Summary: Stephen was called to ba Marter...To give his life for God. How can truth ruin your day?
I have a job for you
Today we are taking a huge chunk of scripture and we are going to jump through it very quickly.
In reality we are only going to highlight some of the really big things in this section.
This block of scripture starts with an internal view of things happening inside the church. We are starting with the Beginning of Chapter 6 because it provides us with some details that help us with the big picture.
It starts with a complaint. The Grecian Jews, also called Hellenistic, think that the Widows that are in that group are being slighted or perhaps even ignored.
I want to make a guess as to the nature of what is happening. The scripture specifically mentions Grecian…Which means they were from outside of Israel. They had come to town and stayed.. perhaps made a pilgrimage and wanted to remain in the home land.
The real problem is that they probably don’t speak Hebrew or Aramaic. They can’t read the flyers about the help that the church offers and perhaps they even live too far to just come and check it out. Since they are not from around there, they have trouble getting connected, to the resources offered.
A couple of weeks ago, we learned that the believers were sharing everything in common, and some were so generous that they sold land and houses and gave the money to the apostles to help out thoes in need.
But there is some kind of a problem, Some age being neglected, the Whole group is called together, I take it to be all of them….and they decide that their call is to teach and preach and that someone else should be selected to serve in this other ministry.
I don’t think that are avoiding getting their hands dirty. They are figuring out that as the church grows, they can’t do all the jobs needed to help the community of faith…
They empower others to serve in ministry.
Seven men are chosen. The text gives us some names: “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.”
Stephen is set apart with a few characteristics, Full of Faith, and the Holy Spirit. It names Philip who we will hear more about later. Luke has a tendency to give us names of people that will hear more about. Stephen is about to be like some of the fire works that some of you may have wittiness last week.
He is like one of thoes shells that rise way up in the sky and make a huge impression and suddenly fade into black.
You would think that we will hear about how great he meals on wheels program comes together under his leadership. Perhaps some other accounts of the great job this group does..
But no, we will never hear about the ministry again. I suppose that means that it all worked out. Except, I am afraid it will be a fairly short lived program.
What we do hear about Stephen is very different.
Let me read Verses 8-12
Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia. These men began to argue with Stephen, but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke.
Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, "We have heard Stephen speak words of blasphemy against Moses and against God."
So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin.
So what is Stephen doing? The description of being full of God’s grace and power, is nice but doing great wonders and miraculous signs.
Doesn’t that sound like he is some how doing the same thing as the apostles. Miracles, that is their department. So while, the apostles choose him to serve the community he is endowed by God with the A list powers and graces.
It talks about opposition from the synagogue…..They say tat there is evidence that during this time that there were between two and fie synagogues operating in Jerusalem. They were led by the Pharisees and cam together to pray and to read and hear teaching about scripture. But the Temple was less than a mile across town, why start synagogues?
The temple services were preformed in Hebrew. The daily services might have been a mystery. The synagogues would have offered teaching and prayers in a language that the Jews that were borne and raised else ware could understand.