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Acts of the Apostles: 12 - Acts 5:26-6:7

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Acts of the Apostles

12 - Acts 5:26-6:7

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Acts of the Apostles: 12 - Acts 5:26-6:7

MP4 Video - 1080p (1.74 GB)
MP4 Video - 720p (1.05 GB)
MP3 Audio (32.92 MB)

In this class we will discuss Acts 5:26-41 thru Acts 6:1-7 and notice the following events: the apostles being persecuted by the Sanhedrin for teaching in Christ's name; how a Pharisee named Gamaliel spoke up on behalf of the apostles; and the choosing of seven men to help the disciples distribute food.


[Darris McNeely]: All right. We're in the Book of Acts here this morning. We've got a bit of ground to cover with Chapter 5 and 6 is where we left off. And just a bit of a recap regarding this, we started into Chapter 5 with the sudden tragic death of Ananias and Sapphira, two individuals who had lied to the church, lied to God, presented themselves as something that they were not, and they both fell dead in a very dramatic scene that opened up Chapter 5. We talked about that. Keep in mind that where we are at this particular points in the development of Acts is Luke is talking to us, showing us some of the developments of persecution that took place within the church as they heal the lame man. They were arrested. They were brought before the Sanhedrin. They were let go, and the church continued to grow and God's spirit was very evident. They were developing there. Now we had...they had a little bit of a bump here in Chapter 5 with an internal problem.

First of all, we had some external persecution from the Jews that has begun now to develop, and that's going to continue and it will grow through the remainder of the story. And we also have then this internal issue. So, note that Luke as a historian and a chronicler of the story of the early church is giving us a full picture. It's a multi-dimensional picture of what's taking place in the church, showing us all things that take place in the Church of God. Let's just, kind of, look at it that way, both then and now and in the modern setting, I should say. And as the church develops, as people are involved, as Satan mounts his efforts to thwart the work of preaching the gospel, the unity and the harmony of the membership, these things develop.

And we got to the point here in Chapter 5 where the continuing signs and wonders and miracles that were being done by the apostles, even to the point of where it said of Peter's shadow passing over people brought about dramatic healings as well, that brought, again, attention from the Jewish authorities. They didn't like what was taking place and then they arrested them again. They threw them back into prison and there they were let out in a dramatic fashion by an angel of God. And they were told to go and stand in the temple and to proclaim these words of life. And that is a very interesting thing to consider, “words of this life.” And that's where they're found the next morning.

They go into an early setting in the temple, I explained at that time that in the ancient world without electricity, soon as the daylight came, the activity started bustling throughout the city. And that's where they found themselves. And as a result, they were discovered there by the captain of the officers, in verse 26.

Acts 5:26-28 “...Who brought them without violence.” It said. “and because they feared the people lest they should be stoned. And when they brought them, they set them before the council and the high priest asked them, saying, ‘Did not we strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine and intend to bring this man's blood on us.’”

And so, they said, basically, "you've got your teaching, your doctrine, your set of interpretations of the scriptures," which they did. And we've talked about that in the earlier classes, how God's spirit was leading the church to look at the scriptures, whether it was the Psalms or anything from the books of the law, and understand them in a new setting with what had happened with the life and ministry and resurrection of Christ, His death and resurrection especially, and what was happening now within the church.

And so, they were putting, in a sense, a new interpretation or an added dimension of understanding upon many of the scriptures. And that's why the Jews were upset. The Jews were saying basically, "Hey, these are our scriptures, this is our Bible, if you will. We studied this. We have traditions of understanding and teaching. We have a script. You're off-script. It's your doctrine." And that's really upsetting them as they do this. People, you know, we get into habits and we have to...a script is nice. I do a television program every month from a script. It's word for word and I don't get off-script usually. If I do, then we add more time to it. And the guys up in the post-production, they have all kinds of fits, trying to fit everything in.

That's one setting here. I teach a class generally from notes and outlines, not a word-for-word script, but the script, you know, it refers to, "This is what we say, this is how we say it sometimes." Or "I didn't understand it that way." And, you know, as we grow in grace and knowledge, we should understand that, you know, your narrative, your story, your understanding of certain scriptures changes, and in a sense, I'm not saying that it becomes your doctrine and your pet understanding necessarily. But there are many things about the Psalms and the Proverbs and the Gospels and the accounts in the Bible as we read it, that it will apply to your life in unique ways.

And because you're older, you've gone through experiences, you will deepen your understanding. That's one level of a personal growth in our understanding of scriptures. What was happening with the church here when they said, "Look, you're filling the streets with your doctrine. We've taught you to not do this." They were showing Christ in the Old Testament, they were showing Christ in the Psalms. And these are the men who had engineered the death of Jesus Christ. And that's why Peter responds the way he does.

Acts 5:29 “Peter and the other apostles answered and said, ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.’”

Now, this was an extreme statement of courage for Peter to stand and say that, he was not intimidated by this August Jewish Council that he was now arraigned before. He'd already been there once and he'd learned his lesson in terms of how they were. And he learned a lot about that. And he's now there a second time and he says, "We are going to obey God rather than men." Just understand the courage that statement represents because it comes from a depth of conviction.

Peter was convicted by the message, the gospel, the Spirit of God, what had happened. He was an eyewitness to the resurrection. And he had a very deep conviction that was moving him. It was the basis of his life. He had been exhorted, he had been taught, he had been moved by the teaching of Christ for the three and a half years that Christ was with them, and then the subsequent events of His death and resurrection, further teaching by Jesus, and then His ascension and what is taking place. Peter now has a very strong conviction about what has happened and what he believes and who he is and what he is supposed to say.

Now, we develop those as well in our own lives to a degree as we do the same thing and are convicted by the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and led to have a conviction to then do something. When we read the word to repent, Mr. Creech was with you earlier this week teaching you about the doctrine of repentance. And when you understand what the Bible tells us about repentance, that's an exhortation, repent, believe, be baptized, understand. And it brings a level of engagement for us on our own level that then gives us a conviction to commit to God. Conviction leads to a commitment to God and to His word. And Peter's expressing that. Peter is showing that right now by what he says, "We ought to obey God rather than men." In other words, we're not going to be intimidated by your admonitions, your edicts.

Acts 5:30-32 He said, "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him, God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things. And so, also is the Holy Spirit to whom God has given to those who obey Him."

And so, they were, again, showing this conviction very, very deeply. Notice that in verse 31, Peter makes an interesting statement here as to how he looked at the Word of God.

Acts 5:31 He says, "God has given repentance to Israel."

Now, Israel speaks to the entire nation that once was a united grouping of the tribes of Israel, the descendants of the sons of Joseph, though that 12-tribe nation that had the name of Israel had long since ceased to exist with the captivity of the northern nation of Israel to the Assyrians and then the southern nation of Judah to the Babylonians, now having come back together several hundred years since the time of Cyrus and the Persians.

And yet here though, he is speaking to primarily a group of the predominant tribe that was in the land was that of Judah, along with Benjamin that composed the nation of Judah. And there were other descendants of some of the other tribes that had migrated down long before, during all the troubles in the nation of Israel. That's recognized by historians that, you know, some from Ephraim and Manasseh and some of the other northern tribes no doubt migrated down and avoided the captivity of the Assyrian period. But that would have been perhaps probably a negligible amount. But the primary tribe is Judah. Peter's led to address the fact that this repentance is now to all Israel and the ability for the forgiveness of sins.

Now, other epistles of Paul show us when that ultimate ability for Israel to repent and have their sins forgiven will ultimately take place. It didn't happen in the first century. That they are going to be grafted back on is what Paul shows in the Book of Romans, Chapters 9, 10, and 11, where he, kind of, lays out here that God has not cast off His people, Israel, and that they will all be grafted back on, but that is for a future time. And so, you see that part...understanding that helps you to appreciate what he is saying here.

Acts 5:32 He says, "We're witness of these things. So, also is the Holy Spirit that God has given to those who obey Him."

The end of verse 32, that statement is, kind of, another one of these markers that tells us what is, if you will, a part of the spirit, repentance, faith, baptism, laying on of hands, what the Scriptures show here in Acts being, let's say, the process to repent, believe, be baptized, and then with receiving the Holy Spirit.

This adds a little more understanding in that obedience is a part of what is required to receive God's spirit and to be using God's Holy Spirit. God gives His spirit to those who obey Him. So, obedience to the Word of God, to the Law of God is a very important part of the whole process. And so, that helps us to...you know, that defines what repentance has brought a person to. Sometimes, people think that they come to the church, they begin to learn about the Sabbath, the holy days, and the fullness of the Word of God and the law and what it means. Yet they have been a part of another church. They've been baptized maybe when they were 12 years old or sprinkled as an infant or baptized even as an adult in some other church organization. But they didn't fully understand repentance. They didn't understand fully what baptism was about. They were not fully obeying God because they didn't have the knowledge at that time. Sincere, yes.

And yet this Scripture helps people to understand that obedience is a part of repentance in order to receive God's spirit. And I've shown this a number of people through the years and counseling with people to help them understand, you do need to be baptized no matter how old you are, you know, to be baptized again, to become ultimately a member of the body of Christ and to receive the Spirit of God. That's the key thing there. And so, moving on then in verse 33, we move here to a new part of the scene here that shows up with the introduction of a gentleman by the name of Gamaliel.

Acts 5:33 It says, "When they heard this, they were furious," the collected Sanhedrin, "and they plotted to kill them."

Now, this is pretty extreme. They began talking among themselves. They'd already killed Jesus. They'd already given this group one warning. Now, they were not beyond moving to death. They plotted, figuring it out, "How can we do this?" Part of their plotting was not necessarily just what to do, but how to do it, because technically they didn't have a capital authority in the Jewish body here.

They had violated that, you know, they did have to go to the... They certainly didn't give Jesus a fair hearing. They trumped up the charges against Him at His arrest. But they did have to take Him to the Roman authorities. But here they are plotting and... somehow were they plotting how to take it to the Romans? We don't know. Later, in Chapter 7, we're going to see the martyrdom of Stephen. And that goes completely off the wagon. I mean, they go off the charts there because they take that into their own hands. But something happens in verse 34.

Acts 5:34 "One in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while."

Very interesting development. So, he said basically, "Gentlemen, let's go into executive session. Let's clear the room and just the counsel here. Let's talk." And so, the apostles are put out, and maybe a few others. They close the doors, and he begins to talk. Now, let's pause for a moment, let's look at this man, Gamaliel, and let's remind ourselves something about what we're told about him here. We're told he's a Pharisee. We've talked a little bit about the Pharisees being one of the political religious groupings of the Jewish leadership in this period of the first century. The other major one being the Sadducees. Primarily, the Pharisees and the Sadducees are the two here. The Pharisees are the minority party, if you will, in the Sanhedrin or the ruling bloc. The Sadducees held more of the power and were there. We've talked about the Pharisees, and it's an interesting name. It basically comes from a word means to separate.

They had separated out and that's, kind of, what it means. And the separation wasn't a total physical separation where they moved off into a commune or anything like that, but they separated themselves in terms of piety, holiness, their approach to the study of the law, and as well as even their individual teaching. They were not a politically minded group. They were very zealous for the law. As a body, they spent their time in scholarly pursuits of the study of the law and held their distinctive views from the other Sanhedrin. The Pharisees, for instance, believed in a resurrection. Now, the Sadducees did not, we will see this come into play later when Paul is arrested in the temple and he plays that off in the crowd, basically to protect himself.

But the Pharisees believed in a resurrection. Now, they also believed in, kind of, the idea of an immortal soul. And so, when we say that they believed in a resurrection, I'm not saying that they believed in it completely as we read about it, let's say, in 1 Corinthians 15 or 1 Thessalonians 4, particularly 1 Corinthians 15, where it talks about being changed from mortal to immortality in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye at the sounding of the trumpet. That's not necessarily how the Pharisees looked at it. They believed in...obviously, they didn't accept Christ. They weren't looking for Him to return. They did look for a messiah. They did believe the scriptures that David was going to rule over, again, a reunited Israel from the prophecies of Ezekiel.

And they had some understanding of that vision of the valley of dry bones in some way. But they looked more towards some type of a bodily resurrection that would not necessarily be exactly as we would understand a glorified body as we become a part of the family of God. They certainly would not have understood the truth of resurrection to glory, to immortality bringing us into the divine status fully as the part of the family of God, which is what the Bible teaches and what we believe.

So, they didn't have that full understanding when it comes to the resurrection. And so...but they were certainly closer to the Sadducees who rejected the idea of a resurrection. The Pharisees did look for a messianic age and even a personal messiah. They believed in angels and demons. They also believed in the free will of man, and they sought to live a life, in a sense, apart from a lot of the trappings of the normal, let's say, upper-class pursuits, which the Sadducees were fully bought...fully appreciative of and seeking in terms of their political associations there. And so, the Pharisees still had their problems, Jesus clashed with them.

But we have here this man, Gamaliel, who was of that group, their minority group within the Sanhedrin. The arrangement there was essentially the Sadducees had to accommodate the Pharisees into, if you will, a political arrangement because the Pharisees had a larger following among the common people while the Sadducees looked at themselves as more elite. And so, they had to listen to them. They had to include them in the ruling body here. And they have at this point in time, a leading individual named Gamaliel, who is called a teacher of the law, held in respect by all the people. And that speaks a great deal. We do know about this man from other writings of the time.

He was a grandson of a man named Hillel, a previous teacher who had high standing within the Jews because of his devotion, his piety, and appreciation, and teaching of the law. Gamaliel descended from him. We know from Paul that Paul was a disciple of this particular Gamaliel. Paul tells us that later in his writings, Paul had studied in his school. So, Gamaliel is, in a sense, a revered, exalted teacher, rabbi if you would want to call it in a sense of a respected teacher. But he had a school and students sat at his feet, which is, kind of, what we do when we go to classes. You're sitting at our feet in a sense that you sitting in a class and you learn from the instructors here at ABC. That's what people did, and Paul was his most famous disciple.

Now, Gamaliel has a high standing among the people at this time, as it says, as a teacher of the law. From the other writings, he's referred to...even he had a nickname called "The Beauty of the Law." In other words, his teaching, his style, his character, his personality drew people, in a sense, he had a way of teaching and explaining things that was attractive. And so, he was called the “Beauty of the Law.” And he was given the title of Rabban, which is an exalted teacher, not given to everybody and very highly esteemed. And again, we find later in Acts 22:3 that Paul was taught by him.

And that's interesting from just a perspective of not only getting a bit more information about Paul and his background but also because of what Gamaliel is about to say. Gamaliel is about to counsel tolerance, caution, wisdom is what he's going to lay down here. And one of his prominent disciples, Saul, who we will be introduced to later, is not...at this point in time, doesn't have that tolerance. He doesn't have that wisdom, if you will, because our first introduction to Saul, which is going to come at the end of Chapter 7, is as a persecutor. He doesn't like these people and he's out to destroy, if you will, the Church of God. But Gamaliel has a different point of view. So, look at verse 35 as to what he says.

Acts 5:35 He says, "Men of Israel..."

And again, note what Gamaliel says. He's addressing this body of leaders and he too, uses the collective term, the inclusive term of Israel, meaning all of Israel. We sometimes overlook these things and what that tells us about what God is telling us, I think, as God drops in, Israel is not forgotten. Israel is still a part of God's plan, a plan that began with the promises that were first given to Abraham back in Genesis 12 and then passed along to Isaac and then to Jacob and Ephraim, and Manasseh. The fullness of these promises are still on the table. And I think sometimes we just need to recognize what is being said in such a common phrase here. Anyway.

Acts 5:35 He said, "Take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men."

Let's pause here, let's think this through. "For some time ago..." he said, let's have a little bit of a history lesson.

Acts 5:36 “Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody.” All right. He makes a historical reference to someone named Theudas, who we don't have any other reference in the Bible about this man. "And a number of men, about 400, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing."

Now, we have some references to such an insurrectionist named Theudas in at least more than one occasion. There's a reference to a Theudas... Now, keep in mind, this episode is happening in the early '30s, let's say 32 A.D. We have a reference to a Theudas back in the year 4...get my quote here, right? I believe it was 4 B.C. at the death of Herod the Great. Let's see. Yes, 4 B.C. There was an insurrection at that particular time and this was at the time of the death of Herod the Great.

Herod the Great, remember is a great king, rebuilt Jerusalem. He's the one who engineered the death of the firstborn at the time of Jesus's birth in an attempt to destroy this future prophesied king, which he feared. Now, we have from the Jewish writer Josephus, a focus upon another man named Theudas about 10, 12 years later from the time here of Acts in the year 44 A.D. And because we have this, scholars look at this and they think Luke gets it wrong because Josephus talks about a specific Theudas in 44 A.D. They know that there was a major insurrection and there are individuals named Theudas at that time back in 4 B.C., and they think Luke is mixed up or he didn't read his Josephus write or whatever. And they use this as a kind of sense Luke, the historian, making a mistake.

Then there's another school of thought among historians that we just don't have all the information of all that was taking place prior to this in Galilee or Judea regarding Jewish insurrections. And there are a number of commentators who lean toward that as well. And so, they don't dismiss Luke as making a historical mistake here. I would side with those commentators and then just back away and realize we probably don't have all the information, give Luke the benefit of the doubt for at least two major reasons. First of all, the inspiration of God's spirit involved here. Secondly, so much of the other references, historical, geographical otherwise in the Book of Acts is accurate. As we see as we go along here the descriptions of the temple, we'll see geographic references that are precise and spot-on. And so, for Luke to make a mistake here by recording something that would have happened 10 or 12 years after the event and does not read as Josephus correct, I don't think is right. He mentions another person here. There is a reference to another man, Gamaliel does in verse 37.

Acts 5:37  "After this man, Judas of Galilee, rose up in the days of the census and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed."

So, here's a reference to someone, again, we know from history of an insurrection that took place in the Galilee, the northern region of Judea, there are, north of Jerusalem, several miles. I don't have that map up to point to it, but I think hopefully all of you have it in your mind's eye, the Israel geography. But Gamaliel's point is, look, there have been rabble-rousers, there have been insurrections. We historically know them and we can take them off that they all came to nothing. They didn't throw off the yoke of Rome. They didn't set up any messianic kingdom. Their message, their actions led to nothing except destruction and death. And so, this is his setup. Look at verse 38.

Acts 5:38 "Now, I say to you, keep away from these men. Let them alone. For if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing."

That is wise advice. He has the ability to distance himself from the politics of the entire group from the moment and to have a historical perspective. History is a great thing. Now, one reason I love history and a reason why you should love history as well, it gives you a perspective that the here now is not the only time something's happened, that there's a reason for the way things are to this point within the church, within a nation's history, or the development of an organization.

There's a reason why other things have been tried and found not suitable, etc. And Gamaliel is doing this and he's saying, "Look, we've seen all these things happen before." And he's also implying they're not leading an army, they're not taking up arms, and they're not calling for the overthrow of Rome. That's implied here. It's not implicit, but this is what's implied. What's happening? People are being healed. People are happy. There is a movement. Yes. And is it eating into the following of the Jews? Well, yes. Do they perceive it as a threat? Yes, but that's their problem. And again, Gamaliel just has the patience to let it go. He says in verse 39.

Acts 5:39 "But if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it, lest you even be found to fight against God."

Brilliant. Let it alone, of its own weight, I'll collapse. If it's of God, though, you don't want to be fighting against God. It's almost like, what if they're right? What if their interpretation of Scripture is right? And we may have been wrong. What if this body killed an innocent man, killed God in the flesh? What if, is what he's laying out there. And so, they agreed.

Acts 5:40 “They agreed with him...”

It brought a lot of calm. Sometimes it's that one voice in a group where people are getting stirred up to go jump off the cliff or to do something unwise. Sometimes it's just one person, you know, for each of us, look at the advice of Gamaliel. And though he is...let's say he's not, a "church member." He had read the law. He was schooled in the law, which is the holy word of God, as he had it at that time. And that would have been all the books of the Bible that we're studying. And he had wisdom. You know, someone who may not have God's spirit, may not be a first fruit, may not be as we would say in the church, we have all these terms, converted, can still read the Bible, study history, and be moved and influenced in a positive way just by studying the Bible.

And letting that, in a sense, rub off on him, which I think Gamaliel did, to where at least he was not rushing to judgment. He was not getting caught up in anger of the crowd. He was not moved by jealousy or envy. But he had been schooled in the Word of God, and that was a part of his life. And to that degree, he benefited from it. It benefits the church and it calmed down the crowd of the Sanhedrin.

Acts 5:40 “...And so, they called for the apostles.”

My point is before I leave it, read this and benefit from it. Be a Gamaliel at times. Let yourself be one who cannot get caught up in the emotion of a situation, or your friends or a family, or a grouping that might be bent on doing something that's not quite wise or right. And step aside and see it all. And with the working of the Bible and your knowledge of God in you help you to understand something. But then you've got to have the courage to say it.

Gamaliel could have gone along with the crowd and said, "Well, you know, these guys, you know, who are they? They're just fishermen from Galilee. And I'm not going to jeopardize my standing here with the group." But he too has courage. Peter had his courage in standing up and saying we ought to obey God rather than men. It took Gamaliel amount of courage to stand up in his peer group here and know that he was going against the wishes and maybe the mood of the moment, and by cautioning patience and leniency on this group. And so, don't discount that, be a Gamaliel in that sense and learn from this. So, what did they do?

Acts 5:40 Well, they called the apostles “and they beat them and they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus. And then they let them go.”

All right. You guys come back in, bring out the rods, bring out the whips. And they beat them, probably right there in front of everyone and punish them. And they had to do something. And that vented their fury for the moment.

Acts 5:41 "They departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name."

And so, again, almost like they did before, although it's not said, they probably went back and reported what was done. But they were...there was a joy here. You know, and this is the fruit of the joy. Joy is listed as the second fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. They rejoiced, but they rejoiced that they had been called before the council and even rejoice that they had a few lashes put on them. That takes courage and commitment as well. And so, they reported it. That goes on in verse 42.

Acts 5:42 "And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ."

So, they continued to do what they were to do, and in every house. And again, we can probably see implied here that they were... The church was benefiting from this. So, that brings us to the end of Chapter 5. As we look at the beginning of Chapter 6, Luke, kind of, has a transition by the word now.

Acts 6:1 “So, in those days,” So some days, maybe a few weeks, maybe even a few months pass on the scene here. “When the number of the disciples was multiplying,”

So, the church continues to grow, even though the Jews are reaching out and seeking to disrupt the work of the church that is taking place here. And there's growth and with growth sometimes comes hiccups and problems. We've talked about certain problems, Ananias and Sapphira persecution. Now, here's another challenge or issue, it's not quite like the other two. It's an internal organizational matter, but it reflects a bit of tension among some of the groupings of people within the church and the need to address it and to come up with a solution because it says…

Acts 6:2 “There arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenist’s because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.”

All right. A lot told or is said here in verse 1. So, let's, kind of, break it down and look at what we're seeing here. First of all, there's a complaint. Okay. I have something against you. The complaint box is filling up in the church hall. In this case, there were widows neglected in a daily distribution. I understand something, first of all, about the daily distribution. The Jews had a system of welfare taking care of people, food and clothing, and stuff among those who were indigent, in need, or the poor. And the church was a part of that too, in the community. But also, it seems by this time because of the growth of the church, they were developing their own systems to provide for a daily distribution of needs, of food and clothing, and maybe even shelter there.

And so, this was a part of the life of the church. And it marks the hospitality and the love and the sharing that we've already read about where they shared and had all things in common. Remember Luke has brought that out. And so, they're taking care of each other and particularly the widows. Now, there's a lot of instruction from the Old Testament to take care of the widow, the orphanless, the fatherless, even the stranger in your midst. A lot of the law talks about that, but widows seem to have a very particular spot within God's heart that you take care of them and you provide for them.

And they were doing that, but some were being neglected. It is the widows of the Hellenists. Now, what's a Hellenist? All right. Let's look at that for a moment. A Hellenist... The word comes from the word Hellenism or Hellene, which basically refers to the Greek world. All right. Now, what these were, were Greek-speaking Jews who had been living in the Greek world. Remember, with the fall of Jerusalem at the time of Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel, there's a captivity. And with that captivity came a dispersal, ultimately, in the subsequent generations, even after the Jews or a portion of them returned to Jerusalem. I've already said in that return, remember, not all the Jews left Babylon and went back to Jerusalem. Many stayed there, but also many began to migrate. And ultimately, the Greek world under Alexander succeeded the Persian world and the Greek culture spread out of Greece throughout all of this part of the world and further to the east.

And commerce and trade developed, even before the time of Alexander, the Greeks were seafaring people. And they were over here in the Western Mediterranean. The cities on the Mediterranean edge of Asia Minor were initially Greek cities. Miletus is down here, which is mentioned, we'll see that in the Book of Acts, and Ephesus. These were Greek city-states, which is why the Persians were interested in them. And the Greeks were interested in all of this because the Greeks had gone around. The Jews became a part of that mix and through economic needs, and they had migrated through this. And so, at a certain point, they were still Jews, even though they were Greek-speaking, and they didn't speak Hebrew quite as...not as their first language, but in the subsequent generations, by the time we come down here to the first century, many Greek-speaking Jews, Hellenists, they had been Hellenized, they came back to Jerusalem and they settled there and maybe their husband died. And maybe their children remained over here in Asia Minor.

And so, you have a woman in Jerusalem who's a widow, but she becomes a part of the church, but she's a Hellenist. And there's a distinction within the community between a Jew or a Hebrew who had stayed in the land and had roots in the land, as opposed to someone who immigrated in from, let's say, Tarsus up here in Cilicia, and they spoke Greek. Now, just, again, keep in mind and understand this, when we come to later this week in class, we're going to go through Daniel 11 in more detail. And I'll talk a little bit more about the influence on the Greek world, the Greek empire of that period on the Jews in Jerusalem, which is the part of the story, the abomination of desolation, Antiochus Epiphanies, and that part of the latter verses of the book of Daniel Chapter 11.

What had happened was the Greek world of Alexander and his successor generals, especially with the episode of Antiochus Epiphanies, the abomination of desolation, his effort to stamp out the Jews, forbidding them to keep the Sabbath, circumcise their children, sacrificing a pig on the altar in the temple, which led to the Maccabean rebellion, that created historically an aversion to Greek within the Jews in Jerusalem, which led to them throwing that off, but the Greeks stayed. And if you use the term and think of the Greek world, the Greek influence as the world, as opposed to the righteousness, let's say, of Judaism, you've got a conflict.

And that's what's working historically in part of the story of Daniel 11, but now pops up here in Acts 6 with this group of widows who are Hellenistic in the sense that they speak Greek. They grew up and spent the majority of their life as a Jew in the Greek world. They come back to Jerusalem, but the Jewish culture here looks at them with a little bit, eh, you're too close to the Greek. You've spent time there. And if you think about this, it created a tension because some of their widows were being neglected. In other words, some of this even still rubbed off into the church, even though the church is sharing things among themselves at this point in time.

And so, the Hellenistic group say, "Hey, we didn't get enough for our group this week." Or they got shortchanged or something was said. And there's a little bit of prejudice here working. And that worldly mix within the Jewish community of Jerusalem is still a part of what's happening in in the church now. And so, it's not a division in terms of a full-blown separation, but it's creating a situation where the widows are being neglected. And so, you've got a problem and it's an organizational problem.

And so, what happens here between verses 2 and 7 is the solution to that problem. And so, we'll wait till the next class to get into the solution to that problem because it really sets up a lot of instruction for us in the church today to help us understand how and why we do what we do in terms of taking care of one another in the church and some of the church structure. So, we'll talk about that in the next class because these first seven verses of Act 6 really gives us a basis of understanding how to address organizationally some of the challenges that come up so that they don't become bigger problems, and that will help us understand some of the matters that we do in the church today. So, let's cover that next class.