Oh, thank God there’s no mention of slaves in this one.
Acts 6 begins with strife between the Greek-speaking Jews and the Jews native to Judea. You may be familiar with the situation, in which those who provided meals for the needy were overlooking the widows among the Greek-speaking Jews. As I read it today, I found that I associated it in my mind with Biblical themes of compassion for the poor and opposition to racism, such as we see in Acts 2:44-45 and Galatians 3:28. But Luke includes the story of the overlooked widows to introduce a larger story: Stephen’s martyrdom.
There’s a lot happening in any given chapter of Luke. Consider, for example, Luke 7, which just so happens to be the chapter for today: Jesus heals a centurion’s slave, restores a recently-deceased man to life, preaches about John the Baptist, and gets invited to a Pharisee’s house, where he tells a parable about two debtors. Which of these shall we look at in today’s post? We certainly aren’t going to look at all of them. I love you guys, but not that much.
Where we last left our heroes, Paul was giving Timothy directions concerning leadership and good practices within the church body, and today he continues in that vein. Chapter five concludes with various instructions on respecting elders, dealing with sin, laying on hands, and how to deal with gastrointestinal health problems. Most of it’s fairly uncontroversial, though when Paul prescribes a little wine for Timothy’s stomach ailments, there’s been some debate on just how diluted the “wine” of the Greco-Roman world was, and some might think that public rebuke for an elder’s persistent sinning seems a little harsh. But let’s set aside the trivial controversies of the ending verses and rewind to that thorniest of topics: widow issues.