by Wayne Blank
Hellenists Of The New Testament
Hellenists are mentioned specifically twice in The Bible, both in referring to Jews who spoke Greek and lived somewhat according to Greek ways. They did not congregate with the Hebrew-speaking Jews of Jerusalem during the time of Christ, but had their own synagogues.
As with the Hebrew-speaking Jews of Israel, many Hellenists became Christians, although even within the church the cultural division between the Hebrew and Greek-speaking Jews remained, at least for a time:
"Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists murmured against the Hebrews because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve [i.e. The Twelve Apostles] summoned the body of the disciples and said, "It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this duty [see also Deacon and Deaconess]. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word."
Christianity began as a division among Jews; some recognized and accepted Jesus of Nazareth [see Nazarene] as the long-awaited Messiah, and some did not, or would not (it should be kept in mind that in Scriptures that describe "the Jews" opposing the early church, it was almost always other Jews, Christian Jews, that they were opposing - for every Jew there was that wanted Jesus crucified, there was another Jew who was horrified to see it happen). While the pro-Roman Hebrew-speaking Jews were the ones who got one of their own fellow Jews, the Messiah, killed (i.e. "They cried out, "Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar" - John 19:15 RSV), some of the Hellenistic Jews, also known as "Grecians," also opposed the early Christian church, or at least some of the leadership, such as the newly-converted apostle Paul (although their opposition to him may have been based on the before-then justifiable fear of the man who not so long before was deadly anti-Christian):
"And when he had come to Jerusalem he attempted to join the disciples; and they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared to them how on the road [see On The Road To Damascus] he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists; but they were seeking to kill him. And when the brethren knew it, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him off to Tarsus."
Fact Finder: Is salvation open to everyone, everywhere, if they repent and truly obey God?