Growing Pains (Acts 6)
Growing Pains (Acts 6)
Increase (verses 1-7)
Though the church is growing, there are also growing pains being experienced. Though the complaining response to the situation was inappropriate for Christians (Phil 2:14, 1 Pet 4:9, 1 Cor 10:10), the need itself was legitimate and needed to be addressed. But it was not a task that was “desirable” for the apostles to carry out, since it would require them to fail to fulfill their primary responsibility. It’s not that the apostles had no desire to serve the Christian widows or that they thought it was a lower task, but they knew that it was not the Lord’s will for them to do so since He had given them the ministry of the Word. They understood that to devote themselves to this need, as legitimate as it was, would mean their prayer and teaching would suffer, which ultimately means the suffering of the believers they serve.
In seeking to resolve the problem, the apostles did not impose a solution on the church, but solicited help from the congregation to “select from among” them certain spiritually qualified men (v3). The selection of the seven men was an all important ministry; it was an extension of Christ’s ministry to those who are weak and in need. As a result of the appointment of the seven to take care of those in need, the Word of God continued to spread, the church was increasing, and disobedient priests were brought to repentance (v7).
Introduction (verses 8-15)
Though Stephen’s opponents were men that were thoroughly trained in the law, they were outmatched by him. Stephen was full of wisdom and the Spirit, both of which are gifts that Christ has promised to give his church (Luke 12:11-12; 21:15). Being unable to handle Stephen’s arguments, they resorted to smear tactics, and “secretly induced” liars to bring false claims against him (v11). They then moved from slander to violence in their attempt to silence Stephen and the truth he was speaking.
Stephen was being accused of speaking against the temple and the law (v13). He was proclaiming the truths that he had learned from Jesus, knowing that Jesus had superseded the former understanding of the temple and the law. Christ was the temple made up of His people, and He had fulfilled the law. By rejecting Christ in favor of their traditional system of worship, they were both clinging to an obsolete religion while denying the One who can actually save them.
Similar to the way in which Moses’ face shone after speaking with God, Stephen lived so near to God that he reflected some of His glory (v15). Vindication from God was happening on Stephen’s behalf in a visual way before the unbelieving Jews, giving evidence that the favor of God’s presence was on him.
Questions for Application:
- Are the methods and practices for organization you have adopted in your life, and in the life of our church, leading to the increase of the Word of God among us and among others? In what ways could you structure your life and practices in a way that would better promote the advancement of the gospel?