Seven Deacons

And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

Upon the recommendation of the apostles seven men were selected and commissioned, set apart by prayer and laying on of hands. They ministered to the poor, and administered to the needs of temporal affairs of the Christian societies, yet retaining, as in the case of Stephen and Philip, the right to teach and baptize. So they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, Philip Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas of Antioch, a gentile convert to Judaism who was now a Christian. Philip is the evangelist.

Note that all the names are Greek, which suggests they belonged to the complaining Hellenists. If they are, it reveals a generous spirit on the part of those Christians. Their great humility is seen in their eagerness to settle any problems. After this, the Word of God enjoyed an even wider influence. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased, with a host of temple priests embracing the faith. About 2000 Christians, with Nicanor, one of the seven deacons, suffered martyrdom during the persecution that arose about Stephen.
[Acts, 291, 18, BD]

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