The Commissioning: Acts 6:5-6
“5) The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch. 6) And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them.” Acts‬ ‭6‬:‭5‬-‭6‬
Though the apostles were the spiritual leaders, the congregation had input into the direction of the ministry. The idea to open new positions of leadership came through the apostles, but it looks like the people approved of the idea and actually chose the seven prospects for the position.
I like the qualifications mentioned especially for Stephen; “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.” They picked well! They had high standards and high expectations. They wanted Spirit filled men.
It is important to observe that they brought these seven men to the apostles for approval. They had the final say.
They first prayed. I believe they were praying for wisdom and discernment about these men. They prayed “about them” before they prayed “for them.” Jesus did the same thing before appointing the twelve. (See Luke 6:12-19)
Second, they laid hands on them. This was a formal commissioning for service. The church at Antioch did the same for Paul and Barnabas as they sent them on their first missionary journey. (Acts 13:1-3) I believe strongly in laying hands on and praying over those called for service.
Unfortunately, there was still a bad apple among them. Just as Jesus appointed Judas, so the apostles appointed Nicolas. He went on to start false teachings in the early church. Revelation 2:6 & 15 called it: “the deeds of the Nicolaitans” and “the teaching of the Nicolaitans.”
He basically promoted the idea that flesh and the spirit were separate and that sins of the flesh had no bearing on justification by faith. It resulted in an excuse for sensual, immoral and indulgent living with no bearing on salvation.
His teaching did to the early church what the teaching of Balaam did to the children of Israel in the wilderness. In Revelation 2:6, Jesus said He hated the deeds of the Nicolaitans. His error nullified the call to holiness in the life of believers. Many were deceived and led astray by his false teachings.
This may be why Paul laid down strict qualification for church leadership in writing to both Timothy and Titus. He was taking pains to prevent anyone like Judas or Nicolas from slipping into leadership. (See his warnings in Acts 20:29-30)
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global