The members of the early church lived in unity, taking care of one another, but as the disciples increased in number, the Hellenists, or Greek speaking Jews, began to complain. They said the Greek widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.
The twelve apostles summoned the full number of disciples and pointed out that their time should be spent preaching the gospel rather than serving tables. They recommended the group appoint men who would serve the congregation, including the Greek widows. They gave the following criteria for the selection of men.
“Pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty.” (Acts 6:3)
They chose Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nocanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus as the first group of deacons. The apostles prayed and laid hands on them.
Because of this distribution of work, the apostles were able to devote themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.
“And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.” (v. 7)
The Greek widows faced a problem. They were being ignored and neglected. However, their problem brought to light the need for change. Because of the Hellenists’ complains, the church established the position of deacons which became a valuable addition to the work of the church.
Sometimes we have to experience difficulties in order to instigate change. We also have to be aware of the struggles of others and be willing to speak out on their behalf.
Read about the Greek widows: Acts 6
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