Scripture Reading: Acts 6:1-7

In this message we shall consider 6:1-7. In 6:1-6 we have the appointment of seven serving ones, and in verse 7 we see the growth of the word of God and the multiplication of the disciples.


A Problem in the Church Life

Acts 6:1 says, “But in these days, when the disciples were multiplying, there was a murmuring of the Hellenists against the Hebrews, because their widows were overlooked in the daily dispensing.” The Hellenists were Jews who spoke Greek, and the Hebrews were Jews who spoke Hebrew. At the very beginning of the practice of the church life, there was trouble caused by different languages. Proper care was taken to solve this problem.

Often there are problems in the church life. These problems are not caused by outsiders but by those in the church. The first problem recorded in Acts was caused by a couple, Ananias and Sapphira, who were ambitious and dishonest. That problem was solved by God’s sovereign judgment. From this we see that we may not need to do much about certain problems in the church, for those problems are taken care of by the Lord’s sovereignty. However, in chapter six of Acts we have another kind of problem—the problem of language or of race. Apparently the problem in the church at Jerusalem was a problem of language related to those who spoke Hebrew and those who spoke Greek. Actually, this was a problem not mainly of language but of race.

We know from Acts 2 that Jews had come from their dispersion to Jerusalem to keep the feast of Pentecost. Those who had been dispersed among other races gradually came to speak the languages of those races. Thus, when they came to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast of Pentecost, they were not able to speak Hebrew but spoke their native languages. In particular, the Hellenists spoke Greek. The difference of language became a problem. Actually, the source of the trouble was not language but race. If all of mankind were of one race, there would probably be just one language. Different languages are the result of different races. According to Genesis 11, the source of this problem was Babel.

From experience we know the problems that are caused by the different languages among those in the church life. For example, among those saved through our gospel preaching on the island of Taiwan were those who spoke a number of different languages, including the local dialect. We certainly suffered from the problems caused by different languages.

When we first came to the United States, we did not carry out a work among the Chinese-speaking people. However, because it became possible for so many Chinese-speaking people to emigrate to this country, it became necessary to have a work among the Chinese-speaking ones. The Lord has blessed this work very much. We thank the Lord that although we have among us those of different languages and races, we do not have a problem concerning language or race. We are thankful to the Lord for His mercy and for all that we have learned in the past related to this. We praise Him that race and language are no longer a problem!