Troubles within the Church Even Then
In spite of persecution, the apostles continued to preach and to teach in the temple and from house to house Jesus as the Christ (5:42), and the church continued to grow. And with growth come problems that often require furtherance of administration and more efficient organization to better satisfy the needs of the group. The precise problem that arose in this instance was a complaint from the Hellenistic Jews that their widows were “neglected in the daily distribution.” The Hellenistic Jews were those who spoke Greek and had lived outside of Palestine (it is hard to speak of a geographical or political entity called “Israel” at that time, but instead of Judea, Samaria, and Galilee). The Palestinian Jews spoke Hebrew. Thus, even in the earliest church, problems occurred, and, in this case, due to oversight.
The answer of the apostles was swift and decisive, and because it was so, and no need of repentance is recorded, we must assume that no overt sin such as prejudice was committed. The apostles do imply that the charge of oversight was justly laid and was the product of their being overwhelmed with ministry. As a result, they allow the Hellenists to choose from among themselves seven men “full of the Spirit and of wisdom” to see to the task of the maintenance of the widows so that the apostles could instead “devote [them]selves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” The seven men thus chosen, the apostles laid hands on them in an act of commissioning (ordaining?), and as a result of this division of labor, “the word of God continued to increase, and the number of disciples multiplied greatly.” Even many priests “became obedient to the faith.”
So we see that troubles come and mistakes happen even in the best of times, and this because we are fallible human beings. We also see that further conflict can be avoided through understanding the nature of the problem and taking decisive action. But I would rather focus on the apostles’ understanding of their task: not “waiting tables” but prayer and preaching. This is the task of your pastor. His first tasks will always be prayer and the ministry of the word; not visitation, not weddings and funerals, not administration, not sharing deer stories at men’s meetings or helping old ladies across the street. All these things have their place and he should attend to them at the proper time. But if your minister is not spending time agonizing in prayer over the flock over which he is entrusted by God and not searching the word as fine gold to dispense unto them, he’s not doing it right, and a church must respect, and demand, that he do so.