Memory Text: “The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7, NRSV).
Many converts at Pentecost were Hellenistic Jews, that is, Jews from the Greco-Roman world who were now living in Jerusalem (Acts 2:5, Acts 2:9-11). Despite being Jews, they were different from Judean Jews—the “Hebrews” mentioned in Acts 6:1—in many respects, the most visible difference being that usually they were not acquainted with Aramaic, the language then spoken in Judea.
There were several other differences, too, both cultural and religious. For having been born in foreign countries, they had no roots in Judean Jewish traditions, or at least their roots were not as deep as those of Judean Jews. They were presumably not so much attached to the temple ceremonies and to those aspects of the Mosaic law that were applicable only to the land of Israel.
Also, for having spent most of their lives in a Greco-Roman environment and having lived in close contact with Gentiles, they would naturally be more willing to understand the inclusive character of the Christian faith. In fact, it was many Hellenistic believers that God used to fulfill the command of bearing witness to the entire world.
Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, July 28.