Scripture: Acts chapter 6
Commentary: There were two types of Jews normally, it seems, ones brought up in Palestine who spoke Aramaic, and ones brought up in other places (such as Jews of the Dispersion) who only spoke Greek. These were known as Hellenists or the Grecians. The Grecians were Hebrews with a background in Greek culture, and speaking Greek.
The Grecians felt neglected and demanded more provisions for their widows; to be equal with the Hebrews or those still following the Mosaic Law. The Apostles were having issues attending to those needs and trying to pray and preach. Therefore, they appointed seven deacons to help out with the everyday tasks (such as attending to the provisions table), while they, the Apostles, could attend more to prayer and preaching.
Qualifications of these deacons include: Men of honest report, Full of the Holy Spirit, Full of wisdom – which is application of spiritual truth, Men of conviction, and Full of faith. The seven deacons were: Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas.
The anointing designated these men for office and representation of the corporate body of believers, which was similar to Moses’ anointing to Joshua in Numbers 27: 18-23, “And the LORD said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him; And set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight. And thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the LORD: at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation. And Moses did as the LORD commanded him: and he took Joshua, and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation: And he laid his hands upon him, and gave him a charge, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses.”
Stephen was preaching, and there were a large number of priests (not Sadducees) that bound closely in ties with the Temple. The preaching of Stephen saw those ties break soon, especially the Grecians. Stephen was one of seven men who administered the church’s work, and he was also a prominent preacher and miracle-worker. He saw that Christianity and Judaism couldn’t be together, and therefore, with Jesus’ death and resurrection, Judaism was finished. The Jewish Religious System, along with laws, ceremonies, priests, and the Temple had fulfilled its purpose and should now have something new (Christianity). When the Jews heard Stephen preaching (especially thinking he was preaching against them), they went and reported him to the Sanhedrin for preaching against Judaism. The Sadducees had an accusation that could gain popularity against the Christians, because they knew that the people wouldn’t tolerate his threat to their national religion.