Summary: The Move of the Spirit
Acts 6:1, “1 Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists,[a] because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.”
The congregation was growing in numbers but problems lay ahead for the congregation. The Greek word for complaint is Goggusmos which quite literally means that they could have had a secret debate, or murmuring in the congregation. This suggests several things for us today. It suggests that this issue was more along the lines of a cultural problem or language issue, or even an issue of administration which is clearly in view here in this chapter and verse. The issue at stake was the care of widows who were cared for in traditional Jewish society (Deut 14:29; 16:11; 24:19-21; 26:12). Paul would later give this responsibility of care to the congregation (1 Tim 5:3). The growth and harmony of the congregation at this very point could be threatened if the Apostles did not do as they will later. Now let us turn our attention to what the Hellenistic and Hebrew Jews are.
The Hellenistic Jews were those used the Greek language, but also they were Jews from foreign lands who spoke Greek. The Hebrew Jews in that sense were those who actually lived in Israel and who didn’t travel to Jerusalem during festival season like the Hellenistic Jews. The main problems among them would be that the Hebrew Jews spoke Aramaic while the Hellenistic Jews spoke Greek. Therefore, the problem we have is an issue of language, and cultural identity.
Acts 6:2-5, “2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 6: 3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; 4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.””
The Apostles were the clear leaders of the congregation at this time with the ability to call the meeting by summoning the multitude of disciples. The focus of their meeting was that they knew their focus of ministry. They knew that they should not focus on the administrative issues at hand, but focus on the Word of God so that the people would be equipped to serve others.
In response to the work of the Spirit the Apostles move to organize the Body with servant leaders. The focus of this solution centers on the oppressed gaining leadership if, but for a time. This shows that the Apostles were not happy in the oldness of what the Spirit had done, but wanted to see the fullness of the Spirit manifested in the community. The focus of the Apostles again is upon the growth of the ministry, which was its maturity. What is needed in ministry is men and women of godly reputations who seek after the Lord, and aren’t satisfied staying in the same place spiritually or in any other place in their lives, but are focused upon His business, seeking after His Truths and His ways. These are the leaders who can be trusted to do His business, His way; in His power. The Apostles focus was upon the ministry of prayer and the Word.
The Apostles focus was not on what was comfortable, but upon what wasn’t going against the cultural grain. These Jewish Apostles understood the focus of ministry was upon serving the people. They let the people make the decision about what God was doing, but set guidelines for the community to govern their decisions. Therefore, we see God moves as we are faithful and calls us to continued faithfulness and service as we let Him move through us in our ministries. An elder in the Body of Messiah’s focus ought always to be on the ministry of the Word and prayer for the people for they minister to the people by prayer by the move of His Spirit, and teaching them the Word.
There remains in the history of this verse here a dispute whether the word deacon is in view. The word serve here comes from the greek word Diakoneo meaning according to strong’s, “to be a servant, attendant, domestic, to serve, wait upon to minister to one, render ministering offices to to be served, ministered unto to wait at a table and offer food and drink to the guests, of women preparing food to minister i.e. supply food and necessities of life; to relieve one’s necessities (e.g. by collecting alms), to provide take care of, distribute, the things necessary to sustain life. To take care of the poor and the sick, who administer the office of a deacon in Christian churches to serve as deacons. To minister. to attend to anything, that may serve another’s interests