Today a complaint arises about widows in the church being neglected. So the disciples select 7 men to oversee the care of the widows. This allows the 12 disciples to stay focused on the word of God. Stephen, a man of faith and full of the Holy Spirt, and who did great wonders and signs among the people, is selected as one of the 7. Philip is also selected and we will hear more on him tomorrow.
But men from the Synagogue of the Freedmen argue with Stephen. “And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. Then they secretly induced men to say, ‘We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.’”
Stephen is then brought before the Sanhedrin (Jewish council) where his face shines like an angel. When Stephen is asked to defend himself, do you know what he does?! He tells the Story of the Bible! Beginning with Abraham…
– God’s relationship with Abraham, Issac, Jacob, and the 12 patriarchs.
– Joseph as a slave in Egypt whom the Lord elevates as a ruler that saves the nations from famine.
– Jacob and his family of 75 coming to live in Egypt.
– Jacob’s family growing so much that they become a threat to Pharaoh so that Pharaoh oppresses them and kills their babies.
– God saving Moses and raising him up to deliver His people. Then Moses speaking of the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ – “This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.’”
– The Israelites wandering in the wilderness for 40 years where God gave them the law which they did not obey.
– Joshua bringing them into the promised land.
– God finding favor with King David but Solomon, David’s son, building the house for the Lord.
Then Stephen turns his attention to the council. “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.”
“When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, ‘Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!’ Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not charge them with this sin.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”
“Now Saul was consenting to his death.” But tomorrow, Saul encounters Jesus and becomes a new man. Keep reading to see what happens.