Chapter Six — Part One: The Book of ActsBy: Pastors Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne
Publish date: 06/13/2021
a. Acts 6:1 AMPC — Now about this time, when the number of the disciples was greatly increasing, complaint was made by the Hellenists (the Greek-speaking Jews) against the [native] Hebrews because their widows were being overlooked and neglected in the daily ministration (distribution of relief).
b. Before this, it appears that the Church was all in one accord.
c. The Church grew rapidly, and it took just six chapters of the Book of Acts before strife and division began to set in.
d. Murmuring (gongusmos) means: to murmur; muttering; a secret debate; a secret displeasure not openly avowed; grumbling; grudging.
e. Unfortunately, as often happens when people get in the flesh, division fell along language and identity lines.
f. They forgot that in Christ Jesus there is neither Jew nor Greek; but we are all one in Him.
g. The Greek-speaking Jews felt that the Hebrew-speaking Jews were being partial in the distribution of daily welfare to the widows.
h. We have no idea if they were or not; however, it was causing strife.
i. They felt like their widows were being overlooked and neglected, and instead of just asking for help, they started complaining among themselves.
j. Nothing good comes from murmuring and complaining.
k. Philippians 2:14 KJV — Do all things without murmurings and disputings.
l. Philippians 2:14 AMPC — Do all things without grumbling and faultfinding and complaining [against God] and questioning and doubting [among yourselves].
m. 1 Peter 4:9 cautions us to be hospitable toward one another, without murmuring, grudging, or complaining.
a. Acts 6:2 AMPC — So the Twelve [apostles] convened the multitude of the disciples and said, It is not seemly or desirable or right that we should have to give up or neglect [preaching] the Word of God in order to attend to serving at tables and superintending the distribution of food.
b. Serve (diakoneō): to serve or minister to.
c. These were the tables where collections were received, and distributions were made to the people.
d. It was not appropriate for the apostles to neglect preaching the Word of God to superintend the distribution of food.
e. Others were fully capable of serving tables, but not everyone was anointed to stand up and preach the Gospel.
f. Not that there was anything wrong with an apostle serving others in this way, but it was not the best use of their time or their abilities or their calling.
g. As when Paul admonished Timothy to focus on his ministry and calling, and to not neglect the ministry gift that was in him; but to put into practice what he was taught and what he was called to do (1 Tim. 4:13-16).
h. It is better for a person to take full responsibility for one area, and do it well, rather than dividing their time and energy, and doing neither task well.
i. Plus, it was a way to train and raise others up for their eventual ministry and calling.
j. Every one of us needs to grow and be trained and learn how to serve the Kingdom in whichever way we are needed—and you must start somewhere.
k. Also, leaders need to resist the urge to micro-manage everything; allowing others to grow and learn to take responsibility.
a. Acts 6:3-4 AMPC — Therefore select out from among yourselves, brethren, seven men of good and attested character and repute, full of the [Holy] Spirit and wisdom, whom we may assign to look after this business and duty. 4 But we will continue to devote ourselves steadfastly to prayer and the ministry of the Word.
b. They allowed them to choose out seven men from both factions, but they laid out criteria by which to choose them.
c. Men of character; with a good reputation.
d. Men of integrity; free from scandal; with no blemish or vice.
e. Faithful and trustworthy.
f. Known for their sincere and honest conduct.
g. Full of the Holy Spirit; and all His gifts and graces.
h. Full of wisdom, faith, and power.
i. Likewise, Paul later laid out the qualities required in a deacon in 1 Timothy 3:8-13.
j. Deacons, in like manner [should] be grave and dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy of gain, holding the mystery of the Faith in a pure conscience. And these moreover are to be first put to the test for the purpose of being approved, and then approved if they meet the specifications; then let them be serving as deacons, provided they are unaccused. Women, likewise [should be] grave and dignified, not slanderers, calm, dispassionate, and circumspect, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be one-wife sort of men [that is, married only once], ruling their children and their own households in a commendable way, for those who have ministered in the office of a deacon in a commendable manner acquire a good standing for themselves and much confidence in the sphere of faith which is in Christ Jesus (Wuest).
k. We need more men of faithfulness and godly character; men of ability, courage, discretion, and honesty (as in Ex. 18:21); faithful husbands and fathers; who fear God, hate covetousness, and are fully trustworthy with money.
l. We need men and women, with these qualities, serving in every area of ministry, in the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
a. Acts 6:5-6 AMPC — And the suggestion pleased the whole assembly, and they selected Stephen, a man full of faith (a strong and welcome belief that Jesus is the Messiah) and full of and controlled by the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte (convert) from Antioch. 6 These they presented to the apostles, who after prayer laid their hands on them.
b. The people chose them, and the apostles prayed, approved of them, and ordained them.