1. We read in Acts 6:5 that Stephen was one of the 7 that was selected to handle the food distribution so the 12 disciples could preach.
  2. In Acts 6:8 we read that Stephen performed great wonders and signs

Question: The whole purpose of selecting the 7 was to handle the food so why was Stephen outside doing these things?

Acts 6:5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.

Acts 6:8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people.

Was there something unique about Stephen?. None of the disciples are described like Stephen is described.

Acts 6:15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

Acts 7:55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

  • You seem to interpret Acts 6:9 as implying that Stephen initiated the dispute, or was otherwise preaching, when interrupted by nonbelievers: this might not have necessarily been the case; Chrysostom notes: “Disputing with Stephen.” Observe him, not taking upon him to teach, but forced to do so.
    – Lucian
    Commented May 10, 2021 at 21:43
  • @Lucian, I am asking a question not saying he initiated the dispute. Your reference says a similar thing "See how even among the seven one was preëminent"
    – Yeddu
    Commented May 11, 2021 at 5:23
  • Preaching and being preeminent are two distinct concepts.
    – Lucian
    Commented May 11, 2021 at 9:37
  • @Lucian Noted. thank you for the input.
    – Yeddu
    Commented May 11, 2021 at 9:41

2 Answers 2


New International Version Acts 6:

1 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. 2So 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. 3Brothers 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 4and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”

  1. Stephen was one of the seven chosen by the Twelve from among all the disciples.

  2. The minimum requirement was that the chosen persons had to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.

Before the persons were chosen, they were likely to have involved in some ministries. They didn't just randomly pick some people. There was a minimum qualification.

After Stephen was chosen, he acquired a new responsibility for the distribution of food. He did not just abandon his previous responsibilities. The Twelve did not command the Seven to abandon what they were doing previously. They picked up an additional responsibility.

  • 1. Agree that the 7 selected for distribution of food should be full of the spirit & wisdom. This is to make sure they handle all conflicts in the distribution of food carefully(basis is the context that there were issues and the 12 disciples were getting distracted) 2. The reason they selected these 7 is so the 12 disciples can focus on prayer and the ministry of the word.m 3. I don’t think the expectations from the 7 selected for handling food distribution were expected to preach(at least from the verses in Acts 6)
    – Yeddu
    Commented May 10, 2021 at 17:56
  • Right. There was no expectation of them preaching.
    – user35953
    Commented May 10, 2021 at 17:57

Note the dispute was brought up by the Ἑλληνιστῶν, those whose primary language was Greek, that their widows were being neglected, probably because of a language barrier. Note the seven men in 6:5 had Greek names. They many have also had Hebrew names. See Did many of the disciples change to Greek names like Paul in Acts 13:9 when they ministered to Gentiles?

Most likely these men were bilingual so that they could communicate between the groups, and likely the task was too big for just these seven to carry out. So, these men were leaders who administered the tasks. Of course, they would set an example. Steven does appear to be the leader of the seven. There is no reason that these men couldn't also preach.

We don't know what language Steven preached in, but Saul (Paul) who was listening (7:58) was fluent in both Greek and Hebrew/Aramaic. That Paul and the Sanhedrin were involved meant the windows were Greek speaking Jews. It isn't unusual for pastors who preach to also be involved in other ministries.

  • I agree that pastors can be involved in other ministries, but seeing the context of this event, Stephen should focus on food distribution. I say this as Acts 6 specifically says these 7 should do this work so the 12 disciples can focus on prayer and preaching. Most churches have pastors and other staff doing their respective jobs just for this scenario.
    – Yeddu
    Commented May 11, 2021 at 14:46

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