Acts 6:3
(3) Seven men of honest report.--The number may have had its origin in the general reverence for the number Seven among the Jews. Possibly, however, the suggestion may have come from the Libertini, or Hellenistae of Rome, where there was a distinct guild, or Collegium, known as the Septemviri Epulones, or Seven Stewards (Lucan. i. 602), whose business it was to arrange for the banquets held in honour of the gods, which were more or less analogous to the Christian agap?, on certain set days. (See Smith's Dict. of Greek and Roman Antiquities, Art. "Epulones." It is an interesting coincidence that they, too, had been appointed to relieve the Pontifices from a duty which they found too heavy. This view falls in with the inference as to the Roman origin of Stephen which will be found in the Notes on Acts 6:5.

Full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom.--The Apostles, it is clear, did not limit their thoughts of the Spirit's working to prophecy and the gift of tongues. Wherever wisdom, and charity, and kindness were requisite, there was need of a supernatural grace, raising men above prejudice and passion. Of these qualities, no less than of the good report, the whole body of believers were to be, in the first instance, the judges, the Apostles reserving to themselves the right of final appointment, and therefore, if necessary, of a veto. It is significant that the word "wisdom" only appears in the Acts in connection with Stephen (here and in Acts 6:10, and in the report of his speech Acts 7:10; Acts 7:22). We may, perhaps, think of James, the brother of the Lord, as led by what he now saw and heard to that prayerful seeking after wisdom which is so prominent in his Epistle (James 1:5; James 3:13-17).

Verse 3. - Look ye out therefore, brethren, from for wherefore, brethren, look ye out, A.V.; good for honest, A.V.; Spirit for Holy Ghost, A.V. and T.R.; of wisdom for wisdom, A.V. Good report; literally, borne witness to; i.e. well spoken cf. So in Hebrews 11:5 it is said of Enoch that "he had witness borne to him that he pleased God," and in Hebrews 11:4 of Abel that "he had witness borne to him that he was righteous;" and so in Acts 10:22 Cornelius is said to be a man "well reported of by all the nation of the Jews." In Acts 16:2 Timothy is said to be "well reported of (ἐμαρτυρεῖτο) by the brethren." The Spirit. The number seven was, perhaps, fixed upon with reference to the exigencies of the service, some think because there were seven tables to be supplied; and partly perhaps from seven being the sacred number, the number of completeness - seven Churches, seven spirits, seven stars, seven children (1 Samuel 2:5), seven times (Psalm 119:164). From seven having been the number of the first deacons arose the custom in some Churches of always having seven deacons, which continued some centuries in the Church of Rome. One of the Canons of the Council of Neo-caesarea (An). 314) enacted that "there ought to be but seven deacons in any city," and St. Mark is said to have ordained seven deacons at Alexandria (see Bingham, 'Christ. Antia' vol. 1. p. 232). But the needs of the Churches gradually superseded all such restrictions. Whom we may appoint. The multitude elect, the apostles appoint. The apostolate appears as the sole ministry of the Church at first. From the apostolate is evolved first the diaconate, afterwards the presbyterate, as the need for each arose (Acts 14:23).

6:1-7 Hitherto the disciples had been of one accord; this often had been noticed to their honour; but now they were multiplied, they began to murmur. The word of God was enough to take up all the thoughts, cares, and time of the apostles. The persons chosen to serve tables must be duly qualified. They must be filled with gifts and graces of the Holy Ghost, necessary to rightly managing this trust; men of truth, and hating covetousness. All who are employed in the service of the church, ought to be commended to the Divine grace by the prayers of the church. They blessed them in the name of the Lord. The word and grace of God are greatly magnified, when those are wrought upon by it, who were least likely.Wherefore brethren look ye out among you,.... Or "choose out among you", as the Syriac version adds, and as the Arabic and Ethiopic versions render it; which shows that this sort of officers, deacons, must be members of the church, and of the same church to which they are ordained deacons; and that they must be chosen to that office by the whole community, or by the common suffrages and votes of the people. So the (b) Jews

"did not appoint (which may be rendered) "an overseer of the poor", in a congregation, without consulting the congregation;''

which officer seems pretty much to answer to a deacon.

Seven men, of honest report; why the number seven is fixed upon, perhaps no other solid reason is to be given, but that that number was judged sufficient for the care of the poor in that church, and at that time; nor is it obligatory on other churches to have just so many, neither more nor fewer; for such officers are to be chosen as the church requires: perhaps some regard might be had to "the seven good men of the (c) city" among the Jews, who had great authority in their synagogues, and who had power to sell them, when old and useless; and who seem, according to Maimonides (d), to be the elders of the people. It is necessary that this sort of officers in the church should be men "of honest report"; that have a good testimony both from within the church and without, of their honesty and fidelity; since they are intrusted with the church's stock, and have the care of many devolved upon them: so the collectors of alms among the Jews were to be men , "known and faithful" (e); men of known probity and integrity: and, besides this good and honest report they were to have from others, they were also to be men

full of the Holy Ghost, of wisdom; they were to be men, not only that had the Spirit of God in them, but who were eminent for their rich experiences of grace; and who had superior gifts of the Spirit, whereby they were capable both of defending the truth against opposers, and of speaking a word of exhortation to duty, or of comfort under distress, or of reproof to members, as circumstances required; and it may be at this time when the church consisted of some of all nations, as seems from Acts 2:9 it might be necessary that they should have the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, especially that of speaking with divers tongues, that they might be able to converse with persons of different languages: and "wisdom" is highly requisite in them, that they may be good economists of the church's stock, and dispose of it in the most prudent manner: and conduct themselves agreeably to the different tempers and spirits of men they have to do with, and especially in composing differences among members.

Whom we may appoint over this business; assign or make over that part of their office to them, which hitherto they had exercised, and install them into it, and invest them with it.

(b) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 55. 1.((c) T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 26. 2. & 27. 1.((d) In Misu. Megilla, c. 3. sect. 2.((e) Maimon. Hilchot Mattanot Anayim, c. 9. sect. 1.

Acts 6:2
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