Summary: The office of the deacons was set up to meet a need in the church for day to day ministry. The head ministers had to have help in order to fulfill their preaching mission.
Tonight’s passage is about the birth of the idea of having deacons. This was the birth of a whole new level of ministry in the church. What we need to note is that the office of the deacons was set up to meet a need in the church for day to day ministry. The head ministers had to have help in order to fulfill their preaching mission.
It was the duty of the ministers to study God’s Word and to preach it. That’s all. That doesn’t sound like much to have to do but if you are going to do a service to God and deliver HIS message, the minister must be tuned in to God, praying, meditating on His Word, and putting that message into a format that the public can relate to.
READ v. 1. We find as chapter 6 opens that there was a problem in the church. Some widows were being neglected. Two groups or cliques were seen in the church, and one was complaining and grumbling about the actions of the other. One group felt its needs were not being met; it was not getting a due share of the attention and care it deserved.
Now there were reasons why this division had developed.
1. The church had grown rapidly. When any organization grows quickly, all kinds of problems arise, and most of the problems center around how to handle the growth. The church needed to minister to the new members, but it was having a hard time handling and reaching out to everyone. The head ministers, the apostles in this case, could not get to everyone.
2. Another reason for the division was there were different groups or cliques coming into the church.
- There were the Hebrews, the Jews who were born and reared in Palestine. They spoke Aramaic. They rejected all Greek and Gentile culture completely, and used only the Hebrew Bible in its original Hebrew language. The point is this: the Hebrew or Palestinian Jews were very closely knit. They despised the Gentiles. They believed the Gentiles were eternally cursed by God.
- Then there were the Grecian Jews who were known as the Hellenists. These were the Jews who had been deported, scattered, and dispersed all over the world by the Romans.
The Grecian or Hellenist Jews had adopted Greek culture, spoke the Greek language, and used and read the Greek Bible (Septuagint). It’s probably this that lay at the root of the problem mentioned here. The Hebrew Jews were probably having a hard time getting rid of all their prejudice. Even though God had worked in their hearts to cleanse them from prejudice, they were still hanging on to some feelings against the Hellenists.
A lesson we learn from this is that people do and will form groups and cliques. But we must always be open and accepting, outgoing and friendly, giving and helping, humble and undeserving before each other, ministering and receiving ministry from all.
3. Another reason for the division was that the leaders of the church didn’t have enough help to look after every member. There are 2 things that need to happen when this problem arises.
a. The church has to get more help. It must seek out people who sense the hand of God on them and call them to minister and care for others.
b. The member must be willing to quit demanding so much of the head minister, to accept the ministry of other men who are called to minister to the flock of God.
4. The 4th reason for the division was that the church wasn’t adequately organized to minister to all. The leadership centered only upon the apostles. There was the need for another whole level of minister, ministers who could reach out to every single member.
5. A 5th reason for the division was there was apparently some favoritism being shown. Most if not all of the food being distributed to the needy was being handled by the Hebrew Jews. The Grecian Jews felt that their needy were being neglected and that favoritism was being shown to those who had need among the Hebrew Jews.
READ v. 2. The leaders called the whole church together. They didn’t deny that they had a problem. The leaders declared their primary call and mission was to concentrate on the Word of God, its study and proclamation.
The apostles could have been easily distracted, caught up in day to day ministry—the ministry of sitting and listening, serving and meeting the needs of the needy. I know that feeling. These needs must be met. But when the church grows there becomes too many people to be one-on-one with.
There’s a breaking point at which ministers need to put up a guard and protect their primary call to proclaim the Word of God. They must above all have time to prepare and preach and teach the Word. You can ask Denise, I can be sitting at my desk studying and writing and the phone rings and it is not uncommon for me to let it go to the voicemail. There are times when the train of thought cannot be interrupted.