Bible Stories for Adults
Acts 6 - 7
Welcome and Announcements
Next Week - Philip and the Ethiopian (Acts 8)
Bible Words to Remember:
I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33
The Early Christian Community (Acts 4:32-35)
How tight of a community existed in the early Christian church?
Acts 4:32 = One in heart and mind ... they shared everything they had
What does it mean that they shared everything they had? Did they loan lawnmowers, or what?
Acts 2:44-45 = They even sold what they owned and gave the proceeds to the needy
Did this communal living become the main focus of this group?
Acts 4:33 = No, the focus remained on testifying to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus
How extensive was the charity within the church?
Acts 4:34-35 = Members even sold real estate and gave to the apostles for distribution
Charity Problems (Acts 4:36-5:11)
What member helped provide an example to encourage others?
Acts 4:36-37 = Barnabus - Later was partner with Paul on missionary journeys
How were the believers shown that charity is to be based on love, not on desire for praise?
Acts 5:1-11 = Ananias & Sapphira sold field, gave part, but said they gave all; died
How did Jesus tell us not to give for the sake of being praised by men?
Matthew 6:1-4 = Don't announce your giving to be honored by men, but do it in secret
Another Charity Problem (Acts 6:1)
What other problem popped up relating to charity in the early church?
Acts 6:1 = Greek speaking widows were being neglected in daily food distribution
Grecian Jews - Those who spoke only Greek (the language of the world)
Note that the first contention in the Christian church was a money matter
Hebraic Jews - Those who spoke Aramaic (likely also spoke Greek)
Why did widows receive a daily food distribution?
1 Timothy 5:3-5 = Unable to work, Widows relied on family or charity of others to live
Giving to the needy was a highly respected thing to do among the Jews
Every Friday morning, synagogue members collected donations from market & homes
Distributed to needy that afternoon enough for 2 meals/day for the coming week
Kuppah (Basket) - Weekly distribution fund
Tamhri (Tray) - Daily collection for emergency needs
The Size of the Problem
How big of a problem could this have been?
Acts 2:41, 47b; 4:4; 5:14 = Large, the church had thousands of members
Jews from other parts of the world (diaspora) moved to Jerusalem for various reasons
Many did so out of religious yearning to be close to the temple (Zionists)
Many older Jews moved to Palestine to die honorably as a faithful Jew in Israel
Some rabbis said the dead would rise only in Israel
When diaspora Jews died in Israel, their widows were left with no family to care for them
(righteous dead of other lands had to roll back to Israel underground - very unpleasant)
The Solution (Acts 6:2-4)
With twelve apostles to manage the church, why couldn't this be easily corrected?
Acts 6:2 = Wrong to neglect the ministry of the Word ... to wait on tables
Were they saying that serving the needy was not important enough for their attention?
1 Corinthians 12:14, 17-18, 27, 29 = No, they were specially gifted for other tasks
So how could the needy be cared for? = Wisdom needed for sensitive issue, potential for bias
Acts 6:3 = Church body (not apostles) to select deacons (servers) gifted by the Spirit
What would the apostles do with all of the extra time they would now have?
Acts 6:4 = We will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word
The Result (Acts 6:5-7)
Did the Hebraic Jews stack the deck of these 7 deacons with Hebrews?
Acts 6:5 = The group chose 7 - all had Greek names, one was even a converted gentile
What does this show us that the early church understood about Christian life?
Philippians 2:1-4 = Look to the interests of others ... put others first
How were these first lay ministers inducted into this ministry?
Acts 6:6 = Apostles prayed and laid hands on them
What happened to the church after its first conflict was resolved in this manner?
Acts 6:7 = It grew rapidly - even priests believed - priests took gospel home
Note: Nearly 20,000 priests rotated into Jerusalem in 1-week shifts twice per year
Stephen (Acts 6:8-10)
Did any of the seven deacons (servers) have any other spiritual gifts?
Acts 6:8 = Stephen - full of God's grace and power, did miracles
With the apostles teaching in Solomon's Colonnade in the temple, where did Stephen teach?
Acts 6:9 = In Jerusalem's Greek speaking synagogues
Who was likely a member of the synagogue mentioned here?
Acts 21:39 = Paul was from Tarsus, a city in Cilicia
How effective was Stephen in this debate?
Acts 6:10 = they couldn't stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke
Was Steven so effective because he had received such good training by the apostles?
Luke 21:15 = Spirit gives us words & wisdom that no one can resist or contradict
If You Can't Beat 'Em, Take 'Em to Court (Acts 6:11-14)
Did Stephen's debaters become Christians or at least honorably concede defeat?
Acts 6:11-12 = No, they were angry and took him before the Sanhedrin
What charges did they present against Stephen?
Acts 6:13-14 = He said the temple would be destroyed & Moses' laws were no good
Who was similarly charged with such false accusations before the Sanhedrin?
Matthew 26:59-61 = Jesus was treated the same
The Defense (Acts 6:15-7:1)
How did Stephen respond to these accusations?
Acts 6:15 = He stood quietly with God's grace shining fully
Of whom does the appearance of this blasphemer against Moses and God remind us?
Exodus 34:29-30 = Moses shone with God's glory when he brought the Law
How did Jesus respond to the accusations made of Him?
Matthew 26:62-63 = Jesus remained silent like Stephen
The high priest was able to get Jesus to talk. Who persuaded Stephen to talk?
Acts 7:1 = The high priest prompted Stephen to give the longest speech in the book
God is Not Restricted to a Place (Acts 7:2-8)
How does Stephen restate his point that God is everywhere, not just in the temple?
Acts 7:2-4 = God came to Abraham, the father of the Jews, in Ur, even before Haran
How does he show that God may work in ways we can't understand, but must accept by faith?
Acts 7:5-8 = God made and kept a promise with Abraham that seemed impossible
How could Abraham accept such a ridiculous promise that wouldn't be realized for 500 years?
Hebrews 11:8-13 = By faith, What the Jews - and us - need to accept Jesus
God's Men Rejected, Then Accepted (Acts 7:9-36)
Was Stephen accusing the Jews of being the first to reject one chosen by God?
Acts 7:9a = No, Joseph was rejected by his brothers and sold into slavery
How did God turn this rejection into good? = Jesus' rejection resulted in salvation for the world
Acts 7:9b-10 = He gave Joseph wisdom and power to save the world from famine
Was Joseph ever accepted by his brothers? = Jews & all are to accept resurrected Jesus
Acts 7:11-16 = Yes, on their second visit; moved to Egypt as promised to Abraham
Who was the next one chosen by God that the Jews rejected?
Acts 7:17-28 = Moses was rejected by Israelites
How did God turn this rejection into good?
Acts 7:29-34 = Moses went to Midian where he was prepared and then called on Sinai
Was Moses accepted by the Jews the second time?
Acts 7:35-36 = Yes, and he delivered them out of slavery in Egypt
The Customs Moses Handed Down (Acts 7:37-50)
What were the customs Moses handed down that Stephen was accused of wanting to change?
Acts 7:37-38 = The Laws given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai - living words
The Jews always respected and kept these laws they were trying to protect from Stephen, right?
Acts 7:39-41 = No, they rejected them from the very beginning
They must have learned to respect and keep these laws over time, right?
Acts 7:42-43 = No, they continued to reject them until God finally exiled them
Weren't the Jews right in zealously protecting the temple, the house of God?
Acts 7:44-47 = No, God had nothing before Moses, then a moving tent until Solomon
But now the temple was God's house and should be treated as such, right?
Acts 7:48-50 = No, God lives everywhere in heaven and on earth
Speech Summary (Acts 7:51-56)
How did Stephen summarize his speech in his concluding comments?
Acts 7:51-53 = The Jews were even worse than their fathers by rejecting the Messiah
Did Stephen's speech persuade them to repent and accept Jesus this second time?
Acts 7:54 = No, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him
How did God bless Stephen for so boldly stepping out in faith and witnessing?
Acts 7:55-56 = He was shown a vision of Jesus at God's right hand
The Prosecution Rests (Acts 7:57-60)
Had the Sanhedrin heard anything like this before?
Matthew 26:64-66 = Yes, Jesus said they would see what Stephen just saw
Did they respond to it better this second time?
Acts 7:57-58 = No, they even ignored Roman law and stoned him themselves
Did Stephen apologize for his comments and beg for his life?
Acts 7:59-60 = No, even asked God to forgive them as Jesus had done
What promise did Jesus give that Stephen was the first to realize?
Matthew 10:39 = Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it
Note: Martyr is Greek for witness
Copyright © 1998 by Kurt Rosenhagen
Use of this material is provided free of charge for use in personal or group Bible Study, no permission needed.
The author reserves all rights for use in published material or in uses where fees are involved.
For permission, or to provide your comments, insights and feedback, contact the author at: