Teacher Notes

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

Opening Prayer

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
      Note that the first contention in the Christian church was a money matter
    Grecian Jews - Those who spoke only Greek (the language of the world)
      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
        (righteous dead of other lands had to roll back to Israel underground - very unpleasant)
      When diaspora Jews died in Israel, their widows were left with no family to care for them

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

Closing Prayer

Copyright © 1998 by Kurt Rosenhagen

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