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Acts 6:4

ESV But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
NIV and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.'
NASB But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.'
CSB But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word."
NLT Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.'
KJV But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

What does Acts 6:4 mean?

The apostles have realized that not all the Jesus-followers are receiving the support they need. In this case, the loose, generous system of donations is overlooking the Greek-speaking widows (Acts 6:1). Jesus has given the apostles their task: to spread His message. They have faithfully done so, to the point that the church in Jerusalem includes thousands of Jews and proselytes. That is their job, so they willingly pass on the administration of the donations to others who are qualified (Acts 6:2–3).

Ironically, "ministry" is from the Greek root word diakonia, the same word from which we get our term "deacon." The seven men selected are to be deacons of the resources of the church and the provision of the people (Acts 6:5); the apostles are to be deacons of the Word. This is not a sign that pastors are somehow "above" less prestigious tasks (John 13:14–16). It is a sign that those other than pastors ought to support their leaders by taking on what tasks they can.

The apostles are not taking the easy road. The Sanhedrin has recently beat them because they preach in Jesus' name (Acts 5:40). Tradition says that all but one will die a martyr's death because they spread Jesus' word. Before that happens, however, the apostles need to make sure they equip the Jesus-followers as thoroughly as possible (Acts 2:42). Twelve apostles cannot reach everyone in the Roman Empire and all the people in the nations to the east. But they can train people who can.

The apostles' emphasis on prayer and the ministry of the Word and their willingness to delegate responsibilities should give us pause about the problems we expect our pastors and elders to solve. They should have the time to determine the major theological issues and lead the church in the direction the Holy Spirit leads. We should be willing to find solutions for the smaller problems and, with their agreement, get them done.
What is the Gospel?
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