Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. the Grecians--the Greek-speaking Jews, mostly born in the
the Hebrews--those Jews born in Palestine who used their native tongue,
and were wont to look down on the "Grecians" as an inferior class.
were neglected--"overlooked" by those whom the apostles employed, and
who were probably of the Hebrew class, as being the most numerous.
The complaint was in all likelihood well founded, though we cannot
suspect the distributors of intentional partiality. "It was really just
an emulation of love, each party wishing to have their own poor taken
care of in the best manner" [OLSHAUSEN].
the daily ministration--the daily distribution of alms or of food,
probably the latter.
2-4. the multitude--the general body of the disciples.
It is not reason--The word expresses dislike; that is "We cannot
to leave the word of God--to have our time and attention withdrawn
from preaching; which, it thus appears, they regarded as their primary
to serve tables--oversee the distribution of provisions.
3. look ye out among you--that is, ye, "the multitude," from among
seven men of honest report--good reputation
full of the Holy Ghost--not full of miraculous gifts, which would
have been no qualification for the duties required, but
spiritually gifted (although on two of them miraculous power did
and wisdom--discretion, aptitude for practical business.
whom we may appoint--for while the election was vested in the
Christian people, the appointment lay with the apostles, as
4. we will give ourselves to prayer--public prayer, as along with
preaching their great work.
5. Stephen, &c.--As this and the following names are all Greek,
it is likely they were all of the "Grecian" class, which would
effectually restore mutual confidence.
6. when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them--the one
proclaiming that all official gifts flowed from the Church's glorified
Head, the other symbolizing the communication of these to the chosen
office-bearers through the recognized channels.
7. word of God increased . . . disciples multiplied in Jerusalem
greatly--prosperity crowning the beautiful spirit which reigned in
this mother community.
a great company of the priests were obedient, &c.--This was the
crowning triumph of the Gospel, whose peaceful prosperity was now at
its greatest height. After Stephen's teaching and trial made it clear
that sacerdotal interests could not stand with the Gospel, such priestly
accessions became rare indeed. Note (1) how easily misunderstandings may
arise among the most loving and devoted followers of the Lord Jesus: but
(2) How quickly and effectually such misunderstandings may be healed,
where honest intentions, love, and wisdom reign: (3) What a beautiful
model for imitation is furnished by the class here complained of, who,
though themselves the majority, chose the new office-bearers from
amongst the complaining minority! (4) How superior to the lust of power
do the apostles here show themselves to be, in not only divesting
themselves of the immediate superintendence of temporal affairs in the
Christian community, but giving the choice of those who were to be
entrusted with it to the disciples at large! (5) How little of formal
organization did the apostles give to the Church at first, and when an
emergency arose which demanded something more, how entirely was the
remedy suggested by the reason of the thing! (6) Though the new
office-bearers are not expressly called Deacons here, it is
universally admitted that this was the first institution of that order
in the Church; the success of the expedient securing its permanency, and
the qualifications for "the office of a Deacon" being laid down in one
of the apostolical Epistles immediately after those of "a Bishop"
ARRAIGNED BEFORE THE
8. And Stephen, &c.--The foregoing narrative seems to be only an
introduction to what follows.
full of faith--rather, "of grace," as the best manuscripts read.
9, 10. synagogue of the Libertines--Jewish freedmen; manumitted Roman
captives, or the children of such, expelled from Rome (as appears from
TACITUS), and now residing at Jerusalem.
Cyrenians--Jews of Cyrene, in Libya, on the coast of Africa.
them of Cilicia--amongst whom may have been Saul of Tarsus
(Ac 7:58; 21:39).
and of Asia--(See on
10. not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake--What
he said, and the power with which he spake it, were alike
11-14. blasphemous words against Moses--doubtless referring to the
impending disappearance of the whole Mosaic system.
and against God--This must refer to the supreme dignity and
authority which he claimed for Christ, as the head of that new economy
which was so speedily to supersede the old
Ac 7:56, 59, 60).
15. as . . . the face of an angel--a play of supernatural radiance
attesting to all who beheld his countenance the divine calm of the