Acts 6:2 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Acts 6:2, NIV: So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, 'It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.

Acts 6:2, ESV: And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.

Acts 6:2, KJV: 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.

Acts 6:2, NASB: 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.

Acts 6:2, NLT: So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, 'We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program.

Acts 6:2, CSB: The Twelve summoned the whole company of the disciples and said, "It would not be right for us to give up preaching the word of God to wait on tables.

What does Acts 6:2 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Greek-speaking Jesus-followers in Jerusalem are upset. They feel the church is not providing equal distribution of charity for some Greek-speaking widows, compared to Aramaic-speaking widows. It is understandable that the apostles would not notice; at this point, the church numbers in the thousands and the apostles seek to evangelize tens of thousands. This is exactly what Jesus tasked them to do: to spread His story (Acts 1:8). So far, they've been faithful to the thousands in the church as well as the Jews who gather in the temple court (Acts 4:4, 33). Jesus did not task them with meeting the new disciples' physical requirements; that comes organically with the Holy Spirit's prompting.

This passage is the nascent version of 1 Corinthians 12. The apostles recognize that although every Jesus-follower has the same Holy Spirit dwelling within them, the Spirit empowers different people for different tasks. Jesus told the apostles to be His witnesses "in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8). They can't do that if they are also personally responsible for the physical well-being of all the widows in the church. The apostles are not claiming that some service is beneath them (John 13:14–16), or that they are too important for such work. They rightly understand that they cannot accomplish their spiritual calling and meet those other needs, as well.

This establishes the first of two significant principles in the passage. First, pastors cannot do everything in the church. They have just as few hours in their days as anyone else; God never intended or commanded spiritual leaders to do everything without help. Second, as inferred in Acts 6:3, everyone in the church has a role to fill. Waiting on tables is not a dishonorable job. It is a necessary one. But it does not belong to the apostles, it belongs to other members of the church. As Paul will later say, "For the body does not consist of one member but of many" (1 Corinthians 12:14). If the apostles were to take on every task of the church, they would not be honoring the other Jesus-followers.

The church is where every believer serves and leads; it is not where Christians go to be spoon-fed by a holy few. There are times where "need" outweighs "calling." There's nothing inappropriate about a pastor picking up a shovel, a broom, or a stack of diapers. But there is something inappropriate about pastors being forced to set their primary calling aside to do such things while other church members are idle.