"When The Number Of Disciples Multiplied"
Larry R. Ping II
Most every Christian I know prays for and works towards the physical growth of the Lord’s Church. There is Biblical precedent for this. At the advent of the Lord’s Church, “about three thousand souls” were baptized (Acts 2:41). Later, the number of those who “believed” ballooned to “about five thousand” (Acts 4:4). Shortly thereafter, the Bible reports “And in those days, when the number of disciples was multiplied” (Acts 6:1). While growth of the Lord’s body is a wonderful thing, it has the potential to bring with it issues needing addressed, needing solved or altogether needing eliminated. As the number of disciples grows, be on the lookout for…
1) Murmuring. Such was the case in Acts 6:1. To “murmur” is to “carry on a secret debate among people; to show displeasure or complain, primarily privately.” Identifying issues is important, but we must be careful to curb complaining, for with such the Lord is not pleased (I Cor. 10:10). The apostle commanded “Do all things without murmurings and disputings” (Php. 2:14).
2) Neglected Members. This was the circumstance in Acts 6:1 when “there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.” As a local body grows, the possibility of overlooking identified members increases. I Cor. 12:14 indicates “the body is not one member, but many.” Each member of a local body is “necessary” (I Cor. 12:22). If one member suffers, “all the members suffer with it” (I Cor. 12:26). James’ commanded “to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction” (Jam. 1:27). Be cautious in not neglecting members of God’s family, they each are precious.
3) Biblical Patterns To Resolve Troubles. The apostles instructed the brethren to “look ye out among you seven men…whom we may appoint over this business” (Acts 6:3). This was so the apostles could give themselves “continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). As local flocks of God’s people grow, certain matters are bound to arise. As they do, good elders will ask “what saith the scripture” (Rom. 4:3)? Good leaders will seek and find a pattern in the Bible to help remedy the issue (II Tim. 1:13).
4) Continued Growth. Were you aware even difficult circumstances can lead to further development and progress? Once the issue had been alleviated, “the word of God increased; and the number of disciples in Jerusalem multiplied greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7). When murmuring is muffled, local members are looked after and the Bible serves as a template to conquer concerns, more growth will come. Try it!