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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament
Acts 6

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

Acts 6:1. πληθυνόντων) viz. ἑαυτούς [multiplying themselves]. In the case of a multitude, a cause of murmuring easily arises.— τῶν ἑλληνιστῶν, of the Hellenists) These were Jews born outside of Palestine, to whom it seems the Greek tongue, besides the Hebrew, was vernacular: as in our days there are many Lusitanian, German, etc., Jews.— παρεθεωροῦντο, were overlooked) without any evil design. The apostles were not sufficient for the administration of all things at once.— αἱ χῆραι, their widows) who, even in a society of saints, are more easily forgotten, since men are better able to urge their own claims.


Verse 2

Acts 6:2. ἡμᾶς, that we) the apostles.— καταλείψαντας, having left) They were not able at once to attend to both: for which reason they sustain that function which is the more noble. It is dangerous to leave those duties which have been especially entrusted to us. This often happens whilst we are unconscious of it. The bishops have put far away from them this principle, since they have become so involved in worldly things, that spiritual things, excepting the solemn outward pageant, are almost entirely swallowed up in their princely function.— διακονεῖν τραπέζαις, to minister to tables) The phrase expresses the doing of something unworthy of their office. The antithesis is the ministry of the word, Acts 6:4. What were the functions of the deacons in the primitive Church, is a subject of copious disquisition: but the matter may be comprised in a few words. It was the especial duty of the bishops, apostles, evangelists, etc., to preach the word of GOD it was their secondary duty to have a kind of fatherly care (for the Church was, at the beginning, like a family) of the sustenance, particularly of the poor, of strangers, of widows, etc. But the deacons, of both sexes, were appointed strictly to have the same care of the sustenance of the brethren: and in that department they felt it necessary to bestow very much exertion on the church of Jerusalem; in other places, more or less care as circumstances suggested; whatever exertions they could make, after their principal duty was attended to, they devoted to the preaching of the word.


Verse 3

Acts 6:3. ΄αρτυρουμένους, testified of as to character) Against whom no suspicion of wrongful dealing militated, although there was no need of an oath, a giving of security, or written bond, etc. Comp. 2 Kings 12:15; 2 Kings 22:7. After the example given in Ananias, who was so severely punished in a case affecting his own property, no one would be so (very) ready to break faith in the case of the property of another.— ἑπτὰ, seven) These were appointed, not at the beginning, but after the apostles, and by the apostles. In the government of the Church, GOD has left many things to be settled according as the successive occasions (times) may require; but the Church ought to establish nothing without God. There had been about five thousand men; ch. Acts 4:4; now, with the additions that were made in the meantime, such a number was made up, as that there should be a deacon apiece for the care of the several thousands [viz. seven.].— πλήρεις, full) It is no unimportant matter to dispense the property of the Church. Even in a quæstor (one in charge of the public revenues) and in a deacon, as such, there ought to be administrative and sanctifying gifts. [To wit, ecclesiastical goods are not to be regarded as a spoil, but are to be administered in a spiritual manner, and in such a way as those seven, or as even the apostles themselves, if they were still alive, would use them. God Himself will at some time require an account.—V. g.]— καταστήσομεν) The Indicative, as in 1 Corinthians 6:5; Ephesians 6:16,(44) etc.; Philippians 2:20.


Verse 4

Acts 6:4. τῇ προσευχῇ καὶ τῇ διακονίᾳ τοῦ λόγου, to prayer and the ministry of the word) Prayer takes precedency of the ministry of the word.— προσκαρτερήσομεν, we will give ourselves continually to) We will make these our sole pursuit. These are most noble functions, which no bishop can delegate to another, as though he himself were intent on more important matters.


Verse 5

Acts 6:5. παντὸς, the whole) Beautiful harmony, accompanied with obedience.— στέφανον, Stephen) From the Greek names, in addition to other reasons (for instance, lest the Hebrews should have an advantage over the Hellenists in the distribution of food), it is inferred that these seven were in part Hebrews, in part Hellenists Many Jews had Greek names.— πλήρη, full) He was eminent in fulness of the Holy Ghost: the others are not excluded; Acts 6:3.— πίστεως, of faith) Not merely faithfulness (in temporal matters), but spiritual faith.— παρμενᾶν, Parmenas) Parmenio. So it is written in the Chronicon Alexandrinum.— προσήλυτον, a proselyte) The proselytes might betake themselves for assistance to him who was himself a proselyte. Proselytes, when well tried, may be even employed in offices.


Verse 6

Acts 6:6. προσευξάμενοι, having prayed) viz. the apostles. The subject of the former verb, they set, is different from that of the latter, they (the apostles) laid hands; so ch. Acts 8:17.


Verse 7

Acts 6:7. ηὔξανε, increased) Whilst harmony was maintained, and assiduity in the word of GOD.— ὄχλος, the multitude) The expression ὄχλος is applied even to a not very large number; ch. Acts 1:15; Luke 5:29; Luke 6:17; John 12:17. Wherefore there is nothing improbable in this passage. As to the priests, there might have been less hope: now, as it is, others are influenced in the greater numbers, owing to their example. The rest of the people are alluded to in the next clause.—[ ὑπήκουον τῇ πίστει, were obedient to the faith) Faith here denotes the testimony of the Gospel, which is most worthy of belief: wherefore in other passages the expression is used, to obey the Gospel, Romans 10:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; and thence, obedience to the faith, Romans 1:5; Romans 16:26. GOD exhibits to us His testimony; which he who receives as true, submissively lends his ears, and so renders obedience.—V. g.]


Verse 8

Acts 6:8. στέφανος δὲ, but Stephen) Stephen, though appointed for the administration of outward concerns, yet also discharges spiritual functions. In a sound state of the Church, all things tend to rise upwards: in a diseased state of it, all things verge downwards, towards deterioration.


Verse 9

Acts 6:9. ἐκ τῆς συναγωγῆςἀσίας, of the synagogue—of Asia) This whole description applies to one and the same synagogue, which was at Jerusalem, and was then in a most flourishing state, attracting the eyes of all to it, consisting of foreign nations, Europeans, Africans, and Asiatics: for instance, it had in it Saul of Cilicia. Whence furthermore it is very probable that Gamaliel, the famous teacher (doctor) of the law, as being the preceptor of Saul, presided over this very synagogue, and that this commotion was excited either without his privity, or against his will.— λιβερτίνων, of the Libertines) A Roman term. For many Jews were at Rome; ch. Acts 18:2, Acts 28:17 : and of these, many who had been made captives in former wars, and had been brought to Rome, having readily recovered their liberty (for the Romans had no liking for Jews), had returned to Jerusalem, and perhaps had brought with them many proselytes in the same condition, that is Libertini. See Reineccii Annot. on this passage. Therefore, instead of Romans, they are called Libertines. Add the note on ch. Acts 2:10.— τῶν ἀπὸ) Construe, ἐκ τῆς συναγωγῆς τῶν ἀπὸ κιλικίας.


Verse 10

Acts 6:10. τῇ σοφίᾳ, the wisdom) Wisdom is a most powerful thing (Acts 6:8).— καὶ τῷ πνεύματι, and the Spirit) The epithet Holy is not added, as in Acts 6:3; Acts 6:5. His adversaries felt that there was a spirit in Stephen: they did not know that it was the Holy Spirit who was in him.


Verse 11

Acts 6:11. τότε, then) The resource of those who prop up a falling cause.— εἰς, against or towards) The calumniators first speak here indefinitely; then definitely, Acts 6:13-14.— τὸν) God Himself. The article implies an ἐπίτασις (augmented force, as compared with ΄ωυσῆν, which has no article. See Append.)


Verse 12

Acts 6:12. συνεκίνησαν, they stirred up) κινεῖσθαι, to be moved or stirred up, is especially said of that which is not moved by reason: ch. Acts 21:30.— τὸν λαὸν, the people) which was powerful by reason of its numbers.— τοὺς πρεσβυτέρους, the elders) who were powerful in authority.— τοὺς γραμματεῖς, the scribes) who were powerful in learning.


Verse 13

Acts 6:13. οὐ παύεται, ceaseth not) They attempt to create odium against him.— ῥήματα λαλῶν, to speak words of blasphemy) The same phrase occurs in Luke 12:10.— τοῦ νόμου, the law) See Acts 6:14, at the end. Comp. ch. Acts 21:28.


Verse 14

Acts 6:14. γὰρ, for) Observe the inference unfairly drawn from the best words, Acts 6:13.— οὗτος, this Jesus) Demonstrative, as in Deuteronomy 9:3, κύριος θεός σου οὗτος προπορεύσεται, but used by the adversaries of Stephen in bitterness, and contemptuously. With this comp. Luke 15:30, note (the elder son applies οὗτος contemptuously to the younger, the prodigal).— καταλύσει, shall destroy) Every calumny lays hold of some portion of truth. Stephen, inasmuch as it was now mature time, had intimated something of those things which were about to come to pass. And he seems almost to have seen farther into the truth concerning the abrogation of legal rites, than Peter did before the reply of the Spirit, ch. Acts 10:19, with which comp. what precedes, Acts 6:15.


Verse 15

Acts 6:15. ὡσεὶ πρόσωπον ἀγγέλου, as it were the face of an angel) The hidden glory of believers often shines forth even from their body, especially from a high cross, and in heaven. Even the face of Moses shone. Scripture, when it praises anything extraordinarily, calls it divine, or belonging to God; ch. Acts 7:20; or at least angelic: and splendour (brightness) is ascribed to the angels, and the angels were, without doubt, attending on Stephen.

 


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Bibliography Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Acts 6:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/acts-6.html. 1897.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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