Study No. 6 Sorting out Difficulties Chapter 6:1 – 8
“In those days …”
How much time has passed from Pentecost in Chapter 2 to the situation addressed in chapter 6? It is not really possible to tell but we only get a ‘sense’ that it’s possibly been a few months because of the phrase ‘and in those days …’
The number of disciples has multiplied.
How many? 3000 plus 5000 within the first few weeks.
The Lord added ‘daily’ (2:47).
Multitudes are added. (5:14).
Some have estimated that the congregation could number as high as 100,000. I would say that if the number was 30,000 that the 12 Apostles really had their hands full trying govern and teach people who had no church background history to fall back on except Judaism.
We left off with a positive statement at the end of chapter 5. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. v42.
This is Luke’s first mention of a negative. “there arose a complaint”.
The complaint probably came to the ears of the apostles through a number of persons. This is what we call murmuring or grumbling or complaining. We are told in scripture to “do everything without complaining or arguing.” Php 2:14.
Here is a comment by one pastor …
At an annual business meeting in the peaceful church I pastored, one of the older members asked, “Can we have some time in this meeting to register complaints?” She evidently had a list of grievances. I believe the Spirit gave me a word of wisdom.
“There is a time and place,” I replied, “for handling grievances and making complaints. The last step is bringing the complaint to the whole church. The first step is taking it to the person directly involved. When accord cannot be reached, then the second step involves the pastor and, if necessary, church leadership. Only if the complaint cannot be resolved at the first two steps should it be brought to the church. A church business session is not the proper setting for the open airing of grievances because we are to follow Jesus’ direction in Matthew 18 for resolving complaints.”
I said this kindly, and the dear saint received it graciously.
“There arose a complaint” … Peter did not take this to be the time to scold the grumblers.
In the old testament we have this account:
Numbers 11:1 ¶ Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. :2 When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the LORD and the fire died down.
Murmuring in the New Testament era is just as bad a sin as it was way back then. The young church, having just recently started out on their own without Jesus being there in person, was doing very well. Then Ananias and Sapphira almost spoiled things. God took care of that. Now we have grumbling.
What is the nature of the complaint?
Grecian (Hellenistic) widows are being neglected. What is this all about? Remember that so far we have a church that has no Gentiles in it and not even any Samaritans (half-Jews). So what is Grecian? Very simply, a Grecian is a Jew (an actual ethnic Jew) from abroad. They were born away from Israel. They are only here because of the last Jewish feast they had attended – Pentecost. They heard the gospel message, believed, were baptized and have remained here in Jerusalem.
So what we have here is a problem with ‘showing partiality’ or favoritism. Another ugly word for it is ‘prejudice’. For some reason the Jerusalem Jews showed partiality to their own kind. We never do that, do we?
Luke does not really explain how the day to day functioning of the church took place. For instance, did the whole group of 30,000 to 100,000 organize in one huge parking lot or field for their meals? They were not welcome in Solomon’s porch any more. So where did they meet? It is likely that they were forced into forming sub groups that would be more manageable. There were 12 Apostles … did they have 12 sub groups? The groups would still be huge! I wish we had more information on what this looked like. So we are forced just to take scripture.
Ac 6:2 And the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them
How many sub groups and how large each one was does not apply to the above verse. Somewhere, somehow the WHOLE multitude is called together.
1. The murmurers are not scolded.
2. The problem is not minimized or denied.
3. The problem was evidently taken to heart by the 12, discussed and a proposed solution offered.
4. the church multitude and the Grecians particularly feel heard and validated. They are hearing, “You are right. Your widows are being neglected.”
5. The offered solution: “We can’t do it all and even now, we are failing in our needed time to read and study the Word and pray. So here is what we will do …”
Their solution was both wise and practical. James later said, “Does any one lack (or require wisdom in discerning a particular thing) wisdom, … ask God. He will give it freely. God did give them wisdom. The solution: Choose some people to make sure the Grecian widows are no longer neglected.
1. You do the choosing.
2. Look for seven men, filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom. (Comments on ‘homework’)
3. Bring them to us.
4. We will appoint (approve) them, if we are satisfied with your selection.
The people used some kind of method to do this and came up with seven whose names are given. The apostles ‘laid hands’ upon them. This signified approval.
The solution worked so well that we read:
Ac 6:7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem exceedingly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
Compare Acts 2:17,18 with Acts 6:8 ¶ And Stephen, full of grace and power, wrought great wonders and signs among the people. Comment on whether or not you think these verses may apply to today … or is it a past time or perhaps a future time to which it refers?
 George O. Wood, D.Th.P., is general superintendent for The General Council of the Assemblies of God, Springfield, Missouri.
 Ac 2:5 ¶ Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.
 1Timothy 5:22 Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people’s sins; keep yourself pure.