International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday August 6, 2017
Purpose: To assert the importance of establishing priorities in ministering to people with all kinds of needs
Bible Lesson: Acts 6:1-8
Background Scripture: Acts 1; 6; 7
Key Verse: Brothers and sisters, carefully choose seven well-respected men from among you. They must be well-respected and endowed by the Spirit with exceptional wisdom. We will put them in charge of this concern. (Acts 6:3)
Acts 6:1-8 (CEB)
(1) About that time, while the number of disciples continued to increase, a complaint arose. Greek-speaking disciples accused the Aramaic-speaking disciples because their widows were being overlooked in the daily food service. (2) The Twelve called a meeting of all the disciples and said, “It isn’t right for us to set aside proclamation of God’s word in order to serve tables. (3) Brothers and sisters, carefully choose seven well-respected men from among you. They must be well-respected and endowed by the Spirit with exceptional wisdom. We will put them in charge of this concern. (4) As for us, we will devote ourselves to prayer and the service of proclaiming the word.”
(5) This proposal pleased the entire community. They selected Stephen, a man endowed by the Holy Spirit with exceptional faith, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. (6) The community presented these seven to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. (7) God’s word continued to grow. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased significantly. Even a large group of priests embraced the faith.
(8) Stephen, who stood out among the believers for the way God’s grace was at work in his life and for his exceptional endowment with divine power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people.
Some Thoughts by Burgess Walter
This week we begin a series of four lessons from the Book of Acts. The Book of Acts is part of Luke’s (Luke-Acts) writings. Luke is the only non-Jew writer included in the New Testament.
Luke is straightforward in his writings that his audience is the Greco-Roman world. Luke appears to present a more compassionate gospel, focusing on the poor and disenfranchised. Luke does not spend much time talking about the old Jewish customs. Rather he points to a new type or religion that is a stand-alone, not part of the old Judaism religion, Jesus came to redeem the whole word, not just as the promised Jewish Messiah.
In our text, we find a typical problem found in every church, there are some that fall through the cracks and are not included in the mainstream ministry of the church. Whether this is because of social, economic, or outside the clique.
The difference is the action taken by the leaders of the Jerusalem. Once the problem was brought to their attention action was swift, and spirit led. The seven selected were all Greek or Roman origin. This group may have included many that had returned after the Diaspora and were attuned to the Greek or Roman world than the Jewish community.
The qualifications imposed by the disciples on the selection of this group is something for us to consider when we are looking for leaders within our own church. Please note while the disciples claimed they were busy teaching and preaching. This did not preclude the appointed seven from not only distributing the food but Stephen and Philip were noted preachers and evangelist in the community. Showing the importance of having spirit led leaders.
While the early church’s experiment with communal living was short lived, that type of government is doomed because it is not a sustainable situation. It failed in the first century and has failed every time it has been tried throughout history. However, that is no excuse for not providing for those that cannot provide for themselves. Also, our message should go forth.
My hymn for this week is “Make Me a Blessing”