Stephen and the Seven (Acts 6-7)
Welcome to Lesson 8 of your Bible Study of Acts.
In this lesson we take a closer look at chapters 6 and 7 in Acts, which narrates two main events: The first event is the disagreement that arises between the “Hellenists” and “Hebrews” and the way that conflict was resolved.
The second event concerns the ministry, speech and martyrdom of Stephen.
Read Acts 6:1-6
- Describe the conflict that arose between the Hellenist and the Hebrews. Who brought the complaint? What was the nature of the complaint? Why would this issue surface as a problem?
NOTE: The two groups above basically represented those Jewish-Christians who either spoke primarily Greek or Hebrew.
The first group tended to be scattered throughout the Mediterranean world and had probably traveled to Jerusalem for the feasts, experienced the day of Pentecost and stayed on. The second group was probably located primarily in Palestine.
- How did the twelve resolve this issue? What were the requirements for the men that were put in charge of carrying out the resolution
- Commentators have noted that all of the men that were chosen bear Greek names. Why is this important to the overall situation and the way this problem was handled?
- What priorities did the apostles have such that they did not want to interrupt to take care of this matter personally?
- What lessons can be applied from this episode for the way in which the early church handled a crisis? Think through timing, solutions, prioritization, etc.
Read Acts 6:8-15; 7:55-60
- How would you describe Stephen’s ministry in 6:8-10, 15? and Stephen in general from the above passages?
- Does Stephen’s ministry and persecution remind you of anyone else’s ministry and persecution in Acts? (See 2:22, 43; 4:7; and episodes of persecution and opposition in Acts 3-5) What does this tell us about the way that Luke wishes to portray Stephen in Acts?
- Who does Stephen remind you of in his death? (See Luke 23:34, 46) What does this tell you about the way Luke wishes to portray Stephen?
NOTE: Stephen’s martyrdom was the catalyst for a great persecution against the church (8:1-4). Saul is here introduced as one who was leading the charge. It was indeed the church’s persecution that lead to the gospel being preached outside of Jerusalem (8:4)
- How does Stephen’s life, attitude, ministry and death serve as an example for you? What are some traits you found admirable that you could emulate?