Questions From Readers
● Who were the certified men of Acts 6:3, and do they have modern counterparts?—C.P.
Shortly after Pentecost an unusual situation existed among the Christians in Jerusalem. Many of the Jews and proselytes who had come to Jerusalem planning to stay only for the period of the festival, upon becoming Christians, desired to remain longer and learn more about their new faith. Since some did not have sufficient funds with them and others had a surplus, there was a temporary pooling of material things and a distribution to those in need.—Acts 2:44-46; 4:34-37.
It appears that in time the extent of these relief measures diminished, but food was still distributed to needy widows in the congregation. However, “a murmuring arose on the part of the Greek-speaking Jews against the Hebrew-speaking Jews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution.” (Acts 6:1) To ease this friction, the apostles gave the directions at Acts 6:3.
The congregation selected seven men, a number sufficient to handle the work to be done. The persons suggested by the congregation were certified; that is, they had a good reputation and were qualified, being “full of spirit and wisdom.” It is interesting to observe that all seven had Grecian names, allowing for the possibility that, from among those qualified in the congregation, Greek-speaking Jews and a proselyte were selected. Such men would be more readily acceptable to the offended group. The recommendations were considered by the apostles, who, after prayer, appointed the seven.—Acts 6:5, 6.
Those appointed to carry on the organizational work did not cease to be active preachers of God’s Word. Special mention is made in the Bible of two of them. We read of Stephen who “was performing great portents and signs among the people,” and “Philip the evangelizer,” whom Jehovah’s angel sent to preach to an Ethiopian.—Acts 6:8; 21:8; 8:26, 27.
Similarly, in the congregations of Jehovah’s witnesses today, various qualified brothers are chosen to discharge organizational duties, such as the distribution of Bible literature, the handling of the accounts and the assigning of territory for the house-to-house ministry. As in the case of the early Christians, recommendations are made by the congregations. The decisions as to which persons are appointed are properly left with the governing body. Also, following the early example, those appointed to handle certain duties in the congregations take the lead in the public ministry.