Read Acts 1:8 together: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Read Acts 6:1
1But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food.
What was the cause of the discontent?
Have you ever felt like you weren’t being treated fairly? How did you feel?
Have you ever been in a position where someone accused you of being unfair? How did you feel?
Read Acts 6:2-4
2So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. 3And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. 4Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.”
What are your thoughts on the apostles comment about running the food program?
Does their response sound somewhat uncaring or unfeeling?
According to this passage, what are the primary roles of the apostles?
How does this passage reveal that there are different roles in the body of Christ?
Read Acts 6:
5Everyone liked this idea, and they chose the following: Stephen (a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit), Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas of Antioch (an earlier convert to the Jewish faith). 6These seven were presented to the apostles, who prayed for them as they laid their hands on them. 7So God’s message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too. 8Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed amazing miracles and signs among the people.
Stephen is describe as a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit. What would that look like today?
Stephen is further described as a man full of God’s grace and power. Describe what that would look like today?
How would you perceive a modern-day Stephen? Would you think he was a radical? A charlatan? A man of God?
Read Acts 6:9-10
9But one day some men from the Synagogue of Freed Slaves, as it was called, started to debate with him. They were Jews from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia, and the province of Asia. 10None of them could stand against the wisdom and the Spirit with which Stephen spoke.
What do you think of the name of this Jewish synagogue?
What does this name, Synagogue of Freed Slaves, reveal to us about how they identified themselves?
If this group of Jews were indeed basing their name after the Egyptian slavery, how would this group have perceived the international and cultural diversity of Christ-followers—even the idea that Jesus Himself engaged with Samaritans and people of various cultural backgrounds?
Read Acts 6:12-14
11So they persuaded some men to lie about Stephen, saying, “We heard him blaspheme Moses, and even God.” 12This roused the people, the elders, and the teachers of religious law. So they arrested Stephen and brought him before the high council. 13The lying witnesses said, “This man is always speaking against the holy Temple and against the law of Moses. 14We have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy the Temple and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”
When people can’t win an argument, many times they will create lies. Has anyone ever lied about you even when you were trying to do the right thing?
What was another name for the “high council”? (Sanhedrin)
Would Stephen have spoken against the law of Moses?
Read Matthew 5:17-19 to understand how Jesus viewed the law of Moses.
17“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. 18I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. 19So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Does Jesus affirm the OT? Did Jesus speak against the law of Moses?
Read Acts 6:15
15At this point everyone in the high council stared at Stephen, because his face became as bright as an angel’s.
Why do you think that Stephen’s face was bright like an angel?
What happens to our countenance when we live in obedience to the Presence of God?
Think on This…
What is your “Jerusalem”, “Judea” and “Samaria” and “ends of the earth”?