The seven “deacons” of the church in Jerusalem were chosen because of their good reputations and the fact that they were full of the Holy Spirit. Nicanor was one of those men. Like Prochorus, who was mentioned before him, Nicanor had an excellent reputation. We can understand what that means, but how would you know if someone was full of the Holy Spirit?
Nicanor may have received gifts from the Holy Spirit through the hands of the Apostles. Acts 6:6 says, “These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them,” and we know at least one of the seven performed miracles later on (Philip in Samaria, Acts 8:6 – 7) so that’s a possibility. But let’s discount that for a moment. The Jerusalem Christians recognized Nicanor was full of the Holy Spirit – that’s the promise made to everyone who is baptized (Acts 2:38). What did they see? The same things we see today in the life of a believer: change and growth.
The Holy Spirit produces fruit in the life of the believer (Galatians 5:22 – 23). Jesus told us not to judge other people (Matthew 7:1 – 6). Marshall Keeble agreed and wisely claimed just to be a “fruit inspector” (See Matthew 7:16).
Peter and John were tried before the Sanhedrin, and they recognized the difference in the apostles’ lives: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).
Perhaps people had seen changes in Nicanor’s life too. That makes me wonder as we close our devotional today, what changes are the result of the Holy Spirit working in my life? Or, as the old preacher challenged us, “If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”
Note: We know virtually nothing other than what is recorded in Scripture (Acts 6) concerning Nicanor. I have been able to find three legends concerning how he died, and they all conflict. Some say he suffered with Stephen and was stoned in Jerusalem, but why wouldn’t the Bible mention that? Others say he was only injured and returned to his home in Cyprus, where he died. Finally, others say he died of old age in Jerusalem. I think we will have to wait until we meet him to know the rest of the story!