Nearly a week of The Acts Challenge 2019 done and what a challenge it has been! I didn’t think about the time constraints of posting a new blog post each day for 28 days, but I have to say, it’s been SUCH a blessing! While each post takes 2-3 hours to complete, it gives me that much time to consider the words that will never return void.
And I hope it’s been a blessing to you as well!
In case you missed the previous posts, here’s a run down of what we’ve done so far
Chapter 1 got us kicked off.
We continued reading in Chapter 2
Gleaning Chapter 3
Moving on to Chapter 4
Finally made it to Chapter 5
For those who’d like a daily reminder, if you sign up using the subscription box below, you’ll get each post as they’re published!
I appreciate any and all comments as well to keep the discussion going! Feel free to share, as well!
The Business of the Disciples
(Vs. 1) 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.
(Vs. 2) 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.
(Vs. 3) 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.
(Vs. 4) But we give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
(Vs. 5) 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:
(Vs. 6) Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
What to Do
There are lots of ways to read this passage, but the thing that sticks out to me is that there were so many Grecians being converted there was no one left at home to care for widows. Orphans were probably included but not mentioned.
As with any ministry, not the least of which was building up the early church, the first of its kind after Jesus’ resurrection, the enemy will always try to put something in front of it. As the disciples responded here, they were too busy with the work of the ministry to “serve tables.”
Now that sounds pretty harsh, and maybe it was. The fact is, they truly couldn’t leave the work Jesus had sent them to in order to do a lesser work. That didn’t mean, however, that they didn’t know that it was just as important to care for those who didn’t have anyone.
And so, they went to work setting apart seven men they could trust and who would fulfill this calling. And, as we see in the following verses, that pleased everyone involved.
The Word Increases
(Vs. 7) And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
When God’s Word increases, as it never returns VOID, it accomplishes exactly what it was sent out to do. So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)
Praise God, even a “great company” of priests became obedient to the faith. Notice how it didn’t say “they were saved”? Their obedience was the key, that setting themselves apart from the world (which did NOT practice obedience to the faith), and gave them the “hope of salvation.”
But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. (1 Thessalonians 5:8)
In those days, priests followed a specific set of rules. They had a job to do, tithes to collect, and rules to maintain. And that’s why it was greatly frowned upon that these disciples, these apostles, “turned the world upside down.”
And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also. (Acts 17:6)
Stephen Ruffles Some Religious Feathers
(Vs. 8) And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.
This verse is in direct opposition to anyone who maintains that the miracles, signs, and wonders that Jesus said would be done after his resurrection were for the specific “twelve” only. Stephen was never numbered with the original disciples and is yet found here, doing “great wonders and miracles” among the people.
9) Then 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, and disputing with Stephen.
(Vs. 10) And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.
(Vs. 11) Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.
“They were not able to resist” the wisdom and spirit by which Stephen spoke. And then they “suborned” men to say certain things. But what does “suborn” mean?
Strong’s 5260 (hypoballo) is the word translated into “suborned” and it means, “to instruct, instigate, or bribe someone, illegally, into committing a crime.” Sound like a particular generation of people to you? This was something the Pharisees did on a regular basis, to maintain their position and stance. All in the Name of God.
Stirring Up the People
(Vs. 12) 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,
Of course, also in like with Pharisee-behavior for that time period, the couldn’t be content with false witnesses. Bribed or not, they needed MORE. So they stirred up the people. They stirred up the elders. They even stirred up the scribes.
It’s funny to me how we have people like that today… stirring up the people, the news media, those who seem to care…
Stirring them up finally accomplished what they really wanted. That Stephen would be brought before the council.
Another side note would be an ongoing study that I’ve been doing on “the councils,” one of which took it upon themselves to determine that baptism was to be done ONLY in “the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost”, thus establishing a non-existent “trinity.”
Notes on the Trinity
By “trinity” I do not mean to say that God did not come in three MANIFESTATIONS. But rather that we do NOT serve three separate Gods, each with their own “personhood” and each being different yet the same as all the others.
Please read THIS, by David Bernard. It does a good job of explaining this truth, Scripturally, from both Old and New Testaments.
I have an upcoming blog post concerning this, which will include interview material from the conversation I had with a gentleman from South Africa. In it, you’ll see why the idea of polytheism, such as is found in churches that teach this version of the trinity, is one of the MAIN reasons that many, especially from other countries, are not converted to Christianity.
Those in both the old and new testament knew it! And the fact that we serve “one God” was taught up until the Council of Nicaea in the third century. More on that later.
(Vs. 13) And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:
(Vs. 14) For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.
Remember, not that long before this very scene, when they accused Jesus Himself the very same way? Just as Peter and John rejoiced in the last chapter (Acts 5) after having been beaten for Jesus Name, I’m sure Stephen was just as honored to receive the same accusations as the Lord.
(Vs. 15) And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.
I don’t think it was any coincidence that as these “religious leaders” sought to accuse Stephen of destroying Moses and the Law that God gave him, only to have Stephen’s face take on the same supernatural glow that Moses’ face did when he was in the presence of God.
And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin on his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him. And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him: and Moses talked with them. And after ward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them in a commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him in mount Sinai. And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face. But when Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he took the vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he commanded. And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him. (Exodus 34:29-35)
It stands to reason that HE truly is the SAME… yesterday, today, and FOREVER! Glory and honor be to the Lord our God!
Please feel free to share your thoughts below! And thank you for reading!
Ever In His Service,