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INTERPRETIVE JOURNEY PAPER

Allan E. Ritch
Inductive Bible Study
201430 Summer 2014 BIBL 350-B03 LUO
July 4, 2014

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Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of
the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in
the daily serving of food. So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, "It
is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. Therefore, brethren,
select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we
may put in charge of this task. "But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the
word." The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a
man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and
Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch. And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying,
they laid their hands on them. The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the
disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were
becoming obedient to the faith. Acts 6:1-7 (NASB)

Step 1: Grasp the text in their town.
During this time in early church history, there were two groups of Christians: Native
Jews; Jews that spoke the Aramaic, and Hellenistic Jews; Jews from other areas who spoke
Greek. The church was increasing in numbers. A complaint arose from among the Hellenistic
Jew concerning the distribution of food, particularly in regards to windows and needy that the
Apostles where responsible. The Hellenistic Jews felt that they were being neglected (Polhill
1992, 179) and not given their share. This incident was not intentional but due to the language
barrier between the two different subgroups (Life Application Study Bible, New American
Standard Bible 2000, 1888).
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To settle this dispute the twelve (the eleven original disciples and the added Matthas)
called the church together and directed them to choose seven Hellenistic men among them to
attend to the needs of their widows and needy. These men had to be of good reputation full of
the Spirit and of wisdom (Acts 6:3 NASB).
These men were set apart from the congregation for the service of the church. These men
were presented to the apostles where they were consecrated through the laying on of hands and

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This reference refers to the footnoted commentary in the NASB Life Application Study Bible.
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prayer. These men; Stephen, Phillip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas became
the administration of the church. The first church deacons where appointed.

Step 2: Measure the width of the river to cross. What are the differences between the
biblical situation and our situation?
The situation that presented within Acts 6:1-7 is not much different from a similar
situation in modern time. Every pastor faces the needs of their congregation and their ability to
competently fulfill the needs of the church. Delegation is needed for any organization to function
and this in no different within a church. The pastoral team cannot accomplish everything that
needs accomplishing alone. Tasks need to be delegated. Some tasks require transparently, to
ensure that the perception of impropriety is eliminated (i.e. money matters, personnel matters,
etc.). In short, this river is not a wide one at all.
Step 3: Cross the Principlizing Bridge.
The theological principles within this passage is that need for more leadership within the
body of Christ. Many mundane tasks need to be accomplished within the daily workings of a
church. The pastors cannot accomplish all of these tasks without help. Every church as a support
staff, i.e. groundskeeper, secretaries, etc. In smaller churches, these tasks are accomplished via
volunteers. While larger churches may hire out this work. There are many decisions that must be
made that should not be decided by the pastor and his pastoral team alone. Many of these
decisions require the involvement of the congregation. This is where the principle outlined
within this passage comes into play. Man and women are chosen to take on some of the burden
of the daily administration of the church. Deacons and deaconesses are chosen and ordained to
be of service to the congregation by becoming their representatives as well as becoming a fill in
for the pastoral staff when appropriate (Douglas and Tenney 2011, 340).
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Step 4: Consult the biblical map. How does the theological principle fit with the rest of
the Bible?
This principle is in direct correlation to the rest of the Bible. Jethro, the father-in-law of
Moses advised him to delegate some of his responsibility to the leaders of the twelve tribes to
lesson his burden (Exodus 18:17). Jesus selected twelve men to share in His ministry. Martha
prepared meals for the disciples. Mary, the first to see the rise Savior, was going to attend to His
body at the tomb. These are all examples of this principle in work before the selection of theses
seven men. This passage also gives us an example of how to conduct church affairs in the
modern world.
Step 5: Grasp the text in our town. How should individual Christians today live out the
theological principle?
It is clear within this passage and the examples listed above that this is the way we are to
conduct business within the corporate body of Christ, His church. We each have a role to play
within this body. We are directed by the actions and decisions of the apostles to share in the
work of the church by seeing to the needs of the flock, the congregation. Men and women are
chosen to complete the tasks required to ensure that the church operates in a smooth fashion.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY
In Life Application Study Bible, New American Standard Bible, 1888-1889. Grand Rapids, MI:
Zondervan, 2000.
Douglas, J. D. , and Merrill C. Tenney. "Deacon, deaconess." In Zondervan Illustrated Bible
Dictionary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.
Duvall, J. Scott, and J. Daniel Hays. Grasping God's Word: a hands-on approach to reading,
interpreting and applying the Bible. 3rd. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012.
Polhill, John B. The New American Commentary. Edited by David S. Dockery. Vol. 26 Acts.
Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing, 1992.