Acts 6

The Word Made Fresh

1During the time when the disciples were adding to their number, the Hellenists complained about the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily food distribution. 2The twelve called all the disciples together, and said, “We shouldn’t have to set God’s word aside to handle this issue. 2So, choose seven men from among you who are of good reputation and are filled with the Spirit of wisdom, and we will assign this task to them. 3Then we can be devoted to prayer and proclaiming the word.”

5This was acceptable to all of them. They chose Stephen, who was filled with faith and with the Holy Spirit, along with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus of Antioch who had converted to Judaism. 6They were brought to the apostles, who laid their hands on them and prayed for them. 7God’s word continued to spread and the number of disciples in Jerusalem grew rapidly. A lot of the priests became obedient to the faith as well.

8Stephen, who was filled with the power of God’s grace, did wonders and signs among the people. 9Then some members of the Synagogue of Freedmen, as they called it, from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia, and Asia, argued publicly with Stephen, 10but couldn’t overcome the wisdom of the Spirit with which he spoke. 11They secretly persuaded some men to claim they heard Stephen blaspheme Moses and God. 12The people were stirred up, along with elders and scribes. They confronted Stephen, arrested him, and made him stand before the council. 13They brought in false witnesses, who said, “This fellow continuously speaks against this sacred place and against the law. 14We heard him say that Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and do away with the customs Moses gave to us.”

15All the members of the Council stared at Stephen; his face was like the face of an angel.


1-7: As the community grew, a cultural skirmish developed between Jews of Greek descent (Hellenists) and native Jews (Hebrews). The Hellenists protested that their widows were not getting the attention the Hebrew widows were getting. The apostles realized that overseeing the daily food distribution was not the best use of their time, and asked some of them to select others to head up that project. The six who were chosen all had Greek names, so the Hellenists were thereby mollified.

8-15: Of the six, Stephen is particularly active and draws the most attention. He bests some of the out-of-towners in debates and they respond jealously, claiming they have heard him speak blasphemy against Moses and God. So, the council has Stephen arrested and hears their false charges. Stephen is obviously unaffected by their slander. His countenance is so peaceful that he appears as they imagine an angel might appear.


These days, when someone claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ they are largely ignored, and seldom arrested and punished. But is that an improvement?