Growing Pains

Text: Acts 6:1-7

I.         The church took care of its own needy by members giving of their property - Acts 4:34-35

            A.        Yet, as the church continued its momentous growth, complaints arose that the distributions were not fair and even-handed.

            B.        In particular it was claimed that the widows who were from the Gentile nations were being slighted in preference to the native-born widows.

            C.        The twelve apostles summoned the congregation

                        1.         It was not proper for them to neglect their duties of teaching the gospel to oversee the needs of the members

                        2.         They requested the congregation to select seven men whose duty would be to oversee the distribution of food.

                                    a.         They had to be of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit, and wise.

                                    b.         Later these men were called “deacons” or “servants” of the church.

                                    c.         Specific qualifications were given: I Timothy 3:8-10, 12-13

                        3.         Specific qualifications were also given as to whom was responsible for which widows - I Timothy 5:3-16

                                    a.         The widow’s family had primary responsibility for the care of the widow

                                                (1)       It is part of the honoring of mother and father

                                                (2)       Only a widow without family was cared for by the church

                                    b.         Since the widow was supported by the church, she in turn had to be good representative of what being a Christian was all about.

                                    c.         She also had to be too old to work or remarry (over 60)

            D.        The congregation agreed and selected seven men.

                        1.         Two: Stephen and Philip will come up again later in the book of Acts.

                        2.         They were brought to the Apostles, who laid their hands on them as a blessing to enter the work.

                                    a.         Seen in other times as Acts 13:3

                                    b.         Sometimes it was done to bestow the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but since these men were already filled with the Spirit, this was such a case.

                                    c.         Timothy was later warned to be careful who was supported by the laying on of his hands - I Timothy 5:22

                                    d.         Laying on of hands was an old practice, seen in Numbers 8:9-10; 27:18-20; Deuteronomy 34:9

                                                (1)       In represented the giving of authority to a person

                                                (2)       Even those who would serve under them showed their blessing and giving of that right by laying on their hands.

II.        The church continued to grow in Jerusalem

            A.        Members were even being found among the priests, which you can be certain upset some of the rulers.

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