Friday, November 16, 2007

Acts, Chapter 6

Chapter 6 of Acts is short, but it is still very important as it shows another major step in the growth of the early church. As we have seen from past chapters, The church had begun the practice of sharing wealth, possessions and resources. As a result of this the church was growing so large that some people were beginning to be overlooked in the daily distribution of stuff. To this point the Twelve were still sharing and preaching the Word of God and handling on the administrative tasks of managing this material for thousands of believers. Naturally, they were overwhelmed and needed subordinate leadership to step in and help out.

2So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word." – Acts 6:2-4

This is where the heart of the servant comes in, as we see the men that were called not to the glory of spreading the gospel, but of simply maintaining the church. My home church in Indianapolis has often pointed out that 80% of the church work is done by 20% of the congregation. The apostles were far less than 20% of the congregation at this time, so you can only imagine the burdens they were under. We see in the verses following this charge the effect Stephen and his new management posse had on the early church. This freed up the Apostle to go and continue to teach, leading many more to Christ.

So what can we take from this example? Quite simply it is a call to serve, and it shows us there are ways we can serve the cause without becoming ministers. Think about your home church. How many people serve humbly in the background? There are some wonderful guys at my church that I play on the softball team with. On Sunday mornings only one or two of us play an obvious role, but almost every person serves the church in some way. We have two financial experts who help manage the church finances. We have another guy who runs the lighting upstairs. Another person runs the PowerPoint presentation each week. We have worships leaders, builders, and small group leaders up and down our roster. No one serves an overly extravagant role, but each role is important in service to the church itself.

"8Now Stephen, a man full of God's grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. 9Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia. These men began to argue with Stephen, 10but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke." – Acts 6:8-10

This is window dressing for what we will see in chapter seven, but Stephen serves as an example to all of here. He was singled out by the leaders of the day to bear the brunt of their wraith, but he stood strong in the face of their opposition. Verse ten shows though that for all the wisdom and leadership they were supposed to exhibit they were no match for the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was with Stephen as he stood before them, giving him strength at a time when he needed it most. He never stopped speaking about the love of Christ even though he was being accosted for it. We can only hope to have this amount of faith when facing oppression. Much like Peter and the rest of the Apostles in the previous chapter Stephen refused to back down in the face of opposition. He was emboldened by the Holy Spirit like we are promised to draw our strength from. As we will see in the future, this faith and strength will cost him his life.


  1. How are you being called to serve, referencing earlier lessons discussed here?
  2. Is serving in a Stephen type role more important than serving in an Apostolic role?
  3. What proof is there that Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit while facing the Synagogue of the Freedmen?

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