The Holy Spirit, the Church,
and the Gospel
~ Occupational Hazzard ~
Chapter 6 and 7
Don’t forget about your Ma and Pa!
As people were moved by the Spirit to join the Jesus movement, they began to neglect their past responsibilities. As you can imagine, when they are baptized, they become a part of this new community and family through this baptism in Christ. The book Acts tells us that many sold their possessions and shared what they had in this new community. This meant that vulnerable family members who were left behind found themselves in hard times. Thus, we have widows who are being neglected in the opening verse of chapter 6.
Read Acts 6:1-7
Church Politics and Diplomacy
Nothing has changed in the church or in the world. Politics and diplomacy were a part of the birth of the church and still are today. As people work together, especially from different backgrounds and experiences, challenges and friction in the church are inevitable. This is much of what is going on in the first few verses of chapter 6. Hellenists were Greek Jews. They were a minority amongst the Jews and choose to keep many Greek customs and even speak Greek, rather than Hebrew. The names of the seven who were chosen, indicate that they were Greek, rather than Hebrew. They were given full authority to manage the problems that were arising.
Read Acts 6:8-15
An Occupational Hazzard
First Peter gets himself in trouble by speaking and teaching in public, and now Stephen is standing before a council. This becomes a bit of broken record as we make our way through Acts. An occupational hazard. The current powers are once again fearful of someone who will question their power. And so, they ridicule, trap them, lie about them, and arrest them. It happens again and again.
Look through Acts 7:1-53, pay attention to verse 35 and verse 48
Sweet Talk ‘em… and then… Hit ‘em Hard
Stephen begins his speech to the council with some fairly good words. Recounts for the council the famous ancestors of the faith; Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and David. The council would have been pleased with this. But then in verse 35, he eludes to a comparison of Moses being rejected by his people and now Jesus being rejected by the people.
And then more than that he questions the use of Temple worship by telling them that “the Most High does not dwell in the houses made with human hands.” And if he hasn’t stuck his foot in his mouth enough, he ends by telling them that they are the betrayers and murderers of Jesus. Boy! Does he know how to sweet talk them, or what! (Insert sarcasm) Obviously, the council doesn’t take this too well.
Read Acts 7:54—8:1
Don’t Think I Would Want that Title
Stephen becomes the first Christian martyr. Not a title that I would want. As time went on, persecution against the first apostles and Christians in general increased. This caused them to begin to scatter away from Jerusalem. This persecution never stopped the spread of the news of Jesus Christ, but instead caused an advance of the message because the news made it to others nations and races. It began with the Jews in Jerusalem, and now is spreading to all corners of the earth.
Is that the Saul that I think it is…?
Yes. In comes Saul, who holds on the coats of them men who stone Stephen. And it says that Saul “approved of their killing them.” Before he became Paul, a great Apostle of the Christian Church, Saul began as a terrible persecutor of Christians. Going house to house arresting all the Christians.
Well, we begin having a shift away from Jerusalem. We also have Saul/Paul stepping in. The stories of Peter and Paul overlap here a bit. By the end of Acts, we will really only be talking about Paul and his missionary journeys.
We are going to be skipping to chapter 9, so if you like to read more head on into chapter 8 to hear about Phillip.
Peace, Pr. Jeremy