Acts 6:1-7

Sunday Morning Bible Study

October 12, 1997

Introduction

The disciples had been arrested for talking about Jesus, but have been release, at least for now.

6:1-7 Choosing Deacons to help

:1 the number of the disciples was multiplied

Though the church started with 120 disciples in an upper room, itís way over 5,000 people now, just a short time later.

:1 a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews

This is not talking about different nationalities, but about two different types of Jews.

The "Grecians" were those Jews born outside of Israel, who had Greek names, and who spoke Greek.

The "Hebrews" were those Jews born in Israel, who spoke Hebrew and Aramaic.

:1 their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.

In these days, a widow, being a "lowly woman" without a husband was in a hopeless state.

The early church practiced a form of "welfare" by taking care of widows.

Apparently, the Hellenistic Jews were getting the feeling that their widows werenít getting the same kind of treatment as the others.

ministration Ė diakonia - service, ministering; we get the word "deacon" from this, which simply means "servant". Weíll see this word several times in this passage.

Though some have tried to make "deacon" a kind of title for someone special in the church, itís really just another term for "servant".

At Calvary Chapel, we donít use the title deacon, but the deacons of our church are found in the Sunday School classrooms, running the sound system, setting up the chairs, or doing any one of a number of "servantís" jobs.

:2 that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables

So many people. So few apostles.

Itís kind of like what Moses faced in the wilderness with a couple of million people.

When people wanted to talk to Moses, they would have to stand all day, waiting in line just to talk to Moses.

Exo 18:17-18 And Moses' father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good. {18} Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone.

Mosesí father-in-law then suggested that Moses appoint some additional leaders to help spread out the load.

serve tables Ė the same word is used that was used in verse 1 for "ministration", diakonia, deaconing. Now weíre told just what kind of "ministering" it was, it was being a waiter, like in a restaurant.

The apostles had apparently been running the food ministry, but now itís just getting too big.

Itís getting so big that itís cut into their prayer and study time.

Lesson:

Donít be sidetracked from your main ministry.

Some of us tend to get our fingers into just about everything.

If thereís anything going on, we want to be there.

If thereís some need in the church, weíre the first to volunteer.

We can get our time spread so thin doing the "good things", that we donít have the proper time to be doing the "best".

(Eccl 10:1 NLT) Dead flies will cause even a bottle of perfume to stink! Yes, an ounce of foolishness can outweigh a pound of wisdom and honor.

Something so small and insignificant as a few extra "little things", and what should be sweet to the smell becomes stinking.

For the apostles, their "main ministry" was prayer and teaching. For you, it may be something else.

Parents Ė I think some of us need to think about whether weíre spending enough time with our kids.

I wonder if some of the "behavior" problems we see in our kids is nothing more than a cry for more of your time.

If too many flies get into the mixture, your kids may start to stink.

:3 men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom

Lesson:

Characteristics of Godís servants Ė

Don't let this be a list of what disqualifies you for ministry, but a list of things to shoot for.

In some organizations, those people you choose for leadership are those who are wealthy, influential, or successful in business. Not so in the ministry.

1) Men of honest report

These men had a good reputation.

About an elder, Paul writes,

1Ti 3:7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Itís not that we need to be chasing down every rumor that somebody spreads about us.

D.L. Moody said, "If I take care of my character, God will take care of my reputation."

2) Full of the Holy Spirit

There is evidence in these menís lives that the Spirit is working in them.

The chief way of knowing if a person is filled with the Spirit is to look at the fruit of their life.

(Gal 5:22-23 NLT) But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, {23} gentleness, and self-control.

If a person isnít being controlled by the Holy Spirit, how are they going to be effective in their ministry? In Godís ministry?

3) Wisdom

Wisdom is generally understood as the proper application of knowledge.

Knowledgeable men are not always wise men.

There are lots of people who know lots of stuff, but they donít know what to do with their knowledge.

Qualities of a wise man from the wisest man (Solomon)

a) One who is aware of his relationship to God.

Prov 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

A person who has no humility before God is not wise.

b) One who is slow and careful about what he says.

Prov 17:28 Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.

A wise person isnít always the first to answer a question. But when they do answer, they are usually the last word.

c) One who is teachable and willing to learn a lesson.

Prov 9:9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.

A wise person knows they donít know it all.

They want to keep growing and learning.

Keep in mind, this is all just to serve in the church cafeteria.

:4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

ministry Ė diakonia, again.

Just as the deacons will be serving in the food ministry, the apostles will be serving in the teaching ministry.

This doesnít mean that the apostles are now "above" the lowly food ministry. It just means that theyíre going to focus on what should be their main responsibility.

Lesson:

Spiritual Leadership.

The apostles lay out the two main components to spiritual leadership.

I think these apply to us, whether itís being the pastor of a church, teaching a Sunday School class, or just being a good parent in raising your kids in the ways of the Lord.

1) Prayer

I canít tell you how many sermons Iíve heard in my life on the importance of prayer, but it wasnít until we started this church, that I began to realize that it all was true.

Donít misunderstand me, itís not that Iíve never had a prayer life before. But now, more than ever, I am convinced that the good things that happen here at church happen because of prayer.

Iíve also come to the conclusion that more than a few balls have been dropped because of a lack of prayer. Iím talking about my own prayerlessness.

Iím beginning to see why Samuel the prophet said,

1Sa 12:23 Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way:

Alan Redpath wrote,

"If you are going to be a preacher or a teacher of the Word, the wind and the fire from God are what you must have. You can afford to be ten times less clever if only you are ten times more spiritual."

"On that judgment day there will be multitudes of people whom I will meet for the first time, who will say to me, 'You faithless preacher, you covered up your indifference to us by many texts and sermons, but you did not really care, because you did not really pray.' Oh, how this has kept me awake many nights!"

Do you pray for your kids? Do you pray with your kids? Do you pray with your friends?

2) The Word

Donít let the enemy tell you that you already know all there is to know in Godís Word.

Iíve been a Christian now for 27 years, have been seriously studying the Word for at least 20 years, and have begun to realize that Iím only scratching the surface of the depths and riches in the Word.

There is a philosophy that says, "Just think about one Biblical thought a day (for some, once a week), you canít really take in much more than that".

Thatís like saying you can only digest one kind of food each day. Itís nonsense.

One of the big turning points in my life was when I began to read through the Bible once a year, about 10 years ago. I started out reading five chapters a day (now I read three), and once I got into a regular rhythm, I began to see lots of areas in my life change. It usually takes about 15 minutes a day.

Do I understand everything I read? No. Do I get some profound truth every day? No. Do I grow? Yes.

:5 the saying pleased the whole multitude

Note: Everybody was pleased at this suggestion, both the Greeks and the Hebrews.

Lesson:

This is a demonstration of a "word of wisdom".

Thereís a bit of wisdom being displayed even by the apostles here.

Chuck Smith tells this story Ė

"When we were growing up I had two brothers. And my mom was a outstanding pie baker among other things and there was always that problem of the last piece of pie. And so often my brother and I would be vying for that last piece of pie. And that's a polite way of saying "fighting"... I've fought over more than one piece of pie ... and it was an advantage of being the older brother too. But when we would bring our dispute to my mom and we would both be claiming that piece of pie or desiring our portion of that piece of pie she would always let one of us cut it in half and the other one got the first choice. ... Boy I mean we got out the "micrometers" Ö it was just a good solution to a difficult problem."

:5 Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost

Weíre going to see a lot more of Stephen in the next coming weeks, so we wonít say much about him right now, other than to say that this Ė

Stephen had a ministry of wonders and miracles (Acts 6:8).

He would be arrested, give a tremendous message to the Sanhedrin, and be put to death as the first martyr (Acts 7).

:5 Philip

Weíll see some of Philipís further ministry a little later on.

In Acts 8, Philipís chapter, we see Philip going north to Samaria, where a huge revival breaks out in his ministry as an evangelist (Acts 8:5-13). Philip would also be the one used to lead the Ethiopian Eunuch to the Lord. (Acts 8:26-39)

:5 Ö and Timon, and Parmenas

No, itís not Timon and Pumba.

We donít know anything about these men for sure, but some of the accounts of church history record some of these men going on to be leaders of various churches around the world.

:5 Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch

Nicolas wasnít even born a Jew, but converted to Judaism.

In actuality, all the names here are Greek names, and it leads us to believe that each one of these men were of the group of "Greeks".

Now the Greeks wouldnít be complaining anymore. They couldnít feel cheated.

Itís interesting to see how God used these men in an incredible way.

Either the church decided to have its very best men be used as lowly waiters, or, these men learned how to minister by starting at the bottom.

Lesson:

Ministry always starts with serving.

General Joshua was the Great Conqueror. He was the one who conquered the Promised Land and gave it to Israel. But he started out as the servant of Moses. (Num.11:28)

A brother in our church who was in leadership at another church was sharing with me a conversation he had with some of his old friends about our church. "Do they have you teaching some of the Bible Studies?" they asked him. They were surprised to hear that this brother is happy for now just setting up chairs. Iím happy too. I like that kind of attitude.

I remember going to Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa years ago and when I got up to the front of the line to talk to Chuck, I kind of announced to him that he could hire me onto his staff whenever he wanted to. He asked me to teach a Sunday School class. I thought I was too good to do that. It took me quite a few years to realize I should have taken him up on the Sunday School class. When I eventually was hired on staff at Calvary Anaheim, guess what my main responsibility was? Overseeing the Sunday School. Does God have a sense of humor or what?

Jesus said,

(Mark 10:44 KJV) And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.

:6 when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

Itís possible that there is a sense here of praying for the work of the Holy Spirit upon these men, asking Godís gifts for them, filling them with the Spirit.

Itís also possible that this is a way of "ordaining" these men, of saying to the whole church, "these men have been called by God to do this work".

"Ordained" to be a food server? Yes

:7 And the word of God increased

Literally, "the word of God was growing"

The ministry of the Word of God is like a living organism, and it can grow, not just in the spreading of the Gospel, but growing more and more important in the lives of the believers.

The inference it that itís growing all the more, now that the apostles are more concentrated on their ministry of the Word.

:7 the number of the disciples multiplied

Instead of the church growing, hitting a plateau and leveling off, it keeps growing as the work load is spread around.

:7 a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

Some of those who had been in the greatest opposition to the Christians were now joining them.

Lesson:

Thereís hope for the lost.

If many of the Jewish priests could be saved, so could your hard-hearted loved ones. Keep praying.