What does Acts 6:1-5 really mean?

Acts 6:1-5 is about the early Christian community addressing a problem of neglect in the distribution of food to widows, leading to the selection of the first deacons to ensure fairness and proper care for all members.

1 Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.
2 And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.
3 Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty.
4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
5 And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch.


Setting the Scene for Acts 6:1-5

In Acts chapter 6, we find the early Christian community in Jerusalem facing a challenge. The scene is set in a bustling marketplace where the apostles are gathered with a growing number of believers. The community has been expanding rapidly, and with this growth comes the need for organization and care for all members.

Among the believers are both Greek-speaking Jews and Hebraic Jews. A dispute arises because the widows of the Greek-speaking Jews feel that they are being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. This issue threatens to cause division within the community, and the apostles realize that they need to address it promptly to maintain unity and ensure that all members are cared for.

To resolve the situation, the apostles call together the whole community of believers. They propose a solution to select seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and wisdom, to oversee the distribution of food. The proposal is well received, and the community nominates seven men, including Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a convert from Antioch. This event marks the beginning of the ministry of the first deacons in the early Christian church, demonstrating the importance of unity, care for all members, and the wisdom of seeking solutions together in times of challenge.

What is Acts 6:1-5 about?

The apostles select seven men to oversee the fair distribution of food to widows in this verse, showing a pivotal moment in the early Christian church. This act demonstrates the importance of caring for the vulnerable members of the community and ensuring that all are provided for equally. The apostles show wisdom in organizational structure and emphasize the value of communal support within the church by delegating this task to a specific group of individuals. Let us consider the significance of serving those in need within our own communities as we reflect on this verse. How can we actively participate in supporting and caring for those who may be marginalized or overlooked? This verse challenges us to be intentional in our efforts to ensure that everyone is included and cared for, just as the early church sought to do. Let us strive to create an environment of compassion and support in all aspects of our lives, inspired by the example set forth here.

Understanding what Acts 6:1-5 really means

In the early days of the growing Christian community, a challenge arose concerning the fair distribution of resources among different cultural groups. The Hellenistic Jews felt their widows were being overlooked compared to the Hebraic Jews. This situation highlights the importance of addressing grievances promptly to maintain unity within the community. The apostles, recognizing the need for action, gathered all the disciples to discuss the issue, showing their commitment to resolving conflicts and ensuring fairness.

During this period of rapid growth, the apostles acknowledged the primary importance of their ministry of the word of God. They understood the need to delegate responsibilities to others to effectively address practical matters within the community. By instructing the selection of seven men full of the Spirit and wisdom to oversee the distribution of food, the apostles emphasized the significance of spiritual maturity and wisdom in leadership roles. This decision not only resolved the immediate issue but also established a framework for shared responsibility and effective leadership within the early church.

The passage in Acts 6:1-5 serves as a practical example of how different members of the body of Christ can fulfill unique roles to ensure the smooth functioning of the community. Just as Paul emphasizes in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, each member has a vital part to play in the body of Christ, highlighting the importance of diverse functions within the church. Delegation, as seen in the advice of Jethro to Moses in Exodus 18:17-23, is crucial for preventing burnout and promoting effective leadership in any organization, including the church.

Today, the lessons from Acts 6:1-5 remain relevant in various contexts. The call for unity in diversity challenges us to address cultural and linguistic differences within our communities to maintain harmony. Effective leadership involves recognizing one’s primary calling and entrusting other responsibilities to capable individuals, fostering a culture of shared leadership and collaboration. Caring for the vulnerable, as exemplified by the early church’s commitment to widows, reminds us of our responsibility to extend compassion and support to those in need in our society.

In a modern setting, envision a church experiencing rapid growth with a diverse congregation. When issues of neglect arise, the leadership’s decision to appoint a diverse team to address concerns not only resolves immediate issues but also strengthens the unity and inclusivity of the community. Acts 6:1-5 challenges us to emulate the early church’s example by fostering unity, recognizing diverse gifts, and caring for the vulnerable within our communities. These principles guide us in building inclusive and compassionate communities that reflect the love and justice of Christ.

How can we maintain unity in the church?

We can maintain unity in the church by ensuring that everyone’s needs are being met and that no one is being overlooked. It is important to address any issues or conflicts that may arise within the body of believers in a manner that is fair and just. We can promote a spirit of unity and harmony within the church by ensuring that everyone feels heard and valued.

Furthermore, appointing individuals to oversee specific tasks or responsibilities can help to alleviate any potential sources of discord or division. We can foster a sense of teamwork and cooperation among the members of the church by delegating responsibilities and empowering others to serve in various capacities. This not only helps the church function more effectively but also demonstrates the importance of every individual’s contribution to the body of believers. Maintaining unity in the church ultimately requires a commitment to putting the needs of others before our own and working together towards a common goal. We can create a welcoming and inclusive community where all are valued and respected by focusing on what unites us as followers of Christ and striving to live in harmony with one another.


Dear friend, let’s dive into Acts 6 together. Let’s think of our church family like a bustling modern workplace, each member playing a crucial role. Just as leaders were appointed to support the vulnerable, let’s look around and see who needs our help today. As we strive for unity and kindness, how can we ensure that no one is left behind? Are we ready to step up and make a difference in the lives of those around us?