It seems that the Jewish-speaking, Palestinian Jews were failing to meet the needs of the Greek-speaking, foreign Jews. The matter was brought to the attention of the apostles who summoned everyone together to address them. It doesn’t seem that there was malicious intent – it may just have been an oversight, or that the apostles who were in charge of distributing food were over-worked (see 4:33-35). The apostles didn’t want to lose any more of their time, so they asked the people to pick seven men who will look after the matter. The qualifications seem to be a godly character, someone who is clearly full of the Holy Spirit and someone who is wise (the first and last of which will be a result of the Spirit’s action). It might seem odd that these things are needed to distribute food, but the New Testament principal is that those in any leadership must be good examples to believers and non-believers alike. The apostles saw their calling as being prayer and the “ministry of the word”, ie. preaching and teaching.

Everyone liked the idea and they picked out seven men. I would guess that Steven is given the most intention in the list because he will quickly become an important character in Acts, not to suggest that the other six were not full of faith or the Spirit. He may, though, have been the leader of these seven as Peter was the leader of the twelve. The apostles prayed for the new leaders and “laid their hands on them”. To be honest, I’m not sure what laying of hands actually signifies, but it seems here to be a blessing by the apostles of the new ministry of the seven and to signify that these men will have a special gifting and role in the church. From 8:1-5, though, we can see that these men (Philip in particular) did not become apostles. It seems that appointing the new leaders was successful – the next verse talks about continued growth of the “word of God”.

And with that, this section of Acts closes. There is still more action in Jerusalem, but from now on the focus is not just on the one city. The reader has been prepared for this by Luke’s first reference to non-Hebrew believers in 6:1, so the jump to non-Jewish believers is less surprising. In Luke’s summary of the section since 3:1, he emphasises the work in Jerusalem once more by referring to the city by name and referring to the “great many” priests who “became obedient to the faith”.

Heavenly Father, as I look over the work of your apostles and your Spirit in Jerusalem from Pentecost to here, it’s amazing the boldness and the growth and the faithfulness and the generosity which you gave to your church. I pray that by the same Spirit, I will grow to act in the same way with my life, and will be full of the Spirit and of faith. Amen.


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