Today’s reading: Acts 6.
Today we read Acts 6, this short unassuming chapter contains much important information.
We see the Apostles in Jerusalem faced with the task of administering a growing Church. Some of the old prejudices still remain among the converts and the ethnically “full Jews” are skimping on the distribution to the “Greek Jews” (Hellenists). Thus, from among them seven men are selected to serve and help administer the Church.
These seven men are the first Deacons of the Church. From the Greek (and I do not hold myself out as any kind of Greek scholar) – diakonos: to serve. In fact, the original Greek evokes the idea of a waiter, which corresponds to the fact that this controversy is over the “daily distribution”, presumably of food.
Lists are important in the Bible. Among the Apostles, Peter is always listed first and Judas Iscariot, the betrayer, is always listed last. Notice here on the list of deacons, Stephen, who in the next chapter will become the Church’s first martyr, is listed first. Therefore our attention should be drawn to who is listed last. The last person listed is, “Nicholas, a proselyte…”, or new convert, from Antioch. He is the only one on the list who is set apart as he is identified by more than just his name. We are told that he is a recent convert and where he originates from. Why? Stay tuned…
Finally, notice HOW the Deacons are given their office.
These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands upon them.
Through the laying on of hands the Apostles can call down the Holy Spirit to seal person or ordain them to Holy Orders. This is the same process that was used in the Old Testament. As we read through the next few chapters of Acts notice how many time the Apostles go out of their way to lay hands on people.
These concepts are developed further in upcoming chapters but we can already start to see some of the implications. We do not receive the Holy Spirit just once in our lives. We can receive Him many times. The Apostles have authority to call down the Holy Spirit for particular purposes. Further, the Church is growing. We see the Apostles appointing people as assistants to handle the growing tasks. This shows that even from the very earliest beginnings that the Church is visible and organized. It is not simply a loose connection of believers, it already has hierarchy and structure.
Tomorrow: Acts 7: 1-30