KIDS CORNER

Kid’s Corner
Salvation for All Believers!
August 13, 2017
Acts 8:26-39

(Acts 8:27) So he got up and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship,
We have no indication that the angel told Philip what to do on the road or what to expect on the road. Philip obeyed and “got up and went” without delay. Luke now introduces the Ethiopian eunuch, who may have been a Jew, or who may have been a convert to Judaism, or a God-fearer (one who believed in the God of the Bible and the morality of God’s Law, but who had not converted to Judaism by performing the required ceremonial rites). The eunuch was a wealthy, influential, high-ranking official who had traveled to Jerusalem to worship God. As the treasurer for the queen of the Ethiopians, he was influential and would report all of his experiences to the queen and her court.
(Acts 8:28) and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah.
Scrolls of the Old Testament were expensive and usually kept in the temple or synagogues. The eunuch was wealthy enough to have a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. In synagogue worship, the prophet Isaiah and other Old Testament scrolls would have been read aloud and then explained to people (who could not afford a scroll of any part of the Bible unless they were wealthy).
(Acts 8:29) Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.”
Whereas an angel first spoke to Philip, and he did what he was told without knowing all the details; now the Holy Spirit speaks to Philip in actual words (Philip did not just feel a leading by the Holy Spirit which sometimes happens too). Philip had to walk alongside the chariot (it would not have been going fast as though it were running in a chariot race). The chariot was probably going at a walking pace because the road was probably crowded, and the horses and chariots had to travel a long distance to Ethiopia. The chariot was going slow enough for the Ethiopian to read a scroll.
(Acts 8:30) Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
After Philip ran up to walk beside the chariot, he did not need to walk far, because he recognized that the eunuch was reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah. Most reading was done aloud, and Philip could identify from the words he heard that Isaiah was being read. The Holy Spirit probably influenced the eunuch to read those verses at that moment in time. Philip knew the verses applied to Jesus, so his question was natural as he was guided by the Holy Spirit to ask it.
(Acts 8:31) And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
The eunuch recognized that Philip could teach him, because the Holy Spirit moved him to seek understanding from Philip; therefore, he invited Philip to teach him in the chariot as they continued on their way rather than stopping for Philip to explain Isaiah to him. Perhaps the eunuch thought he and Philip were going in the same direction for some length of time.
(Acts 8:32) Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this: “HE WAS LED AS A SHEEP TO SLAUGHTER; AND AS A LAMB BEFORE ITS SHEARER IS SILENT, SO HE DOES NOT OPEN HIS MOUTH.
The Holy Spirit had to arrange for the eunuch to be reading this passage with perfect timing (Isaiah is a long book), and Philip knew exactly how that passage spoke of Jesus and predicted Jesus’ suffering and death. Jesus went to the cross willingly, for He came to give His life as a sacrifice for our sins. He was led to the cross by His Heavenly Father and by the religious leaders and Roman soldiers who crucified Him. He did not open His mouth to defend himself when He was tried or hanging on the cross. He told truth to Pilate, who asked Jesus questions with honest intent to learn from Him.
(Acts 8:33) “IN HUMILIATION HIS JUDGMENT WAS TAKEN AWAY; WHO WILL RELATE HIS GENERATION? FOR HIS LIFE IS REMOVED FROM THE EARTH.”
Philip could explain how false witnesses were brought forward at Jesus’ mock trial – justice had been denied Him. Philip could describe Jesus’ humiliation as He was beaten and had a crown of thorns pressed upon His head. Jesus’ generation could not be described or explained, because he was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Jesus died, and He rose again, and at the ascension Jesus’ life was “taken from the earth,” where He now sits at the right hand of God the Father. Jesus had no children, no physical descendants. We can only speak of His spiritual descendants, as believers are the adopted children of God the Father through faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
(Acts 8:34) The eunuch answered Philip and said, “Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?”
After he read these verses, the eunuch asked a good question. Was Isaiah speaking about what he had experienced personally or was he speaking what he thought might be the experience of someone else? If it was going to happen to someone else, who was that person and had it happened to him yet? Philip was prepared to answer all of the eunuch’s questions and lead him to faith in Jesus.
(Acts 8:35) Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him.
Beginning with the verse from Isaiah in Acts 8:32-33, Philip began to explain about Jesus. He could explain that about 600 years before Jesus’ birth, Isaiah foretold Jesus’ first coming and that Jesus came as God’s gift to us, as a sacrifice for our sins. He could tell the eunuch that he could accept this good news about Jesus and believe in Jesus and have his sins forgiven, be cleansed from all unrighteousness, and receive the gift of eternal life.
Acts 8:32-33, 32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:
33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.
(Acts 8:36) As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch *said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?”
Philip must have explained faith, repentance, and baptism to the eunuch, because at the first sign of enough water, the eunuch wanted to be baptized, and so he asked Philip another question. Essentially, his question was this: “Was there anything else he needed to believe or do before he could be baptized or before he could be saved?” Philip indicated that he could be baptized at that very moment. There was no more that he needed to do to be saved, and like the many priests who believed in Jesus before him, the eunuch became “obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7). Some New Testament manuscripts include the answer of Philip and the eunuch’s profession of faith in Jesus Christ (which is in verse 37 below, and is included in some translations of the New Testament).
Acts 6:7, 7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the fait
(Acts 8:37) The KJV and NASB include this verse: And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
(Acts 8:37) [And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”]
The answer Philip gave and the eunuch’s profession of faith in verse 37 is true to the Gospel and the New Testament. Believing with all our heart includes choosing and committing our will and way of living every moment of every day to Jesus the Messiah as our Lord and the Son of God (as reported in the Gospels). If we truly believe these facts, we will live according to these facts – the Holy Spirit being our Helper. The eunuch had learned enough about Isaiah and Jesus to share the Gospel with others and baptize them according to Jesus’ teaching after he returned home. He could learn more about Jesus and the church with subsequent visits to Jerusalem or perhaps when one or more of the apostles or disciples (such as Thomas) went to Ethiopia to further the work that Philip began (in a way similar to Peter and John going to Samaria after Philip preached successfully there).
(Acts 8:38) And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.
After Philip answered his question, the chariot stopped and both went down into the water, indicating that there was sufficient water to go down into. It was deep enough and large enough for both men to enter the water. It seems Philip also needed to enter the water in order to perform the rite of baptism. And so, the eunuch was baptized by Philip (who had learned from Peter and John to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit).
(Acts 8:39) When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.
Philip had accomplished God’s purpose and to prevent the eunuch from trying to persuade Philip to keep teaching him all the way to Ethiopia, the Spirit of the Lord “snatched Philip away.” The eunuch now had the Holy Spirit living within him to help them interpret Isaiah as he continued reading on his journey – no doubt rejoicing as the Holy Spirit gave him more understanding of Jesus Christ and the way of God. By the time he reached home, he was prepared to share the good news with everyone back home in Ethiopia, as the Holy Spirit within him helped him to share the good news about Jesus. In Acts 8:40, Luke tells us where the Spirit of the Lord took Philip: “But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.”
Acts 8:40, 40 But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.

Salvation for All Believers!
August 13, 2017
Acts 8:26-39

“As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, ‘Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?’” (Acts 8:36). In the Book of Acts, we learn that there are no national, physical, or racial barriers to receiving the forgiveness of God and the gift of eternal life. If anyone in the Church thought that a person with a physical deformity, or someone of a different color, or a Gentile, or someone whose nationality was not Judean, could not be a Christian and a member of the Church, then the story of the Ethiopian eunuch contradicts their thinking. The Lord Jesus Christ sent an angel to Philip, a leader in the New Testament Church, to put Philip on the road to meet and specifically lead an Ethiopian eunuch to saving faith. Walking along the road, Philip heard the eunuch reading from the Book of Isaiah as he rode in his chariot back to Ethiopia; then, the Holy Spirit led Philip to ask the eunuch if he understood what he read. After Philip explained to the Ethiopian eunuch how the teaching in the Book of Isaiah applied to Jesus the Messiah as the Suffering Servant who died to save sinners, and after the Ethiopian saw some water at the side of the road, he asked Philip if anything prevented him from being baptized. Philip told him that because he believed in Jesus nothing prevented him from being baptized, and they both went into the water where Philip baptized the eunuch. The New Testament and the gospel of Jesus Christ makes clear in many ways that forgiveness for sins and the saving grace of Jesus Christ is available to all who will believe.
Acts 8:36, 36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

Thinking Further
Salvation for All Believers!
August 13, 2017

Acts 8:26-39
Name _____________________________________
1. Before Philip met him, in what ways did the eunuch indicate that he wanted to obey God?

2. In what ways did Philip prepare himself to help the eunuch come to faith in Jesus Christ and be baptized?

3. In what ways did the angel and the Holy Spirit help Philip and the eunuch?

4. How important is reading and studying the Bible for both believers and unbelievers in Jesus Christ? Give a reason for your answer.

5. When the eunuch returned to Ethiopia, do you think he taught others in Ethiopia about Isaiah the prophet and that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and about the importance of repentance and baptism? Give a reason for your answer.

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

1. Before Philip met him, in what ways did the eunuch indicate that he wanted to obey God? The eunuch travelled a long way from Ethiopia to Jerusalem to worship God. He acquired a scroll of the prophet Isaiah to read and study. He wanted to understand what he read, and he even read as he rode in a chariot on a wilderness road (which would have been difficult). He seemed to be spiritually hungry to know God and more about God.
2. In what ways did Philip prepare himself to help the eunuch come to faith in Jesus Christ and be baptized?Philip read and studied enough of the Hebrew scriptures (the Old Testament) to recognize what others read and what the scriptures taught about Jesus the Messiah. He did whatever he could to preach the Gospel and teach about Jesus wherever he was at every opportunity (for example, when persecution led him to Samaria, he preached and baptized in Jesus’ name). He was willing to learn how to do ministry better; for example, he learned to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit after Peter and John went to Samaria to learn more about those he was leading to faith in Jesus and baptizing. When he recognized that the angel who came to him was sent to him from God, he obeyed immediately. Obeying God immediately had become a habit for him, which enabled him to be at the right place to meet the eunuch’s chariot at the right time.
3. In what ways did the angel and the Holy Spirit help Philip and the eunuch?The angel and the Holy Spirit spoke to Philip and told him what to do. Probably the Holy Spirit guided the reading and understanding of the eunuch as he read Isaiah (perhaps even in choosing Isaiah to read). He probably inspired the timing of everyone, the question of the eunuch and the answers of Philip to help the eunuch come to faith in Jesus Christ. God may have even arranged for the water to be where they found it, specifically so the eunuch could be baptized at just the right time.
4. How important is reading and studying the Bible for both believers and unbelievers in Jesus Christ?Give a reason for your answer. Unbelievers who read the Bible may be helped to believe when others help them understand the Bible and answer their questions. Believers can come to know God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit better (and the Bible better), come to follow Jesus more closely, and be better prepared to help others (believers and unbelievers) know the Bible better and the meaning of faithful living.
5. When the eunuch returned to Ethiopia, do you think he taught others in Ethiopia about Isaiah the prophet and that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and about the importance of repentance and baptism?Give a reason for your answer. Yes, for he would have been so joyful and so transformed by his faith in Jesus Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit, so full of understanding regarding the prophet Isaiah, that he could not help but give a reason for his new birth and faith. Others would see such a difference in him they would ask him to give a reason for his faith, and with the help of the Hebrew scriptures and the Holy Spirit many would come to saving faith and a church would be born in Ethiopia.

Word Search
Salvation for All Believers!
August 13, 2017
Acts 8:26-39
Name __________________________

F A R B U R U H A I A S I S Y
E Z P P N E S V C H A R I O T
T M E I Y T G I W F A N G E L
H P E L F H P N L A Z A G K G
I G H I X G E R I E T U M J F
O D S H D U P V M C N W L E I
P E F P V A T A J U I T F S V
I Z K M H L Q E Z T C O H U P
A I S A C S R F R A P W J S D
N T L F D U O E N I O E I E H
G P Q X S N A D H R Z S A C R
M A D A Q S A S Y S F X U N B
L B L G U C R K T E Z N Z P V
O E A R E O F H I H U E Y H U
M F Y H W H M E M E C D A O R

Angel
Philip
Road
Jerusalem
Gaza
Ethiopian
Eunuch
Treasury
Kandake
Candace
Worship
Chariot
Isaiah
Sheep
Slaughter
Silent
Baptized
Rejoicing

True and False Test
Salvation for All Believers!
August 13, 2017
Acts 8:26-39
Name ____________________________

Circle the true or false answers. Correct the false statements by restating them.
1. After the angel appeared to Philip, he and Peter sat down and discussed the angel’s command over a cup of coffee. True or False
2. After the angel spoke to Philip, he started out on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza. True or False
3. Candace or Kandake means “queen of the Ethiopians.” True or False
4. The Ethiopian had gone to Jerusalem to worship. True or False
5. The Ethiopian spent a great deal of money from the queen’s treasury to buy the Book of Jeremiah. True or False
6. Because the Ethiopian could not read, he asked Philip to read the Book of Jeremiah to him.True or False
7. Philip explained to the Ethiopian that what he was reading told about Jesus. True or False
8. When the Ethiopian saw some water, he wanted to be baptized. True or False
9. Both Philip and the Ethiopian went down into the water. True or False
10. Philip rejoiced when he met the queen of the Ethiopians. True or False

Answers to the True and False Test

1. False
2. True
3. True
4. True
5. False
6. False
7. True
8. True
9. True
10. False

Prayer
O God, give us divine appointments to share Jesus. May You use our preparation to say the right things at the right time in the right way. We pray for this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

ADULT LESSON

 

Sunday School Lesson
August 13
Called to Break Down Barriers

Devotional Reading: Romans 10:9-15

Background Scripture: Acts 8

Acts 8:26-39

26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.

27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,

28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.

29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.

30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?

31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:

33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.

34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?

35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

Key Verse

Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. —Acts 8:35

Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

1. Identify the cultural factors that separated Philip from the Ethiopian.

2. Explain why it was important for Luke, the author, to note the cross-cultural issues and context of Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian.

3. Research some questions that those of another culture have about Jesus and make a plan to answer them.

Introduction
A. Crossing Cultures
Approximately 8,500 Sudanese live in Omaha. Most have immigrated since 1995 because of warfare in their nation. The number of Somalis who live in Minneapolis is estimated to exceed 60,000. Louisville has about 80,000 immigrant refugees from Bhutan, Burma, Iraq, and Somalia.
Your nearest city likely has its own population of new immigrants whose culture is very different from the traditions of that city. How do we effectively understand and communicate with people having languages and customs different from our own? Our lesson today reveals how Philip reached across cultural lines for Christ.
B. Lesson Background
Acts 8 records two episodes in which Philip, a Jewish Christian from Jerusalem, was pressed to cross cultural lines. First, he found himself in Samaria after persecution broke out in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1b, 4-8). The Samaritans of a certain city had for years been under the sway of a sorcerer named Simon (8:9-11). This was a people invested in the occult—surely not how Philip was accustomed to living! But despite crossing two cultural lines, Philip preached boldly, and many Samaritans came to faith in Christ (8:12).

Dealing with those cultural distinctives was a stretch for Philip, but at least he did not have to deal with barriers such as language difference or economic status. Yet the second episode challenged Philip to cross even more cultural lines. As we consider his success in this, we take care to remember that he is “Philip the evangelist” of Acts 21:8, not the apostle Philip of Mark 3:18; etc.
I. Obedience
(Acts 8:26-29)

A. Road (vv. 26, 27a)
26, 27a. And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went.
In Old Testament times, the city of Gaza was in Philistine territory (1 Samuel 6:17; etc.). Gaza in the first century is on the important commercial roadway that connects Egypt with cities such as Jerusalem, Antioch, and Damascus. To travel the approximately 50 miles from Jerusalem to Gaza, one has to cross a semiarid coastal plain described here as desert. This indicates an unpopulated place.
The movements of Philip are not devised by his own planning but directed by God through the angel of the Lord. In obedience, he travels through the countryside to be where God wants him at the precise time God intends.
Whose Plans?
An elderly gentleman collapsed in the store aisle where my friend happened to be. As she called for help and rushed to steady him, she observed people avoiding the scene and looking away.
When we have the opportunity to assist someone else, will we decline because of schedule or inconvenience (compare Luke 10:30-32)? Will we argue with ourselves whether helping is a good idea (compare Acts 9:13, 14)?

Philip was a busy man, already occupied with an astonishingly successful ministry in Samaria (Acts 8:9-13). He could have objected to the angel’s call with something like, “You want me to leave a successful ministry here and go to the desert?” But the text reveals no such reluctance, no such objection.

How to Say It
Antioch An-tee-ock.
Caesar See-zer.
Caesarea Sess-uh-ree-uh.
Candace Can-duh-see.
Damascus Duh-mass-kus.
Esaias Ee-zay-us.
Ethiopia Ee-thee-o-pea-uh (th as in thin).
Ethiopians Ee-thee-o-pea-unz (th as in thin).
eunuch you-nick.
Gaza Gay-zuh.
Pharaoh Fair-o or Fay-roe.
rabbi rab-eye.
Samaria Suh-mare-ee-uh.
Samaritans Suh-mare-uh-tunz.

Will we self-justify our plans over God’s? Will we argue with Him, or will we go willingly where He sends? —C. M. W.

What Do You Think?

What new challenge would cause you to step away from a successful ministry?

Points for Your Discussion

Considering things that seem to be pushing you out of the current area of service

Considering things that seem to be pulling you toward the new area of service

B. Read (vv. 27b, 28)

27b. And, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship.

Philip meets an exotic character whom he would have seen only from afar prior to this encounter. We learn five things about this man that create cultural separation from Philip. First, he is from Ethiopia, a kingdom in Africa south of Egypt. While it is likely that he speaks Greek, that is not his primary language.

Second, he is a eunuch. Eunuchs originally served kings who had harems. Having been emasculated, eunuchs do not pose a threat in looking after the king’s wives and concubines. Since this man serves a queen, his duties do not include harem management.

Third, he is a servant to royalty. In particular, he serves the queen of the Ethiopians, the Candace. This is not a personal name, but a dynastic title. This title functions much like the Roman title Caesar or the Egyptian title Pharaoh. The text implies that this man is under the direct command of the queen, making him one of the top half dozen officials of the realm.

Fourth, this man serves specifically as the treasurer for the queen. Not only is this a position of great responsibility and influence, but also one that probably makes him quite wealthy. Evidence of his wealth is seen in the fact that he is traveling by chariot rather than by foot, camel, etc. It’s almost certain that he is accompanied by servants and bodyguards, but the text gives no details on this.

Fifth, the man’s awareness of the much larger world beyond Israel is evident in the fact that he is even here. A trip from Ethiopia to Jerusalem and back is an arduous one exceeding 1,000 miles. It is for him the trip of a lifetime, a treasured experience.

The reason for the Ethiopian’s having traveled to Jerusalem is worship. The man may be Jewish by lineage, having Jewish parents in Ethiopia. Or he may have converted to Judaism at some point; this is a possibility since a Gentile convert to Judaism is mentioned in Acts 6:5, which is prior to God’s extension of the gospel to Gentiles in Acts 10. The fact that the man has invested so much time, money, and effort to make such a trip allows us to conclude that he is quite devout in his faith.

What Do You Think?

Which of the ways the man is described would be the most helpful to know if you were to share the gospel with him today? Why?

Points for Your Discussion

Country of origin (Ethiopia)

Physical condition or limitations (eunuch)

Status in life (important official)

28. Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.

The Ethiopian is returning home in a manner befitting his position. The chariot is a mode of travel that allows him to sit, not stand as a chariot warrior would. Someone else is driving.

The man has what is probably a souvenir of his trip to Jerusalem: a copy of the book of Esaias (Isaiah). This is a confirmation of his great wealth, for the cost of such a handwritten scroll is out of the reach of most people. This is likely a copy of Isaiah in the Greek language. The fact that he is able to read any language is a testimony to his high level of education. As with many details of this story, these factors do not seem to be accidental, but somehow prepared by the Lord. Isaiah, of all the Old Testament books, has the greatest witness to the coming Messiah. So the stage is now set for Philip to talk with the Ethiopian about Jesus as being that Messiah.

C. Ride (v. 29)

29. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.

A common man like Philip does not have the status to accost a rich and regal person such as the Ethiopian in this scenario. It is a “don’t speak unless spoken to” situation.

Furthermore, the Ethiopian and his crew might see Philip as a threat. A lonely road is a perfect haunt of bandits, so for Philip to appear and run toward (see the next verse) the Ethiopian is risky. But the Lord nonetheless directs Philip through the Spirit to approach this chariot. That prodding gives Philip both direction and confidence.

What Do You Think?

What are some ways to overcome hesitancies to share the gospel?

Points for Your Discussion

Hesitancies tied to cross-cultural issues

Hesitancies tied to a generational divide

Hesitancies rooted in “beneath me” or “above me” economic distinctions

Other

II. Observation

(Acts 8:30-35)

A. Investigation to Invitation (vv. 30-34)

30. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?

Reading is done aloud in the ancient world, so Philip is able to hear the Ethiopian and recognize the text he is working through. Philip takes the risk of speaking first, but the Lord has given him the perfect question: Understandest thou what thou readest? Philip’s Spirit-given insight likely provides him the answer before the question is even asked.

What Do You Think?

What questions could you ask to open a door for teaching an unbeliever about Christ?

Points for Your Discussion

When the unbeliever has recently lost a loved one

When the unbeliever is in financial distress

When the unbeliever is in a midlife crisis

When the unbeliever is actively seeking spiritual direction

31. And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

The Ethiopian’s response to Philip’s question is almost as if he is saying, “I bought this scroll, and I should have hired someone in Jerusalem to come with me and explain it.” The Ethiopian sees no threat in Philip, so he invites him to come up and sit on the bench seat of the chariot. This highly educated man is not ashamed to admit his lack of understanding. He welcomes Philip’s assistance.

32. The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth.

Again, we see the providential hand of the Lord working in preparation for this encounter. The Ethiopian is reading from Isaiah 53 and is stuck on verses 7 and 8. Being at that point means he is about 80 percent through the scroll.

Surely by this point he has encountered texts such as the prediction of a virgin conceiving a son to be called Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14) and the prophecy of a coming one who would be the “everlasting Father” (9:6). Such texts also must be inexplicable to him. He likewise would have read by this point the marvelous inspirational passage of Isaiah 40:31, which promises strength to those who trust in the Lord.

Isaiah 53 is one of several Servant Songs in that book. They speak of a coming servant of the Lord who will be called as a leader of the people but suffer many abuses and much pain for his service. For Christians today, these are obvious prophecies about the coming Messiah that have been fulfilled in Jesus. But for Jews of Philip’s day, the Servant Songs are very difficult to understand, because they portray a coming leader who is humiliated rather than victorious.

Isaiah 53:7, quoted here, pictures something Jewish people have at least a yearly experience with: slaughtering a lamb. The Passover lamb submits silently to being killed; not expecting death, it yields passively. Although quite aware of the cross ahead, Jesus remained silent before His accusers (Mark 14:61). Just as the lamb is silent during its preparation for slaughter, so is the servant of the Lord.

33. In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.

This “death without a fight” is a great humiliation for the servant of the Lord. To have his judgment … taken away means he is denied due process of a legal system. No one stops his unjust death. No one speaks of his generation as his life is taken, meaning his death will be the end of his family line.

34. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?

The Ethiopian realizes the paradox in the verses. Why would the mighty Lord of the people of Israel send a sheep-like leader to end up humiliated and deprived of justice? Isn’t the God of the Jews both powerful and just?

The man reasons that Isaiah must be talking about a specific and identifiable person. In that light, the prophet must be speaking either of himself, or of some other man. The first option is possible given that Isaiah sometimes speaks of his own experiences (compare Isaiah 6). But the Ethiopian probably realizes the passage under consideration does not quite fit the prophet. Therefore he likely suspects some other man to be in view. His careful reading of Scripture has brought him to the place where he is open to hearing about Jesus.

B. Invitation to Interpretation (v. 35)

35. Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

Philip does not miss this great opportunity, orchestrated by the Spirit and made possible by Scripture. Sometimes the most effective sharing about Jesus is done in one-on-one situations. In Samaria, Philip had preached to crowds (Acts 8:5, 6). Here, his target audience is a single man (and perhaps his retinue of servants and guards).

Life-Giving Communication

Three ships crossed the Atlantic to help establish Jamestown colony in May of 1607. Preparedness was essential for the colony to survive and thrive. Supply ships from the other side of the Atlantic arrived irregularly, leaving the colonists responsible to ensure they had provisions.

Key to this was achieving good cross-cultural communication and relations with the local Powhatan Indians. When the colonists reached across cultural divides to establish and maintain communication, many problems were averted.

Tragically, communication broke down a couple of years after the colony was established. The result was the “starving time” winter of 1609-1610. Indians laid siege, and about 80 percent of the colony’s 300 settlers died before spring arrived.

Successful cross-cultural communication is also a vital part of taking the gospel to “all nations” (Matthew 28:19, 20). Not making the effort to reach across cultural divides is to deny the gospel to those who may otherwise be open to it.

Many of us do not need to travel far in order to witness to people of other cultures and subcultures. They are all around us! Expect opportunities to share the gospel with someone whom the Holy Spirit puts in your path. Are you prepared for “the Ethiopian” you may encounter today? —C. M. W.

III. Outcome

(Acts 8:36-39)

A. Belief and Baptism (vv. 36-38)

36. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

Although the Gaza road goes through a sparsely populated and semiarid landscape, there are nevertheless several places for water. It is impossible to pinpoint the site of this certain water that is on their way, since courses and sources of water change over the years. Some research suggests the location to be an ancient spring near what is today the archaeological site of Tell el-Hesi, which is about 15 miles east of Gaza.

Although the specific elements of Philip’s gospel presentation are not recorded, the man understands his need for faith in Jesus, repentance of sin, and to be baptized, for this is the New Testament pattern (Acts 2:36-39; etc.). Jewish customs of the day involve ritual cleansings with water (compare John 2:6), so the Ethiopian probably already has some idea about what his pending baptism involves. Because of his physical situation, he may not have been allowed to experience Jewish ceremonial cleansings during his Jerusalem visit (see Leviticus 21:18-20; Deuteronomy 23:1). But he eagerly desires baptism now, and his physical condition cannot disqualify him if he has faith (compare Isaiah 56:3).

What Do You Think?

When, if ever, would it be unwise to agree to a request for immediate baptism?

Points for Your Discussion

Considering need to count the cost (Luke 14:25-33)

Considering degree of conviction (Acts 2:36-41)

Considering ability to understand baptism’s significance (Galatians 3:27, 28; Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21; etc.)

Considering precedents (Acts 10:47, 48; 11:17; 16:31-33)

37. And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

This verse does not appear in the oldest manuscripts of the New Testament. But the fact that it repeats teaching on confessing Christ as found elsewhere indicates that its content is genuine. (See Matthew 16:16; John 6:69; 9:35-38; 11:27; 1 John 4:15; 5:5.) And before baptizing the Ethiopian, it only makes sense for Philip to check the man’s faith situation with regard to Jesus, whether or not that inquiry is recorded in the text. Baptism without faith is meaningless.

38. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

The description of the baptism is simple and beautiful. The fact that they go down both into the water implies full immersion, the baptismal practice of the church in its earliest days.

B. Rejoicing and Relocation (v. 39)

39. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

As they leave the pool of baptism, a most surprising thing happens. We may have preconceived notions about how the Spirit of the Lord removes Philip from the scene (science fiction dematerializations, etc.). In the ancient world, however, this more likely is understood in terms of Philip’s body being carried into the sky as if by an unseen hand. The main thing is that Philip is gone. The Ethiopian is surely astonished, but his reaction is not one of puzzled paralysis (compare Acts 1:9-11). Instead, he continues his journey home with joy in his heart and on his lips.
We might ask why Philip is not allowed to accompany the eunuch to Ethiopia, where there may be a ready audience for the gospel. We are not told, but we must assume that Christ has more things for Philip to do in Palestine. That his name appears later in Acts 21:8 as “Philip the evangelist” hints at many successes in preaching the gospel over the coming years.
Conclusion
A. Divine Appointments
Philip was prepared for this encounter because he knew not just the book of Isaiah, but the gospel as well. The exposition of Scripture is a powerful way to present the gospel to those who seek truth. We can fumble our own divine appointments if we cannot answer basic questions. A Christian should love the Bible not just for the marvelous encouragement it is personally, but as the true sword of the Spirit to be used in fighting unbelief among those who need the gospel (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12).

There is no mention in the text of Philip’s being a trained rabbi or scribe; he probably was quite ordinary, not unlike Peter and John (Acts 4:13). Lacking a formal theological education is no excuse for us today! Having been chosen as one “full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom” (6:3) implies Philip’s love for Scripture, since it is the ultimate source of wisdom (Psalm 119:105; etc.).

God used Philip’s self-preparedness to good effect. That preparedness was likely the reason the Lord selected him for the divine appointment with a foreigner in the first place. And it took place on Philip’s home turf! Opportunities to cross cultural lines with the gospel are all around.
B. Prayer
O God, give us divine appointments to share Jesus. May You use our preparation to say the right things at the right time in the right way. We pray for this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

C. Thought to Remember

People of all cultures need Jesus.

Kid’s Corner
Salvation for All Believers!
August 13, 2017
Acts 8:26-39

(Acts 8:27) So he got up and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship,
We have no indication that the angel told Philip what to do on the road or what to expect on the road. Philip obeyed and “got up and went” without delay. Luke now introduces the Ethiopian eunuch, who may have been a Jew, or who may have been a convert to Judaism, or a God-fearer (one who believed in the God of the Bible and the morality of God’s Law, but who had not converted to Judaism by performing the required ceremonial rites). The eunuch was a wealthy, influential, high-ranking official who had traveled to Jerusalem to worship God. As the treasurer for the queen of the Ethiopians, he was influential and would report all of his experiences to the queen and her court.

(Acts 8:28) and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah.
Scrolls of the Old Testament were expensive and usually kept in the temple or synagogues. The eunuch was wealthy enough to have a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. In synagogue worship, the prophet Isaiah and other Old Testament scrolls would have been read aloud and then explained to people (who could not afford a scroll of any part of the Bible unless they were wealthy).

(Acts 8:29) Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.”
Whereas an angel first spoke to Philip, and he did what he was told without knowing all the details; now the Holy Spirit speaks to Philip in actual words (Philip did not just feel a leading by the Holy Spirit which sometimes happens too). Philip had to walk alongside the chariot (it would not have been going fast as though it were running in a chariot race). The chariot was probably going at a walking pace because the road was probably crowded, and the horses and chariots had to travel a long distance to Ethiopia. The chariot was going slow enough for the Ethiopian to read a scroll.

(Acts 8:30) Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
After Philip ran up to walk beside the chariot, he did not need to walk far, because he recognized that the eunuch was reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah. Most reading was done aloud, and Philip could identify from the words he heard that Isaiah was being read. The Holy Spirit probably influenced the eunuch to read those verses at that moment in time. Philip knew the verses applied to Jesus, so his question was natural as he was guided by the Holy Spirit to ask it.

(Acts 8:31) And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
The eunuch recognized that Philip could teach him, because the Holy Spirit moved him to seek understanding from Philip; therefore, he invited Philip to teach him in the chariot as they continued on their way rather than stopping for Philip to explain Isaiah to him. Perhaps the eunuch thought he and Philip were going in the same direction for some length of time.

(Acts 8:32) Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this: “HE WAS LED AS A SHEEP TO SLAUGHTER; AND AS A LAMB BEFORE ITS SHEARER IS SILENT, SO HE DOES NOT OPEN HIS MOUTH.
The Holy Spirit had to arrange for the eunuch to be reading this passage with perfect timing (Isaiah is a long book), and Philip knew exactly how that passage spoke of Jesus and predicted Jesus’ suffering and death. Jesus went to the cross willingly, for He came to give His life as a sacrifice for our sins. He was led to the cross by His Heavenly Father and by the religious leaders and Roman soldiers who crucified Him. He did not open His mouth to defend himself when He was tried or hanging on the cross. He told truth to Pilate, who asked Jesus questions with honest intent to learn from Him.

(Acts 8:33) “IN HUMILIATION HIS JUDGMENT WAS TAKEN AWAY; WHO WILL RELATE HIS GENERATION? FOR HIS LIFE IS REMOVED FROM THE EARTH.”
Philip could explain how false witnesses were brought forward at Jesus’ mock trial – justice had been denied Him. Philip could describe Jesus’ humiliation as He was beaten and had a crown of thorns pressed upon His head. Jesus’ generation could not be described or explained, because he was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Jesus died, and He rose again, and at the ascension Jesus’ life was “taken from the earth,” where He now sits at the right hand of God the Father. Jesus had no children, no physical descendants. We can only speak of His spiritual descendants, as believers are the adopted children of God the Father through faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior.

(Acts 8:34) The eunuch answered Philip and said, “Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?”
After he read these verses, the eunuch asked a good question. Was Isaiah speaking about what he had experienced personally or was he speaking what he thought might be the experience of someone else? If it was going to happen to someone else, who was that person and had it happened to him yet? Philip was prepared to answer all of the eunuch’s questions and lead him to faith in Jesus.

(Acts 8:35) Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him.
Beginning with the verse from Isaiah in Acts 8:32-33, Philip began to explain about Jesus. He could explain that about 600 years before Jesus’ birth, Isaiah foretold Jesus’ first coming and that Jesus came as God’s gift to us, as a sacrifice for our sins. He could tell the eunuch that he could accept this good news about Jesus and believe in Jesus and have his sins forgiven, be cleansed from all unrighteousness, and receive the gift of eternal life.

(Acts 8:36) As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch *said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?”
Philip must have explained faith, repentance, and baptism to the eunuch, because at the first sign of enough water, the eunuch wanted to be baptized, and so he asked Philip another question. Essentially, his question was this: “Was there anything else he needed to believe or do before he could be baptized or before he could be saved?” Philip indicated that he could be baptized at that very moment. There was no more that he needed to do to be saved, and like the many priests who believed in Jesus before him, the eunuch became “obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7). Some New Testament manuscripts include the answer of Philip and the eunuch’s profession of faith in Jesus Christ (which is in verse 37 below, and is included in some translations of the New Testament).

(Acts 8:37) The KJV and NASB include this verse: And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
(Acts 8:37) [And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”]
The answer Philip gave and the eunuch’s profession of faith in verse 37 is true to the Gospel and the New Testament. Believing with all our heart includes choosing and committing our will and way of living every moment of every day to Jesus the Messiah as our Lord and the Son of God (as reported in the Gospels). If we truly believe these facts, we will live according to these facts – the Holy Spirit being our Helper. The eunuch had learned enough about Isaiah and Jesus to share the Gospel with others and baptize them according to Jesus’ teaching after he returned home. He could learn more about Jesus and the church with subsequent visits to Jerusalem or perhaps when one or more of the apostles or disciples (such as Thomas) went to Ethiopia to further the work that Philip began (in a way similar to Peter and John going to Samaria after Philip preached successfully there).

(Acts 8:38) And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.
After Philip answered his question, the chariot stopped and both went down into the water, indicating that there was sufficient water to go down into. It was deep enough and large enough for both men to enter the water. It seems Philip also needed to enter the water in order to perform the rite of baptism. And so, the eunuch was baptized by Philip (who had learned from Peter and John to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit).

(Acts 8:39) When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.
Philip had accomplished God’s purpose and to prevent the eunuch from trying to persuade Philip to keep teaching him all the way to Ethiopia, the Spirit of the Lord “snatched Philip away.” The eunuch now had the Holy Spirit living within him to help them interpret Isaiah as he continued reading on his journey – no doubt rejoicing as the Holy Spirit gave him more understanding of Jesus Christ and the way of God. By the time he reached home, he was prepared to share the good news with everyone back home in Ethiopia, as the Holy Spirit within him helped him to share the good news about Jesus. In Acts 8:40, Luke tells us where the Spirit of the Lord took Philip: “But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.”

Salvation for All Believers!
August 13, 2017
Acts 8:26-39

“As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, ‘Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?’” (Acts 8:36). In the Book of Acts, we learn that there are no national, physical, or racial barriers to receiving the forgiveness of God and the gift of eternal life. If anyone in the Church thought that a person with a physical deformity, or someone of a different color, or a Gentile, or someone whose nationality was not Judean, could not be a Christian and a member of the Church, then the story of the Ethiopian eunuch contradicts their thinking. The Lord Jesus Christ sent an angel to Philip, a leader in the New Testament Church, to put Philip on the road to meet and specifically lead an Ethiopian eunuch to saving faith. Walking along the road, Philip heard the eunuch reading from the Book of Isaiah as he rode in his chariot back to Ethiopia; then, the Holy Spirit led Philip to ask the eunuch if he understood what he read. After Philip explained to the Ethiopian eunuch how the teaching in the Book of Isaiah applied to Jesus the Messiah as the Suffering Servant who died to save sinners, and after the Ethiopian saw some water at the side of the road, he asked Philip if anything prevented him from being baptized. Philip told him that because he believed in Jesus nothing prevented him from being baptized, and they both went into the water where Philip baptized the eunuch. The New Testament and the gospel of Jesus Christ makes clear in many ways that forgiveness for sins and the saving grace of Jesus Christ is available to all who will believe.

Thinking Further
Salvation for All Believers!
August 13, 2017
Acts 8:26-39
Name _____________________________________

1. Before Philip met him, in what ways did the eunuch indicate that he wanted to obey God?

2. In what ways did Philip prepare himself to help the eunuch come to faith in Jesus Christ and be baptized?

3. In what ways did the angel and the Holy Spirit help Philip and the eunuch?

4. How important is reading and studying the Bible for both believers and unbelievers in Jesus Christ? Give a reason for your answer.

5. When the eunuch returned to Ethiopia, do you think he taught others in Ethiopia about Isaiah the prophet and that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and about the importance of repentance and baptism? Give a reason for your answer.

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

1. Before Philip met him, in what ways did the eunuch indicate that he wanted to obey God? The eunuch travelled a long way from Ethiopia to Jerusalem to worship God. He acquired a scroll of the prophet Isaiah to read and study. He wanted to understand what he read, and he even read as he rode in a chariot on a wilderness road (which would have been difficult). He seemed to be spiritually hungry to know God and more about God.

2. In what ways did Philip prepare himself to help the eunuch come to faith in Jesus Christ and be baptized? Philip read and studied enough of the Hebrew scriptures (the Old Testament) to recognize what others read and what the scriptures taught about Jesus the Messiah. He did whatever he could to preach the Gospel and teach about Jesus wherever he was at every opportunity (for example, when persecution led him to Samaria, he preached and baptized in Jesus’ name). He was willing to learn how to do ministry better; for example, he learned to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit after Peter and John went to Samaria to learn more about those he was leading to faith in Jesus and baptizing. When he recognized that the angel who came to him was sent to him from God, he obeyed immediately. Obeying God immediately had become a habit for him, which enabled him to be at the right place to meet the eunuch’s chariot at the right time.

3. In what ways did the angel and the Holy Spirit help Philip and the eunuch? The angel and the Holy Spirit spoke to Philip and told him what to do. Probably the Holy Spirit guided the reading and understanding of the eunuch as he read Isaiah (perhaps even in choosing Isaiah to read). He probably inspired the timing of everyone, the question of the eunuch and the answers of Philip to help the eunuch come to faith in Jesus Christ. God may have even arranged for the water to be where they found it, specifically so the eunuch could be baptized at just the right time.

4. How important is reading and studying the Bible for both believers and unbelievers in Jesus Christ? Give a reason for your answer. Unbelievers who read the Bible may be helped to believe when others help them understand the Bible and answer their questions. Believers can come to know God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit better (and the Bible better), come to follow Jesus more closely, and be better prepared to help others (believers and unbelievers) know the Bible better and the meaning of faithful living.

5. When the eunuch returned to Ethiopia, do you think he taught others in Ethiopia about Isaiah the prophet and that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and about the importance of repentance and baptism? Give a reason for your answer. Yes, for he would have been so joyful and so transformed by his faith in Jesus Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit, so full of understanding regarding the prophet Isaiah, that he could not help but give a reason for his new birth and faith. Others would see such a difference in him they would ask him to give a reason for his faith, and with the help of the Hebrew scriptures and the Holy Spirit many would come to saving faith and a church would be born in Ethiopia.

Word Search
Salvation for All Believers!
August 13, 2017
Acts 8:26-39
Name __________________________

F A R B U R U H A I A S I S Y
E Z P P N E S V C H A R I O T
T M E I Y T G I W F A N G E L
H P E L F H P N L A Z A G K G
I G H I X G E R I E T U M J F
O D S H D U P V M C N W L E I
P E F P V A T A J U I T F S V
I Z K M H L Q E Z T C O H U P
A I S A C S R F R A P W J S D
N T L F D U O E N I O E I E H
G P Q X S N A D H R Z S A C R
M A D A Q S A S Y S F X U N B
L B L G U C R K T E Z N Z P V
O E A R E O F H I H U E Y H U
M F Y H W H M E M E C D A O R

Angel
Philip
Road
Jerusalem
Gaza
Ethiopian
Eunuch
Treasury
Kandake
Candace
Worship
Chariot
Isaiah
Sheep
Slaughter
Silent
Baptized
Rejoicing

True and False Test
Salvation for All Believers!
August 13, 2017
Acts 8:26-39
Name ____________________________

Circle the true or false answers. Correct the false statements by restating them.

1. After the angel appeared to Philip, he and Peter sat down and discussed the angel’s command over a cup of coffee. True or False

2. After the angel spoke to Philip, he started out on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza. True or False

3. Candace or Kandake means “queen of the Ethiopians.” True or False

4. The Ethiopian had gone to Jerusalem to worship. True or False

5. The Ethiopian spent a great deal of money from the queen’s treasury to buy the Book of Jeremiah. True or False

6. Because the Ethiopian could not read, he asked Philip to read the Book of Jeremiah to him. True or False

7. Philip explained to the Ethiopian that what he was reading told about Jesus. True or False

8. When the Ethiopian saw some water, he wanted to be baptized. True or False

9. Both Philip and the Ethiopian went down into the water. True or False

10. Philip rejoiced when he met the queen of the Ethiopians. True or False

Answers to the True and False Test

1. False
2. True
3. True
4. True
5. False
6. False
7. True
8. True
9. True
10.False

Prayer
O God, give us divine appointments to share Jesus. May You use our preparation to say the right things at the right time in the right way. We pray for this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Kid’s Corner
Church Leadership Qualities
August 6, 2017
Acts 6:1-8

Acts 6:1-8
(Acts 6:1) Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food.
The Church continued to grow after the Day of Pentecost. Hebraic Jews read and spoke Hebrew and used the Hebrew Scriptures. Hellenistic Jews read and spoke Greek and used the Greek Scriptures (the Septuagint – the Greek translation of the Old testament). Many Hellenistic Jews would have been visiting Jerusalem and converted to Christianity on the Day of Pentecost and afterward, and though many of them would have returned to their homes, others would have stayed in Jerusalem and become a part of the Church there. Some Hellenistic Jews and their descendants could have returned from the Diaspora to Jerusalem many years before, some could have heard Jesus teach, have been one of His followers, and have received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Some Jews in Jerusalem could have adopted the Greek culture, language, and philosophies first brought to Jerusalem by and after Alexander the Great. It is possible that some Hebraic Jews felt religiously and spiritually superior to Hellenistic Jews, and these feelings of superiority were carried over into the Church. In any event, the Church had grown so large that deacons needed to be appointed to administer works of charity, especially to the widows in the Church. The Bible teaches, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27). Years later, in 1 Timothy 5, Paul described how widows in the Church should be treated.
James 1:27, 27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

1 Timothy 5, 5 Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;
2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.
3 Honour widows that are widows indeed.
4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.
5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.
6 But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.
7 And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless.
8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
9 Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man.
10 Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.
11 But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;
12 Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.
13 And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.
14 I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
15 For some are already turned aside after Satan.
16 If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.
17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
18 For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.
19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.
20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.
21 I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.
22 Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.
23 Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.
24 Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.
25 Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.
(Acts 6:2) So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables.
The Lord Jesus Christ had commanded the twelve disciples to preach the Gospel, the ministry of the word of God. If they added to that task all the administrative duties of the growing Church, they would not have been able to fulfill the Lord’s command to them. The twelve disciples agreed on a solution, which involved the selection and appointment of the first deacons in the Church.
(Acts 6:3) “Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.
The Apostles turned to those who were members of the Church, which would have included Hebraic and Hellenistic Jews, and asked them to look among themselves and choose seven men to be deacons. The number seven was considered a perfect number, and it would have made certain that when making decisions there could never be a tie vote. There is no indication that any vote had to be unanimous, because that would have enabled one person to block a majority decision. However, unanimous decisions would have been more likely because each of the seven was to be known by members of the church as “full of the Spirit and wisdom.” These deacons would not have been new converts, because it would have taken some time for them to be known by the members of the Church as men full of the Spirit and wisdom. Being full of the Spirit, they would be open to the Lord’s leading and better able to communicate to all in the Church the Spirit of Jesus Christ and His wisdom in their decisions and ministries. Wisdom would enable them to make good decisions that would be beneficial and fair to all concerned. Before being selected as deacons, they needed to demonstrate these qualities and be trusted by the Church members as faithful and responsible people.
(Acts 6:4) “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
The disciples all agreed on the reason deacons should be appointed as an office in the Church. The disciples followed the example and teaching of Jesus Christ, because Jesus prayed in the evening and early in the morning before He began His ministry of the word each day. The Church continued to grow and prosper in the ways of the Lord Jesus because the disciples were faithful to do all that Jesus commanded them. Furthermore, the Lord Jesus showed them what to do so they could continue to obey Him and meet the needs of everyone in the Church through faithful leaders. Moses learned the same lesson when he was leading the Jews in the wilderness (see Exodus 18).
Exodus 18, 18 When Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father in law, heard of all that God had done for Moses, and for Israel his people, and that the Lordhad brought Israel out of Egypt;
2 Then Jethro, Moses’ father in law, took Zipporah, Moses’ wife, after he had sent her back,
3 And her two sons; of which the name of the one was Gershom; for he said, I have been an alien in a strange land:
4 And the name of the other was Eliezer; for the God of my father, said he, was mine help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh:
5 And Jethro, Moses’ father in law, came with his sons and his wife unto Moses into the wilderness, where he encamped at the mount of God:
6 And he said unto Moses, I thy father in law Jethro am come unto thee, and thy wife, and her two sons with her.
7 And Moses went out to meet his father in law, and did obeisance, and kissed him; and they asked each other of their welfare; and they came into the tent.
8 And Moses told his father in law all that the Lord had done unto Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, and all the travail that had come upon them by the way, and how the Lord delivered them.
9 And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which the Lord had done to Israel, whom he had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians.
10 And Jethro said, Blessed be the Lord, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh, who hath delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians.
11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them.
12 And Jethro, Moses’ father in law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God: and Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses’ father in law before God.
13 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening.
14 And when Moses’ father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even?
15 And Moses said unto his father in law, Because the people come unto me to enquire of God:
16 When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws.
17 And Moses’ father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good.
18 Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone.
19 Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God:
20 And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.
21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:
22 And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee.
23 If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace.
24 So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law, and did all that he had said.
25 And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.
26 And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves.
27 And Moses let his father in law depart; and he went his way into his own land.
(Acts 6:5) The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch.
The proposal pleased the whole group, perhaps because the twelve disciples trusted the Church members to choose their own leaders to solve their administrative problems. Among these seven, only Stephen and Philip are mentioned again in the New Testament. Looking ahead, Stephen is described as “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit;” therefore, we know his murder was not due to lack of faith or lack of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, through Stephen’s persecution and death the gospel began to spread to Samaria and many other places as Church members were scattered; and through Philip’s ministry the gospel is spread to many places too. The efforts of evil men would not stop spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. In addition, the service of these seven deacons was not to be limited to administrative tasks, but to serve as a foundation for even greater responsibilities; and all members of the church, especially when scattered, preached the gospel of Jesus.
(Acts 6:6) And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them.
The Church chose the seven deacons and the apostles appointed them to serve as deacons. The apostles prayed and received approval and direction from the Lord Jesus on how to proceed; therefore, they laid their hands on these seven signifying their approval and appointment according to the will of the Lord Jesus. The laying on of hands often demonstrated setting someone apart for consecrated service to God.
(Acts 6:7) The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.
By solving this administrative problem the right way and by meeting the real needs of all concerned, the word of God spread. The Church continued to grow in Jerusalem, and the gospel would spread far beyond Jerusalem when persecution of the Church began. Many priests resided in and traveled to and from Jerusalem. These priests would hear the gospel and the controversies regarding the recognition of Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God. Many would remember Jesus and His miracles and teaching. Many of these priests would also see the signs, wonders, and miracles that accompanied the preaching of the gospel by the Apostles, who preached the same message of Jesus. By the grace of God, a large number of priests became obedient to the faith; which means they believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and became obedient to His commands and teachings. These priests would then return to their homes throughout Judea and spread the gospel in some of their synagogues. Saul, later Paul, would search some of these synagogues for Christians to persecute. Nothing would stop the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the spread of the gospel would occur in many unusual ways, another sign of God’s grace.
(Acts 6:8) And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people.
Stephen was one of the first seven deacons in the New Testament church. The Apostles established their qualifications for selection as “men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (Acts 6:3). Luke says Stephen was “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5). The Bible commends Stephen in everything; he was “full of grace and power” (Acts 6:8). He did “great wonders and signs” that endorsed his teaching. He did more than what was first required of him as a deacon; which was to serve tables to meet the needs of Greek and Hebrew widows. Through Stephen, the Church began to see the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecies: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me” (Matthew 5:11). “Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also” (John 15:20). “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name” (Luke 21:12).
Matthew 5:11, 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

John 15:20, 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

Luke 21:12, 12 But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake.

Church Leadership Qualities
August 6, 2017
Acts 6:1-8

“Brothers and sisters, 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” (Acts 6:3).

The Church can avoid choosing the wrong leaders. As the New Testament Church grew, more leaders were needed; therefore, the Twelve Apostles set the standards the Church should use when choosing leaders. These standards relate to qualities of character that are too often overlooked today by many in our world. First, the Apostles said the Church’s new leaders should be known to have a good reputation and it takes time for someone to demonstrate in the Church that they are a good person. Second, they should demonstrate that they are full of the Spirit. To be full of the Spirit means they demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit in their relationships with others. In many noticeable ways, they show forth: “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). Third, they are full of wisdom. Wisdom has been defined as “the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment.” Christian wisdom can be defined as the responsible and right application of the Bible’s teachings which is given by the Holy Spirit. Stephen, one of the first seven new leaders chosen, became the first Christian martyr. Stephen had these qualities and in addition the Bible says he was “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5). To be “full of faith” means to believe in, live according to, and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as revealed in the Bible. Stephen demonstrated this faith when he preached to the chief priests and Sanhedrin from the Old Testament and proved Jesus is the Messiah.
Galatians 5:22-23, 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Thinking Further
Church Leadership Qualities
August 6, 2017
Acts 6:1-8
Name __________________________________

1. Who in the Church were complaining and why? What do you know about these groups?

2. What did the twelve apostles say were their primary responsibilities? Why do you think they said this?

3. How were the first deacons chosen and what were the requirements set by the apostles for their qualification?

4. How many deacons were chosen? Why do you think they chose this number?

5. What happened after the apostles prayed and laid their hands on these deacons?

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

1. Who in the Church were complaining and why? What do you know about these groups?The Hellenistic Jews were complaining because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. The Hellenistic Jews spoke and read Greek and they used the Greek translation of the Old Testament. The Hebraic Jews read and spoke Hebrew and they used the Hebrew Scriptures.
2. What did the twelve apostles say were their primary responsibilities?Why do you think they said this? Their primary responsibilities were prayer and ministry of the word of God.
3. How were the first deacons chosen and what were the requirements set by the apostles for their qualification?The first deacons were chosen by Church members. They were to be known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom, so they could not be new converts to the faith.
4. How many deacons were chosen? Why do you think they chose this number?Seven. Seven was considered a perfect number, and there could never be a tie vote.
5. What happened after the apostles prayed and laid their hands on these deacons?The word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem rapidly increased. A large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

Word Search
Church Leadership Qualities
August 6, 2017
Acts 6:1-8
Name _____________________________

S D E K O O L R E V O B C Q I
K U N U C I T S I N E L L E H
S J R I F X D J A D T H A Q D
I X N O M I T L S H F E T L I
S W Z F C U Q A I Y S B W J S
G A B G J O N M P B W R E T C
M Q L H C E R G R A E A L W I
N I A O M H S P F D J I V S P
I G N R C Z O U W R X C E B L
C L A I L I S O S O A G T J E
A P G B S H N W S W L O S F S
N E H P E T S E O E X I E W C
O A L X B P R H G D C D V T U
R G I Q F S Z Y E M I O E Q B
C X V Z L P I L I H P W N Z T

Disciples
Hellenistic
Hebraic
Jews
Widows
Overlooked
Twelve
Ministry
Word
Choose
Seven
Stephen
Philip
Procorus
Nicanor
Timon
Parmenas
Nicolas

True and False Test
Church Leadership Qualities
August 6, 2017
Acts 6:1-8

Name ____________________________

Circle the true or false answers. Correct the false statements by restating them.
1. The New Testament Church quit growing because the members kept complaining about the disciples’ preaching. True or False
2. The Hellenistic Jews complained against the Hebraic Jews. True or False
3. The Hebraic Jews thought the official language of the Church should be Hebrew. True or False
4. The Hellenistic Jews spoke Greek and were familiar with Greek culture. True or False
5. The Twelve disciples said it would not be right for them to neglect the ministry of the word of God. True or False
6. The Twelve disciples then chose seven deacons, one for each day of the week, to wait on tables. True or False
7. The first deacons were chosen because they were known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. True or False
8. Stephen was a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit. True or False
9. Stephen and Philip are the only two deacons mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament.True or False
10. A large number of priests became obedient to the faith. True or False

Answers to the True and False Test
Acts 6:1-8

1. False
2. True
3. False
4. True
5. True
6. False
7. True
8. True
9. True
10. True

Prayer
Father, grant us wisdom to see when changes in methods are necessary and courage to implement them so our church can fulfill the Great Commission. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

ADULT LESSON

 

Sunday School Lesson
August 6
Called to Witness
Devotional Reading: Acts 2:14-28
Acts 2:14-28, 14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.
16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:
20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come:
21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
25 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:
26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:
27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
28 Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.
Background Scripture:Acts 1, 6, 7
Acts 6:1-8
1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:
6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.
Key Verse
Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. —Acts 6:3
Lesson Aims
After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:
1. Summarize how the Twelve addressed the issue of food distribution in terms of ministry priorities.
2. Diagram a problem-solving approach for churches desiring to use the principles found in this account.
3. Make a plan to recruit, train, and commission new workers for ministries in his or her church.
Introduction
A. Waiting On … What?
When dining at restaurants in Los Angeles, I would often hear a young server say, “I’m an actor. I’m just waiting tables between acting gigs.”
Some of them made good livings by serving tables, but they did not see themselves as waiters. The outer self waited tables while the inner self waited for a big break into stardom. By contrast, I never met a person who had a successful acting career but was biding his time until he got his “big break” to get into waiting tables! This reveals something about cultural values.
Today’s lesson is also about values. The apostles, the primary leaders of the first-century church, had been taught a value of the kingdom of God: that serving others was not beneath them (Mark 9:33-35; 10:35-45; John 13:14; compare Philippians 2:5-8; etc.). But there was more than one value at issue in the situation addressed by today’s text. The apostles’ handling of it has been seen as marvelously insightful through the centuries, and still is.
Mark 9:33-35, 33 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?
34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.
35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.

Mark 10:35-45, 35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire.
36 And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you?
37 They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.
38 But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?
39 And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized:
40 But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.
41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John.
42 But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.
43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:
44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.
45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

John 13:14, 14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.

Philippians 2:5-8, 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

B. Lesson Background
Today’s lesson focuses on the earliest days of the Jerusalem church, when the memory of Jesus was still vividly strong. Acts 6, from which our text is drawn, reflects a time when the church consisted of Christians from a Jewish background only, since the gospel had yet to be extended to Gentiles (compare Acts 10:1-11:18).
Acts 6, 1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:
6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.
9 Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.
10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.
11 Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.
12 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council,
13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:
14 For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.
15 And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.

Acts 10:1-11, 10 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,
2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.
3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.
4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.
5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:
6 He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.
7 And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually;
8 And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.
9 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:
10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,
11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:

Acts 10:18, 18 And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there.
A common religious background did not mean uniformity in doctrine and practice, however. The Judaism of Jesus’ day had divided itself into four sects: Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and Zealots, as described by the first-century Jewish historian Josephus. As Jews accepted Jesus as the promised Messiah, they brought into the church their various (and sometimes contradictory) expectations. Some had to be modified or abandoned altogether.
For example, the Scriptures clearly stated God’s desire that widows and other needy people be cared for (Isaiah 1:17; etc.). But there was not a uniform understanding on how benevolence programs were to be funded and who was eligible to receive aid. Regarding funding, Josephus interpreted Deuteronomy 14:28, 29; 26:12 to mean that support was to be funded by a third tithe brought every third year (Antiquities 4.240). Jesus had harsh words for a tradition that allowed one to redirect a gift to avoid supporting a needy parent (Mark 7:9-13). The lack of consensus on eligibility could have been one aspect of Paul’s need to address the topic later (1 Timothy 5:3-16).
Isaiah 1:17, 17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.

Deuteronomy 14:28, 28 At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates:

Deuteronomy 14:29, 29 And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.

Deuteronomy 26:12, 12 When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled;

Mark 7:9-13, 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
10 For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death:
11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free.
12 And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother;
13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

1 Timothy 5:3-16, 3 Honour widows that are widows indeed.
4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.
5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.
6 But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.
7 And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless.
8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
9 Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man.
10 Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.
11 But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;
12 Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.
13 And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.
14 I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
15 For some are already turned aside after Satan.
16 If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.
The first-century church in Jerusalem recognized its obligation to provide food daily to its widows. That was quite an undertaking for a church that numbered in the thousands (Acts 4:4), and direct oversight of this complex ministry was shouldered by the leaders of the congregation, the apostles. But complaints were being heard, and the nature of this important task consumed their time. Something had to be done.
Acts 4:4, 4 Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.
I. Growing Pain (Acts 6:1-4)
A. The Thorny Problem (v. 1)
1. And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
It is easy to misunderstand the nature of this conflict of the Grecians against the Hebrews. All are of Jewish background (see the Lesson Background). The distinction is that some identify themselves secondarily with the Greek language and culture that predominates outside the borders of Israel, while others identify more with the Hebrew language and culture that predominates within Israel proper. (The issue at hand is therefore not the same as Peter’s problem in Galatians 2:11-13, which involves Jews and Gentiles.)
Galatians 2:11-13, 11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
Jerusalem is a magnet for Jews all over the Roman world, and many come for extended stays. For example, Barnabas, a Levite from the Greek-speaking island of Cyprus (Acts 4:36), resides in Jerusalem at this time. The apostles in Jerusalem from Galilee have at least some ability to speak the Greek language, but they probably identify more with the Hebrew group. A charge of bias on the part of the Hebrews regarding the daily ministration of food to widows therefore lands in their laps. Something must be done, and quickly! Some issues may resolve themselves over time, but this is not one of them.
Acts 4:36, 36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,

What Do You Think?
How should we handle negative information that comes “through the grapevine”?
Points for Your Discussion
At church
At work or school
In the home

B. The Wrong Solution (v. 2)
2. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
The twelve are the apostles chosen by Jesus, minus Judas, plus his replacement (Acts 1:15-26). Acts gives us the picture that these men have assumed the role of leaders for the congregation in all things since the beginning of the church on the Day of Pentecost (chap. 2). These leaders recognize a brewing crisis that can divide the church. Disaster looms unless something changes.
Acts 1:15-26, 15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)
16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.
17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.
18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.
19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.
20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.
21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,
22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.
23 And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.
24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,
25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.
26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
Some preliminary observations are in order. First, whether the neglect of certain widows is an issue of objective fact or an issue of subjective perception, something must be done. Second, any charge of intentional bias on the part of the apostles is surely untrue, since they are honorable, godly men (compare James 2:1-10).
James 2:1-10, 2 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;
3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:
4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?
5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?
6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?
7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?
8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:
9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.
10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
Even if the complaint has a factual basis, the cause for the unequal treatment may simply be a lack of adequate time and manpower as the apostles both serve tables and attend to the word of God. (The latter refers to the ministry of teaching and preaching; see Acts 5:42.) The apostles are the best qualified to preach and teach; others can manage the food distribution.
Acts 5:42, 42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
So a congregational meeting ensues as the apostles call the multitude of the disciples unto them. While Acts 2:41 and 4:4 indicate that thousands of people have believed and been baptized, those actually responding to the summons may be a core group of a few hundred. The place of assembly is undoubtedly outdoors, perhaps in a public meeting area such as Solomon’s porch (Acts 5:12).
Acts 2:41, 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

Acts 4:4, 4 Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.

Acts 5:12, 12 And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch.
No mention is given of the complaint of the Grecian Jews that has precipitated the crisis. Rather than frame this as a need for avoiding factional strife in the congregation, the twelve realize the root problem is their inability to perform this food ministry well, given their other responsibilities. We might say they wisely want to treat the disease (inadequate manpower for food distribution) rather than the symptom (complaints of bias).
What Do You Think?
What are some ways for church leaders to keep a volatile issue from becoming more so?
Points for Your Discussion
Considering the nature of the issue
Regarding initial reaction to a complaint
Regarding how perceptions are managed

Regarding response to misinformation
Regarding the role of prayer
Other
C. The Right Solution (vv. 3, 4)
3. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
The apostles do not ask for a strategy to resolve the problem. They have already decided what they themselves need to do: focus on preaching and teaching. What they ask of those gathered is that they select men from among them to be appointed over this business of food distribution to widows. Realizing that those chosen will be important functionaries in the church, the apostles specify several criteria for the selection process.
First, the number is set at seven. Seven is an important symbolic number in the Bible, the number of perfection or completion (example: Revelation 15). Whether or not symbolism is present here, the apostles know—either by analysis or divine inspiration—that seven is the right number.
Revelation 15, 1 And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.
2 And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.
3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.
4 Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.
5 And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened:
6 And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles.
7 And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever.
8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.
We should note that the text does not say that the seven will be the only ones involved in distributing food to widows, since the wording appoint over may imply that the seven will have the authority to exercise full control of this ministry. Thus the seven might supervise others they choose to assist.
What Do You Think?
How do we know how many people should be appointed to a given ministry task?
Points for Your Discussion
Considering “many hands make light work”
Considering “too many cooks spoil the broth”
Considering, if relevant, Exodus 18:21; Joshua 4:4-7; Ezra 8:24; Nehemiah 11:1; Mark 3:14; Luke 10:1; Acts 1:21-26; 15:2; 2 Corinthians 8:18-21; Titus 1:5
Exodus 18:21, 21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:

Joshua 4:4-7, 4 Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man:
5 And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of Jordan, and take you up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel:
6 That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?
7 Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.

Ezra 8:24, 24 Then I separated twelve of the chief of the priests, Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their brethren with them,

Nehemiah 11:1, 1 And the rulers of the people dwelt at Jerusalem: the rest of the people also cast lots, to bring one of ten to dwell in Jerusalem the holy city, and nine parts to dwell in other cities.
Mark 3:14, 14 And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,

Luke 10:1, 1 After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.

Acts 1:21-26, 21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,
22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.
23 And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.
24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,
25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.
26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Acts 15:2, 2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.

2 Corinthians 8:18-21, 18 And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches;
19 And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind:
20 Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us:
21 Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.

Titus 1:5, 5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:

How to Say It
Antioch An-tee-ock.
apostolic ap-uh-stahl-ick.
Aramaic Air-uh-may-ik.
Barnabas Bar-nuh-bus.
Cyprus Sigh-prus.
diakonos (Greek) dee-ah-ko-nawss.
Gentiles Jen-tiles.
Grecians Gree-shunz.
Hebrews Hee-brews.
Nicanor Nye-cay-nor.
Nicolas Nick-uh-lus.
Parmenas Par-meh-nas.
Pentecost Pent-ih-kost.
Prochorus Prock-uh-rus.
proselyte prahss-uh-light.
Sadducees Sad-you-seez.
synagogue sin-uh-gog.
Tarsus Tar-sus.
Timon Ty-mon.
The men must have positive reputations, their character evident to all. They are not unknown quantities, but are to be men acknowledged as being full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom. These men are being authorized to assume duties in which a considerable amount of money may be involved, and the church has recently experienced a troubling incident of deceit with regard to money (Acts 5:1-11). A high degree of accountability along with proven spiritual and life-experience maturity are musts (compare 1 Timothy 3:6, 7). All this will help them be spiritually attuned to the needs of the widows while remaining above reproach in administrating a large operation.
Acts 5:1-11, 1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
6 And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
7 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.
8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.
9 Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.
10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.
11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.

1 Timothy 3:6, 6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.

1 Timothy 3:7, 7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
Finally, the phrasing whom we may appoint establishes that the apostles retain for themselves the final stamp of approval regarding congregational selections. How that approval is communicated is the subject of Acts 6:6, below.
Acts 6:6, 6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
What Do You Think?
When is it better to ask select individuals privately to serve rather than putting an appeal for volunteers in the church newsletter? Why?

Points for Your Discussion
Considering the spiritual giftedness needed
Considering the confidentiality required

Considering the nature of the task in terms of visibility, etc.
Other
4. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
Not only do the apostles need time for ministry of the word (their teaching and preaching of Acts 5:42), but also time for prayer. Mention of the latter introduces a topic thus far unaddressed in Acts: proper attention to prayer requires time.
Acts 5:42, 42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
We assume that our church leaders are people of prayer. But would we think highly of a minister who declined to help with a project (like feeding widows) because he was booked for prayer all morning? The ministry of prayer can and does take time and planning.
This episode in Acts is often seen as the origin of the office of deacon in the church. Our term deacon comes from the Greek noun diakonos, which is not used in Acts 6. Therefore the seven men are “deacons” only by inference. However, a variation of the word diakonos is behind the translation ministry, which describes the functions the apostles have chosen to focus on.
Acts 6, 1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:
6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.
9 Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.
10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.
11 Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.
12 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council,
13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:
14 For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.
15 And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.
In effect, the apostles are saying, “Let us focus on serving as deacons/ministers of the Word, and let the seven serve as deacons/ministers of the tables.” Titles in the New Testament describe functions more than offices. The question should be “Who will serve as a deacon?” more than “Who will be a deacon?”
II. Pleasing Consensus (Acts 6:5, 6)
A. The Candidates (v. 5)
5. And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch.
Of the seven chosen, all but Philip have distinctively Greek names. This is likely a deliberate effort to assure everyone that the Grecian widows will receive adequate food.
Two of the names become more prominent as the storyline of Acts unfolds. The ministry of Stephen is the focus of the rest of chapter 6 and all of chapter 7. The ministry of Philip is discussed throughout chapter 8. (He is “Philip the evangelist” [Acts 21:8], not the apostle Philip.)
Acts 21:8, 8 And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.
For the man named Nicolas to be identified as a proselyte of Antioch means he is a Gentile who has converted to the Jewish faith. His mention foreshadows the expansion of the church to Gentiles and to the important city of Antioch (see Acts 13:1-3). No additional information exists regarding the other four men named.
Acts 13:1-3, 1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
Delegating the oversight of feeding widows is easy to see in today’s lesson. But we should not fail to notice that the apostles also delegate the task of choosing the seven men to head up the program. This serves to create a sense of ownership by the whole multitude. Wise leaders know the importance of delegating (compare Exodus 18:13-26).
Exodus 18:13-26, 13 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening.
14 And when Moses’ father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even?
15 And Moses said unto his father in law, Because the people come unto me to enquire of God:
16 When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws.
17 And Moses’ father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good.
18 Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone.
19 Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God:
20 And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.
21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:
22 And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee.
23 If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace.
24 So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law, and did all that he had said.
25 And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.
26 And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves.
Delegating as Trust
A small group in a church was no longer “small.” The associate minister of pastoral care had previously delegated to group leaders the authority to split oversized groups. But before exercising that authority, the leader of the group in question discussed the need to do so with both the group and the associate minister. The group leader then decided to split the group.
One member objected loudly to the change. The group leader informed the associate minister to expect a call from the disgruntled member. The minister supported the group leader’s decision, but also discussed the matter with the person who was upset.
Delegation requires a certain “hands-off” trust. A leader who delegates a task to a team member must not be quick to micromanage that person later. But that does not mean remaining so distant as to be unavailable to help resolve conflict. The associate minister demonstrated a delicate balance of authority and trust.
In deciding to delegate an important task to seven others, the apostles were prepared to trust the decisions of those seven. But in so doing, the apostles did not adopt an attitude of “don’t bother us with this any further,” given their decision to confirm the selections personally.
The apostle Paul walked a similar leadership tightrope later (2 Corinthians 8:16-21). In what ways can we better model the balance that they struck when it comes to delegating? —D. C. S.
2 Corinthians 8:16-21, 16 But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you.
17 For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you.
18 And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches;
19 And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind:
20 Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us:
21 Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.
B. The Consecration (v. 6)
6. Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
The men chosen are brought to the apostles for a ceremony to inaugurate their ministry. This is a time of prayer for the men, accompanied by the apostles laying their hands on the seven. This act of praying while hands are on the shoulders and heads of the men is a way of granting them authority and giving them a commission for their work (compare Acts 13:3; 1 Timothy 4:14). This public event takes place in the presence of the whole body of believers. The commissioning is presented as something done with dignity and reverence.
Acts 13:3, 3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

1 Timothy 4:14, 14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
Although the word ordain is not used here, we often see Acts 6:6 as a model for the church’s practice of ordaining ministers, elders, and/or deacons. Ordination is the church’s way of setting chosen individuals apart for a designated area of ministry. Ordination should be done with the approval of the congregation and the blessing of the church leadership. It should be a time of solemn dedication, yet also a joyous time of commissioning people for the service of Christ’s church.
What Do You Think?
In what instances should appointment to a task be public rather than private, if any? How about the reverse? Why?
Points for Your Discussion
Considering the nature of the task itself
Considering the personality traits of the individuals appointed
Considering the visibility desired for the congregation as a whole
Other
III. Marvelous Result (Acts 6:7, 8)
A. The Multiplication (v. 7)
7. And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
We come to three summary statements regarding the progress of the church after the seven are chosen (compare Acts 2:47). First, the fact that the word of God increased indicates that the apostles are indeed able to dedicate their time to preaching and teaching. Second, the result of that focus is a significant growth in the number of the disciples; but so far this growth happens only in Jerusalem. Persecution will soon push the gospel beyond the environs of the city (Acts 8:1b, 4).
Acts 2:47, 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Acts 8:1, 1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.

Acts 8:4, 4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
Third, the growth in disciples includes a significant number of priests (compare John 12:42). These are likely Sadducees, the elites of Jerusalem: wealthy, educated, and cultured. This party of the Jews is known for its denial of the possibility of resurrection from the dead (Luke 20:27; Acts 23:8). To become obedient to the faith includes dropping this skepticism about life after death, for there is no gospel without the resurrection of Jesus (see 1 Corinthians 15:16, 17).
John 12:42, 42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:

Luke 20:27, 27 Then came to him certain of the Sadducees, which deny that there is any resurrection; and they asked him,

Acts 23:8, 8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.

1 Corinthians 15:16, 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:

1 Corinthians 15:17, 17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
An implication of these summary statements is that the growth of the church, stalled by the widow controversy, has now resumed. Unity and harmony in a congregation do not ensure it will grow. But disunity and division form a reliable recipe for a church to decline. Our energies should be pointed at increasing the ministry of the Word and making disciples (Matthew 28:19, 20).
Matthew 28:19, 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Matthew 28:20, 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
It’s Always Something
Comedienne Gilda Radner popularized the expression above in the 1970s through her character Roseanne Roseannadanna. The long version of the observation is “It just goes to show you, it’s always something—if it ain’t one thing, it’s another.”
How we react to the truth of that observation about daily life depends on the context in which it is stated. When spoken as dry comedy, it may make us smile. When uttered while pondering a series of problems that never seems to end, it can be a tacit admission of defeat.
If the churches that were led by the apostles themselves had problems, then our churches today will not be exempt. Solutions begin with outlook. A despairing cry of “it’s always something” merely highlights our inadequacy to cope. On the other hand, a confident cry of “it’s always Jesus” looks beyond the problem to the one who is always ready, willing, and able to help. —R. L. N.
B. The Miracles (v. 8)
8. And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.
Stephen is described in Acts 6:5 as “a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost.” Here the description is reworded: he is a man of faith and power. The power he has is that of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 6:5, 5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:
Stephen seems to move quickly from overseeing distributions of food to something more like the apostles’ ministry of the word. He is now out among the people where the great wonders and miracles he does can be witnessed by many. This parallels Stephen’s ministry with those of Jesus (Acts 2:22) and the apostles in general (5:12). The parallels cause us to realize that primary among the miracles are healings.
Acts 2:22, 22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:

Acts 5:12, 12 And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch.
The story about Stephen that follows offers further parallels between him and Jesus (compare Acts 6:11, 13, 14; 7:60 with Matthew 26:59-61, 65; Luke 23:34).
Acts 6:11,11 Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.

Acts 6:13, 13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:

Acts 6:14, 14 For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.

Acts 7:60, 60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Matthew 26:59-61, 59 Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;
60 But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses,
61 And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.

Matthew 26:65, 65 Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.

Luke 23:34, 34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
Conclusion
A. Needed: A Culture of Change
A growing church is like a living organism in that difficulties encountered must be addressed before they become crippling. Adaptation may result in unforeseen consequences, both good and bad. People may be given chances to serve in modest roles, and some (like Stephen) rise to this challenge and go beyond. But this also implies meeting the challenge of filling the modest role that is vacated as a result. There are always problems to address, but also potential new leaders whom God is preparing to help do so.

Within scriptural boundaries, methods for ministry are subject to change. Consider how the benevolence ministry of the first-century church changed as we trace it from Acts 2:45 to Acts 4:34, 35 to Acts 6:1-6 to 2 Corinthians 8:13-9:15 to 1 Timothy 5:3-16. A church willing to change may be a church poised for growth.
Acts 2:45, 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

Acts 4:34, 34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,

Acts 4:35, 35 And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

Acts 6:1-6, 6 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:
6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

2 Corinthians 8:13-9:15, 13 For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:
14 But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:
15 As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.
16 But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you.
17 For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you.
18 And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches;
19 And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind:
20 Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us:
21 Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.
22 And we have sent with them our brother, whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, upon the great confidence which I have in you.
23 Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ.
24 Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.
9 For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you:
2 For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many.
3 Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready:
4 Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting.
5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.
6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
9 (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.
10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)
11 Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.
12 For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;
13 Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;
14 And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.
15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.

1 Timothy 5:3-16, 3 Honour widows that are widows indeed.
4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.
5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.
6 But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.
7 And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless.
8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
9 Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man.
10 Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.
11 But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;
12 Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.
13 And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.
14 I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
15 For some are already turned aside after Satan.
16 If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.
B. Prayer
Father, grant us wisdom to see when changes in methods are necessary and courage to implement them so our church can fulfill the Great Commission. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
C. Thought to Remember
A successful church cannot be a one-person endeavor.

Kid’s Corner
Repeated Refusals to Repent
July 30, 2017
Amos 7:10-17

Amos 7:10-17
(Amos 7:10) Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent word to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel; the land is unable to endure all his words.
Jacob founded Bethel as the “House of God” when he had a dream and the LORD spoke to him for the first time (see Genesis 28:10-22). King Jeroboam I erected a golden calf in Bethel and another golden calf in Dan for the people to worship so they would not go to Jerusalem to worship following the death of King Solomon and Jeroboam’s establishment of the Kingdom of Israel from ten of the twelve tribes of Israel (see 1 Kings 12:26-29). Amaziah sent a message to Jeroboam II. Amos prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam II around 760 BC (the year of a major earthquake in Israel). Amaziah was an Israelite priest for the idol in Bethel that Jeroboam I said was the LORD that led the Hebrews out of Egypt. Amos was preaching God’s judgment against the kingdom of Israel for their many injustices, immoralities, and idolatrous practices.
Genesis 28:10-22, 10 And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran.
11 And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.
12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
13 And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;
14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
15 And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.
16 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.
17 And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.
18 And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.
19 And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.
20 And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,
21 So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall theLord be my God:
22 And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.

1 Kings 12:26-29, 26 And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David:
27 If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah.
28 Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
29 And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan.
(Amos 7:11) “For thus Amos says, ‘Jeroboam will die by the sword and Israel will certainly go from its land into exile.’”
What Amos foretold happened in 722 BC when the Assyrians destroyed the Northern Kingdom and dispersed the ten tribes of Israel that we now label “the ten lost tribes of Israel.” Amos’ preaching of judgment seemed unlikely at that time because Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon were weak and both the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah were enjoying prosperity and independence, but their leaders and the elite used their prosperity and power to oppress the poor and practice immoralities and violence that naturally followed their turning away from the true God. Amos denounced these practices as the LORD instructed him.
(Amos 7:12) Then Amaziah said to Amos, “Go, you seer, flee away to the land of Judah and there eat bread and there do your prophesying!
A “seer” was another name for a prophet. Amos was seeing into the future and preaching the future as God revealed it to him. Amaziah accused Amos of preaching as a professional prophet who made his living foretelling the future or telling king’s what they wanted to hear. Amos was from Tekoa, about 11 miles south of Jerusalem, but God told him to preach at Bethel in the Kingdom of Israel. Amaziah accused Amos of preaching just for the money and not because Amos was a true prophet of God. Amaziah commanded Amos to go back to the Kingdom of Judah and preach there for his money.
(Amos 7:13) “But no longer prophesy at Bethel, for it is a sanctuary of the king and a royal residence.”
As the priest for the king and sanctuary at Bethel, Amaziah commanded Amos to stop preaching because he was being effective among the people. Notice, Amaziah called Bethel “the king’s sanctuary” not “the LORD’s sanctuary” or “the House of God.” Presumably, the sanctuary was for the elite in the Kingdom of Israel where many immoral practices were presided over and permitted by the priests. The temple was “the temple of the kingdom,” and not “the temple of the LORD,” so God would show that He did not approve of the injustices and idolatry of the Kingdom of Israel by bringing about the total destruction of the temples in Bethel and Dan and the kingdom.
(Amos 7:14) Then Amos replied to Amaziah, “I am not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet; for I am a herdsman and a grower of sycamore figs.
Amos answered that he was not a paid prophet or part of a group of prophets or the son of a prophet. God had called him to be His prophet, and God had called him while he was a shepherd and a farmer. Furthermore, God had given him His message for the Kingdom of Israel. The fruit from the sycamore-fig tree was mostly eaten by the poor. Amos’ preaching shows God’s and his deep concern for the poor and injustices to them.
(Amos 7:15) “But the LORD took me from following the flock and the LORD said to me, ‘Go prophesy to My people Israel.’
Just as God called Moses while he was working as a shepherd, and King David as he was working as a shepherd, so God called Amos while he was working as a shepherd; and later, Jesus came as the Good Shepherd. No matter what our job might be, God can call us to serve Him in a variety of ways at any time. Most Bible teachers are not professional Bible teachers, and neither was Amos, but God used him to serve His people.
(Amos 7:16) “Now hear the word of the LORD: you are saying, ‘You shall not prophesy against Israel nor shall you speak against the house of Isaac.’
Amos was doing what God wanted him to do, and if Amaziah were a true priest of the true God, then he would have recognized the words of God in what Amos was preaching. He, too, would have been concerned about the injustices of the rich and powerful and their oppression of the poor and the idolatry of the temple in the Kingdom of Israel. Instead, he commanded Amos to stop doing what God had commanded him to do.
(Amos 7:17) “Therefore, thus says the LORD, ‘Your wife will become a harlot in the city, your sons and your daughters will fall by the sword, your land will be parceled up by a measuring line and you yourself will die upon unclean soil. Moreover, Israel will certainly go from its land into exile.’”
The Spirit of the LORD gave Amos these words of God’s judgment on Amaziah, and his words basically describe what would happen when the Kingdom of Israel was destroyed in 722 BC. Amaziah would be carried into exile when the Israelites were deported and dispersed into various kingdoms that the Assyrians had also conquered. Therefore, to survive his wife would turn to prostitution. His sons and daughters would die defending their possessions, so they could not help their mother. The land would be given to others; those from other nations would be given the land that God had formerly given to the Kingdom of Israel. All of Amos’ prophecies happened, and should have served as a warning to the Kingdom of Judah, but the Judeans did not learn any lessons from God’s destruction of the Kingdom of Israel even as later prophets tried to apply these lessons.

Repeated Refusals to Repent
July 30, 2017
Amos 7:10-17

“But the LORD took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel’” (Amos 7:15).
After King Solomon died, his heir was a disastrous king; therefore, Jeroboam I established the Kingdom of Israel. To keep his subjects from going back to Jerusalem to worship the LORD, Jeroboam I set up a temple in Bethel (meaning “House of God” after Jacob first met the LORD there) and another temple in Dan. In each temple, Jeroboam I placed an idol in the shape of a bull, like the idol Aaron created as the Hebrews wandered in the wilderness and their pagan neighbors worshiped. God raised up many prophets within the Kingdom of Israel to call the king, priests, and people to repent of their sins and return to the LORD. But from this evil beginning, and no matter how many prophets God raised up within the kingdom, the Kingdom of Israel never repented. In the days of Jeroboam II, God again showed His love for these rebellious Israelites by sending Amos from the southern Kingdom of Judah to Bethel in the northern Kingdom of Israel. Amos was neither a professional prophet nor the son of a prophet; he was a shepherd, but God prepared him and sent him to give His people another opportunity to repent. However, the priests in the temples of the king accused Amos of conspiracy and commanded him not to preach, but Amos continued to obey God and warn that if the people did not turn from their oppression of the poor and unjust ways then God would send them into exile. Again, they refused to repent, so the Kingdom of Israel was destroyed and the empire became “the ten lost tribes of Israel.”

Thinking Further
Repeated Refusals to Repent
July 30, 2017
Amos 7:10-17
Name ____________________________

1. Why did God send Amos, from the Kingdom of Judah, to preach in Bethel?

2. Why did Amaziah accuse Amos of preaching a conspiracy against Jeroboam II?

3. Compared to other prophets, what kind of a prophet was Amos?

4. What did Amaziah tell Amos to do?

5. What did Amos say would happen to Amaziah and his family?

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

1. Why did God send Amos, from the Kingdom of Judah, to preach in Bethel?
God sent Amos as a representative of the true God, the LORD, from the Southern Kingdom (Kingdom of Judah) to the Northern Kingdom (Kingdom of Israel) to Bethel, which was formerly known as “the House of God,” where Jacob/Israel built an altar to God after God spoke to him the first time. Bethel was one of two places where Jeroboam I had erected golden calves or bulls that he said were the god that had led the Israelites out of Egypt. He blasphemed the LORD by calling these idols by His Name. The Israelites were also guilty of many injustices and oppression of the poor. Since they refused to listen to their own prophets, God sent Amos from the Southern Kingdom. They had many warnings from God, and they repeatedly refused to repent.
2. Why did Amaziah accuse Amos of preaching a conspiracy against Jeroboam II?
The temple where Amos preached was “the temple of the king,” and Amos was warning that Jeroboam II would die by the sword; therefore, since Jeroboam II was unable to protect his people and the people refused to repent and return to the LORD, God would punish Israel by sending the people into exile after Assyria conquered them. Amaziah accused Amos of spreading dissension and trying to overthrow the king.
3. Compared to other prophets, what kind of a prophet was Amos?
Amos was not a professional prophet. Amos was not a member of a group of prophets or the son of a prophet. He was not a hired prophet of a king to tell him what he wanted to hear; nor did he “make his living” as a prophet. He was a shepherd and farmer that God called to be His prophet. He was a true prophet of God.
4. What did Amaziah tell Amos to do?
Amaziah told him to go back to Judah and preach there and make his living there. Amaziah told him not to prophecy against Israel and stop preaching against the descendants of Jacob/Israel.
5. What did Amos say would happen to Amaziah and his family?
His wife would become a prostitute, his children would die, his land would be divided and given to others, and he would go into exile

Word Search
Repeated Refusals to Repent
July 30, 2017
Amos 7:10-17
Name ______________________________

S Y I P W V X J C P X V K V M
K R S R C E A D R E H P E H S
H A A O F G Z I S D Z C U Y V
Z U A P J A E B U M S L H X F
Y T C H I S F Z S B P A N S G
C C W E T S L B E N I E Z E R
A N U S Z E G M J Z X C O E S
R A K Y X M P Z A I J Q Y R H
I S C A L T Q M L H S B N A A
P R T X W K A E N L E W M K D
S U N G O C B A M T E O O F U
N V A J D G T K H K S A I R J
O Q G U C I M E Q N Y V R F D
C H A O V W L I G L Q G P S G
W O P E R M A O B O R E J R I

Amaziah
Priest
Bethel
Isaac
Message
Jeroboam
Amos
Conspiracy
Sword
Israel
Exile
Native
Seer
Judah
Prophesy
Sanctuary
Shepherd
Pagan

True and False Test
Repeated Refusals to Repent
July 30, 2017
Amos 7:10-17
Name ______________________________

Circle the true or false answers. Correct the false statements by restating them.
1. Amaziah was the one priest in Bethel who supported Amos as God’s prophet from Samaria.True or False
2. Amos was accused of raising a conspiracy against Jeroboam. True or False
3. Jeroboam I put a bull in a temple in Bethel for the Israelites to worship. True or False
4. Jeroboam II was warned that because of his evil ways he would die by the sword. True or False
5. Amos warned Israel that they would go into exile. True or False
6. Amos was accused of being a prophet who earned his bread by prophesying. True or False
7. Amos said that he was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet. True or False
8. Amos said that he was a shepherd and he took care of sycamore-fig trees. True or False
9. God took Amos from tending the flock and told him to go prophecy in Israel. True or False
10. Amos promised Amaziah that his wife would become rich from buying and selling pearls for a profit in Samaria. True or False

Answers to the True and False Test
Amos 7:10-17

1. False
2. True
3. True
4. True
5. True
6. True
7. True
8. True
9. True
10. False
Prayer
Father, grant us the conviction that comes from the study of Your Word so that we may profess boldly the grace of Your Son by whose blood the coming judgment may be escaped. We pray for this in His name. Amen.

 

ADULT LESSON

 

Sunday School Lesson
July 30
Amos

Devotional Reading: Psalm 119:1-8
Psalm 119:1-8, 119 Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of theLord.
2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.
3 They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.
4 Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.
5 O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!
6 Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.
7 I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.
8 I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly.
Background Scripture: Amos 7
Amos 7:10-17
10 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of Israel: the land is not able to bear all his words.
11 For thus Amos saith, Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of their own land.
12 Also Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there:
13 But prophesy not again any more at Bethel: for it is the king’s chapel, and it is the king’s court.
14 Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit:
15 And the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.
16 Now therefore hear thou the word of the Lord: Thou sayest, Prophesy not against Israel, and drop not thy word against the house of Isaac.
17 Therefore thus saith the Lord; Thy wife shall be an harlot in the city, and thy sons and thy daughters shall fall by the sword, and thy land shall be divided by line; and thou shalt die in a polluted land: and Israel shall surely go into captivity forth of his land.
Key Verses
Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit: and the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel. —Amos 7:14, 15
Lesson Aims
After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:
1. Summarize the nature of the resistance to Amos’s message and his response to that resistance.
2. Compare and contrast that resistance with modern resistance to the gospel.
3. Write a short “letter to the editor” that contrasts a biblical view of a current controversy with the prevailing secular view.
Introduction
A. What’s My Profession?
A young man in seminary was very talented. So talented that he believed that it was only fair that he offer his services as a minister of the gospel to the highest bidder. He spent time poring over data to discover which denomination offered the highest average salary. He was more than willing to tailor his doctrine to the beliefs of those willing to pay him for it!
In contrast, we all know individuals who serve faithfully in full-time ministry as a vocation. There is certainly nothing wrong with a preacher’s being paid a living wage as compensation for his work (1 Corinthians 9:7-14). There need be no conflict between earning a living and being an obedient servant of God. Although we would hope that the attitude of the man above is rare, those who choose vocational ministry struggle with a difficult question: Is there a difference between a professing and a professional follower of Christ?
1 Corinthians 9:7-14, 7 Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?
8 Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also?
9 For it is written in the law of Moses, thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?
10 Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.
11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?
12 If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.
13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?
14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
During his task of proclaiming judgment, the prophet Amos was confronted by a man who was paid for being a priest but who did not profess God’s truth faithfully. Their conflict is insightful.
B. Lesson Background: Israel in General
Amos was one of the many prophets whom God raised up during the period of the divided monarchy (931-722 BC) in Old Testament history. His ministry took place during the reigns of Uzziah as king of Judah and Jeroboam as king of Israel (Amos 1:1). Commentators generally refer to this Jeroboam as Jeroboam II to distinguish him from the Jeroboam who was the first king of northern Israel after the nation divided.
Both Uzziah and Jeroboam II experienced lengthy reigns: Uzziah (also known as Azariah) from 792 to 740 BC and Jeroboam from 793 to 753 BC (dates are approximate). Spiritually, however, the kings were quite different. The Scriptures record that Uzziah “did that which was right in the sight of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 26:4; an exception being the incident noted in 26:16-21). Jeroboam, by contrast, “did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord” (2 Kings 14:24).
2 Chronicles 26:4, 4 And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah did.

2 Chronicles 26:16-21, 16 But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the Lord his God, and went into the temple of the Lord to burn incense upon the altar of incense.
17 And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the Lord, that were valiant men:
18 And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the Lord, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the Lord God.
19 Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the Lord, from beside the incense altar.
20 And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the Lord had smitten him.
21 And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the Lord: and Jotham his son was over the king’s house, judging the people of the land.

2 Kings 14:24, 24 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord: he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.
In fact, no kings of the northern nation of Israel were considered good or godly. This is an important reason the northern kingdom fell under God’s judgment much sooner than did the southern kingdom of Judah. Prophets like Amos came on the scene to sound the alarm and warn of coming judgment. Many Bible students date the start of his ministry around 755 BC, toward the conclusions of the reigns of Uzziah and Jeroboam.
Amos himself seemed an unlikely candidate for the prophetic task. He was a simple shepherd and fruit farmer from a village in Judah (Amos 7:14, part of today’s text), but God sent him to shepherd His wayward people of northern Israel. In the warnings prior to today’s text, Amos prophesied God’s condemnation of various locations around Israel, including the southern kingdom of Judah (1:3-2:5). That was followed by a long, scathing indictment of Israel. Injustice was rampant there, and God intended to correct that problem (4:1; 5:7, 10-12; etc.).
Amos 7:14, 14 Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit:

Amos 1:3-2:5, 3 Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron:
4 But I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, which shall devour the palaces of Benhadad.
5 I will break also the bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the plain of Aven, and him that holdeth the sceptre from the house of Eden: and the people of Syria shall go into captivity unto Kir, saith theLord.
6 Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they carried away captive the whole captivity, to deliver them up to Edom:
7 But I will send a fire on the wall of Gaza, which shall devour the palaces thereof:
8 And I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, and him that holdeth the sceptre from Ashkelon, and I will turn mine hand against Ekron: and the remnant of the Philistines shall perish, saith the Lord God.
9 Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of Tyrus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they delivered up the whole captivity to Edom, and remembered not the brotherly covenant:
10 But I will send a fire on the wall of Tyrus, which shall devour the palaces thereof.
11 Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he did pursue his brother with the sword, and did cast off all pity, and his anger did tear perpetually, and he kept his wrath for ever:
12 But I will send a fire upon Teman, which shall devour the palaces of Bozrah.
13 Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of the children of Ammon, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have ripped up the women with child of Gilead, that they might enlarge their border:
14 But I will kindle a fire in the wall of Rabbah, and it shall devour the palaces thereof, with shouting in the day of battle, with a tempest in the day of the whirlwind:
15 And their king shall go into captivity, he and his princes together, saith the Lord.
2 Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime:
2 But I will send a fire upon Moab, and it shall devour the palaces of Kirioth: and Moab shall die with tumult, with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet:
3 And I will cut off the judge from the midst thereof, and will slay all the princes thereof with him, saith the Lord.
4 Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have despised the law of the Lord, and have not kept his commandments, and their lies caused them to err, after the which their fathers have walked:
5 But I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem.

Amos 4:1, 1 Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria, which oppress the poor, which crush the needy, which say to their masters, Bring, and let us drink.

Amos 5:7, 7 Ye who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth,

Amos 5:10-11, 10 They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly.
11 Forasmuch therefore as your treading is upon the poor, and ye take from him burdens of wheat: ye have built houses of hewn stone, but ye shall not dwell in them; ye have planted pleasant vineyards, but ye shall not drink wine of them.

C. Lesson Background: Bethel in Particular
A major factor in the spiritual decline of northern Israel was the idolatry encouraged by Jeroboam I when he set up golden calves to be worshipped in the towns of Bethel and Dan. He did so to keep his residents of the northern kingdom from traveling to Jerusalem, worshipping at the temple, and reaffirming their allegiance to the house of David (1 Kings 12:26-30).
1 Kings 12:26-30, 26 And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David:
27 If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah.
28 Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
29 And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan.
30 And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.
How to Say It
Ahab Ay-hab.
Amaziah Am-uh-zye-uh.
Azariah Az-uh-rye-uh.
Amos Ay-mus.
Assyrians Uh-sear-e-unz.
Bethel Beth-ul.
Elijah Ee-lye-juh.
Elisha Ee-lye-shuh.
Ezekiel Ee-zeek-ee-ul or Ee-zeek-yul.
Jeroboam Jair-uh-boe-um.
Mosaic Mo-zay-ik.
Rehoboam Ree-huh-boe-um.
Samaria Suh-mare-ee-uh.
Uzziah Uh-zye-uh.
Zion Zi-un.

Bethel was still quite active as a pagan shrine in Amos’s day, nearly 200 years later (Amos 3:14; 7:13). The spiritual danger posed by that center of idolatry, only 11 miles due north of Jerusalem, was immense. The danger was underlined by the fact of Bethel’s association by reputation with Gilgal, another center of idolatry (4:4; 5:5). The prophet Hosea mocks Bethel (which means “house of God”) by referring to it as Bethaven (which means “house of wickedness”), associating it with Gilgal in the process (Hosea 4:15).

Amos 3:14, 14 That in the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him I will also visit the altars of Bethel: and the horns of the altar shall be cut off, and fall to the ground

Amos 7:13, 13 But prophesy not again any more at Bethel: for it is the king’s chapel, and it is the king’s court.

Amos 4:4, 4 Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years:

Amos 5:5, 5 But seek not Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beersheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nought.

Hosea 4:15, 15 Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend; and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Bethaven, nor swear, TheLord liveth.
Bethel is mentioned by name seven times in the book of Amos. The text of today’s lesson features the last two of those seven.
I. Professional Priest (Amos 7:10-13)
A. Report to the King (vv. 10, 11)
10a. Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of Israel.
Amaziah the priest is no servant of God and neither is Jeroboam king of Israel. The vested interest those two men share is the town of Bethel, described by Amaziah as “the king’s chapel” and “the king’s court,” the town where Amos is preaching (Amos 7:13, below; also see the Lesson Background). Should that which Amos prophesies about the town and its altars come to pass, both king and priest will be out of a job (Amos 3:14; 5:5, 6; compare John 11:48).
Amos 7:13, 13 But prophesy not again any more at Bethel: for it is the king’s chapel, and it is the king’s court.

Amos 3:14, 14 That in the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him I will also visit the altars of Bethel: and the horns of the altar shall be cut off, and fall to the ground.

Amos 5:5, 5 But seek not Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beersheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nought.

Amos 5:6, 6 Seek the Lord, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel.

John 11:48, 48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.
So Amaziah sends word to Jeroboam of a conspiracy against him, a conspiracy fomented by Amos. It is noteworthy that Amaziah sends this report only after Amos prophesies against Jeroboam by name in Amos 7:9.
Amos 7:9, 9 And the high places of Isaac shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste; and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.
10b. The land is not able to bear all his words.
This part of the report points to the effectiveness of Amos’s message. He is not compromising the Lord’s righteous standards or watering down his content just to curry favor with leaders such as Jeroboam and Amaziah. He is definitely getting people’s attention! But for someone like Amaziah, Amos is nothing but a troublemaker (compare the label attached to the prophet Elijah by wicked King Ahab in 1 Kings 18:17).
1 Kings 18:17, 17 And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel?
11. For thus Amos saith, Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of their own land.
One should note that Amaziah’s quotation of Amos begins with thus Amos saith. The usual way to preface a prophet’s message is with the phrase “thus saith the Lord” or some variation of it (that is how Amos responds to Amaziah in verses 16 and 17, below). Clearly, Amaziah sees nothing authoritative in Amos’s message; he’s just spouting his own words, not the Lord’s.
Though Amos’s message as we see it recorded has little to say about Jeroboam specifically, the prophet does have much to say about Israel’s being led away captive out of their own land (Amos 3:12; 5:27; 6:7, 8; 7:17; 9:4). Sadly, that’s just what happens. The Assyrians will conquer Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom, as the prophecy is fulfilled (2 Kings 17).
Amos 3:12, 12 Thus saith the Lord; As the shepherd taketh out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear; so shall the children of Israel be taken out that dwell in Samaria in the corner of a bed, and in Damascus in a couch.

Amos 5:27, 27 Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the Lord, whose name is The God of hosts.

Amos 6:7, 7 Therefore now shall they go captive with the first that go captive, and the banquet of them that stretched themselves shall be removed.

Amos 6:8, 8 The Lord God hath sworn by himself, saith the Lord the God of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces: therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is therein.

Amos 7:17, 17 Therefore thus saith the Lord; Thy wife shall be an harlot in the city, and thy sons and thy daughters shall fall by the sword, and thy land shall be divided by line; and thou shalt die in a polluted land: and Israel shall surely go into captivity forth of his land.

Amos 9:4, 4 And though they go into captivity before their enemies, thence will I command the sword, and it shall slay them: and I will set mine eyes upon them for evil, and not for good.
What Do You Think?
How do we know when our message should primarily be one of dire warning?
Points for Your Discussion
Regarding nations and their policies
Regarding other religions
Regarding individual people
B. Rebuke for the Prophet (vv. 12, 13)
12. Also Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there.
Amaziah follows his message to the king with a blunt directive to Amos: Go home! He is from the land of Judah, and the northern kingdom of Israel has no use for this interloper. If Amos wants to make people’s lives miserable, then let him do it to his own countrymen!
To eat bread in Judah may imply that Amos will be fed or paid better in his homeland than he currently is in the northern kingdom. Perhaps Amaziah believes that prophets are interested in nothing more than earning a livelihood.
Seer was the term commonly used before the designation prophet replaced it (1 Samuel 9:9). The older term reflects how a prophet is empowered by the Lord to “see” what others cannot, whether in a spiritual sense or by means of visions. In Amos’s case, Amaziah seems to use the term seer sarcastically; else he would not demand that Amos stop prophesying in northern Israel.
1 Samuel 9:9, 9 (Beforetime in Israel, when a man went to enquire of God, thus he spake, Come, and let us go to the seer: for he that is now called a Prophet was beforetime called a Seer.)
What Do You Think?
How should we react when others try to restrict our message?
Points for Your Discussion
When access to an audience is restricted
When topics on which we may speak are restricted
When threats are expressed or implied
Outsiders

While traveling, my husband and I stopped at a store. Not finding what we wanted, we approached a woman in the parking lot and asked if a Walmart was nearby. She looked at us for a moment before loudly proclaiming, “You don’t know where Walmart is?” She started laughing.
“Hey, Joann! They don’t know where Walmart is!” she called to her companion. The women then got the attention of someone else they knew across the parking lot. “Hey, Charlie!” they hollered. “They don’t know where Walmart is!” All three laughed.
At that point, we began to back away from these strangers who were taking such joy in our lack of knowledge. Finally one woman informed us that Walmart was just around the corner, very easy to find.
Outsiders draw attention, often in a negative way. By definition, outsiders do not share the common, personal history of the insiders—those of the immediate culture. The locals may treat outsiders dismissively simply because of their outsider status. Viewing Amos as a threat, Amaziah had a choice to make: neutralize the threat either by discrediting the message or by discrediting the messenger. Amaziah chose the latter path, his tactic being an attack on Amos’s outsider status. When we hear a person/message we don’t like—whether that message be spiritual or secular in nature—do we do the same? Examples in Numbers 23; Jonah 3; and Mark 9:38-41 caution us in that regard. —L. M. W.
Numbers 23, 1 And Balaam said unto Balak, Build me here seven altars, and prepare me here seven oxen and seven rams.
2 And Balak did as Balaam had spoken; and Balak and Balaam offered on every altar a bullock and a ram.
3 And Balaam said unto Balak, Stand by thy burnt offering, and I will go: peradventure the Lord will come to meet me: and whatsoever he sheweth me I will tell thee. And he went to an high place.
4 And God met Balaam: and he said unto him, I have prepared seven altars, and I have offered upon every altar a bullock and a ram.
5 And the Lord put a word in Balaam’s mouth, and said, Return unto Balak, and thus thou shalt speak.
6 And he returned unto him, and, lo, he stood by his burnt sacrifice, he, and all the princes of Moab.
7 And he took up his parable, and said, Balak the king of Moab hath brought me from Aram, out of the mountains of the east, saying, Come, curse me Jacob, and come, defy Israel.
8 How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defy, whom the Lord hath not defied?
9 For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him: lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations.
10 Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!
11 And Balak said unto Balaam, What hast thou done unto me? I took thee to curse mine enemies, and, behold, thou hast blessed them altogether.
12 And he answered and said, Must I not take heed to speak that which the Lord hath put in my mouth?
13 And Balak said unto him, Come, I pray thee, with me unto another place, from whence thou mayest see them: thou shalt see but the utmost part of them, and shalt not see them all: and curse me them from thence.
14 And he brought him into the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah, and built seven altars, and offered a bullock and a ram on every altar.
15 And he said unto Balak, Stand here by thy burnt offering, while I meet the Lord yonder.
16 And the Lord met Balaam, and put a word in his mouth, and said, Go again unto Balak, and say thus.
17 And when he came to him, behold, he stood by his burnt offering, and the princes of Moab with him. And Balak said unto him, What hath theLord spoken?
18 And he took up his parable, and said, Rise up, Balak, and hear; hearken unto me, thou son of Zippor:
19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
20 Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it.
21 He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the Lord his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them.
22 God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.
23 Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel: according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought!
24 Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion: he shall not lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain.
25 And Balak said unto Balaam, Neither curse them at all, nor bless them at all.
26 But Balaam answered and said unto Balak, Told not I thee, saying, All that the Lord speaketh, that I must do?
27 And Balak said unto Balaam, Come, I pray thee, I will bring thee unto another place; peradventure it will please God that thou mayest curse me them from thence.
28 And Balak brought Balaam unto the top of Peor, that looketh toward jeshimon.
29 And Balaam said unto Balak, Build me here seven altars, and prepare me here seven bullocks and seven rams.
30 And Balak did as Balaam had said, and offered a bullock and a ram on every altar.

Jonah 3, 1 And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying,
2 Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
3 So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of theLord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.
4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
6 For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:
8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.
9 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.

Mark 9:38-41, 38 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.
39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.
40 For he that is not against us is on our part.41 For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.
13. But prophesy not again any more at Bethel: for it is the king’s chapel, and it is the king’s court.
Amos’s preaching is especially unwelcome at Bethel, which implies his current location. The word translated chapel is usually rendered sanctuary elsewhere (example: Ezekiel 45:3), while the word translated court is commonly rendered house when referring to a dwelling place of either God or people (examples: Zechariah 14:20 and 13:6, respectively). Taken together, these may imply that King Jeroboam II has a residence in Bethel in addition to the one he would have in the capital city of Samaria (compare 1 Kings 16:23, 24; 22:37; Amos 3:15). Alternatively, this may be just Amaziah’s way of emphasizing that Bethel is Jeroboam’s turf. Either way, Amos is viewed as having no business whatsoever trespassing on the king’s domain.
Ezekiel 45:3, 3 And of this measure shalt thou measure the length of five and twenty thousand, and the breadth of ten thousand: and in it shall be the sanctuary and the most holy place.

Zechariah 14:20, 20 In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, Holiness Unto The Lord; and the pots in the Lord’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar.

Zechariah 13:6, 6 And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.

1 Kings 16:23, 23 In the thirty and first year of Asa king of Judah began Omri to reign over Israel, twelve years: six years reigned he in Tirzah.

1 Kings 16:24, 24 And he bought the hill Samaria of Shemer for two talents of silver, and built on the hill, and called the name of the city which he built, after the name of Shemer, owner of the hill, Samaria.

1 Kings 22:37, 37 So the king died, and was brought to Samaria; and they buried the king in Samaria.

Amos 3:15, 15 And I will smite the winter house with the summer house; and the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall have an end, saith the Lord.
But Amos cares nothing about the reactions or feelings of any earthly authority who opposes him. The prophet answers to a far greater king, the one who resides in a heavenly sanctuary. His words and actions will be reflected centuries later by the apostle Peter when he squares off with the religious leadership in Jerusalem: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Decades earlier, King Jeroboam I had been confronted by an anonymous man of God from Judah who came to Bethel while the king was offering a sacrifice on the altar he had built (1 Kings 13:1-4). Now King Jeroboam II is being challenged by another man of God from Judah.
Acts 5:29, 29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

1 Kings 13:1-4, 13 And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the Lord unto Bethel: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense.
2 And he cried against the altar in the word of the Lord, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the Lord; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men’s bones shall be burnt upon thee.
3 And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which theLord hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out.
4 And it came to pass, when king Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, which had cried against the altar in Bethel, that he put forth his hand from the altar, saying, Lay hold on him. And his hand, which he put forth against him, dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him.
II. Professing Prophet (Amos 7:14-17)
A. Source of Authority (vv. 14-16)
14. Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit.
The response by Amos may be understood one of two ways. First, he may simply be stating a fact of heredity: there is nothing about his earthly lineage that suggests he should be a prophet. No one in his family has ever held that responsibility.
The second possibility turns on the meaning of the phrase prophet’s son, since it may refer to the group known as “the sons of the prophets.” Its members appear to have been undergoing training of some kind in order to be ready for the Lord’s call to serve Him in that way. The prophet Elisha, whose ministry ended about a half century before Amos’s began, had frequent contact with this group (2 Kings 2:1-15; 4:1, 38; 6:1, 2; 9:1).
2 Kings 2:1-15, 1 And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.
2 And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel.
3 And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.
4 And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lordhath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho.
5 And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.
6 And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the Lord hath sent me to Jordan. And he said, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And they two went on.
7 And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan.
8 And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground.
9 And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.
10 And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.
11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
12 And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.
13 He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan;
14 And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.
15 And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him.

2 Kings 4:1, 1 Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the Lord: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen.

2 Kings 4:38, 38 And Elisha came again to Gilgal: and there was a dearth in the land; and the sons of the prophets were sitting before him: and he said unto his servant, Set on the great pot, and seethe pottage for the sons of the prophets.

2 Kings 6:1, 1 And the sons of the prophets said unto Elisha, Behold now, the place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us.

2 Kings 6:2, 2 Let us go, we pray thee, unto Jordan, and take thence every man a beam, and let us make us a place there, where we may dwell. And he answered, Go ye.

2 Kings 9:1, 1 And Elisha the prophet called one of the children of the prophets, and said unto him, Gird up thy loins, and take this box of oil in thine hand, and go to Ramothgilead:
If the second of the two possibilities is intended by Amos, then he is openly admitting that he has none of the credentials or official training of other prophets. That would help explain at least some of the contempt Amaziah has shown toward him. Like Peter and John, Amos may be seen as “unlearned and ignorant” (Acts 4:13). But also like them, Amos has the one credential that matters most: the Lord’s calling.
Acts 4:13, 13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.
15. And the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.
Amos twice highlights the source of his calling and prophetic authority: the Lord. Like Moses and David, who also tended flocks (Exodus 3:1; 1 Samuel 16:11-13), Amos has been called to a ministry of shepherding people (compare Psalms 77:20; 78:70-72; Isaiah 63:11). Amos’s response to Amaziah’s intimidation therefore yields not an inch of ground. The prophet from Judah answers to no earthly priest or king—only to the Lord God who took him from his accustomed life on the farm to be a proclaimer of His Word.
Exodus 3:1, 1 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.

1 Samuel 16:11-13, 11 And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither.
12 And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the Lord said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he.
13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.
Psalm 77:20, 20 Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Psalm 78:70-72, 70 He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds:
71 From following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance.
72 So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.

Isaiah 63:11, 11 Then he remembered the days of old, Moses, and his people, saying, Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? where is he that put his holy Spirit within him?
What Do You Think?
What are some deciding factors when considering a change in vocation?
Points for Your Discussion
If changing from secular to ministerial
If changing from ministerial to secular
Credentials
In the winter of 2015, a 17-year-old boy wandered the halls of a medical center in West Palm Beach, Florida. He wore a white lab coat with the hospital’s logo, carried a stethoscope, and even donned a surgical mask at times. People working in the center assumed he was a doctor. They assumed wrongly; he had no medical credentials.
This type of thing happens more often than one would like to think. A few years earlier, another 17-year-old boy impersonated a doctor at a different medical center in Florida. For five days, he examined patients, provided care, and accessed patient information. Suspicions grew as he repeatedly attempted to gain access to restricted areas. He was caught when staff in the Emergency Department reported him.
Credentials were important in antiquity too. And the only valid “accrediting agency” for prophetic work was God. The credentials for Amos came straight from Him. Some who would lead us astray today may appear outwardly well qualified, yet still be “ravening wolves” on the inside (Matthew 7:15). Amos’s experience in evaluating “sycomore fruit” may have helped him in examining spiritual fruit. That is a quality we are to have as well. See Matthew 7:16-20. —L. M. W.
Matthew 7:15, 15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Matthew 7:16-20, 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
16. Now therefore hear thou the word of the Lord: Thou sayest, Prophesy not against Israel, and drop not thy word against the house of Isaac.
Amos continues his rebuttal by quoting Amaziah’s demand back to him. An important purpose in doing so is to make certain that Amaziah realizes he has been heard loud and clear. Amos is leaving himself no room to escape persecution by later claiming he misunderstood Amaziah’s directive.
In that directive, Amaziah apparently has used a Hebrew word that is translated drop. The same word is used elsewhere of rain as it literally drops from the sky at God’s initiative (Judges 5:4; Psalm 68:8). It is also used figuratively in depicting God’s dropping His Word from above on humanity below (Ezekiel 20:45, 46). In the case at hand, Amaziah has used the word in a derogatory way to mock the prophecy of Amos (compare Micah 2:6, 11, where the word is rendered “prophesy” and “prophet[s]” sarcastically). By repeating it back to Amaziah, Amos is establishing part of the basis for his prophecy of judgment in the verse to follow.
Judges 5:4, 4 Lord, when thou wentest out of Seir, when thou marchedst out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, and the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water.

Psalm 68:8, 8 The earth shook, the heavens also dropped at the presence of God: even Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel.

Ezekiel 20:45, 45 Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,

Ezekiel 20:46, 46 Son of man, set thy face toward the south, and drop thy word toward the south, and prophesy against the forest of the south field;

Micah 2:6, 6 Prophesy ye not, say they to them that prophesy: they shall not prophesy to them, that they shall not take shame.

Micah 2:11, 11 If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people.
Of interest is the rare expression house of Isaac (only here in the Old Testament) with “high places of Isaac” in Amos 7:9, rather than “house of Jacob” (21 times) or “house of Israel” (about 150 times). As a bit of conjecture, perhaps Amos is changing the word Amaziah actually utters in order to inject irony: the meaning of the word Isaac is “to laugh” (Genesis 18:11-15; 21:3), and the people of the northern kingdom who are laughing it up at the moment (Amos 6:1, 4-6) will experience the exact opposite soon enough.
Amos 7:9, 9 And the high places of Isaac shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste; and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.

Genesis 18:11-15, 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.
12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?
13 And the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?
14 Is any thing too hard for the Lord? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.
15 Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.

Genesis 21:3, 3 And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.

Amos 6:1, 1 Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came!

Amos 6:4-6, 4 That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall;
5 That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of musick, like David;
6 That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.
What Do You Think?
What are some steps to take when our message is rejected?
Points for Your Discussion
When our motives are misrepresented
When our words are misquoted
When our character is questioned
Other

B. Essence of the Message (v. 17)
17a. Therefore thus saith the Lord; Thy wife shall be an harlot in the city, and thy sons and thy daughters shall fall by the sword.
The consequences of attempting to silence a prophet of the Lord are severe indeed! Since the word thy (three times) is singular, this prophecy is aimed right at Amaziah’s family. What could be more agonizing to a husband and father than to watch his family members suffer what is being prophesied here?
Amos has already prophesied that the Lord “will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword” (Amos 7:9). Now the fuller prophecy includes the violent end of Amaziah’s lineage as well.
Amos 7:9, 9 And the high places of Isaac shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste; and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.
17b. And thy land shall be divided by line.
Amaziah will not be able to leave family property to descendants because (1) no descendants will remain to inherit it and (2) no property will remain to bequeath anyway. For Amaziah’s land to be divided by line means it will be parceled out to others by its conquerors. This will be something of a reversal of the process of land allotment to the Israelites during the time of Joshua (Joshua 14:1-5; 18:1-10).
Joshua 14:1-5, 1 And these are the countries which the children of Israel inherited in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel, distributed for inheritance to them.
2 By lot was their inheritance, as the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses, for the nine tribes, and for the half tribe.
3 For Moses had given the inheritance of two tribes and an half tribe on the other side Jordan: but unto the Levites he gave none inheritance among them.
4 For the children of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim: therefore they gave no part unto the Levites in the land, save cities to dwell in, with their suburbs for their cattle and for their substance.
5 As the Lord commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did, and they divided the land.

Joshua 18:1-10,1 And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them.
2 And there remained among the children of Israel seven tribes, which had not yet received their inheritance.
3 And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, How long are ye slack to go to possess the land, which the Lord God of your fathers hath given you?
4 Give out from among you three men for each tribe: and I will send them, and they shall rise, and go through the land, and describe it according to the inheritance of them; and they shall come again to me.
5 And they shall divide it into seven parts: Judah shall abide in their coast on the south, and the house of Joseph shall abide in their coasts on the north.
6 Ye shall therefore describe the land into seven parts, and bring the description hither to me, that I may cast lots for you here before theLord our God.
7 But the Levites have no part among you; for the priesthood of the Lordis their inheritance: and Gad, and Reuben, and half the tribe of Manasseh, have received their inheritance beyond Jordan on the east, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave them.
8 And the men arose, and went away: and Joshua charged them that went to describe the land, saying, Go and walk through the land, and describe it, and come again to me, that I may here cast lots for you before the Lord in Shiloh.
9 And the men went and passed through the land, and described it by cities into seven parts in a book, and came again to Joshua to the host at Shiloh.
10 And Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the Lord: and there Joshua divided the land unto the children of Israel according to their divisions.
Amaziah claims that the land is “not able to bear” all the words of Amos (Amos 7:10). But the truth is that the land is not able to bear the sins of the people of the northern kingdom (compare Leviticus 18:28).
Amos 7:10, 10 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of Israel: the land is not able to bear all his words.

Leviticus 18:28, 28 That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you.
17c. And thou shalt die in a polluted land: and Israel shall surely go into captivity forth of his land.
We come to the sentence pronounced on Amaziah himself. The Hebrew word rendered polluted is translated unclean the vast majority of the time. With regard to land it refers to places where pagan gods are worshipped. Such places are unclean, profane, polluted, defiled, and impure in contrast with the holiness required by the Mosaic law (compare Ezra 9:11).
Ezra 9:11, 11 Which thou hast commanded by thy servants the prophets, saying, The land, unto which ye go to possess it, is an unclean land with the filthiness of the people of the lands, with their abominations, which have filled it from one end to another with their uncleanness.
That Amaziah will die in such a land can imply that he will be taken captive after witnessing what is to befall his wife, sons, and daughters. To accompany others who are also taken into captivity also signifies that Amaziah will witness the destruction of “the high places of Isaac … the sanctuaries of Israel” prophesied in Amos 7:9. What, then, will he think of the gods he worshipped in those places—gods powerless to save him?
The Scriptures provide no record of the fulfillment of this prophecy against Amaziah. Even so, we can be sure it was fulfilled, since it is “the word of the Lord” (Amos 7:16). History records the fate of Israel when it falls to Assyria in 722 BC (2 Kings 17:6). The fact that the line and Israel shall surely go into captivity forth of his land repeats word for word (in the original Hebrew) the prophecy in Amos 7:11 means that Amaziah’s attempts to intimidate the Lord’s prophet have utterly failed.
Amos 7:16, 16 Now therefore hear thou the word of the Lord: Thou sayest, Prophesy not against Israel, and drop not thy word against the house of Isaac.

2 Kings 17:6, 6 In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.
What Do You Think?
What are some ways to respond if a necessarily harsh message is rejected as “unloving”?

Points for Your Discussion
Considering the agenda of those voicing objection
Considering validity of the objection

Conclusion
A. True to the Call
Amos was under intense pressure to modify or silence his message rather than risk offending the high officials in the northern kingdom; the pressure the church faces today is similar (compare Matthew 15:12-14; Acts 4:18-21). The pressure may tempt us to ask ourselves, “Who am I to judge another’s conduct?”
Matthew 15:12-14, 12 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?
13 But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.
14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
Acts 4:18-21, 18 And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
19 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.
20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.
21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done.
Amos shows how to meet such a challenge: it is a matter of calling. When Amaziah asked, in effect, “Who do you think you are?” Amos had a ready answer. We must be prepared to do the same (1 Peter 3:15). Amos knew who he was, and he knew his task. God expects the same of us (Matthew 28:19, 20; 2 Timothy 2:15). A simple review of how God has worked and desires to work in your life may result in your becoming an Amos to the lost of your community.
1 Peter 3:15, 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

Matthew 28:19, 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Matthew 28:20, 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

2 Timothy 2:15, 15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
B. Prayer
Father, grant us the conviction that comes from the study of Your Word so that we may profess boldly the grace of Your Son by whose blood the coming judgment may be escaped. We pray for this in His name. Amen.
C. Thought to Remember
True profession overcomes oppression.