were then brought before the apostles who laid their hands on them after going to God in prayer. It is always good to approach God about any matter Christians are about to undertake and especially when church problems are involved. The laying on of the apostles hands surely placed the seven officially in office, much like swearing in a new president, and may have actually involved bestowing on them miraculous gifts. Handling the problem in such a way resulted in further growth in the church through the spreading of the word of God. In fact, the number of Christ's followers was multiplied. Luke even told Theophilus that a large number of priests obeyed the faith ( Act_6:5-7 ).
One of the Seven, Stephen, Accused of Blasphemy
The record of great miracles being wrought by Stephen is the first such by anyone other than an apostle. It should be noted that such was not accomplished without a laying on of the apostles' hands. The miracles attracted the attention of the members of a synagogue which was comprised of people from among the Freedmen, or freed slaves. These came from various cities outside of Palestine. Since Cilicia, where Tarsus is located, is specifically mentioned, it may be that Paul attended this synagogue. Some confronted Stephen and began to debate with him concerning his teaching. They could not, however, refute the wisdom of Stephen's arguments, since it came from the Holy Spirit ( Act_6:8-10 ).
So, they bribed certain men to accuse Stephen of blasphemy, specifically, speaking against God's words as delivered by Moses. The aroused multitude, along with the elders and scribes, captured him and took him before the council. The false witnesses went so far as to say that Stephen said Jesus would destroy the temple. In actuality, our Lord had said the religious leaders of his day would destroy the temple of his body, which would then be raised up in three days. Too, the change in God's covenant was foretold by the Almighty through his prophets ( Act_6:11-14 ; Jer_31:31-34 ).
A Face Like an Angel
Perhaps Paul reported to Luke the remarkable appearance of the face of Stephen. Luke told Theophilus that those in the council saw Stephen's face "as the face of an angel." The closest thing to this experience is found in Exo_34:29-35 which reports that Moses' face shone after he had been with the Lord to the point that people could not look directly at him. Despite Stephen's appearance, the high priest asked him if the accusations of blasphemy, which had been brought against him, were true ( Act_6:15 ; Act_7:1 ).
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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Acts 6". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany