Chiasm in Acts 6:1-7

Others have probably noticed this, but as I was working on Acts 6:1-7 last week, this chiasm jumped out at me:

A  In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.

B  So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.

C  Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them

D  and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”

C1 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 

B1  They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

A1  So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

Analysis:

A  Church is growing so rapidly that it experiences growing pains

B  Twelve call together all the disciples (church members) to address a pressing need

Twelve ask the disciples to choose seven Spirit-filled and wise men

So that the Twelve can give their full attention to prayer and the ministry of the Word

C1 The disciples choose seven Spirit-filled and wise men

B1 The disciples present these seven men to the apostles, who called them together, for their approval and blessing

A1 Church continues to grow and flourish

A chiasm, among other things, helps the reader to discern (consciously or subconsciously) the center of a given passage, in this case the apostolic task of prayer and the ministry of the word (D), and matters relating to or leading back to that center, in this case, the growth of Christ’s church through the agency of Spirit-filled men, the Twelve and the Seven.

Takeaway? Prayer and the ministry of the word lie at the heart of the life and ministry of the apostolic church. Pastors who believe “one holy catholic and apostolic church” (Nicene Creed) have a duty, then, to give considerable amount of time to both of these. In our rushed, busy culture, it may be necessary for us pastors remind ourselves that we have permission to spend a lot of time praying and preparing sermons. Permission, because it is our duty and holy calling.

Have you ever asked your minister whether he makes enough time, both to pray and to prepare sermons? It may lead to serious reflection on his part if he’s not doing so, or some much-needed affirmation if he is doing so, and in every case–as odd as it sounds–permission to do so.

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Published in: on May 25, 2015 at 4:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Puny preacher-man

I can’t let Reformation Day 495 pass without a citation from my beloved father, brother, and fellow pastor, John Calvin (1509-1564). What he says here is a great encouragement to preachers who feel unequal to the task, and is humbling to preachers who are up on themselves.

For by this means [God] first declares his regard for us when from among men he takes some to serve as his ambassadors in the world [cf. 2 Cor 5:20], to be interpreters of his secret will and, in short, to represent his person. And by this evidence he proves it to be no idle speaking that he often calls us temples [1 Cor 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Cor 6:16], since from the lips of men, as from the sanctuary, he gives his answers to men.

Again, this is the best and most useful exercise in humility, when he accustoms us to obey his Word, even though it be preached through men like us and sometimes even by those of lower worth than we. If he spoke from heaven, it would not be surprising if his sacred oracles were to be reverently received without delay by the ears and minds of all. For who would not dread the presence of his power? Who would not be stricken down at the sight of such great majesty? Who would not be confounded at such boundless splendour? But when a puny man risen from the dust speaks in God’s name, at this point we best evidence our piety and obedience toward God if we show ourselves teachable toward his minister, although he excels us in nothing. It was for this reason, then, that he hid the treasure of his heavenly wisdom in weak and earthen vessels [2 Cor 4:7] in order to prove more surely how much we should esteem it.

Institutes of the Christian Religion, 4.3.1 (Italics and emphasis mine)

Pastors of clay

 

How are your pastor and his loved ones doing? A couple pastors weigh in.

Why do pastors get depressed? | Practical Shepherding.

Published in: on July 26, 2011 at 11:49 am  Leave a Comment  
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