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Acts 6:1

ESV Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.
NIV In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.
NASB Now at this time, as the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint developed on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food.
CSB In those days, as the disciples were increasing in number, there arose a complaint by the Hellenistic Jews against the Hebraic Jews that their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution.
NLT But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food.
KJV 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.

What does Acts 6:1 mean?

The church in Jerusalem is still growing. Some of the members are from Jerusalem and the surrounding area. Some are from as far away as Rome to the west and Mesopotamia to the east. Those who are from the west are called "Hellenists." They're familiar with Greek and Roman culture and speak Greek instead of Aramaic. Since the day of Pentecost, the Jesus-followers have supported the visitors (Acts 2:44–45; 4:32–37). The Aramaic-speaking locals, however, are overlooking the Greek-speaking widows. The ESV says, "daily distribution." The original Greek refers to the presentation of a gift; in that context, it means service in the preparation for a social event. Some of the widows are being left out of charitable giving, due to a low-level problem with supervision. Acts 6:2 confirms this interpretation where it says it is not wise for the apostles to turn away from their calling to "serve tables." Their point is not that such service is beneath them, but that they need support in order to fulfill their spiritual calling.

The passage doesn't give very much information about the widows. It was custom at the time for elderly Jews who were not from Judea to come to Jerusalem so they could die in the land of their people. Enough foreign-born Jews came to Jerusalem that geographic regions had their own synagogues (Acts 6:9). If the widows weren't fluent in Aramaic, had broken from their countrymen's synagogue, and were the least bit homebound, the apostles wouldn't necessarily think to check on them. At this point in time, after all, twelve men were leading the spiritual development of thousands and the evangelism of tens of thousands.

The Hellenists' action is described using the Greek root word goggysmos. The modern English word "complaint" makes this sound more open and formal than the original. This is not a formal, open protest made to the apostles. Those who are unhappy are grumbling, or murmuring—they're complaining and criticizing without making their comments public. That's a particularly insidious type of rebellion that can cause divisiveness in any group (Philippians 2:14–15). Until this point, Luke records that the church has been "together," and "of one heart and soul" (Acts 2:44; 4:32). It would be better for the Hellenists to present their concerns to the apostles. It would be better to trust that leadership will resolve the issue. In fact, we all should do this, in our church and with God.
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