Division in the Church
Acts 6:1-8 – October 16, 2022
Acts 6:1. It is almost 2 years since Pentecost and the church is now over 5,000 in size. Factions had begun to appear and had coalesce into two groups. The two groups are as Luke tells us the Greek or Hellenistic Jews from the Diaspora and the Hebraic Jews.
There was a larger number of Hellenistic widows due to the custom of many Jews of the Diaspora returning to Jerusalem in their old age so they would be buried there.
Whatever the reason, there was the perception by the Hellenistic Jews that favoritism was being given to the Hebraic widows and the Hellenistic widows were being neglected.
Acts 6:2-4. The Apostles revealed their plan to delegate the management of the church’s benevolence ministry to seven men. The church would choose the seven men, but the Apostles would commission them for the tasks at hand. The qualifications were few, they had to be men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and wisdom.
Guzkik writes, God has and will raise up others to serve in other ways. A pastor should not have his time consumed in tasks that are essentially serving tables. Yet there is something wrong with a pastor who considers such work beneath him.
Guzik in his teaching on this was struck by what the Apostles were doing, they were giving their attention to prayer and the ministry of the word. He was struck by the equal attention given to prayer as well as the ministry of the word. It is easy for a pastor to spend so much time in the word that he neglects prayer.
Acts 6:5-6. Seven men were chosen, and all had Greek, not Hebrew names. This indicated they were likely all Hellenistic Jews. Nonetheless they could be trusted by everyone to carry out their duties and ensure all the widows were taken care of.
The Apostles showed their approval of the seven by praying over them and laying hands on them. In doing so they effectively provided a measure of apostolic authority to the men. This would enable them to be recognized by the church community as a whole as representatives of the Apostles.
Acts 6:7. This makes sense as the Hellenists, did the right thing, they made the need known. The Hebrews, did the recognized that the Hellenists had a legitimate need and they trusted the solution of the apostles. The seven accepted the call to unglamorous service.
Satan’s hope to reduce the church to squabbling and infighting was defeated!
Acts 6:8. Stephen, one of the servants chosen to help the widows. God used Stephen because he was full of faith and power.Stephen may not have been the only one, but Luke brings special attention to him as he will become the first martyr of the church.
Bottom Line: Prayer and study of the word are both important in solving and addressing problems within the church, addressing them promptly and not letting them fester.D