Could Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus had been the first priests?

Acts 6:

1 About this time, when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenists made a complaint against the Hebrews: in the daily distribution their own widows were being overlooked.

2 So the Twelve called a full meeting of the disciples and addressed them, 'It would not be right for us to neglect the word of God so as to give out food;

3 you, brothers, must select from among yourselves seven men of good reputation, filled with the Spirit and with wisdom, to whom we can hand over this duty.

4 We ourselves will continue to devote ourselves to prayer and to the service of the word.’

5 The whole assembly approved of this proposal and elected Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus of Antioch, a convert to Judaism.

6 They presented these to the apostles, and after prayer they laid their hands on them.

7 The word of the Lord continued to spread: the number of disciples in Jerusalem was greatly increased, and a large group of priests made their submission to the faith.

No, they were the first deacons. The priesthood as we know it today only developed several centuries later. In the earliest days of the Church there were bishops and deacons.

At the end of v. 2 there is a slight mis-translation; where your version has “to give out food,” the original Greek is translated “to serve (diakonein, the word from which we get “deacon”) tables.” Priests do not “serve tables;” in the early days of the church that was the job of those whom we now know as deacons – doing the ordinary work of service so that the Apostles could devote their time to more heavenly tasks.

I have a different understanding.

Galot in The Theology of the Priesthood makes various imporant points against the interpretation of the Seven as deacons and presents excellent arguments for why they were presbyters. He points out, for instance, that the word diakonein is not being used here in the technical use of the word to denote deacons . Apparently to distribute the weekly money to pay for fourteen meals only required three to take care all of Jerusalem. Why Seven? Actually, Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus would not have been the first as they were being added to those that were already taking good care of the Hebrews. Why the laying of hands and empowerment to distribute weekly funds? Why ask the people to select those “filled with spirit and wisdom” denoting a vocation?

Apparently, John Chrisostom did not think the passage is referring to deacons ( I am trying to find the quote referred to) and the Church has not used the passage as referring to deacons.


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