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  • VINCENT'S NEW TESTAMENT
    WORD STUDIES - ACTS 6

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    CHAPTER VI

    1. And (de). Better but, as a contrast is now introduced with the prosperous condition of the Church indicated at the close of the last chapter.

    Was multiplied (plhqunontwn). Lit., "when the disciples were multiplying;" the present participle indicating something in progress. A murmuring (goggusmov). See on the kindred word murmerers, Jude 16.

    Grecians (Ellhnistwn). Rev., much better, Grecian Jews, with Hellenists in margin. "Grecians" might easily be understood of Greeks in general. The word Hellenists denotes Jews, not Greeks, but Jews who spoke Greek. The contact of Jews with Greeks was first effected by the conquests of Alexander. He settled eight thousand Jews in the Thebais, and the Jews formed a third of the population of his new city of Alexandria. From Egypt they gradually spread along the whole Mediterranean coast of Africa. They were removed by Seleucus Nicator from Babylonia, by thousands, to Antioch and Seleucia, and under the persecutions of Antiochus Epiphanes scattered themselves through Asia Minor, Greece, Macedonia, and the Aegean islands. The vast majority of them adopted the Greek language, and forgot the Aramaic dialect which had been their language since the Captivity. The word is used but twice in the New Testament - here and ch. ix. 29 - and, in both cases, of Jews who had embraced Christianity, but who spoke Greek and used the Septuagint version of the Bible instead of the original Hebrew or the Chaldaic targum or paraphrase. The word %Ellhn, which is very common in the New Testament, is used in antithesis, either to "Barbarians" or to "Jews." In the former case it means all nations which spoke the Greek language (see Acts xviii. 17; Rom. i. 14; 1 Cor. i. 22, 23). In the latter it is equivalent to Gentiles (see Rom. i. 16; ii. 9; 1 Corinthians x. 32; Gal. ii. 3). Hence, in either case, it is wholly different from Hellenist.

    Hebrews. Hebrew is the proper antithesis to Hellenist. A man was 'Ioudaiov, a Jew, who traced his descent from Jacob, and conformed to the religion of his fathers. He might speak Greek and be a Hellenist. He was 'Ebraiov, a Hebrew, only as he spoke Hebrew and retained Hebrew customs. The distinction between Hebrew and Hellenist was a distinction within the Jewish nation, and not between it and other nations. Thus Paul calls himself a Hebrew of Hebrews; i.e., a Hebrew and of Hebrew parents (Philip. iii. 5; compare 2 Cor. xi. 22).

    Were neglected (pareqewrounto). Only here in New Testament. Lit., were overlooked. The imperfect denoting something habitual.

    Daily (kaqhmerinh). Only here in New Testament.

    Ministration (diakonia). Or service. See on minister, Matt. xx. 26. The reference is to the distribution of provision.

    2. Reason (areston). Lit., pleasing or agreeable.

    Leave (kataleiyantav). Rather forsake or abandon: leave in the lurch. Serve tables. Superintend the distribution of food.

    3. Of good report (marturoumenouv). Lit., attested, having witness born them.

    4. We will give ourselves continually (proskarterhsomen). See on ch. i. 14. Rev., continue steadfastly.

    5. Stephen, etc. The names are all Greek. There is no reason to infer from this that they were all Hellenists. It was customary among the Jews to have two names, the one Hebrew and the other Greek. They were probably partly Hebrews and partly Hellenists.

    7. To the faith (th pistei). Opinions differ greatly as to whether this is to be taken as meaning faith in Jesus Christ, or faith considered as Christian doctrine - the Gospel; the faith in the ecclesiastical sense. This passage and Gal. i. 23 are the strong passages in favor of the latter view; but the general usage of the New Testament, added to the fact that in both these passages the former meaning gives a good, intelligible, and perfectly consistent sense, go to confirm the former interpretation.

    1. In the great majority of New Testament passages faith is clearly used in the sense of faith in Jesus Christ: "the conviction and confidence regarding Jesus Christ as the only and perfect mediator of the divine grace and of eternal life, through his work of atonement" (Meyer).

    2. This interpretation is according to the analogy of such expressions as obedience of Christ (2 Cor. x. 5), where the meaning is, clearly, obedience to Christ: obedience of the truth (1 Pet. i. 22). Accordingly, faith, though it becomes in man the subjective moral power of the new life, regenerated through the power of the Spirit, is regarded objectively as a power - the authority which commands submission.

    3. This interpretation is according to the analogy of the expression hearing of faith (Gal. iii. 2), which is to be rendered, not as equivalent to the reception of the Gospel, but as the report or message of faith; i.e., which treats of faith, ajkoh, hearing being always used in the New Testament in a passive sense, and often rendered fame, rumor, report (see Matt. iv. 24; xiv. 1; Mark i. 28; John xii. 38; Rom. x. 16). Compare, also, obedience of faith (Rom. i. 5; xvi. 26), where faith is to be taken as the object, and not as the source, of the obedience; and hence is not to be explained as the obedience which springs from faith, but as the obedience rendered to faith as the authoritative impulse of the new life in Christ.

    The great majority of the best modern commentators hold that faith is to be taken as the subjective principle of Christian life (though often regarded objectively as a spiritual power), and not as Christian doctrine.

    8. Did (epoiei). Imperfect: was working wonders during the progress of the events described in the previous verse.

    9. Synagogue. See on Church, Matt. xvi. 18.

    Of the libertines. In Jerusalem, and probably in other large cities, the several synagogues were arranged according to nationalities, and even crafts. Thus we have in this verse mention of the synagogues of the Cyrenians, Alexandrians, Cilicians, and Asiatics. Libertines is a Latin word (libertini, freedmen), and means here Jews or their descendants who had been taken as slaves to Rome, and had there received their liberty; and who, in consequence of the decree of Tiberius, about 19 A.D., expelling them from Rome, had returned in great numbers to Jerusalem. They were likely to be the chief opponents of Stephen, because they supposed that by his preaching, their religion, for which they had suffered at Rome, was endangered in Jerusalem.

    10. They were not able (ouk iscuon). See on Luke xiv. 30; xvi. 3.

    11. Suborned (upebalon). Only here in New Testament. The verb originally means to put under, as carpets under one's feet; hence, to put one person in place of another; to substitute, as another's child for one's own; to employ a secret agent in one's place, and to instigate or secretly instruct him.

    12. They stirred up the people (sunekinhsan ton laon). The verb occurs only here in the New Testament. It implies to stir up as a mass, to move them together (sun). This is the first record of the hostility of the people toward the disciples. See ch. ii. 47.

    Caught (sunhrpasan). Used by Luke only. Better as Rev., seized. See on Luke viii. 29.

    14. This Jesus of Nazareth. Contemptuous.

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