ACTS Ė Chapter
verses for this week: Psa
119:166 LORD, I have
hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments.
Introduction: In Chapter 5, we saw great fear in
the church when Ananias
and Sapphira lost their lives due to lying about the proceeds of
their land and saying they were giving it all when in reality they
were giving just a portion.
We learned from this that what we sell property for is not
important, but to lie and say we are giving it all is a serious sin.
We saw Peter and the apostles brought before the religious
leaders again for preaching Jesus Christ, and they once again said
that it was better to hearken to God rather than man.
The chapter closed with Gamaliel telling the group to let
them go. If they
were false teachers, nothing would come of the preaching. If they were true, it would mean that they were fighting
against God, and they could not win.
Praise the Lord that what they preached is what we preach
today, and it is just as true today as it was in their day.
Dissension in the Church
In chapter 6, we see the two major methods used by Satan against
the work of God. Satan
does not want the church to function and be effective in reaching
the lost. And the two
methods he uses to keep us off track the most are to cause trouble
from inside the church by inward dissension, and then to bring
persecution against us from the outside.
We have Godís promise that the gates of Hell will not
prevail against us, so we must recognize these ploys of Satan and
not lose sight of our main objective.
Acts 6:1 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.
Acts 6:2 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.
We see that the church in Jerusalem was made up mainly of Hebrews
and the Hellenists, which were the Grecians.
The Hebrews were the Palestinian Jews which spoke a mixed
Hebrew Tongue which was called Aramaic.
Most of these Jews were more rigid in the daily devotion to
the rites and the traditions of the past than were the Hellenists. The Grecians were Jews that were born in other lands where
Greek was the main language used.
These Greek speaking Jews had many Gentile ways about them
since they were brought up among Greeks.
We see in the first two verses that Satan is trying to stop
the wonderful peace and accord that existed in the church by having
these Grecians complain about how their widows were being taken care
of. It was very common
for the church to help those in need with food and other
churches today never concern themselves with the care of widows or
the poor that are members or those we come in contact with in our
daily lives. I am
proud of our church for establishing the food pantry, and God is
honored and glorified when we help those that are in need.
Here is was the widows of the Grecians who were not being
cared for enough in the eyes of the members.
Paul instructed young Timothy as to what kind of windows were
to be helped.
1 Tim 5:3
Honour widows that are widows indeed.
1 Tim 5:4
But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn
first to show piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that
is good and acceptable before God.
1 Tim 5:5
Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in
God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.
1 Tim 5:6
But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.
1 Tim 5:7
And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless.
1 Tim 5:8
But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those
of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an
1 Tim 5:9
Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore
years old, having been the wife of one man,
1 Tim 5:10 Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up
children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the
saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have
diligently followed every good work.
1 Tim 5:11 But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to
wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;
1 Tim 5:12 Having damnation, because they have cast off their first
1 Tim 5:13 And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house
to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies,
speaking things which they ought not.
1 Tim 5:14 I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children,
guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak
We see that those that were under 60 years of age would not qualify
for ongoing help, and that makes good sense. And only those who had worked as good Christian women would
qualify also. So it
appears that the Grecians had come to the apostles about the
problem. While this may not have sounded too serious, these small
issues can sometimes divide a church.
Warren Wiersbe said in his study that the apostles showed
great insight in not ignoring these ďoutsidersĒ, the Grecians,
and immediately dealt with the problem.
By doing this, Satan got no foothold in the church.
It was interesting that the apostles say they were to blame
by not having enough time to pray and study Godís Word.
Many a pastor is given far too many tasks to do, and it
stifles his productivity in the things most important.
D.L. Moody once said that it is better to put ten men to work
than to try and do the work of ten men.
We all might learn from his insight.
When problems come up, it gives us an opportunity like the
apostles to increase our faith.
Not only in God, but sometimes in one another as we
take on more tasks to correct the problem at hand.
Acts 6:3 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.
Acts 6:4 But we will
give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the
We see that the apostles considered the preaching of the Word of
God of much higher necessity than the feeding of the hungry.
Every man, woman, boy, and girl has a need for spiritual
food. And every one
that does not know Jesus as personal Savior needs to hear the gospel
and accept Christ as their Lord and Savior.
While we need physical food to survive, we know that we must
also have the spiritual food to prosper and grow in the Lord.
And the major task of a preacher called of God is to preach
the Gospel. There
are many other duties, but the number one thing is to preach the
Gospel and grow in Godís Word.
If our pastor never studied and meditated on the scriptures,
he would be ineffective in his ability to preach and to lead the
church. The same
is true for we that teach.
We canít wait to read these verses and hope we can
understand what the bible is saying.
Each day, I set aside time to read Godís Word, and
hopefully some other resources to grow that I can effectively teach
our lesson. These
apostles tell them that they should not stop the work and study of
scriptures to go and wait tables daily.
So we see that they tell them to seek out men that were
honest, full of the Holy Ghost, and wise in the Word of the Lord.
Perhaps these were ministers of Godís Word.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the
knowledge of the holy is understanding.
For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy
life shall be increased.
So to have wisdom, we must first fear the Lord.
These were the type of men the apostles sought.
Many believe these selected were the first deacons of the church.
In whatever their capacity, the pastor (in this case pastors)
of the church sought them out and appointed them.
This was not a church decision or something the church as a
group decided to do. It says they would seek them out and ďThat We may appoint
over this business.Ē In
too many churches today, the pastorís role is not understood by
the church. I
overheard some couples discussing their church last week, and one
many said that after much thought, the people who really ran their
church wasnít the preacher, but the Sunday School teachers.
He said they are the only ones that know what is going on in
the church because they are with the people.
That may be their perception, but I think we can clearly see
that God appointed the Pastor to be the undershepherd.
Jesus is the head, and the pastor is to lead the church by
the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
Not a board of directors, a board of elders, or any other
church group. This goes
against a lot of beliefs in various denominations today, but I
believe scripture backs it up.
God calls his men to be pastors, and by leadership of the
Holy Spirit, the church calls the pastor to lead the flock.
For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is
the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
1 Tim 3:1
This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a
bishop, he desireth a good work.
1 Tim 3:2
A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife,
vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to
1 Tim 3:3
Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre;
but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
1 Tim 3:4
One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in
subjection with all gravity;
1 Tim 3:5
(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall
he take care of the church of God?)
1 Tim 3:6
Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into
the condemnation of the devil.
We see the office of the pastor being explained as a bishop in I
pastor is also referred to in other scriptures as an elder.
Acts 6:5 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:
Acts 6:6 Whom they set
before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands
We see that what they decided pleased the whole church.
The saying that pleased them was looking out the men that met
the qualifications listed, and appointing them over the secular
By this laying on of the hands, this could mean that these were
ordained as pastors in an ordination service.
The laying on of the hands was much more common in these days
than we see it today, whether that be good or bad.
J. Vernon McGee said that the apostles did good in appointing
these to do this work.
ďThe apostles were right in spending their time in prayer
and in the study of the Word of God.
It is important for every church to recognize that the
minister should have time to study the Word of God and should have
time for prayer. Unfortunately,
the average church today is looking for a pastor who is an organizer
and a promoter, a sort of vice-president to run the church, a
manager of some sort. That
is unfortunate. As a
result the church is suffering today.
When I was a pastor in downtown Los Angeles, I had to move my
study to my home. I
built a special room over the garage for my study.
I found out that all I had in the church was an office, not a
study. They didnít
intend for me to study
there. They didnít
want me to study there.Ē
That is unfortunate, and we need to be on guard against making the
pastor wear too many hats that he was never meant to wear.
When he needs help, we should be willing to help and never
expect him to take away from his prayer life or study life to do
Acts 6:7 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.
So after they appointed these seven men, what happened?
We see the word of God increased and the number of disciples
increased greatly. You
canít beat Godís way of doing things. Men have lots of ideas and gimmicks, but the church is
Godís House, and things truly should be done the way that He
ordained in His Word. Note
that even a great number of the priests were saved.
Sounds like something that should not have to happen, right? I mean, how would a religious leader need to get saved?
The reality is that the religious leaders in that day were
far from God. Iím
afraid we have too many churches today being led by Satanís men
rather than Godís men.
What did Jesus say to the scribes and Pharisees, the leading
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay
tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier
matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to
have done, and not to leave the other undone.
Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make
clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are
full of extortion and excess.
Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the
cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are
like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward,
but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but
within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye
build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the
And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would
not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the
children of them which killed the prophets.
Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the
damnation of hell?
The reality is that everyone must come to Jesus for salvation,
there is no other way. No
earthly council of men, no ordinance of the church, nothing can save
us but the blood of Jesus.
II. The Third
Acts 6:8 And Stephen,
full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the
Acts 6:9 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.
Acts 6:10 And they were
not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.
A good argument that these men may have been ordained is how
effective Stephen is here in his preaching.
He had the power to do miracles as was the case of many
special apostolic gifts in the days of the apostles.
John Calvin said these men who were Stephenís opponents
were foreigners who were in Judea on business or because they wanted
to learn about the new things going on in the church.
He said they were most likely Roman citizens that had
organized the building of a synagogue for the Jews who came to
Jerusalem from their provinces.
You would have thought that if they cared for the things of
God, they would have been quick to listen to Stephen.
But rather, they turn against him.
The synagogue of the Libertines meant ďfreedmenĒ, which
implies they had been
taken slaves but were set free.
They could not resist the wisdom and spirit by which Stephen
Acts 6:11 Then they
suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words
against Moses, and against God.
Acts 6:12 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,
Acts 6:13 And set up
false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak
blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:
Acts 6:14 For we have
heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place,
and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.
We see that after they could not win the debate with him, that they
bring him before the Sanhedrin council.
They got men to speak against Stephen, and said he said
blasphemous words about their temple.
Stephen may have revealed the fact that it was an empty house
that had served its day. Perhaps
he had quoted the words of our Lord concerning the upcoming
destruction of the temple.
And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his
disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple.
And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily
I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another,
that shall not be thrown down.
We know that this destruction did come at a later date just as the
Lord had prophesied.
In verse 13, it say he spoke against the law.
Iím sure he told them that the types and shows and rituals
of the law had been completed, fulfilled, and there was no more use
for it. All which was
offerings could never take away one sin, but pointed to the One who
would die and pay with His blood for our transgressions.
We have a different priest, a Great High Priest that really
knows us and understands us.
If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood,
(for under it the people received the law,) what further need was
there that another priest should rise after the order of
Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?
For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity
a change also of the law.
For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another
tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar.
For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which
tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.
And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude
of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,
Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but
after the power of an endless life.
For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order
Acts 6:15 And all that
sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it
had been the face of an angel.
The reality of the situation was that Moses had commanded that the
people hear all things concerning Jesus.
They did not want to hear, but Stephen was preaching the
was content, and he knew he was doing the very will of God.
And it says that his face glowed as if it were that of an
angel. A person
who is close to God takes on the attributes of God, and God is
totally righteous. This man was probably the closest example of a man
being an angel that we have in the word of God.
There was one who witnessed this , and I believe he never
forgot Stephen. His
name was Saul, who later became the apostle Paul.
For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the
Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him
shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.
And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not
hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.
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But the path of the just is as the shining light, that
shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
Practice Random Acts of
Kindness. Each act
spreads, and many will be blessed.