Becoming a Servant

KEY VERSE: “Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.” —Acts 6:6


ONE OF THE problems that arose in the early days of the church was the proper distribution of necessities for living. Persecution and prejudice against these Early Christians by the Judeans was so severe that a communal system was instituted for survival.

In the church there were many Israelites who had come to Jerusalem to worship at the time that Jesus died, and these stayed on after Pentecost. Also the church contained Israelites, who were already dwelling in Jerusalem, and who had come from other lands. These were mainly Greek-speaking Jews, or Hellenists.

Concerning the conditions that existed, we read in Acts 6:1-4, New International Version: “In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the Word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the Word’.”

These were brought to the apostles who gave their consent to their selection and conferred a special blessing on them. All seven had Greek names, and were most likely Hellenists. The Greek-speaking widows now were no longer neglected. “So the Word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.”—Acts 6:7, NIV

The church continued selecting elders, or overseers, for spiritual matters, and deacons to take care of things temporal. However, all of God’s people are to be servants, not only in such matters for each other, but also in spiritual matters. Very little is said about the service of these deacons in caring for the temporal needs of the brethren. Five of them are never mentioned again, but two became very prominent, not because of their service in temporal matters, but because of their witnessing to God’s plan. One of these was Stephen.

Stephen was a Hellenist, and was able to perform wonders and miraculous signs among the people including those attending a synagogue in Jerusalem where Greek was spoken. The Hellenists in that synagogue disputed with Stephen but “could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke.” (Acts 6:10, NIV) This so infuriated them that they brought false accusations against him, seized him, and brought him before the Sanhedrin.

Stephen’s masterful defense before the court covered the long period from Abraham’s experiences to the time of Jesus. (Acts, Chapter 7) When Stephen declared that he, in vision, saw Jesus on the right hand of God, they cried, “Blasphemy,” and, seizing him, took him out of the city to stone him. Stephen voiced forgiveness for these erring ones as he was being stoned. He fell asleep in death, becoming the first Christian martyr.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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