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[Lesson 5] Acts 6

Growing Pains
Chapter 6

The infant church is growing up and increasing in size. As a result, they encounter some "growing pains." Are you experiencing “growing pains” as you mature in Christ? Ask Him to show you any lessons He has for you from this chapter.

Read Acts 6:1-7

    1. A. The early church included diverse peoples from a variety of ethnic cultures and backgrounds. As a result what problem arose? (6: 1)

    Growing Pains
    Chapter 6

    The infant church is growing up and increasing in size. As a result, they encounter some "growing pains." Are you experiencing “growing pains” as you mature in Christ? Ask Him to show you any lessons He has for you from this chapter.

    Read Acts 6:1-7

      1. A. The early church included diverse peoples from a variety of ethnic cultures and backgrounds. As a result what problem arose? (6: 1)

      B. How did the Jewish leaders deal with their problem of widows? (Luke 20:45-47)

      (Note: The "tables" were counters where money and food was distributed. Widows were especially needy because wage work was seldom available for women, and women were at the mercy of male relatives for even the basics. In addition, when these women joined the church, they were often rejected by their families.)

      C. Who did the Apostles consult concerning the problem? (6:2)

      D. How did they solve the problem? What were the tasks of these "deacons"? What qualifications were required for these tasks? (6:3)

      E. (Digging Deeper) Later Paul communicated additional qualifications for deacons to the church at Ephesus. Read I Timothy 3:8-13. What does God look for in the men who serve in this office in the church?

      F. How does the church-at-large today handle problems of ethnic diversity? What can we learn from the first church?

      G. (Digging Deeper) How did the Jews who opposed the church deal with ethnic diversity? (See 6:9)

      2. A. What did the Apostles recognize as their main responsibility? (6:2, 4)

      B. What can you learn about church (or personal) organization, management and leadership from 6:1-6? Could you apply any of these principles to your own life? If so, please explain.

      C. In this chapter we observe the Apostles learning to delegate. Have you learned to let others help you or do you try to do everything yourself? Discuss.

      3. A. Who were the first two deacons named? (6:5)

      B. Was their ministry limited to "waiting tables"? What did each do later? (6:8, 7:57-59, 8:4, 5) How did these two men illustrate Jesus' words in Luke 16: 10? What is the lesson for us?

      4. How were the seven commissioned for their new responsibility? (6:6) What do you think was the purpose of this event? (Note: This ceremony did not impart the gift of the Spirit because verse 3 tells us the seven were already "full of the Spirit.")

      5. A. What evidence is there that the Apostles were successful in dealing with this internal problem? (6:7)

      B. Who were among the converts to the church? (6:7). What effect do you think this had on the Jewish leaders?

    Read Acts 6:8-15

      6. A. As time passed, Stephen became a respected church leader. Describe Stephen. (6:3, 5, 8, 10) How do you think his opponents viewed him?

      B. (Summit) Do a character study of Stephen. What does his name mean and how does his name relate to his death?

      C. What group especially disliked Stephen? Why? (6:9, 10)

      D. (Summit) What can you discover about this group? Who were they?

      E. Jesus had predicted persecution for His witnesses in Luke 21:12-19. What had Jesus commanded Stephen and his "witnesses" not to do? (Luke 21:14) What had He promised them? (Luke 21:15) Can you recall an experience when the Spirit gave you the words you needed? If so, please share.

      7. A. There are a number of similarities between the arrest, trial and death of Stephen and Jesus. Luke makes it clear through Stephen that the religious leaders would kill Christ again.

    Observe the parallels and fill in the chart:

    Parallel

    Stephen: Acts 6:11-14

    Jesus: Matthew 26:57-65

    Action taken

    6:12

    26:57

    Charge leveled

    6:11

    26:65

    Witnesses bribed

    6:11a, 13a

    26:59, 60

    Misrepresentation of statements

    6:14

    26:61

    John 2:18-22

      B. In what other way was Stephen like Jesus? (2:22, 6:8)

      8. A. During the accusations, the members of the Sanhedrin glared at Stephen. What did they see? Remember he has just been accused of being disloyal to Moses. (6:15, Exodus 34:29, 33-35, Luke 9:28, 29)

      B. Stephen possessed a holy calmness in this life-threatening arrest and trial. Have you ever experienced this kind of peace? Do you know anyone who has? If so, please share.

      9. Throughout this passage, we see Stephen modeling spiritual maturity and wisdom. What is one aspect of your life in which you need to reflect more maturity and wisdom? What can you do to change?

      10. (Summit) How was the early church organized at this time? What is your impression of this church and its members? Describe the development of the church from Acts chapter 2 through chapter 6.

      11. (Summit) As we observe the leaders in the early church, we learn valuable lessons. John Maxwell wrote, “The people’s ability to achieve is determined by their leader’s ability to empower.” The Apostles’ empowered their followers in chapter 7. Read Maxwell’s book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, to learn more ways to become an effective leader today.

Related Topics: Pneumatology (The Holy Spirit), Curriculum