The changing focus in Acts

The Martyrdom of Saint Stephen

Image by Fergal OP via Flickr

Something happens in the book of Acts starting in Chapter six. The focus changes. The main characters are different. Up to this point in this book the church is mainly Jewish followers of Christ. Now in chapter six we begin to hear about the Grecian Jews.

Who were these people? The notes from the NET Bible says this,

Grk “the Hellenists,” but this descriptive term is largely unknown to the modern English reader. The translation “Greek-speaking Jews” attempts to convey something of who these were, but it was more than a matter of language spoken; it involved a degree of adoption of Greek culture as well. The Greek-speaking Jews were the Hellenists, Jews who to a greater or lesser extent had adopted Greek thought, customs, and lifestyle, as well as the Greek language. The city of Alexandria in Egypt was a focal point for them, but they were scattered throughout the Roman Empire.

This is the first venture into new territory for the church. Up to this point it was strictly Jews from Palestine. Church is advancing into the Greek world. The church picks a few of these Grecian Jews to probably be deacons. They were picked to help with the distribution of the food. Slowly the church was opening its doors wider.

As we turn the page in chapter seven we see the story of Stephen. He is one of the deacon picked in the previous chapter. Now this Stephen takes on the defense of the gospel by explaining Jewish history and ultimately it was expressed by the coming of the Messiah Jesus. Stephen defends. Stephen martyred. Stephen praying much like Jesus for the forgiveness of those killing him.

Martyrdom of St Stephen

Image by Lawrence OP via Flickr

From this point on Acts changes the focus from an exclusive Jewish sect to a world religion. Saul is there at Stephen’s martyrdom. Saul the man who will take the gospel to all sorts of Greeks. The boarders are expanding.

Even today we see it. Christianity is no longer a Western hemisphere dominated religion. The global church is growing in Africa, Korea, India, China. These other countries are the new open door.

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Comments
2 Responses to “The changing focus in Acts”
  1. Tim Rich says:

    The Jews colluded against Stephen, and set up false witnesses against him…but, what they didn’t know was that Stephen was full of faith and the Holy Spirit (6:5).

    All that sat on the council saw Stephen’s face as it had been the face of an angel !! (6:15). Then at the end of his rebuke of the Jews, he see the heavens opened with Jesus standing on the right hand of God ! wow !

    • Dane says:

      It is interesting how many similarities Stephen’s martyrdom has with Christ. Like you said they cooked up false witnesses, he prayed for their forgiveness. What an example.

      May we too be full of the Spirit and Christ so we look different too.

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