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Read Introduction to Acts

 

1 Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. 2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.

 

The burden of attending to the dynamic growth of the church became too heavy for the apostles, who could not care for widows in the church. A conflict arose out of this situation between the Hellenist and the Hebrew widows. The church chose new leadership to aid the apostles (Acts 6:1-7).

6:1

Now in those days,

The time frame of the events of chapter 6 is around five years after the launch of the church in Acts 2. Administrative problems began to develop after the significant numerical growth of the church.

when the number of the disciples was multiplying,

The growth of the church created a problem in leadership. The last figure that Luke gave about the size of the church was 5,000 males, which did not include the women and children. The church had grown dynamically since that figure, so the number must have been in the 10s of thousands. How would the apostles lead such a massive congregation of believers? It was unavoidable that problems would arise.

there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists,

“Hellenists” were Greek-speaking Jews who had practiced Judaism but ultimately became Christians. They were Jews who came from other nations of the Roman Empire. They had adopted the Greek language and culture because they lived in Gentile nations and probably could not speak Hebrew or Aramaic, the native language in Israel. The “Hebrews” were native Jews of the nation of Israel who spoke Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Because Hebrew widows outnumbered the Hellenist widows, the church inadvertently neglected the latter group. This neglect of the minority group caused a division in the church.

because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.

Windows in the first century could not survive without help from the community. They needed “daily distribution” of food from the church.

6:2

Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said,

The 12 apostles gathered the church to deal with a church crisis. Note that the 12 apostles had distinct authority and rights that other apostles, or more specifically ambassadors for Christ, did not possess.

“It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.

The primary responsibility of the apostles was to study and preach the “word of God” and not to “serve tables.” The “tables” was the place where people administered provisions for widows. The Word of God was the apostles’ primary duty.

PRINCIPLE:

The 12 apostles were a unique group in the establishment of the church and writing of the New Testament.

APPLICATION:

It is crucial for the church to understand the role of the first-century apostles, the apostles of Christ. The 12 apostles witnessed the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Their role was unique and unrepeatable; God did not allow apostolic succession because of their special place in God’s economy. Only the apostles of Christ (not apostles of the church) had the right to write Scripture and lay the foundation for the New Testament church (Eph 2:19-21). 

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