A Closer Look At The Book Of Acts: Part 5
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Posted: Monday, March 12, 2012
by Joel Hendon
The study of the book of Acts is a progressive study. It is extremely important that those who desire to learn the value of this book, should read all of the preceding lesson we have now covered. If you have not, if you will page down to the end of this article, you will find links to the previous four.
In the closing portion of Acts, chapter 5, we read of the apostles being beaten by the Jewish rulers and ordered not to speak in the name of Jesus anymore, even though they continued to ignore their warnings. This was notification of much more severe persecution to follow.
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. 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. 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. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. 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 6:1-5 KJV).
Now notice this, the vast majority of the church at this point was comprised of Jews and the neglect of the Greek ladies was unintentional, but the apostles had these seven men assigned to see that all was equal. Incidentally this is the first instance also, which mentions some within the body of Christ as serving the office of deacons. Also notice the qualifications specified by the apostles as to the type men who should be chosen. Also of interest is these men’s names.
Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, is a man who was an evangelist and his story follows next in our discussion. Also Philip was an evangelist whose story will be a little later in our study.
After the deacons were appointed there is no further mention of the problem and we may assume that it was resolved.
Luke’s account in the book of Acts then turns to the activities of Stephen. He went about teaching the new gospel of Jesus Christ, but the scriptures tell us that 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‘. But his being filled with the Holy Spirit and with wisdom, they were unable to refute his teachings. So they began to tell others they had heard him blaspheme Moses and God. Following are the closing verses of chapter 6.
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, And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us. And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel. (Acts 6:12-15 KJV)
I urge every reader to please read Acts chapter 7 from start to finish at this time. It contains a sermon that Stephen put upon them which was as complete, or more so, than that of Peter on the day of Pentecost and the opening the doors to the Lord’s church. It is not a long read but is somewhat too long to include in this article.
Even though Stephen was not an apostle, he was as devoted and courageous as any one. We have instances of martyrs before the Lord’s church was established, such as John the baptist. But after it was begun, Stephen is the first recorded to have died in the defense of Jesus Christ. Following are the links to previous lessons on the beginning of the book of Acts.
Part one: http://joel.WryteStuff.com/swa821062
Part two; http://joel.WryteStuff.com/swa821408
Part three: http://joel.WryteStuff.com/swa822944
Part four: http://joel.WryteStuff.com/swa823221
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