Tonight we continue our study of the book of Acts. Remember we are using the Scriptural outline for the book found in 1:8.
(Acts 1:8b) "…Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."
Tonight we continue studying the development of Christianity in Jerusalem.
I. Christianity in Jerusalem 1:1-8:3
A. The risen Lord 1:1-26
B. Pentecost 2:1-47
C. The Healing of a Lame Man 3:1-26
D. The beginning of persecution 4:1-37
E. Purging the Church 5:1-42
F. Conflict within the Church 6:1-7
1. The Problem v 1
a. Murmuring of the Grecians and the Hebrews
1) Remember the church was still made up of Jews
2) The Gospel would not go to the Gentiles until later on in Chapters 7 - 10
3) The conflict was between "Grecian Jews" and the "Hebrews"
4) The Jews who lived in and around Jerusalem spoke Aramaic and Greek but those Jews who were from other countries spoke their native tongue and Greek - remember all the languages represented on the day of Pentecost
5) They formed two distinct groups of Jews and there was tension between them; this tension found its way into the church
b. The Grecian Jews felt they were not receiving a fair distribution for their widows
1) Remember it was up to the Apostles to make distribution to those in need
2) All of the Apostles were "Hebrews"
3) So we find that in the midst of God's blessings on the church -- Satan attacked causing division among the people
2. The solution v 2-6
a. The twelve Apostles recognized their proper priorities in the ministry of the Word of God and prayer.
b. They needed to find someone else to serve the tables
1) This is a reference to the administration and distribution of funds and supplies to those in need
2) Keep in mind that this was not a small group of believers, but rather thousands of people -- and this was taking them away from much more important responsibilities.
c. Qualifications for those who would be chosen to serve in this capacity.
1) They must be spirit-filled men
2) They must be filled with wisdom
3) They must have an honest report
d. Seven men were to be chosen - number of completion in Scripture
1) The people chose seven men
2) The Apostles commissioned them to service
3. The Result v 7
a. The Word of God increased
b. The number of disciples multiplied greatly
c. Many priests were saved!
d. All of this because the twelve could now 'give themselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the Word'
G. Stephen - the First Martyr 6:8-8:3
1. The stirring of the people 6:8-15
a. Stephen was quite an unusual man v 8
1) He was 'full of' or controlled by the Holy Spirit, wisdom, faith, and power
2) He did great wonders and miracles among the people (NOTE: up to this point only Apostles exercised these powers)
3) These evidences of God's grace upon his ministry were in addition to his responsibilities to the widows.
b. In addition to these qualities he was apparently quite good speaker v 9-10
1) There were those of the synagogue of the Libertines who disputed with him
a) Libertines - freedmen
b) They were Jewish freedmen or descendants of freedmen from these geographical areas
c) They had been set free from being prisoners of war or from slavery
2) However, they could not resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which Stephen spoke
c. He became a victim of treachery and conspiracy v 11-15
1) In this manner his arrest and trial was very similar to Jesus'
2) They found false witnesses against Stephen and charged him with blasphemy
3) These charges were enough to stir up the people and the elders and bring him before the council
4) As Stephen sat and listened to the false witnesses charge him with blasphemy, his face shone with the glory of God so much that all of the council recognized it - Luke described it as being the face of an Angel. (Like Moses' in Ex. 34:29-35)
Next time: A Look at Stephen's Sermon