Seven men were chosen. Seven is God’s holy number of perfection. Yet this was far from a perfect church. We’ve already seen what happened when greed entered Ananias and Sapphira.
5 And what they (the apostles) said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch.
6 These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.
Now there’s this issue with the neglect of widows. Something instructive here is that the early church did not (as yet) let too many problems fester; they took care of issues as they arose. Likewise, in our spiritual lives, we should be quick to deal with problems: bring whatever is going on before the Holy Spirit and let Him do a work in us.
These seven men were all Hellenists. Hellenists were Greek-speaking Jews. This is important because the men selected were not some outside team that had no personal knowledge of the issue. Don’t we frequently seek advice or consult from people or organizations that don’t know what we’re going through? How much better it would be to have someone assist who had inside knowledge, as the early chuch did.
The last one mentioned, Nicolaus, was a pagan convert to Judaism who accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. Your past does not matter to God. If He can use a pagan who leap-frogged his way to Jesus, He can certainly use you or me. Your past is buried in the sea of forgetfulness (Micah 7:18-19).
The first two men mentioned are Steven and Philip. Steven was to become the first Christian martyr, as we shall see shortly. When Jesus said, “you shall be My witnesses” (Acts 1:8), the word for witnesses in the Greek is the same word translated “martyr.” We are all called to die for our Lord; mostly to die to self, to our old life, or to destructive habits.
Acts 8:5-8 describes Philip’s ministry. He preached Christ with an evangelistic zeal and signs and wonders followed. He was not an ordained pastor, just a common guy like you or me with a heart open to the things of God and the spread of His Word.
Acts 21:8 mentions Philip again, still as an evangelist, but still as part of this group of seven deacons. He now had four virgin daughters who were prophetesses. So Philip’s message had trickled down to his family.
Nothing is known of the other five men chosen, but I do know this: they were chosen by God to work a very needful function in the Body of Christ. You too were chosen to do something important to Jesus. There are no small jobs in the Body of Christ! Everybody has workto do, for “He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love” (Ephesians 4:16, New Living Translation).