-The necessity for help now arises in the Church as it keeps growing and people have needs. Think about the numbers the text gives us about this early movement of Jesus followers (Acts 2:41; 4:4). There are probably around 10,000 members of His Body by now and some complaints arose between the Hellenistic Jews (who held to Greek customs and languages) and the native Hebrews because the Hellenistic Jews felt they were being overlooked in the daily serving of food (Acts 6:1).
-The twelve brought the congregation of disciples together and mandated that seven men be given charge of this service task. They lay down three important requirements of having a good reputation, being filled with the Holy Spirit, and being full of wisdom. The twelve maintained that they needed to be devoted to prayer and ministry of the Word, which necessitated this arrangement of what would later be termed deacons (from diakonos in the Greek). These were servants that helped in the work of the Church, and they are given qualifications in 1 Timothy 3:12-13. These men were approved of the whole congregation as great men of faith, and then brought before the apostles to be prayed over and anointed with the laying on of their hands (Acts 6:2-6). *Application* The modern Church in some denominations have given undue power and authority to the deacon body. The term deacon means “servant,” and this is to be their function. There is a different group given oversight of the local body of Christ. These are called elders, which have some diverse words describing them in the text of Scripture (pastor- poimen, episkopos, presbyteros). Here we must remember that the Church is an organism which has a Head, Jesus Christ, and is not an organization like the world operates. God has given each part of the body importance and relevance to the Kingdom advancement (1 Corinthians 12). Leaders must first be followers and servants to advance in Christ’s Kingdom. Think of the call Christ gave to Peter, James, John and the rest of the disciples. It was, “Come follow Me (Matthew 4:18; 9:9; 10:38; 16:24, John 1:43; 10:27 to name a few verses, there are many more).” Jesus modeled His leadership by washing His disciples’ feet and giving up His life for them. He followed His Father’s direction even though He was Deity. Followers become leaders if they do it God’s way. Here we see the advancement into leadership by the apostles and their desire to train up more men equipped to make the spiritual journey into church leadership. Always allow yourself time and patience in learning the art and tasks of a spiritual leader in God’s Kingdom. Build for yourself a good reputation, be full of the Holy Spirit and His fruits, and soak in spiritual wisdom from His Word.
-The word of God kept spreading and the numbers kept growing greatly in Jerusalem. Even a great number of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith (Acts 6:7).
-Stephen became a great man of God full of grace and power and performing great wonders and signs among the people. There was a newly formed group called the “Synagogue of the Freedmen (probably Jews from the Diaspora that were Greek speaking)” that stirred up the people by speaking lies against Stephen by seducing people secretly. This led to Stephen being dragged before the Jewish Council with accusations that he was against Moses, the Law, and the Temple. But as these religious men fixed their gaze on this remarkable follower of Christ filled with His Holy Spirit and all faith, Stephen’s face shone “like the face of an angel (Acts 6:8-15).” This sets up Stephen’s defense of the gospel in chapter 7. *Application* Here we see the hand of evil present to disrupt the spreading of the message of Christ as it was gaining great strength and power through the Holy Spirit. Count on this in your life as well. As soon as you move forward with Christ and His Kingdom there will be opposition and persecution trying to thwart, distract, and confuse the work of God. Pray against this, but expect this spiritual warfare. It will come in new and unique ways every time and we must be on our guard to recognize these threats. It is always wise to know the enemy so that he can be combated and overcome through the Lord.
Verse to Memorize: Acts 6:3