11 May. Acts 6:1-7

11 May. The apostles appoint assistants to distribute food to the poor

"The number of followers was growing. But during this same time, the Greek-speaking [Jewish] followers had an argument with the other [Hebrew-speaking] Jewish followers. The Greek-speaking widows were not getting their share of the food that was given out every day."

"The twelve apostles called the whole group of followers together and said, 'It is not right for us to stop our work of teaching God's word in order to serve [the widows'] tables.'"

"'So, brothers and sisters, choose seven of your own [Greek-speaking Jewish] men who are good, full of the Spirit and full of wisdom. We will put them in charge of this work. Then we can continue to pray and to teach the word of God.'"

"The whole group liked the idea, so they chose these seven men: Stephen (a man with great faith and full of the Holy Spirit), Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicholas (a [Gentile] man from Antioch who had become a Jew)."

"Then they put these men before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands upon them."

"The word of God was continuing to spread, The group of believers in Jerusalem increased, and a great number of the Jewish priests [who worked in the Jewish Temple] believed and obeyed."

          (Acts 6:1-7)



As any small group of friends or worshippers grows larger, there has to be more organisation of its activities. The early church was no exception. As the fellowship of believers grew larger, the various responsibilities and tasks involved in caring for the more vulnerable members of the group had to be divided out among the believers and delegated to those with suitable talents and God-given gifts.

This is what is meant by the term "the priesthood of all believers". A Jewish 'priest' was someone who acted as God's ambassador, and through whom God ministered to his people. So in a "priesthood of all believers", each individual believer shares the responsibility of ministering in some way to the other members of the community and sharing God's love with them (e.g. by visiting older members, praying with them, preparing meals or leading Bible studies or youth groups). This leaves the church leaders more time to plan and lead worship, prepare talks and prepare for the future growth of the church.

About four years after Jesus’s resurrection, the Hellenistic Jews (Greek-speaking Jewish Christians from outside Judaea) complained that their widows were being overlooked by the Hebraic Jews (Hebrew-speaking Jewish Christians from Jerusalem and Judaea) during the daily distribution of bread by the Jewish believers.

So the twelve disciples gathered all the believers together and choose seven assistants (or ‘deacons’) to oversee the daily distribution of food to the widows and the poor.

Among these seven men who were known to be “full of the Spirit” (Acts 6:3) were Stephen and Philip, both Greek-speaking Jewish believers, and Nicholas from Antioch – a Greek-speaking Gentile convert to Judaism.

In tomorrow's passage from the 'Acts of the Apostles', Luke starts to tell us more about two of these 'assistant priests' or 'deacons' - Stephen and Philip.

The photo shows the old courthouse in Antioch, where Nicholas, one of the seven 'deacons', came from.

You can read more about the choosing of the seven assistants @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/…/…/opposition-in-jerusalem/

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