1 But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food.
2 So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. 3 And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. 4 Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.”
5 Everyone liked this idea, and they chose the following: Stephen (a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit), Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas of Antioch (an earlier convert to the Jewish faith). 6 These seven were presented to the apostles, who prayed for them as they laid their hands on them.
7 So God’s message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too.
It isn’t hard to grasp that as the early church began to grow, problems and disagreements arose. Pretty much everywhere people are gathered in numbers we almost expect something to go amiss. Jesus’s apostles knew that the work of ministering to the people and continuing to share the gospel of Jesus needed to continue, so they enlisted some help. They selected well respected men full of the Holy Spirit, and wisdom to care for the needs of the people. Stephen was one of those men, and the person we will concentrate on for this week.
Scripture notes that Stephen was full of faith and the Holy Spirit. Those qualities set him apart and made him perfect for the job before him. He humbly took a position of servanthood, caring for the needs of those who could not care for themselves. Because of this posture he was able to demonstrate the power of God to do great things. As Stephen and the others stepped into serving this new community of believers it freed the apostles up to do what God had called them to do. And as a result the church continued to grow.
What a beautiful picture of using our gifts in conjunction with each other to see the kingdom of God grow! As we begin our study of Stephen let’s ask God to help us explore how He desires to use our faith and our gifts to serve those around us.