INTERNET BIBLE STUDIES Acts Lesson 6
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ACTS Ė Chapter 6           

Memory verses for this week: Psa 119:166  LORD, I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments.

 Introduction:   In Chapter 5, we saw great fear in the church  when Ananias and Sapphira lost their lives due to lying about the proceeds of their land and saying they were giving it all when in reality they were giving just a portion.   We learned from this that what we sell property for is not important, but to lie and say we are giving it all is a serious sin.  We saw Peter and the apostles brought before the religious leaders again for preaching Jesus Christ, and they once again said that it was better to hearken to God rather than man.   The chapter closed with Gamaliel telling the group to let them go.   If they were false teachers, nothing would come of the preaching.  If they were true, it would mean that they were fighting against God, and they could not win.   Praise the Lord that what they preached is what we preach today, and it is just as true today as it was in their day.

   

I.  Checking Dissension in the Church

In chapter 6, we see the two major methods used by Satan against the work of God.   Satan does not want the church to function and be effective in reaching the lost.  And the two methods he uses to keep us off track the most are to cause trouble from inside the church by inward dissension, and then to bring persecution against us from the outside.   We have Godís promise that the gates of Hell will not prevail against us, so we must recognize these ploys of Satan and not lose sight of our main objective.

Acts 6:1  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.

Acts 6:2  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.

We see that the church in Jerusalem was made up mainly of Hebrews and the Hellenists, which were the Grecians.  The Hebrews were the Palestinian Jews which spoke a mixed Hebrew Tongue which was called Aramaic.   Most of these Jews were more rigid in the daily devotion to the rites and the traditions of the past than were the Hellenists.  The Grecians were Jews that were born in other lands where Greek was the main language used.  These Greek speaking Jews had many Gentile ways about them since they were brought up among Greeks.   We see in the first two verses that Satan is trying to stop the wonderful peace and accord that existed in the church by having these Grecians complain about how their widows were being taken care of.  It was very common for the church to help those in need with food and other necessities.   Many churches today never concern themselves with the care of widows or the poor that are members or those we come in contact with in our daily lives.   I am proud of our church for establishing the food pantry, and God is honored and glorified when we help those that are in need.   Here is was the widows of the Grecians who were not being cared for enough in the eyes of the members.   Paul instructed young Timothy as to what kind of windows were to be helped.

 

1 Tim 5:3  Honour widows that are widows indeed.

1 Tim 5:4  But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to show piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.

1 Tim 5:5  Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.

1 Tim 5:6  But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.

1 Tim 5:7  And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless.

1 Tim 5:8  But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

1 Tim 5:9  Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man,

1 Tim 5:10  Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.

1 Tim 5:11  But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;

1 Tim 5:12  Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.

1 Tim 5:13  And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.

1 Tim 5:14  I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.   

We see that those that were under 60 years of age would not qualify for ongoing help, and that makes good sense.  And only those who had worked as good Christian women would qualify also.  So it appears that the Grecians had come to the apostles about the problem.  While this may not have sounded too serious, these small issues can sometimes divide a church.   Warren Wiersbe said in his study that the apostles showed great insight in not ignoring these ďoutsidersĒ, the Grecians, and immediately dealt with the problem.   By doing this, Satan got no foothold in the church.  It was interesting that the apostles say they were to blame by not having enough time to pray and study Godís Word.  Many a pastor is given far too many tasks to do, and it stifles his productivity in the things most important.   D.L. Moody once said that it is better to put ten men to work than to try and do the work of ten men.   We all might learn from his insight.  When problems come up, it gives us an opportunity like the apostles to increase our faith.   Not only in God, but sometimes in one another as we take on more tasks to correct the problem at hand.

  Acts 6:3  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.

Acts 6:4  But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.  

We see that the apostles considered the preaching of the Word of God of much higher necessity than the feeding of the hungry.    Every man, woman, boy, and girl has a need for spiritual food.  And every one that does not know Jesus as personal Savior needs to hear the gospel and accept Christ as their Lord and Savior.   While we need physical food to survive, we know that we must also have the spiritual food to prosper and grow in the Lord.   And the major task of a preacher called of God is to preach the Gospel.   There are many other duties, but the number one thing is to preach the Gospel and grow in Godís Word.   If our pastor never studied and meditated on the scriptures, he would be ineffective in his ability to preach and to lead the church.   The same is true for we that teach.   We canít wait to read these verses and hope we can understand what the bible is saying.   Each day, I set aside time to read Godís Word, and hopefully some other resources to grow that I can effectively teach our lesson.  These apostles tell them that they should not stop the work and study of scriptures to go and wait tables daily.   So we see that they tell them to seek out men that were honest, full of the Holy Ghost, and wise in the Word of the Lord.  Perhaps these were ministers of Godís Word.

 

Prov 9:10  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

Prov 9:11  For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased.

So to have wisdom, we must first fear the Lord.  These were the type of men the apostles sought.

Many believe these selected were the first deacons of the church.  In whatever their capacity, the pastor (in this case pastors) of the church sought them out and appointed them.     This was not a church decision or something the church as a group decided to do.  It says they would seek them out and ďThat We may appoint over this business.Ē   In too many churches today, the pastorís role is not understood by the church.   I overheard some couples discussing their church last week, and one many said that after much thought, the people who really ran their church wasnít the preacher, but the Sunday School teachers.  He said they are the only ones that know what is going on in the church because they are with the people.   That may be their perception, but I think we can clearly see that God appointed the Pastor to be the undershepherd.  Jesus is the head, and the pastor is to lead the church by the leadership of the Holy Spirit.  Not a board of directors, a board of elders, or any other church group.  This goes against a lot of beliefs in various denominations today, but I believe scripture backs it up.  God calls his men to be pastors, and by leadership of the Holy Spirit, the church calls the pastor to lead the flock.

Eph 5:23  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

1 Tim 3:1  This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

1 Tim 3:2  A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

1 Tim 3:3  Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;

1 Tim 3:4  One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;

1 Tim 3:5  (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)

1 Tim 3:6  Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.  

We see the office of the pastor being explained as a bishop in I Timothy.   The pastor is also referred to in other scriptures as an elder.

 

Acts 6:5  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:

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

We see that what they decided pleased the whole church.   The saying that pleased them was looking out the men that met the qualifications listed, and appointing them over the secular work.

By this laying on of the hands, this could mean that these were ordained as pastors in an ordination service.   The laying on of the hands was much more common in these days than we see it today, whether that be good or bad.    J. Vernon McGee said that the apostles did good in appointing these to do this work.    ďThe apostles were right in spending their time in prayer and in the study of the Word of God.  It is important for every church to recognize that the minister should have time to study the Word of God and should have time for prayer.  Unfortunately, the average church today is looking for a pastor who is an organizer and a promoter, a sort of vice-president to run the church, a manager of some sort.  That is unfortunate.  As a result the church is suffering today.  When I was a pastor in downtown Los Angeles, I had to move my study to my home.  I built a special room over the garage for my study.  I found out that all I had in the church was an office, not a study.  They didnít intend  for me to study there.  They didnít want me to study there.Ē

 

That is unfortunate, and we need to be on guard against making the pastor wear too many hats that he was never meant to wear.   When he needs help, we should be willing to help and never expect him to take away from his prayer life or study life to do menial tasks.

 Acts 6:7  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.

So after they appointed these seven men, what happened?   We see the word of God increased and the number of disciples increased greatly.   You canít beat Godís way of doing things.  Men have lots of ideas and gimmicks, but the church is Godís House, and things truly should be done the way that He ordained in His Word.   Note that even a great number of the priests were saved.  Sounds like something that should not have to happen, right?  I mean, how would a religious leader need to get saved?   The reality is that the religious leaders in that day were far from God.  Iím afraid we have too many churches today being led by Satanís men rather than Godís men.

What did Jesus say to the scribes and Pharisees, the leading religious group?

 

Mat 23:23  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

Mat 23:24  Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

Mat 23:25  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.

Mat 23:26  Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.

Mat 23:27  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.

Mat 23:28  Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

Mat 23:29  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,

Mat 23:30  And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.

Mat 23:31  Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.

Mat 23:32  Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.

Mat 23:33  Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

 

The reality is that everyone must come to Jesus for salvation, there is no other way.  No earthly council of men, no ordinance of the church, nothing can save us but the blood of Jesus.

 II.  The Third Persecution

 Acts 6:8  And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.

Acts 6:9  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.

Acts 6:10  And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.

A good argument that these men may have been ordained is how effective Stephen is here in his preaching.   He had the power to do miracles as was the case of many special apostolic gifts in the days of the apostles.  John Calvin said these men who were Stephenís opponents were foreigners who were in Judea on business or because they wanted to learn about the new things going on in the church.  He said they were most likely Roman citizens that had organized the building of a synagogue for the Jews who came to Jerusalem from their provinces.  You would have thought that if they cared for the things of God, they would have been quick to listen to Stephen.  But rather, they turn against him.   The synagogue of the Libertines meant ďfreedmenĒ, which implies  they had been taken slaves but were set free.  They could not resist the wisdom and spirit by which Stephen spake.

Acts 6:11  Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.

Acts 6:12  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,

Acts 6:13  And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:

Acts 6:14  For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.

 

We see that after they could not win the debate with him, that they bring him before the Sanhedrin council.   They got men to speak against Stephen, and said he said blasphemous words about their temple.  Stephen may have revealed the fact that it was an empty house that had served its day.  Perhaps he had quoted the words of our Lord concerning the upcoming destruction of the temple.

 

Mat 24:1  And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple.

Mat 24:2  And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

 

We know that this destruction did come at a later date just as the Lord had prophesied.

In verse 13, it say he spoke against the law.  Iím sure he told them that the types and shows and rituals of the law had been completed, fulfilled, and there was no more use for it.  All which was true.   Those offerings could never take away one sin, but pointed to the One who would die and pay with His blood for our transgressions.  We have a different priest, a Great High Priest that really knows us and understands us.

Heb 7:11  If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?

Heb 7:12  For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

Heb 7:13  For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar.

Heb 7:14  For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.

Heb 7:15  And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,

Heb 7:16  Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.

Heb 7:17  For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

 

Acts 6:15  And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.

 

The reality of the situation was that Moses had commanded that the people hear all things concerning Jesus.   They did not want to hear, but Stephen was preaching the truth.   Stephen was content, and he knew he was doing the very will of God.    And it says that his face glowed as if it were that of an angel.   A person who is close to God takes on the attributes of God, and God is totally righteous.   This man was probably the closest example of a man being an angel that we have in the word of God.   There was one who witnessed this , and I believe he never forgot Stephen.   His name was Saul, who later became the apostle Paul.

 

Acts 3:22  For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.

Acts 3:23  And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.

 

 

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Prov 4:18  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.  

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