As the number of disciples increased, a conflict began between the Hellenistic Jews and the Hebraic Jews. The former group thought that their widows were being treated unfairly because they were not receiving the same amount of food as other widows.
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The Apostles Give Instructions
The apostles decided to address this matter with the disciples. They explained that their primary task was to spread the Word of the Lord rather than spending time serving anyone food. The apostles told the disciples to select seven trustworthy people that were known for being very wise and full of the Holy Spirit.
Once these seven individuals were in charge of the task of handing out the food, the apostles could return to preaching the Word of God without any disruption. This way, more people could be converted to the faith since the apostles could focus their efforts on preaching.
An Agreement is Reached
The disciples were very pleased with the suggestion put forth from the apostles. They opted to pick a man named Stephen to be in charge of the task. He was known for his wisdom and also for presenting himself as someone who was filled with the Holy Spirit.
The other disciples that were picked to help him with the task at hand included Nicanor, Timon, Procorus, Nicolas, Philip and Parmenas. The apostles placed their hands on the foreheads of these men and prayed for them so they would be strong in completing their required duties. Once the prayer session was over, the seven disciples began their task.
Stephen Falsely Accused
As Stephen began doing wonderful things, some people tried to argue with his message. They could not prove him wrong, though. Instead, they bribed people to lie about him, saying that he cursed God and Moses. Stephen was brought to the High Council where the false witnesses testified against him.
Acts 6 (King James Version)
1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:
6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.
9 Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.
10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.
11 Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.
12 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council,
13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:
14 For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.
15 And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.