As we begin Acts 6, Luke now describes another attack by Satan upon Christ’s church by attempting to preoccupy the apostles with social administration so that they would neglect their God-given responsibilities to pray and to preach. As the church continued its significant numerical growth, the Greek-speaking Hellenist believers lodged a complaint that their widows were not receiving the same type of care from the church that the Hebrew widows were receiving: a complaint of neglect. The rapid growth of the church was a wonderful event, but that there was not a needy person among the entire congregation no longer rang true, the church now had a PROBLEM … a problem that Luke does not hide in tracing the advent and development of the church.
Since this problem affected the whole church community, the 12 apostles convened a gathering of the church to address the problem. They first stated that it would not be pleasing to God for them to set aside their Christ-appointed duty of preaching the gospel for this other (albeit important) duty of social care. There was now a substantial need for regular physical care of the needy within the church, but this need could not be fulfilled/administered by the apostles. Thus, the apostles proposed that the congregation evaluate men from their body who could ably attend to this duty. These 7 men needed to have a good reputation, to have a spiritual excellence about them, and to also be gifted by God to practically apply wisdom in complex situations requiring care. With this duty fulfilled by these 7 men, the apostles would again be able to fully devote themselves to persevering prayer and to the ministry of the Word … prayer, of course, being an absolute necessity to the ministry of the Word.
This proposal was favorably received by the congregation. After evaluation, observation, and examination of potential candidates, the congregation selected Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus. These 7 men had Greek names, suggesting that all of them were Hellenists, all coming from within the offended group from Acts 6:1. These men were placed before the apostles who confirmed the congregation’s decision, praying a commissioning prayer over the men, formally installing them to this role by laying hands upon them. Of the 7 men, Stephen and Philip would be featured in the coming narrative by Luke.
Through this rapid response to a problem that threatened to destroy the church’s unity and with all the church’s widows now properly cared for, Satan’s schemes were again brought to naught. With the church properly responding to and addressing a sizeable problem, God’s Word marched forward in great power, with a continuing numerical increase to the number of disciples gathered in (and still confined to) Jerusalem. Quite wonderfully, a high number of temple priests also became converted, as they recognized the true identity of Jesus, turning in submissive acceptance and obedience to Jesus. In this era of God’s redemptive plan, the temple of God is no longer confined to a fixed location; and through His Spirit-filled people, the stone that strikes the image in Daniel 2:35 is becoming a great temple mountain, filling the entire earth!
You can listen to this teaching on Acts 6:1-7 by clicking on the following link: Growing Pains – Care For the Body