Justice is a Gospel issue: Spiritual and practical empowerment – Acts 6:6

“These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.” (Acts 6:6)

Continuing the theme of empowerment that runs throughout Acts 6, verse six describes the apostles’ commission and ratification of the selection of those chosen to solve the presented problem.

By definition, this is an example of Apostlic leadership, but we must not rush to assume we know what that means. Firstly, our understanding of apostolic leadership must be set in the context of (at least) the rest of Acts and the rest of Acts 6. With this in mind, we have to note that Acts 6:6, like basically all references to elders and overseers in the New Testament, refers to the leaders, to the apostles in this case, in the plural. It is not an apostle, but “the apostles”. As a result, we must speak of Apostolic leadership as being a corporate entity, as team leadership.

“These they set before…” Secondly, “these they set before” took place by the collective and corporate consent of the Spirit-led community in conjunction with the practical act of listening to the minority group, within the context of a quasi-democratic process.┬áSuch a process can therefore be described as being reflective of the 360 degree culture of honour represented elsewhere in the passage.

Reflecting on the process throughout the chapter and culminating in verse six, we can also conclude that such apostolic leadership is not micro-management. Rather, it is practically empowering of the disenfranchised and under-represented in the complaint, the resolution of the issues and here in the commissioning of many the same people in the practical resolution of the problem.

But that is not to say that it the apostles are not also acting spiritually here. First of all, the act of addressing the complaint so well and so fully must be described as spiritual. And secondly, it is all done in the context of prayer.

Finally, we must note how transparent the whole process is. Not only is it done by team leadership, with collective corporate consent, listening to the under-represented and then empowering the body to choose those who should address the issue, but we cannot avoid that the whole thing is done in public. Firstly, the process takes place before the team leadership and then the whole assembly. Then, in addition, it is recorded in writing and published openly in Luke’s Book of Acts to the extent that we are reading and discussing it here today!

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