In ancient Rome, crowds by the tens of thousands would gather in the Colosseum to watch as Christians were torn apart by wild animals. Paul Rader, commenting on his visit to this famous landmark, said, “I stood and asked myself, ‘Would I, could I, die for Him tonight … More
As Stephen laid the blame for the slaying of Christ squarely on them, the members of the council began to murmur. Finally under heavy conviction, they interrupted his sermon and rushed on him in preparation to stone him. They were so angry at him that they literally gnashed their teeth like ravenous beasts (v. 54). There was no recognition of the fact that the Sanhedrin did not have the power of sentencing to death. There was no judicial trial; it was martyrdom. However, Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit and as he looked toward heaven he saw God and Jesus (vv. 55-56). Then Stephen said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right side of God! They simply plugged up their ears so as not to hear him, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him (vv. 57-58).
As the stoning proceeded, Stephen knelt and asked the Lord to receive his spirit and not to lay this sin to the charge of the Jews (vv. 59-60). Then he fell asleep and was ushered into the presence of the Lord. However, the story does not end there. Stephen was dead, but God’s work was to be carried on through the life of Saul, who was standing by holding the witnesses’ clothes (v. 58).
From this account we can see certain notable things about Stephen:
1. We see the secret of his courage. Beyond all that men could do to him, he saw awaiting him the welcome of his Lord.
2. We see Stephen following his Lord’s example. As Jesus prayed for the forgiveness of his executioners (Luke 23:34), so did Stephen.
3. We see how dreadful turmoil finished in a strange peace. To Stephen came the peace which comes to the man who has done the right thing, even if it kills him.
God does not call all of us to be martyrs, but He does call us to be “living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1-2). What has been the bigest test I have faced in the past year? How did I handle it?
Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
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Acts 9:19b-31Previous Persecutor Begins Preaching Ministry
Acts 4:1-12Early Church Persecuted for their Faith
Acts 4:13-22Boldness Brings Results
Acts 4:23-31Prayer Produces Unity
Acts 4:32-37Sharing Shows Brotherly-Love
Acts 5:1-11Ananias & Sapphira Hide the Truth & Suffer Consequences
Acts 5:12-16Effective Church Ministry
Acts 5:17-32Obedience to God and Man
Acts 5:33-42Gamaliel Convinces the Council – No Persecution
Acts 6:1-7Deacons Chosen To Serve
Acts 6:8-15Stephen Summoned before Synagogue Leaders
Acts 7:1-8Stephen’s Sermon–God’s Covenant of Circumcision to Abraham
Acts 7:9-19Stephen’s Sermon–Abraham’s Promised Descendents
Acts 7:20-29Stephen’s Sermon–Moses Identifies with God’s Chosen People
Acts 7:30-43Stephen’s Sermon–Moses’ Mandate From God
Acts 7:44-53Stephen’s Sermon–The Bold Conclusion!
Acts 7:54-60Stephen Stoned to Death for his Faith
Acts 8:1-8Persecution Scatters Believers / Philip Boldly Preaches
Acts 8:9-25Simon Seeks and is Denied the "Spiritual” Gift of Healing
Acts 8:26-40Ethiopian Eunuch Evangelized by Philip
Acts 9:1-9Saul’s "Damascus Road Conversion” to Paul
Acts 9:10-19aAnanias is Available to Disciple Saul–a New Believer!
Acts 9:32-43Peter Used by God in Joppa to Heal Beloved Dorcas
Acts 10:1-8Cornelius–A Religious Man on a Mission for God
Acts 10:9-22God’s "Gentile” Message to Peter through Visions
Acts 10:23-33Peter Meets Corneilius
Acts 10:34-48Peter Preaches to Cornelius Household