The following comments are designed to help you better understand the passage and stimulate your thinking on the implications of the scripture.
The following comments are designed to help you better understand the passage and stimulate your thinking on the implications of the scripture passage.
Chapter 6 begins with a conflict inside of the church. B. W. Winter explains the conflict:
The Hebrews and the Hellenists had their own separate synagogues in Jerusalem. But when they became Christians, they came together in one fellowship. As the church grew, some of the Christians believed that the church leaders were discriminating against the Hellenists unfairly (cf. Eph. 4:31; Heb. 12:15). The conflict ("complaint") arose over the distribution of food to church "widows" (cf. 2:44-45; 4:32—5:11). Care of widows and the needy was a priority in Judaism (Exod. 22:22; Deut. 10:18; et al.). The Jews provided for their own widows weekly—in their own synagogues— along with the poor. (Winter, “Providentia for the Widows of 1 Timothy 5:3-16,” 89)
The twelve disciples realize they need to continue preaching the Word of God and praying so they ask the community to select seven godly men. These men are not second class ministry leaders. Marshall states:
It is not necessarily suggested that serving tables is on a lower level than prayer and teaching; the point is rather that the task to which the Twelve had been specifically called was one of witness and evangelism. (Marshall, The Acts of the Apostles, 126)
Furthermore, Longnecker points out:
The 12 apostles wisely delegated responsibility for this ministry to other qualified men in the congregation, so that it would not distract them from their primary duties. This is the only reference to "the Twelve" in Acts (cf. 1 Cor. 15:5), though Luke referred to the Eleven earlier (Acts 2:14). "Serving tables" probably involved the organization and administration of ministry to the widows, rather than simply serving as waiters or dispensers (cf. Matt. 21:12; Luke 19:23). (Longnecker, “The Acts of the Apostles,” 331)
All seven men whom the congregation chose had Greek names. The community seems to have raised up seven Hellenist men to help solve the conflict making sure Hellenist widows are provided for – a wise solution indeed. Stephen and Philip come to the forefront through this conflict and will end up playing significant roles in things coming up in the book of Acts.
Many of the priests, we are told, start coming to Jesus at this time. Schnabel points out:
Most of the priests worked in a trade, except for two weeks every twelve months when they served in the temple. Josephus relates that during the time of Herod, there were quarrels between the chief priests and the ordinary priests living in the countryside; the chief priests were so shameless that they “send slaves to the threshing floors to receive the tithes that were due to the priests, with the result that the poorer priests starved to death.” If similar animosities existed in the 30s, it is perhaps not surprising that many priests came to faith in Jesus and joined the congregation of believers. (Schnabel, Acts, 336)
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