Week Four beginning 22nd of September
The genesis of the church inspired by the Holy Spirit, sharing, witnessing and facing persecution. In chapters 6 and 7 we read about the impact of the Gospel amongst the Greek speakers highlighted by the ministry of the seven, specifically Stephen.
Read Acts chapters 6&7 on your own time.
Just a bit of background for the Hellenist Jews:
In 6:1 the group was probably made up of Hellenistic Jews living in Palestine. This is seen in the deacons chosen in 6:5 (Luke used Greek names for all of them, probably not because they were Greek but to symbolize the desire of the apostles to unify the separate groups; most Jews in the ancient world had three names—a Jewish, a Greek, and a Roman name—and used one or the other depending on the occasion) but especially in the synagogues mentioned in 6:9.
Hellenistic Jews differed sufficiently in their background and worship habits (especially in the use of Greek in the service) that there would be separate synagogues for them (there were seven such in Jerusalem alone). This created a potentially divisive situation for the early church, and the schism here was the result. The “Hebrews” would naturally tend to allocate the common pool to those they knew, and so the very separation between the groups would add to the problem.
(Elwell,W.A. & Beitzel, B.J., 1988. Baker Encyclopaedia of the Bible, p.961.)
1. In the light of the first five chapters how does this complaint (6:1-2) compared to the opposition that they have faced so far? why would division happen in our own set up?
2. Acts 6:2-7 highlights some of the requirements and qualities of the chosen seven and why would these please the whole people gathered (v5)? After reading 6:8 what was different from the ministry of Stephen and the Twelve? What can we learn from Stephen?
3. What were the two things Stephen was accused for?
4. In regards to the Temple what was Stephen’s argument? Is the Temple as important as the Sanhedrin thought (7:43-50)? What about the Law and Moses? What is the connection of the Sanhedrin and the Forefathers of the Jews?
5. Why would 7:56 create such an impact? What did Stephen mean by saying that?
6.What do we do with the end of Acts 7 in our own day and age? How do we deal with it?
Thought for the week: Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only One we strive to obey in this life and in Whom we receive salvation for the eternal life. Acts 4:12