I heard a phrase while I listened to a talk yesterday, which I had never heard before, and which was used to prove an alternative reading of Acts 6 – Juxapositional Irony. Outside of the preacher, i am not sure the word, or phrase exists, but this preacher used the phrase to argue that Luke, in Acts 6, is using juxtapositional irony to make a point. And the point is that when the Apostles choose the ‘seven’ men to wait tables and distribute food in order for them to retreat into being ‘important’ (note the preachers irony and what he think about that decision) God said, “OK, we will see about that, while you are retreating into your ‘importance’ to pray and preach, I think Stephen and Philip are quite cool and I am going to bless them and use them.” The preacher also argued that the word Diaconate, where we get the word Deacon from also means slave. That is not accurate: diakoneo, dee-ak-on-eh´-o; means to be an attendant, i.e. wait upon (menially or as a host, friend, or (figuratively) teacher). If Luke wanted to convey the idea of ‘slave’ he would have used the word doulos which conveys the idea of both servant and slave – Paul uses it at the beginning of Romans.
The rest of the sermon was a good message and the end was particularly challenging. It was sad that the preacher decided to put this section in. To suggest that the Apostles were being pompous in their thinking that they are more important, and that God showed them otherwise by blessing these menial servants, is somewhat bizarre. Rather than opening up the text, it simply seemed to be a rant against pompous forms of leadership who have used Acts 6 to elevate leaders above administrators in terms of importance. While I am sympathetic with that, this piece of ‘exegesis’, or probably more accurately ‘eisexgesis’ did not enhance his message and probably did it more damage.