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Looking at the book of Acts
Acts 6:2 KJV 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.
As most of you know, Judas is no longer, and so the guys thought it made sense to replace him. It sounds like they flipped coins until it got narrowed down to Matthias. (I am sure I am over simplifying this decision making process, but it says, after much prayer they drew lots, and Matthias was chosen.)
“Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples,...”
The twelve Apostles are now finding it necessary to delegate responsibility. It sounds as though they had been doing all the work, and it has begun to take them away from preaching (I will use the word here, but it is much to sterile. They were sharing the life they knew and understood. They shared what they learned at the feet of the Master.)
Whether they felt called to or not, the job of being a pastor, with all it’s demands was suddenly thrust upon them, and now it is taking a toll. Again, what would anyone of them have known of this? Nothing outside of watching Jesus communicate with people, both great and small. They watched how he cared for and loved the unlovely. They watched him respond to the request of the Roman centurion, and they saw what he did for the woman with the issue of blood. They saw the true pastor (a shepherd, in action.) Add to their education the fact that Jesus told them that the Holy Spirit (an unseen breath like entity, sent from God, in my name) would bring all the things that he had taught them back to their remembrance, and lead them and guide them into all truth. We also know that they watched him go up into the mount of Olives, his favorite place, to pray (communicate, speak with, listen to, and revitalize, because it had to have taken a toll on him too.)
I want to add something here. We hear the word prayer quite frequently, and if your like me, it means taking some huge space of time, secluded away from others, doing what?
Typically our prayers may be God help me, do you see what’s going on here, I am in so much pain. And while that is probably true, and not insignificant, it is only one aspect of prayer. I do not always seem to have the time to escape, and I find that after a while, even I get tired of hearing my own whining about the pains, most of which I have brought on myself. While we all have issues that we need to take before God, (and I would suggest you do that before the mole hills turn into mountains,) things like the relationship break-ups, job stresses, anger, and tribulations because of the word (I get mocked upon occasion because of my sharing, but really it is nothing compared to what our brothers and sisters in Christ suffer in the middle east and African nations.)
So while I am walking around moping about the loss of a ten year relationship with my girlfriend, (by the way, God is in control of that as well.) my Christian friend at work lost his best friend/wife to cancer. Suddenly my moping seems very insignificant. This event alone, more than any other caused me to refocus. I have now focused my prayers on things like: God use me, hopefully as some form of a good example; let my words bring life; give me a boldness like I have never known, and a backbone to stand in the face of tribulations.
Whether right or wrong, I find that when I pay attention, I have been praying all day long. I hear my spirit speaking about something, or talking to God about a customer that came through the store. I find myself with a compassion and love for the homosexual couples that I never had before. The world just wants to hate, not only them, but hate in general. Hate is so natural and easy. Now, how would I know this? I was taught by an expert, and I was good at it. To feel love and compassion, is to feel God’s heart. I know this because even in my worst moments I feel his arms being thrown around me.
We do know that over 3000 were added on the day of Pentecost. We also know that God was adding to the church daily. (Acts 2:47)
We do not know how many people are involved here, but where two or three people are gathered there can also be discord, and it did not take long.
Acts 6:2 NIV So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.
One of the things I wanted you to see, even though this verse seems simple enough, is the word arestos. The KJV used the word reason.
Webster’s dictionary defines reason as: That which is thought or which is alleged in words, as the ground or cause of opinion, conclusion or determination.
To some degree I could see how this works, but my mind needs to have something more concrete. Thayer’s Greek definitions defines the word as agreeable. Now that makes volumes of sense to me. Considering the numbers of people that the Apostles are now having to deal with. Keep in mind that it says the disciples were now in the multitudes, and that was just the men folk they were counting, the logistics of what they were doing is becoming a full time job in itself.
Did anybody else notice that service work is not necessarily what they were called to do.
Our focus now shifts.
“.. that we should leave the word of God, ...”
Now the questions come. One of the pastors that I am involved with uses the terminology “quiet time” to include his daily study time. During that time he is clearly looking at God’s word.
- Quiet time; is that what the Apostles are talking about?
- What is meant by “the word” here?
- These guys were bringing life and freedom to the new believers, many of which were Jews. Where did they get this information from?
- What kind of access did they have to the written word?
- If their access to the written word is limited, not only to them, but to their audience as well, then what are they relying upon?
In the passage given the Greek for word is logomachia, meaning disputation or to strive about words. Using the word logomachia causes me a little grief, because I found it the Vine’s expository dictionary of New Testament words, and yet I could find no other reference stated in this exact way. What troubles me about this is not that Vine’s uses it, but that Pastors stand before us and say, “this is what the Greek word is, and what it means.” Even my Greek friend will give us the spectrum of meaning when defining a word for us. That does not cause confusion, but helps to clarify the definition.
An example of this spectrum came to me when I asked my Greek friend about the word “ministry” in Acts 6:2. The word in Greek is diakonia and means to be in attendance to as a servant.
But what is one of the typical things we picture when we hear someone say, “I am in the ministry.”?
Having been involved in a mega-church for a short period. I got the full dose of pastor talking about his Scottish golf vacation, his very expensive suits, and how disgusting it is to eat common food, from local restaurants. The implications of someone in that church, using the terminology ministry, has a huge price tag attached to it, and a snobbery that you could carry. This scenario is so far removed from what the word, in this verse means.
My point here is, that even a minimal grasp of how to look up things like this can help you comprehend how basic the motivation was, as the Apostles ministered the word.
To dispute with the word, sounds like a fight to me. Considering where they were standing most of the time (Solomon’s Porch), I would not be surprised, but fighting does not tend to win anyone over.
Apologists defend of the gospel, through knowledge, facts, evidence, and real life application which occasionally takes on the argument status, but really, it is merely holding your ground against those who refuse to acknowledge truth. You are defending God’s word (Whether God needs it or not).
What we can ascertain is that the Apostles teaching was somewhat confrontational with Jewish leadership and apologetic at the same time.
They had no written word that they could carry around with them. The “word” was the scrolls in the synagogues. These were bulky, hand copied and rolled transcriptions of the Torah. Very few had a copy.
Considering that the scrolls only contained the law, that which brings about a sin consciencenous, these guys preached freedom from it.
How would one find freedom in the law? Only by knowing the character of the one who decreed it.
So what then did the Apostles mean when they said they should not leave the word of God.?
With only their memories, the Holy Spirit, and 3 years of walking with God himself, they taught the world. They had nothing else to lean on, but faith in the Holy Spirit, faith in their memories, the time they spent with Jesus, and the occasional access to the scrolls, if the priests allowed. They shared what they heard, and watched Jesus do.
The Apostles walked with Jesus, the Word, and they left that legacy for us.