|Vol. 16 No. 4 April 2014||
Gary C. Hampton
Some of our religious neighbors only partake of the Lord’s Supper on a quarterly or annual basis. Others partake of it various days of the week and at special events, like weddings. Let us pause to consider what God’s Word says about the matter.
Luke’s casual comment that Paul and his company stayed seven days in Troas enlightens us as to the custom of worship in New Testament times (Acts 20:6-7). They came together on the first day of the week to break bread. Paul and his company were there on every day of the week, yet they partook of the Lord’s Supper only on the Lord’s Day. Even though an inspired apostle spoke on that occasion, mention of that fact takes a back seat to remembering the Lord’s death. The first day was also the day Jesus was raised and the day His church was established (Mark 16:9; Acts 2; Leviticus 23:15-16).
Gus Nichols wrote a good article on the frequency of our Lord’s Supper observance. He quoted 1 Corinthians 11:20-22 and said, “If a schoolteacher should say to some naughty boys, ‘You did not come here to learn,’ she would be understood to mean that they should have come for that purpose. Hence the apostle’s meaning is clear when in reproving the church he said they had not assembled to eat the Lord’s Supper.” Early Christians assembled to partake of the Lord’s Supper. Jews understood God’s instructions to, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8) to mean every Sabbath. They would have easily recognized the need to partake of the Lord’s Supper each Lord’s day.
Speaking of 1 Corinthians 16:2, Nichols said, “the Greek preposition ‘Kata’ is used in this passage, and means ‘every,’ with reference to week.” Thus, we have the early church assembling every first day of the week. Christians assembled to break the bread and, because of Paul’s instructions, they gave every first day as well (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).
Gary C. Hampton
A complaint arose among Hellenists, likely converts from among the Greek speaking Jews scattered throughout the world. They felt their widows were not being cared for as well as the widows of the Hebrews in the daily distribution. Whether the charge resulted through an accidental or intentional oversight is not known. At the very least, the perceived problem obviously threatened the peace and unity of the young church (Acts 6:1).
The apostles said it was inappropriate for them to cease devoting their full energies to the Word in order to serve tables. They directed the Christians to look among their own number to find seven men qualified to carry out the work. It is good for men who will manage monetary affairs or hold positions of authority to be selected by the people they will serve. The men had to be known as good men, full of the Holy Spirit, which may have meant they possessed miraculous gifts or it may have referred to fully displaying the fruit of the Spirit. They also would need “skill in the management of affairs,” which Thayer says is the definition of “wisdom.” The apostles would appoint the seven selected to attend to this important matter. They planned to continue to focus on prayer and ministering to others with the Word of God (Acts 6:2-4; Galatians 5:22-26).
The multitude of believers thought the apostles had a good solution. They chose Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, all Greek names. The apostles laid their hands on them after going to God in prayer. It is always good to approach God about any matter Christians are about to undertake and especially when church problems are involved. The laying on of the apostles’ hands officially placed them in office, like swearing in a new president, and may have involved bestowing on them miraculous gifts.
Handling the problem in such a way resulted in further growth in the church through the spreading of the Word of God. The number of Christ’s followers was multiplied, including a large number of priests who obeyed the faith (Acts 6:5-7).
[Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, church problems are all too common, owing to the frailty of humanity – yes, even among Christians. No church problem is too little to address, and any church problem, irrespective of whether the complaint is valid, is a church crisis waiting to explode if it is not properly addressed in a timely manner. Some church problems (crises in waiting), like the Acts 6 chronicle, are in reality opportunities for growing a healthier congregation. At other times, sin is at the root of church problems, which needs to be identified and addressed early on (Titus 1:9-11; 3:10). ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]