Opening Prayer

Thank you, Father, for the diversity of your church that draws people from every tribe, language, people, and nation (Revelation 5:9).

Read ACTS 6:1–7

The Choosing of the Seven

In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews[a] 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 and sisters, 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.”

This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

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.

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  1. Acts 6:1 That is, Jews who had adopted the Greek language and culture

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


Do you recognize tensions as opportunities for creative change?

Think Further

The first thing to notice in this text is the reference to ‘the daily distribution of food’ (v. 1). This suggests that the sharing of resources had continued and evolved into a regular system to meet the needs of the poorest people within the believing community. Prominent among such destitute people were widows, whose plight was universal in the ancient world and whose care and support is a characteristic mark of religion in both testaments.1

The tension which arose when Hellenistic Jews complained about the neglect of their widows was a flashpoint which arose from a deeper problem. The underlying division was between Palestinian, Aramaic-speaking Jews native to Jerusalem, and diaspora Jews, often elderly people who had moved back to Judea to die in the holy land, who were Greek-speakers influenced by Hellenistic culture. These returnees were viewed with suspicion as incomers whose language suggested that they were tainted by contact with the gentile world. The problem closely parallels the ethnic and cultural tensions experienced by churches in the modern world, as migration brought African and Asian Christians into new surroundings.

What is striking is the response of the apostles and the congregation. They selected a group of people to administer the system, all of whom have Greek names! Indeed, Nicolas was a proselyte, so not even an ethnic Jew, meaning that the challenge was met by organizational change which recognized the multicultural nature of the body of Christ. This division of labor between those devoted to teaching and the managers of caring ministries suggests that church structure now reflected integral mission in which word and deed belonged together.


May God help us apply the lesson here to any cultural tensions arising in our churches.

Closing prayer

Lord God, help me to be sensitive to those who might have needs within my Christian community. Please give me wisdom to serve them in meaningful ways.

Last Updated on June 4, 2024 by kingstar

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