4: The First Church Leaders – Discussion Starters

  1. The appointment of the seven. If you were on the “nominating committee” to choose seven officers to take care of fellowship activities in the early church, what characteristics would you look for? Why do you think that the apostles needed help in handling these activities? How important was it for the chosen deacons to be acknowledged in a public rite?
  2. Stephen’s ministry. How effective was Stephen’s ministry as a Hellenistic Jew? What difference did his background make? What did Stephen contribute to the early church concerning the role of the temple in the future? If you were a Judean believer, do you think you might have a problem accepting Stephen’s teaching about moving away from ceremonial practices involving the temple? Or would you be eager to put them aside in recognition of Christ’s death on the cross?
  3. Before the Sanhedrin. Wait a minute. Stephen is having a vision. What is this short-term prophet seeing in his vision? What is so disturbing about the message Stephen tries to deliver? Why is there no traditional call for repentance? What is coming to an end for all time as Stephen stands before his judges? Can you imagine watching as the crowd turns hostile, forcing Stephen out of the city and stoning him to death? Are you so firm in your Christian beliefs that you would speak boldly as Stephen did? Should you be?
  4. Jesus in the heavenly court. The theocracy of Israel comes to an end. Now who will carry the burden of salvation to the ends of the world? What does the fact that Jesus is standing at this time next to the Father in the heavenly sanctuary tell us about the “real” judgment to follow? Where was Saul while this was going on? Can we grasp the importance of this dramatic event in the course of human history?
  5. The spread of the gospel. What did Stephen’s death inspire our early church fathers to do? What about Saul? What if anything did he have to do with the persecution of Christian believers at that time? Immediately, it seems, the gospel began moving across national boundaries to win thousands of converts to Christianity. Explain how the mantle of leadership transferred so quickly from hostile people of Jewish background to a body of firm believers. 

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Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons