Introduction: So far this quarter we have discussed who
should witness, how we should witness, and what we should
witness. This week we turn our attention to real, live,
Bible witnesses. Let’s dive in and see what we can learn
from their examples!
- Read Acts 6:1-4. What was the problem among the
early disciples described here? (Two problems.
First, certain widows were not getting their
proper allotment of food. Second, and worse, this
shows dissension among the group – perhaps malice
among those who distributed the food and certainly
a dispute among nationality lines.)
- Although this story shows us problems, does it
also reveal something good? (It shows us the
number of Christians was greatly growing and
it shows the Christian community was daily
feeding its widows.)
- Who do you think was distributing the food at
the time? The Twelve, or others? (From the
way verse 2 is written, it appears others.
However, verse 3 reveals that the Twelve had
ultimate administrative responsibility over
- Does this mean some people got fired from
their food distribution jobs? Does it
mean the Twelve were not doing an
adequate administrative job? (It probably
means both to some degree. However, the
context makes clear any failure of the
Twelve was due to overburden based on the
- What does this teach us about jobs
in our church?
- Who solved the problem? (The Twelve came up
with the overall idea. The members chose the
- Does that teach us anything about
organizing our witness today?
- These verses are commonly accepted as a
description of the first deacons of the
church. What criteria did the Twelve set up
for these deacons? (Wise and full of the Holy
- Does that make sense – given the nature
of the problem? Why?
- Let’s read on. Acts 6:5-7. Did the proposal solve
- Does your church suffer from a lack of
organization? Some are overburdened and
others are not helping?
- Is this just an annoyance or is this a
critical matter that affects the ability
of your church to grow? Do you think the
growth described in verse 7 is due to the
improved organization of the early church
- Notice the way Stephen is described among the
new deacons. Why does he get special mention
and the others do not? (Stephen must have
stood out among the new deacons.)
- Let’s read on. Acts 6:8-10. I thought Stephen’s
job was food distribution. What is he doing here?
- Was Stephen doing a good job or a poor job?
Is the fact that you create opposition a
tribute to your effectiveness or a tribute to
your lack of tact? (It could be a lack of tact
in some cases, but not here. Look at the
glowing description of Stephen. We were
previously told (v.5) he was “full of faith
and the Holy Spirit,” we are now told (v.8) he
is “full of God’s grace and power” and “did
great wonders and signs.”)
- What do you think were Stephen’s “great
wonders and miraculous signs.”
- Some tend to shy away from “faith
healers” because of a concern about
trickery. Is Stephen an example for us
in this aspect of witnessing? Should we
pray to do “great wonders and miraculous
- Should we pray for great argument skills,
or are we already defeated if we argue?
- Does the merit of arguing vary
depending on the audience?
- How important (v.10) was the involvement of
the Holy Spirit in defeating the arguments of
- How important is the Holy Spirit in your
- Should you ask the Holy Spirit to give
you the right words to witness? Should
this be a part of your prayer each
- Read Acts 6:11-15. We just learned (v.10) that
the “opposition” could not win the theological
debates with Stephen. Are verses 11-14 the usual
result of such failures? (Instead of better
arguments, they turned to false charges.)
- What are the charges brought against Stephen? Do
these sound familiar? (Read Matthew 26:59-61.)
- When people lie about you, when they treat you
roughly, does your face ( Acts 6:15) look “like the
face of an angel?”
- Do you think his judges missed Stephen’s
looks? (The text says they looked at him
“intently.” They obviously noticed.)
- What do you think was going through the
minds of those judges looking at Stephen?
- If you have time, read the legal answer Stephen
made to the charges in Acts 7:1-53. Let’s read on
after his argument in Acts 7:54-60. After this
stirring, Spirit-led argument, the hearers all
said, “You’re right! We have resisted the Holy
Spirit. We repent!” Right?
- Why did they (v.57) cover their ears? (Stephen
has just said that he saw Jesus in heaven.
This would be very bad news to someone who
helped kill Jesus.)
- What does this teach us about witnessing?
Results are a good measure of the strength of
- Why did the “opposition” resort to violence?
(The last resort of a failed argument is
- Imagine being hit by stones. Would you feel
like praying Stephen’s prayer found in verse
- Do you feel like you are “hit by stones”
from time to time in your witnessing?
- Do you react as Stephen did?
- What will it take to get us to the verse
60 attitude in our witnessing?
- Read Acts 12:25, Acts 13:13 and Acts 15:36-38.
John Mark left Paul and Barnabas and returned
home. Why, in a lesson about examples of
witnesses, do we have someone who quit? Someone
Paul calls a “deserter?”
- Stephen gave up his life in his witnessing,
John Mark just quit his witnessing. Is there
room somewhere between these two extremes for
you? Do you feel you might fit in as a
- Read Acts 15:39-40. Are witnesses allowed to
disagree and argue?
- Why do you think Barnabas was willing to split
up with Paul over this? (Read Colossians 4:10.
Blood is thicker than water!)
- Was Barnabas right in standing up for his
cousin? (We have Paul in Colossians 4
telling the church to welcome John Mark.)
- Read 2 Timothy 4:11. Paul is now asking for John
Mark to help him! Do you think both Paul and John
Mark had resentments to overcome before they could
work together? (Paul had strong feelings about
John Mark deserting him before. John Mark knew
that Paul did not want him along. Good witnesses
put away harsh feelings towards each other.)
- Friend, these texts show us the extreme example of
Stephen and the more common problems of
discouragement and arguing among those who
witness. There is room here for you. Will you
pray to be a witness?
- Next Week: The Tools for Witnessing.