The Unity of the Church in Danger
Theme: God does not want His Church to be neglected.
Therefore, the Holy Spirit God appointed godly men by the Church to serve the growing Church.
First point to see how Luke is presenting the narrative is the continuity of the events - all are linked.
And in those days - indicates the time of the Apostles ministry.
However, notice that this is the first time the believers are called "disciples."
These disciples were multiplied - there was growth in Church!
With that growth there also came problems.
Grecians - Hellenistic Jews; this is a proof that many "others" are coming to know the Lord.
They had issues with Hebraic Jews.
What is the problem?
They widows were neglected in daily service.
Meaning, someone is not taking care of the Hellenistic Jews (widows).
For Luke, however, the fellowship with one another, and the unity in Christian community is important since the beginning (Acts 2:42-47).
Furthermore, Luke was also setting an example that this is how believers ought to be - to care for one another in the Church!
Now, notice the “increase” in number of disciples - Church is growing.
Luke uses the term “increase” again verse 7.
And because of this increase in number of believers, there are also concerns.
The concern here is how well the disciples deal with the issue.
The problem, as stated before is that widows are overlooked.
Now, the broader issue might be since these “former Greeks” have to leave their families?
they may have lost certain privileges.
Whether that be the case of not, the point is, CHURCH should not neglect the widows, and those who are in need.
God cares about the widows and poor, and so how much more should the Church care about them, being the representation of God on this earth?
The apostles were occupied with teaching and preaching the Word of God.
They were to speak all the words of life (5:20).
So, they were busy, and cannot involve much in these matters.
So what did the disciples do?
The right thing - to appoint others to take care of these issues while they focus on teaching and preaching of God’s Word.
The primary ministry of the disciples/apostles was to teach and preach.
Remember Acts 1:8?
Acts 1:8 was their primary task.
So the apostles gathered all the disciples - no longer twelve disciples, but many.
Notice this is not the solution, but only a proposal.
In verse 2, the disciples/apostles say - this is not right, that we should focus on the food distribution.
Because our task is to teach and preach Jesus.
But, what you can do is select (look intently for) seven men.
In this proposal, they invite the congregation to be part of the solution so that they can select the right candidates, who is not only able to lead and administer, but also must show the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives (note that Acts shows the work of Holy Spirit God).
The Church government we see here is congregational government - Church, YOU take the responsibility and share your voice (sort of a thing).
The Apostles do not decide anything solution for the problem here, but it is Church that needs to be part of the solution.
There is no reason why the apostles asked for seven men, and why not ten or fifteen.
Seven here does not mean completeness as in the seventh day.
It is just a number.
Some say that this may have to do with Jewish cities having seven judges.
Some say the disciples follow the patter of Moses, when Moses listened to his father-in-law and appointed others to carry out some tasks.
Again, this is the primary task of the disciples - to teach the Word.
They have always given to prayer (3:1; 2:46-47).
The congregation/disciples chose Stephen (singled out).
Stephen was a man full of faith and Holy Spirit; then Philip, and others.
The names are all Greek names.
However, they may know both Aramaic and Greek.
Stephen is singled out because he will be the main person in the next section of the text.
Luke is drawing the attention of his readers to another important event that would happening soon.
Stephen has all the qualifications, and much more.
He was not only appointed to take care of the food distribution, but he was a man with wisdom.
Stephen can teach and preach, he knew the history of Israel and Scriptures (7:2-53).
Philip was also an important character that we will learn about in future.
The laying of hands is an Old Testament practice - Moses did that to Joshua.
However, here, the apostles are not make these seven men as apostles, but are confirming them to be their assistants; that God would use them in His ministry.
The Continued Growth of the Church
The growth continued over a long period of time.
More and more people are accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior.
And a great company of priests were obedient to the faith - meaning, many priests joined them.
The passage demonstrates the priority of the apostles, and the concern for the poor in the Church.
Church leaders must focus on prayer and proclamation of God’s Word.
Churches and their leaders must be sensitive to those who are in need.
Church leadership should not be micromanaging issues, but must delegate the tasks to congregation.
Congregation makes the final call, not the leadership.
Leadership only confirms the approval of the Church.