Luke is not shy about mentioning problems in the early Church – and not all of them were from outside the fellowship. He has already mentioned the embarrassing case of Ananias and Sapphira, and now there is a more wide-spread problem.
The issue is racial to be sure. Grecian Jews would be Jews who have been influenced by culture outside Palestine. They speak more than the languages of the Jews ( Hebrew and Aramaic) – Greek to be sure. Like the Galileans, they would be considered less than orthodox by Judean Jews and perhaps for that reason, widows within this wider heritage were neglected in their care. This is the most blatant example of discrimination thus far in this book.
The apostles act quickly to resolve the problem. First, they call the whole church together. Division isn’t the kind of matter that should be hidden. It must be openly excised. Second, the apostles may not be able to change the way of thinking that led to the problem, but they can solve the problem. The neglect of these widows is unacceptable. The apostles have a way of resolving the problem, and they set the need for solution and the solution itself before the church – not for their approval, but for their involvement. Third, they call on the whole church to be involved in the solution by selecting the men to take care of it. Interestingly, all of these men have Greek names. It may indicate that they entrusted the solution to the very faction that was complaining!
This story introduces us to two newcomers: Stephen and Phillip, and with the coming martyrdom of Stephen, Jerusalem ceases to be the hub of Church.
As I read the story of Stephen’s arrest, I am reminded of the story of Jesus. Both were victims of perjury (compare 6:11 with Matthew 26:29). Both are accused of blasphemy (see Matthew 26:65). Both accounts refer to Jesus saying he would destroy the temple.
Interestingly, however, Luke did not mention these things in his story of Jesus. Might it be that they were so well known among the early Christians that Luke could make the comparison without evening mentioning it in his story of Jesus? It’s worth a consideration!