Those who are called to preach the Word of God must not neglect this special ministry for church activities that should be carried on by others. Those engaged in the work of Christ’s church regardless of how menial may be their task, must be free from scandal, men that can be trusted, possessed of discretion and filled with the Holy Ghost.
1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
5 ¶ And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:
6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.
9 ¶ Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.
10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.
11 Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.
12 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council,
13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:
14 For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.
15 And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.
Acts 6:1-2 – J. Vernon McGee
Acts 6:3-4 – J. Vernon McGee
Acts 6:5-7 – J. Vernon McGee
Acts 6:8-15 – J. Vernon McGee
Acts 6:1-15 – Meeting Murmuring within and Persecution Without
The Grecians here mentioned were Jews who had lived abroad and spoke Greek. There were as yet no Gentiles in the Church. It was regarded as an annex to Judaism, and people had to become Jews before they were admitted to its privileges.
What a glimpse is here afforded of the simplicity and fervor of the primitive Church! The daily ministration of relief; the choice of godly men to attend to secular details; the prime importance of prayer and the ministry of the Word; the recognition by the Apostles of the rights of the people—all is so spiritual and so worthy of the era of the Holy Spirit. Alas, that so fair a dawn should ever have been overcast!
The Church must dedicate to God those whom she has chosen under the guidance of His Spirit. Stephen on the one hand, and Saul on the other, were the leaders of their respective parties. We see traces of the latter in the references to them of Cilicia, Acts 6:9. Stephen’s enemies prevailed over him by brute force, but he was conqueror through the blood of the Lamb and the word of his testimony. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Acts 6:4—We will give ourselves continually to prayer.
If ever there was a sacred work, it was that of caring for these poor widows; and yet the apostles felt that even such duties might interfere with the continual ministry of intercession. No doubt they always lived in the atmosphere and spirit of prayer, but they rightly felt that this was not enough either for them or their work. So they sought a division of labor, that while some specially served tables and ministered the alms of the church, others might be set free for steadfast continuance in prayer. This would keep the communication with the King on the throne clear and fresh, would draw down the power and blessing of the heavenly world, and be the means of procuring wisdom and strength for their great responsibilities.
There are many courses of usefulness open to each of us in this world, and we must choose the one, not only most suited to our idiosyncrasies, but in which we can best serve our day and generation. It may be that in our incessant activities we are neglecting the one method by which we may contribute most largely to the coming of our Father’s kingdom. Notice that word give. It is as though the Spirit of prayer were seeking natures so pure, so devoted, that without hindrance He might form Himself into them. Give yourself to Him for this!
“At that day”, said our Lord, speaking of the Day of Pentecost, “ye shall ask in my name” (John 16:26). It is only when we are full of the Holy Spirit that we can experience the true power to plead with God, and use the name of Christ so effectively as to receive the richest blessings for ourselves and others. Much prayer, much blessing; little prayer, little blessing; no prayer, no blessing. “The word of God increased” (Acts 6:7). —Our Daily Homily