on Acts 6 :3
Wherefore - look ye out among you seven men - Choose persons in whom ye can all confide, who will distribute the provisions impartially, and in due time; and let these persons be the objects of the choice both of the Hebrews and Hellenists, that all cause of murmuring and discontent may be done away. Though seven was a sacred number among the Jews, yet there does not appear to be any mystery intended here. Probably the seven men were to take each his day of service; and then there would be a superintendent for these widows, etc., for each day of the week.
Of honest report - Μαρτυρουμενους Persons to whose character there is authentic testimony, well known and accredited.
Full of the Holy Ghost - Saved into the spirit of the Gospel dispensation; and made partakers of that Holy Ghost by which the soul is sanctified, and endued with those graces which constitute the mind that was in Christ.
And wisdom - Prudence, discretion, and economy; for mere piety and uprightness could not be sufficient, where so many must be pleased, and where frugality, impartiality, and liberality, must ever walk hand in hand.
Whom we may appoint - Instead of καταστησωμεν, we may appoint, καταστησομεν, we shall appoint, is the reading of ABCDE, and several others. It makes, however, very little difference in the sense.
on Acts 6 :3
Look ye out - Select, or choose. As this was a matter pertaining to their own pecuniary affairs, it was proper that "they" should be permitted to choose such men as they could confide in. By this means the apostles would be free from all suspicions. It could not be pretended that "they" were partial, nor could it ever be charged on them that they wished to embezzle the funds by managing them themselves, or by entrusting them to men of their own selection. It follows from this, also, that the right of selecting "deacons" resides "in" the church, and does not pertain to the ministry. It is evidently proper that men who are to be entrusted with the alms of the church should be selected by the church itself.
Among you - That is, from among the Grecians and Hebrews, that there may be justice done, and no further cause of complaint.
Seven men - Seven was a sacred number among the Hebrews, but there does not appear to have been any "mystery" in choosing this number. It was a convenient number, sufficiently large to secure the faithful performance of the duty, and not so large as to cause confusion and embarrassment. It does not follow, however, that the same number is now to be chosen as deacons in a church, for the precise number is not commanded.
Of honest report - Of fair reputation; regarded as men of integrity. Greek: "testified of," or "bear witness to"; that is, whose characters were well known and fair.
Full of the Holy Ghost - This evidently does not mean endowed with miraculous gifts, or the power of speaking foreign languages, for such gifts were not necessary to the discharge of their office, but it means people who were eminently under the influence of the Holy Spirit, or who were of distinguished piety. This was all that was necessary in the case, and this is all that the words fairly imply.
And wisdom - Prudence, or skill, to make a wise and equable distribution. The qualifications of deacons are still further stated and illustrated in 1 Timothy 3:8-10. In this place it is seen that they must be people of eminent piety and fair character, and that they must possess "prudence," or wisdom, to manage the affairs connected with their office. These qualifications are indispensable to a faithful discharge of the duty entrusted to the officers of the church.
Whom we may appoint - Whom we may "constitute," or set over this business. The way in which this was done was by prayer and the imposition of hands, Acts 6:6. Though they were "selected" by the church, yet the power of ordaining them, or setting them apart, was retained by the apostles. Thus, the rights of "both" were preserved - the right of the church to designate those who should serve them in the office of deacon, and the right of the apostles to organize and establish the church with its appropriate officers; on the one hand, a due regard to the liberty and privileges of the Christian community, and, on the other, the security of proper respect for the office as being of apostolic appointment and authority.
Over this business - That is, over the distribution of the alms of the church - not to preach, or to govern the church, but solely to take care of the sacred funds of charity, and distribute them to supply the needs of the poor. The office is distinguished from that of "preaching" the gospel. To that the apostles were to attend. The deacons were expressly set apart to a different work, and to that work they should be confined. In this account of their original appointment, there is not the slightest intimation that they were to "preach," but the contrary is supposed in the whole transaction. Nor is there here the slightest intimation that they were regarded as an order of "clergy," or as in any way connected with the clerical office. In the ancient synagogues of the Jews there were three men to whom was entrusted the care of the poor. They were called by the Hebrews "parnasin" or "pastors" (Lightfoot, Hor. Heb. et Talin.; Matthew 4:23). From these officers the apostles took the idea probably of appointing deacons in the Christian church, and doubtless intended that their duties should be the same.
on Acts 6 :3
6:3 Of good report - That there may be no room to suspect them of partiality or injustice. Full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom - For it is not a light matter to dispense even the temporal goods of the Church. To do even this well, a large measure both of the gifts and grace of God is requisite. Whom we will set over this business - It would have been happy for the Church, had its ordinary ministers in every age taken the same care to act in concert with the people committed to their charge, which the apostles themselves, extraordinary as their office was, did on this and other occasions.