These are the problems of a growing group of people which is becoming an institution. As the Church grew from being almost exclusively Jewish towards becoming majority Greek, disputes arose between these groups of people. The Jews had a long tradition of responsibility towards those less fortunate and collectors would visit private households to raise money for widows, orphans and those permanently disabled. The Christian Church had taken on much of the good routines of the Synagogues. Those who considered themselves elite Jews-those who had remained in Israel through all the troubles and spoke fluent Aramaic- looked down on Jews who had lived abroad and could only speak Greek. There was an inherent institutional prejudice against the Greek speaking Jews, so that the widows of Greek-speaking Jews were being possibly deliberately neglected in the distribution of alms. However, the apostles were busy with leading the church and providing spiritual direction, so seven men were chosen to cover the practical demands of following Jesus. The first office-bearers to be appointed were chosen not to talk but for practical service. As with any appointment made under God those who take up the challenge are often given far more than they had forseen. Stephen is the first name given in this list and it is noted that he is referred to as being 'full of the Holy Spirit'. We will discover more about Stephen in the next passages! When Christians and churches talk about returning to the church of Acts, I wonder what bit of the Acts church they mean. Is it Acts 2 and a barely formed community with many challenges coming to a head with Ananias and Sapphira? Do they mean the later churches and if so which one? Because very soon Christian believers will be on the run and many new fellowships will be founded through this diaspora.
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