“Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke” (Acts 6:8–10).
When you share the good news of Jesus Christ, incredible things can happen! We see this in the life of Stephen, “a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit,” as Acts 6:5 describes him. He was “hired” as a servant, to help distribute food and supplies among the nascent community of believers in Jerusalem.
Stephen did his part by both speaking and doing. Filled with the Holy Spirit, this young man “did great wonders and signs among the people” (verse 8), so it is little wonder “a great many of the priests” became believers.
As you might imagine, such actions didn’t take place without opposition. If “many” Jewish priests agreed with Stephen, a greater number did not. Other Jews in Jerusalem at the time also were challenged by Stephen’s teachings. They didn’t like what they heard. They argued with the young man, but they couldn’t overcome his arguments.
However, they found an accusation that would “stick”—that of blasphemy. In an epic defence, Stephen outlined the whole of Jewish history, emphasizing that the Israelites had always opposed prophets sent from God to rebuke and chastise His people. His words stung the hearts of the Sanhedrin, and Stephen’s fate was sealed. He was taken to the outskirts of the city, stoned, and left to die.
Toward the end of Acts chapter 7, the people who came to stone Stephen laid their garments at the feet of a man named Saul. God could have used for His purposes those who stood by approvingly as Stephen was martyred (Acts 8:1). May we who love Jesus allow God to do it!
Loving Father, please give me the heart of service and proclamation and the courage to face all obstacles that Stephen had!
For Further Study: Acts 6–8