Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Acts 6:1-7
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Acts 6:1
v1: The enormous growth of the church brought with it practical problems that needed to be solved. Luke describes this season in Jerusalem as “days when large crowds of people were becoming disciples.” With huge numbers pouring in, it’s not surprising that conflict arose. In this case, there was grumbling among the “Hellenists” toward the “Hebrews” because they felt their widows were not receiving their fair share of the resources being distributed. The “Hellenists” were basically Jews who spoke Greek, dressed like Greeks, and often had Greek names. They were usually Jews who had moved to Israel from other nations. When Luke says “Hebrews” he means those born and raised in Israel and whose native tongue was Hebrew. Actually, in those years most of the people in Israel didn’t speak Hebrew, but rather a language from Syria which was very similar to Hebrew, called “Aramaic.”

Monday: Acts 6:1, 2
v1 (continued): The Hellenists’ claim that their widows were “looked past” is highly unlikely since it appears that the apostles themselves were still running the benevolent ministry (Ac 4:34, 35; 6:2), but a language barrier did exist between the two groups and mistakes may have been made. At any rate, the perception of unfairness was enough to send the apostles to the Lord for guidance. v2: The Twelve convened a formal meeting of the entire church, probably at the southern steps of the temple, or some similar place, so all could hear. They said, “Us leaving the Word of God to serve tables is not pleasing,” and by this they certainly meant it was not pleasing to the Lord. Apparently, they were still the ones distributing the benevolent funds, which had been coming in since the first days of the church (Ac 2:44, 45; 4:32-37).

Tuesday: Acts 6:2, 3
v2 (continued): As time passed the number of people needing this aid grew rapidly, and the effort required on a daily basis became so demanding their participation in other areas of ministry was being reduced. The most serious result was that the apostles were preaching less. Others may have attempted to take their place, but their voice was irreplaceable. No one else had been personally taught by Jesus, to the same degree, or appointed by Him to lead His church. v3: It’s evident that the Twelve had already prayed and sought the Lord’s guidance in this matter, because they presented the congregation with a well-conceived plan. They told them to prayerfully reflect on those who were in the church and to identify seven men whose lives gave testimony to the fact that they were “full of the Spirit and wisdom.”

Wednesday: Acts 6:3
v3 (continued): These should be men in whom the congregation had already seen the Holy Spirit at work. And they should also be “full of wisdom,” which probably meant, in this case, that each had a history of honestly and successfully managing people and money. Once these candidates were duly nominated, the apostles said they would “set (them) down over this need” (literal), meaning they would publicly appoint them to oversee the distribution of funds. No explanation is given as to why exactly seven should be chosen. The number might have been borrowed from a pattern used in Jewish business practices (J. Rawson Lumby, Acts, Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges, J.J.S. Perowne, ed., Cambridge Univ. Press, 1904, p.153), but another possibility might be the fact that there are seven days in a week, and each man would be expected to handle the duties for an entire day. If so, this would not have been a full-time responsibility that pulled them away from everything else. Each man may have simply needed to reschedule one day each week to manage the benevolence ministry.

Thursday: Acts 6:3
v3 (continued): It does not appear that the apostles intended to create a formal “office” which would become a permanent part of all church government, yet they did leave an example by which they showed us how to respond when such needs arise. They showed us that it’s wise for the congregation to be involved in the process of nominating these ministers. Yet in doing so, they did not abandon their own authority. They were the ones who finally put the nominees in place, and to whom those ministers undoubtedly reported. So, a structure involving “elders” and “deacons” did emerge. And later on when Paul planted churches he used this same model (Ac 20:17; 1Ti 3:1-13; 5:17-19; Titus 1:5).

Friday: Acts 6:4, 5
v4: The apostles also showed us what they considered to be their most important responsibility. They said they had to continue to “press into” corporate prayer (Ac 1:13, 14) and the “ministry of the Word” (Ac 2:42). They understood these two activities to be foundational to everything else that was happening, and were soon proven correct by Luke’s observation in verse seven, “…and the Word of God grew and the number of disciples in Jerusalem multiplied greatly…” v5: After hearing the apostles’ proposal, the entire congregation indicated their approval. How this was done is not mentioned. Then they set to work selecting seven candidates. Luke lists their names partly to introduce Stephen and Philip, who will both soon make significant contributions of their own, but also to show the wisdom of the congregation in picking seven Hellenists to oversee the distribution of funds. If the Hellenists had felt overlooked in the past, then the congregation would select men who spoke fluent Greek so that mistake would not happen again. Each of the seven names is Greek.

Saturday: Acts 6:6, 7
v6: Luke says the congregation “set” the men before the apostles, whose first response was to pray and then after that they laid their hands on them (Ac 13:1-3). They may have conducted interviews with the seven and then withdrawn for a season of listening prayer to confirm each nominee. Then by laying their hands on them, they symbolically bestowed on them the authority needed to do the ministry they were being asked to do. v7: Luke concludes this passage by noting that the church continued to grow. What had started out as a problem ended up being used by God to make the church even more effective. The Word of God was now being preached to more and more people, even to the point of persuading a “great crowd of priests” to “obey the faith.” The number of people becoming “disciples” surged at a rate that was overwhelming. It’s interesting that Luke did not use the title “disciple” earlier in Acts, but now in chapter six he uses it three times in the first seven verses (vs 1, 2, 7). He previously used terms such as “multitude” (Ac 4:32), “church” (Ac 5:11) and “believers” (Ac 5:14), but here he begins to employ that familiar term found so often in the gospels, and will go on to use it a total of 28 times. By using this word, Luke assures us that even though massive numbers were pouring in, the quality of what was taking place within each individual was not diminished. People were becoming true disciples of Jesus Christ.

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