The sin of murmuring is exposed here.
Then was a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.
These Grecians were Jews who had settled in other countries.
While they had the same basic culture they were very nationalistic.
This was the second sin to be exposed within the Church.
The first being hypocrisy.
The second being murmuring.
This incident teaches us a great lesson that what the devil cannot do from without he will seek to do by dissension from within.
Note the practice of caring for the widows. (Explain).
These were cared for because of the gifts given by the brethren. See Chapter 4:34-37.
In all probability this was abused, so Paul laid down guidelines in I Timothy 5. (Explain these).
Verses 2-3 To help prevent this inequity in the future, the apostles made it known that they would cease to be engaged in the work of providing for the needy, then asked the church to find seven men. Note their qualifications:
1. honest report. Good testimony within and without.
2. full of the Holy Spirit
3. full of wisdom
“Do all things without murmuring.” Philippians 2:14.
One of the sins of Israel in the wilderness was murmuring. (13 times).
1 Corinthians 10:10 “Do not murmur as some of them did.” “God was not well pleased with them.”
Murmuring stems from discontent. A whisperer separates friends. Proverbs 16:28.
Discontent breeds grumbling.
When one murmurs they say something in a low tone of voice.
A murmurer is a grumbler or complainer—what that person does is a sin of a grievous nature—God abhors it.
In the O.T. God destroyed murmurers—Serpents (example). Numbers 21.
The inference of Verse 10 is that as God destroyed the murmurers of old He will destroy murmurers today.
Usually it is the carnal Christian who murmurs.
The spiritual Christian glorifies Christ.
Joseph as a Type of Christ.
1. Both were special objects of the Father’s love. Genesis 37:3 and Matthew 3:17.
2. Both were hated by their brethren. Genesis 37:4 and John 15:25.
3. The superior claims of both were rejected by their brethren. Genesis 37:8 and Matthew 21:37-39.
4. The brethren of both conspired against them to kill them. Genesis 37:18 and Matthew 26:3-4.
5. Joseph was, in intent and figure slain by His brethren, as was Christ. Genesis 37:24 and Matthew 27:35-37.
6. Each became a blessing among the Gentiles and gained a Bride. Genesis 41:1-45 and Ephesians 5:25-32.
7. As Joseph reconciled his brethren to himself and afterward exalted them, so will it be with Christ and His Jewish brethren. Genesis 45:1-15 and Romans 11:1-15, 25-36.
Genesis 41:55 The people were famished and came to Pharaoh for bread. Pharaoh said, “Go to Joseph.” He held the lives of the nation in his hands (the world).
Acts 4:12 “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
These were the first deacons ever appointed in the church.
A deacon is a servant, one who ministers to the needs of God’s people.
Paul gives the qualifications of deacons in I Timothy 3.
Anyone whom God used in His service were men of these qualifications. Barnabas. Acts 11:24.
When God wanted an earthy home built, the man whom He chose to do this had certain qualifications. See Exodus 31:1-3.
God is very concerned about the spiritual state of his servants.
I believe He only uses such people today.
Verse 4 This verse tells us what the apostles were going to devote them full time to. Prayer—Ministry of the Word. John 14:13-14. Matthew 21:22.
Verse 5 Of the men who were chosen we only know two of them.
Stephen the first martyr. Chapters 6-7.
Philip the evangelist. Chapters 8-21.
Verse 6 The apostles prayed for them—they also laid their hands on them. Identification.
Verse 7 Stress this verse.
1. The Word of God increased—spread abroad.
2. The number of disciples were multiplied.
3. A great company of priests were converted.
Verse 8 We are introduced to Stephen.
Note his spiritual qualifications.
Full of the Holy Spirit. Verses 3-5.
Full of wisdom. Verse 3.
Full of faith. Verses 5-8.
He had a good testimony. Verse 3.
This is the man God is about to use.
He did great wonders and miracles.
Verse 9 Notice how Satan zeroed in on Stephen.
One who is being used of God is always the target of Satan.
Verse 10 No man or men can prevail against one who is filled with the Holy Spirit.
Verse 11 They employed men to say that they had heard him blaspheme Moses and God.
Verse 12 They stirred up the people—elders—scribes and brought him to trial.
Verse 13 They bribed false witnesses to testify against them.
Verse 14 The accusation.
Verse 15 Stephen is transformed by an inner force. The Holy Spirit.
The Call, Defense And Death Of Stephen—Acts Chapters 6 & 7.
Stephens Call Chapter 6.
Stephen was a wonderful man. He had unique qualifications.
1. He had a good testimony.
2. He was full of wisdom.
3. He was full of faith.
4. He was full of the Holy Spirit.
According to Verse 8 Stephen was also “full of power” and did Great Wonders and miracles among the people.
This is the first time we hear of miracles being performed by any other than the apostles.
Stephen’s unique gifts made him a target for the unscrupulous rulers of religion.
They could not dispute successfully with him the claims of Jesus Christ.
“They were not able to resist the wisdom nor the Spirit by which he spoke” Verse 10.
Verse 11 shows us the dishonesty to which men will stoop to justify their own positions.
They suborned men, that is, they bribed men to bear false witness.
These people said that they had heard them speak “blasphemous words against Moses and against God.”
They were “rabble rousers,” they stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes until they arrested Stephen and brought him before the council. As he faced his accusers, they were astonished when his face appeared to be the face of an angel.
Verse 1 When the witnesses had told their story, the high priest said to Stephen “Are these things true?”
Before entering into some of the details of Stephens’ defense, let me point out to you some striking similarities between Stephen’s death and that of our Lord Jesus.
1. Jesus did miracles to prove who He was. Stephen did miracles to prove that his mission was of God.
2. Both were accused by false witnesses. Acts 6:13-14, Matthew 26:60-61.
3. They cast Stephen out of the city (7:58). They led the Savior outside Jerusalem.
4. Stephen prayed for his murderers (7:60). On the cross our Lord prayed, “Father forgive them etc.”
5. Stephen committed himself to the Lord as he prayed, “Lord Jesus receive my spirit.” Verse 59. Christ said to His Father “Into Thy hands I commend My Spirit.”
6. Stephen in his dying moments cried with a “loud voice.” Verse 60. The Lord did this too. (Matthew 27:50).
These deaths were not tragedies but triumphs.
As John the Baptist’s testimony was a voice to the nation before Christ…so Stephen’s testimony is a convicting voice to the nation after they had crucified Christ. (In rejecting Stephen, they actually rejected Christ a second time.)
A Study Of Stephens’ Defense
Stephens’ defense is really a brief review of the history of Israel. Note the names of the patriarchs mentioned. Abraham—Isaac—Jacob—Joseph—Moses. Stephen marshals the salient facts of Israel’s history to show that as a nation they had always rejected God’s grace and God’s messengers. From the five patriarchs mentioned, Stephen selects two, Joseph and Moses to show that although ultimately they became the nations deliverers, at one point they were rejected.
Joseph Verse 9-19
1. Joseph was sold into Egypt by his brethren. Verse 9.
2. The rejected one raised to power and glory in Egypt. Verse 10.
3. Joseph’s brothers driven to Egypt because of famine but failed to recognize him. verses 11-12.
4. Joseph became their Savior.
Moses Verses 20-43
1. Verses 20-22 Stephen describes the birth—early life and education of Moses in Egypt.
2. Verses 23-28 His first rejection by his brethren. See Verse 25.
3. Verse 29 His exile in the land of Midian.
4. Verses 30-35 God appeared to him in the burning bush.
5. Verse 36 He became the Savior of the nation.
6. Verse 37 Moses prophesied that God would raise up a prophet like him.
7. Moses rejected a second time by the people as they worshipped the golden calf. Verses 39-41.
Stephen is pointing out here that history repeats itself they were guilty of the sin of their forefathers in rejecting the Lord Jesus and resisting the Holy Spirit.
Consider at this point the parable of the householder who planted a vineyard. Matthew 21:33-46.
The householder leased the vineyard. At harvest time he sent his servants for the fruit. The farmers took the servants and beat some, stoned others, and killed some. He sent more servants with more authority, they were treated the same way. Last of all he sent his son…”Surely they will receive my son.” They said, “This is the heir, come, let us kill him.” The question now was what would the owner do when he came? They said, “he will miserably destroy these men” etc. Describe the reaction of the people when they realized that they had just condemned themselves.
Stephen’s final indictment Verses 51-53.
The Jewish leaders had accused him of speaking against the law. He turned this around to show that they were guilty of breaking the law and resisting the Holy Spirit. “As your fathers did so do ye” Verse 51.
The stoning of Stephen Verses 54-60.
When the judges and the people heard these accusations, “They were cut to the heart and gnashed on him with their teeth” Verse 54.
Stephen was unperturbed. Quote Verses 55-56.
The people’s reaction Verses 57-58.
The triumphant death of the first mentioned martyr. Verses 59-60 Quote.
The subject of Chapters 6-7 is Stephen.
This is what we have been told of him this far.
He was full of faith.
He was full of the Holy Spirit.
He was full of power.
He did wonders and miracles among the people.
A miracle is a work of a supernatural origin and was used as a sign of divine authority.
Wonders is something strange causing the beholder to marvel.
Stephen’s enthusiasm cost him his life.
Note the prominent men in the Acts.
Peter Chapters 1-12 Stephen and Philip Chapters 6-8
Paul Chapter 9 his conversion Chapter 13 first missionary journey.
Stephen was mightily used of the Lord. Verse 8
He is the first man who is said to have performed miracles and wonders in the Acts other than the apostles.
Opposition arose against Stephen from various synagogues. Verse 9
In the confrontation that followed they were no match for him. See Verse 10.
They resorted to subterfuge, employing false witnesses.
They accused Him of blasphemy. Verses 11-14
Verse 15 As they hurled their fake accusations at him, Stephen’s face was changed and his accusers saw it as the face of an angel. Change = Transfigured. Matthew 17:2. 2 Corinthians 3:18. Romans 12:2. Changed. Transformed.
They saw a transformation—the outshining from within, of a life fully surrendered to God and indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
They saw something of the glory of Christ reflected in His servants.
In his defense, Stephen gives a review of Jewish history.
As he develops his theme he concentrates on two prominent figures: Moses and Joseph.
They had something in common. They were raised up by God—rejected by Israel—then exalted as deliverers and Saviors.
The analogy is unmistakable here—Christ.
Finally, Stephen launches a scathing attack at Israel’s leaders, charging them with rejecting Christ—murdering the Just and Righteous One—resisting the Holy Spirit—and disobeying the law of God.
Verses 1-8 contain a summary of Abraham’s history.
He cites the call of Abraham as the beginning of the nation.
Verses 9-19 Joseph rejected and received.
Joseph as a type of Christ
1. Joseph sold by his brethren—rejected
2. Raised to power and glory
3. Joseph’s brethren failed to recognize Him.
4. The second time, Joseph was made known to them and he became the Savior of the family.
This was exactly what happened to Christ and what will happen when Christ comes the second time.
Verses 17-19 Stephen talks of the growth of the family—the increased bondage.
This prepares us for the next step in his argument.
The treatment of Moses at the hand of the people.
Verses 20-53 Stephen is showing them that in the past the nation was guilty on at least two occasions of rejecting saviors whom God had raised up to deliver them.
Verses 20-22 Birth—early life and education in Egypt.
Verses 23-28 His first rejection.
Verse 29 His exile in Midian.
Verses 30-35 God’s appearance to him in the burning bush.
Verse 36 He became the Savior of the nation.
Verses 39-51 Moses rejected a second time as the people worshipped the golden calf.
Verses 51-53 Stephen’s final accusations
He said that they did with Jesus what their fathers had done with the prophets.
Verses 54-60 These accusations stung them to the heart.
Then as soon as Stephen told them of his vision, Verse 56, they refused to listen.
They then dragged him out of the city and stoned him to death.
Stephen’s death resembled that of the Lord.
He prayed, “Lord Jesus receive my spirit.”
The Lord prayed, “Father into your hands I commend My Spirit.”
Stephen prayed, “Lay not this sin to their charge.”
The Lord prayed, “Father forgive them” etc.
Then having prayed he fell “asleep.” (explain)
“Them that sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.” 1 Thessalonians 4.