Book Of Acts – Advance Study (Part 5)


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.

The Doctrine of Widows: When a church grows, there will be more activity, more people to minister to, more issues to deal with because of the sheer numbers. One area of the membership that needed special care were the widows (indeed). They had needs, daily. They were partially, or even totally relying upon the church to take care of them. At this time, the pastors (apostles) were waiting on their needs. Apparently the Pastors (apostles) were overly involved with the ministration of the widows.

The Doctrine of Church Meetings: There was a business meeting called to take care of the widow ministration issue.

It was clearly under Pastoral direction. Thus, the pastor(s) saw the need and made recommendation for a meeting to vote on who would be appointed over this business. The issue at hand was not a minor one. The whole church was apparently part of this ‘meeting’. Liberty was given to the church body to find men qualified for this ministry need. Thus, the pastor did not appoint them; he didn’t tell the church that the 7 would be so and so. But, the pastorate did give guidelines on what type of person it needed to be.

Thus, church business meetings should be totally under the pastorate’s oversight; they should be dealing with important issues; the pastorate gives guidelines over what he/they desire the congregation to do; and the church body is then to be highly involved in the decision making process to make decisions. The Pastorate has great influence in the meeting; and so does the church body. The Pastorate, though, is clearly in charge of the proceedings.

The Doctrine of Deacons: If these were indeed Deacons, then we learn some key things here about them: 7 deacons vs. 12 Pastors (ratio here is more pastors than deacons, not vice versus); honest and full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom; deacons were to be under Pastoral oversight and direction (we may appoint); it was a specific area of ministering (this business). Nowhere in scripture is there any hint at a ‘Deacon Board’. By design, Deacons free up a pastor so he can focus on the spiritual things.

How many Deacons should a church have? It’s dependent…upon the need; the pastor(s) should decide how many he needs to ‘help’ him in the ministry of the church. Stephen and Philip were probably the most notable of the 7 since they were listed first. And these two are the only Deacons here that we see mentioned further in Scripture.

Thus, these 7 were approved by the church and then the Pastors (here, apostles), on behalf of the church, laid hands on them and prayed for them, and, I assume, officially ordained them to this.

Because of adding these deacons, the word of God increased and the church membership grew greatly. I assume a lot had to do with the apostles being more at liberty to minister the word of God and to pray.

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.

The Doctrine of the Deacon: Apparently, Stephen did not do these great miracles prior to being ordained a Deacon. The apostles were known for doing great miracles, and so were Deacons. The office of a deacon is a very important position. When one is ‘ordained’ to being a Pastor or a Deacon, I believe that he receives a special ‘annointing’ from the Holy Spirit… a special empowerment… Don’t most Deacons have the face of an angel?….

The Doctrine of Persecution: Stephen became a “celebrity” amongst the multitudes due to the miracles. Thus, he posed a threat to the religious leaders. The religious leaders set up false witnesses to testify against Stephen. When the Holy Spirit is empowering you, He gives you great ability to reprove the gainsayers. It may be that in the near future liberals that despise fundamentalist Christians may fabricate preposterous claims against us to stir up the people in the community against us. They may argue that we have said that homosexuals are not even human and should be killed; they claim that we have said that we don’t have to obey the government; they may argue that we go around house to house harrassing people and trying to force them into believing our way.

Acts 7

1 Then said the high priest, Are these things so? 2 And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, 3 And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee.

4 Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell. 5 And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child. 6 And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years. 7 And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place. 8 And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs. 9 And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him, 10 And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.

The Doctrine of Preaching: Deacons can preach, as did Stephen here. He was going over O.T. history in order to bring these Jews to see that Jesus is the Messiah. When preaching on the N.T., it may be very wise to set the foundation of it from the O.T.

11 Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance. 12 But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first. 13 And at the second time Joseph was made known to his brethren; and Joseph’s kindred was made known unto Pharaoh.

14 Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls. 15 So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers, 16 And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem. 17 But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt,

18 Till another king arose, which knew not Joseph. 19 The same dealt subtilly with our kindred, and evil entreated our fathers, so that they cast out their young children, to the end they might not live. 20 In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father’s house three months: 21 And when he was cast out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son. 22 And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. 23 And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. 24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: 25 For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not. 26 And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? 27 But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? 28 Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday? 29 Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons.