The apostles were trying to do too many things. So they delegated some of their duties, and focused on prayer and preaching. The results were explosive.
VERSE 1. Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, a complaint arose from the Hellenists against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily service.
the number of the disciples was multiplying. In those early days of the Christian movement, the number of believers was growing rapidly. They were multiplying from every part of society.
Even widows were coming to faith in Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, there was no way for widows to earn a living. So the believers took care of widows who became Christians.
their widows were neglected. The Greek-speaking widows felt that they weren’t being taken care of as well as the Hebrew-speaking widows. They complained.
VERSE 2. The twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not appropriate for us to forsake the word of God and serve tables.
The twelve summoned … the disciples. They called the community of believers together. Until this moment, the Twelve had been the ones to take care of the widows.
not appropriate for us. But now they saw that their own focus needed to elsewhere. The issue was their core issue. What was the mission of the Twelve? They said it was not to be waitstaff in the soup kitchen. They needed to stop doing that.
Rather, their mission was something else entirely.
VERSE 3. Therefore select from among you, brothers, seven men of good report, full of the Holy Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
we may appoint over this business. The apostles delegated the soup kitchen to others. That way, they could be devoted to their own mission.
Our translation. We will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.
devote. The word “devote” is interesting. In one of the great Japanese translations, it says, “sennen suru koto.” That means to be taken up, to be swirled up into, like a tornado sucks you up into the air.
Peter is saying the Twelve will be taken up, swirled up into prayer, and the ministry of the Word.
in prayer and in the ministry of the word. The apostles needed to focus on prayer and the Bible, and not on a food program.
They had the community of believers select seven men to take over the food program. Then the Twelve laid hands on those seven, officially appointing them to the food ministry. But as for the Twelve, they would narrow their focus back to prayer and the ministry of the Word.
In our day, there are a hundred things in the Christian life that you can do. There are hundreds of great projects that you can pretty much give your life to. Some people are involved in lots of different ministries; others in just a few.
The Twelve found it necessary to focus. They could only do a certain number of things in a day. Instead of doing lots of different things in a shallow manner, they decided to go deep, with only a few pursuits.
For them, it was prayer and the Word. Maybe that meant praying and Bible Study; maybe it meant preaching preparation and then preaching.
What place do prayer and Bible Study have in your life? Are they afterthoughts? Are they minor flavoring agents? Or are they the meat-and-potatoes of your life?
VERSE 5. These words pleased the whole multitude. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch;
VERSE 6. whom they set before the apostles. When they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
VERSE 7. The word of God increased and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem exceedingly. A great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
The word of God increased. After the Twelve re-dedicated themselves to prayer and Bible Study, the LORD God poured forth a fresh avalanche of new blessings. The Word of God spread even more rapidly.
disciples multiplied in Jerusalem exceedingly. After they ordained the seven deacons, the community experienced exponential growth. The number of disciples simply exploded.
This growth is due to the apostles getting back to their core mission: prayer and the Word.
In our day, many Christian leaders get sidetracked from prayer and preaching. Their motives are good. But the result is the same: a leader is not focused on prayer and preaching. And the congregation does not grow.
A great company of the priests. Even some priests came to faith in Jesus Christ.
In our day, people joke about this verse. They wish today’s (Catholic) priests would come to faith in Jesus Christ.
VERSE 8. Stephen, full of faith and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people.
VERSE 9. But some of those who were of the synagogue called “The Libertines”, and of the Cyrenians, of the Alexandrians, and of those of Cilicia and Asia arose, disputing with Stephen.
disputing with Stephen. Stephen is exercising the ministry of Apologetics.
They weren’t able to withstand. Stephen is quite gifted for the ministry of Apologetics.
VERSE 11. Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.”
they secretly induced men to say. That is, they persuaded some people to LIE.
VERSE 12. They stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes, and came against him and seized him, then brought him in to the council,
VERSE 13. and set up false witnesses who said, “This man never stops speaking blasphemous words against this holy place and the law.
VERSE 14. For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place, and will change the customs which Moses delivered to us.”
VERSE 15. All who sat in the council, fastening their eyes on him, saw his face like it was the face of an angel.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.