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Acts 6:1-7

Context
The Appointment of the First Seven Deacons

6:1 Now in those 1  days, when the disciples were growing in number, 2  a complaint arose on the part of the Greek-speaking Jews 3  against the native Hebraic Jews, 4  because their widows 5  were being overlooked 6  in the daily distribution of food. 7  6:2 So the twelve 8  called 9  the whole group 10  of the disciples together and said, “It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to wait on tables. 11  6:3 But carefully select from among you, brothers, 12  seven 13  men who are well-attested, 14  full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge 15  of this necessary task. 16  6:4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 6:5 The 17  proposal pleased the entire group, so 18  they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, with 19  Philip, 20  Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a Gentile convert to Judaism 21  from Antioch. 22  6:6 They stood these men before the apostles, who prayed 23  and placed 24  their hands on them. 6:7 The word of God continued to spread, 25  the number of disciples in Jerusalem 26  increased greatly, and a large group 27  of priests became obedient to the faith.

1 tn Grk “these.” The translation uses “those” for stylistic reasons.

2 tn Grk “were multiplying.”

3 tn Grk “the Hellenists,” but this descriptive term is largely unknown to the modern English reader. The translation “Greek-speaking Jews” attempts to convey something of who these were, but it was more than a matter of language spoken; it involved a degree of adoption of Greek culture as well.

sn The Greek-speaking Jews were the Hellenists, Jews who to a greater or lesser extent had adopted Greek thought, customs, and lifestyle, as well as the Greek language. The city of Alexandria in Egypt was a focal point for them, but they were scattered throughout the Roman Empire.

4 tn Grk “against the Hebrews,” but as with “Hellenists” this needs further explanation for the modern reader.

5 sn The care of widows is a major biblical theme: Deut 10:18; 16:11, 14; 24:17, 19-21; 26:12-13; 27:19; Isa 1:17-23; Jer 7:6; Mal 3:5.

6 tn Or “neglected.”

7 tn Grk “in the daily serving.”

sn The daily distribution of food. The early church saw it as a responsibility to meet the basic needs of people in their group.

8 sn The twelve refers to the twelve apostles.

9 tn Grk “calling the whole group…together, said.” The participle προσκαλεσάμενοι (proskalesamenoi) has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

10 tn Or “the multitude.”

11 tn Grk “to serve tables.”

12 tn It is not clear from a historical standpoint (but it is unlikely) that women would have been involved in the selection process too. For this reason the translation “brothers” has been retained, rather than “brothers and sisters” (used in contexts where both male and female believers are clearly addressed).

13 sn Seven. Jewish town councils often had seven members (Josephus, Ant. 4.18.14 [4.214]).

14 tn Or “are of good reputation” (BDAG 618 s.v. μαρτυρέω 2.b).

15 tn The translation “put in charge” is given by BDAG 492 s.v. καθίστημι 2.

16 tn Grk “of this need”; translated “necessary work” or “needed task” by L&N 42.22.

17 tn Grk “And the.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here.

18 tn The translation “so” has been used to indicate the logical sequence in English.

19 tn “With” is smoother English style for an addition like this. Because of differences between Greek and English style, καί (kai), which occurs between each name in the list, has not been translated except preceding the last element.

20 sn Philip. Note how many of the names in this list are Greek. This suggests that Hellenists were chosen to solve the problem they had been so sensitive about fixing (cf. 6:1).

21 tn Or “a proselyte.”

22 map For location see JP1 F2; JP2 F2; JP3 F2; JP4 F2.

23 tn Literally this is a participle in the Greek text (προσευξάμενοι, proseuxamenoi). It could be translated as a finite verb (“and they prayed and placed their hands on them”) but much smoother English results if the entire coordinate clause is converted to a relative clause that refers back to the apostles.

sn Who prayed. The prayer indicates their acceptance and commissioning for ministry (cf. Deut 34:9).

24 tn Or “laid.”

25 tn Grk “kept on spreading”; the verb has been translated as a progressive imperfect.

26 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

27 tn Grk “a great multitude.”

sn A large group. Many Jews, even some religious leaders, were responding.



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