Acts 7 - Outline of Acts (Book Notes menu page)
1. Then said the high priest, Are these things so?
What things?
The accusations (presented in Acts 6:9-15) were that Stephen spoke blasphemous words...
  1. against this holy place (ie., the Temple)... saying, Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place.
  2. against the law... saying, Jesus of Nazareth shall change the customs which Moses delivered unto us.
Stephen does not defend himself against the charges.
Instead, he presents an overview of Israel's history, showing that God had graciously called, preserved and delivered the nation, in spite of Israel's continual unbelief and rebellion. The scriptures contain several similar summaries contrasting the faithfulness of Israel's Covenant keeping God with the unfaithfulness of the people. [Here are just a few examples: Josh 24:2-15; Neh 9:7-38; Psa 105; Psa 106. Most of these passages trace the course of Israel's history chronologically (up to the time when that passage was written).]
     Stephen, in his brief review, purposely places some events out of chronological order, in order to press his point. While he does not seek to counter the accusations raised against him, his message clearly addresses these two points, and tests the nation against them.
  1. Apart from the Holy One, there is no holy place.
  2. Apart from obedience to the Word of God, the nation's customs are empty.
In the following notes on ch. 7, the references, adjacent to the Bible text, refer back to the events described. Stephen's application, of these events, is developed in the notes below each section of Bible text.
2 And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken;
The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham,
when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran,
3 And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred,
and come into the land which I shall shew thee.
4 Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran:
and from thence, when his father was dead,
he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell.
(Gen 11:31,32; 12:1-5)
5 And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not [so much as] to set his foot on:
yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession,
(Gen 12:6,7; 13:14,15)
and to his seed after him, when [as yet] he had no child.
(Gen 15:2-7), brethren, and fathers...-
Stephen addresses his enemies with great respect. They are his natural kinsmen and the ruling elders of his nation. His great desire is that they, too, would understand the Gospel and receive their Messiah. (Later, this would also become Paul's desire. Rom 9:1-5)
The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham...-
Contrary to the thinking of the Sadducees, Moses was not the author of the customs which they had received. It all began at the initiative of the God of Glory. The word 'glory' {GK=doxa} speaks of the immeasurable worth of His Person and attributes. Out of His great grace and mercy, He called Abraham, an undeserving idol worshipper, to follow Him (Josh 24:2).
...Get thee out of thy country... into the land which I shall shew thee... then... he removed... into this land...-
Abraham believed God's Word, and took his journey, trusting Him to lead him. His progress was interrupted by a sojourn in Haran (in Syria), due to his father's weakness or unbelief. The land, to which God led Abraham, encompassed the place He had chosen for His name (Gen 22:4; Deu 12:5,11). For this reason, the land of Israel is called the holy land.
...He promised that He would give it {the land} to him... and to his seed, when... he had no child.-
The promises given to Abraham were entirely beyond his reach and ability to attain. The God, who made the covenant with him, He Himself would do these things. While Abraham possessed none of the land, and while he had no son from whom the promised nation could be built, Abraham believed God, and that was counted to him for righteousness (Gen 15:6; Rom 4:3-5).
6 And God spake on this wise,
That his seed should sojourn in a strange land;
and that they should bring them into bondage,
and entreat [them] evil four hundred years.
7 And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God:
and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place.
(Gen 15:13-16)
8 And he gave him the covenant of circumcision:
(Gen 17:8-14)
and so [Abraham] begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day;
(Gen 21:1-4)
and Isaac [begat] Jacob; and Jacob [begat] the twelve patriarchs.
(1Chr 2:1-2)
...God spake... That his seed should sojourn... in bondage... four hundred years... after that they shall come forth...-
Even before Abraham had a son, God foretold that the nation of Israel would become enslaved in Egypt, and that He would judge the Egyptians and deliver Abraham's seed from there.
...they shall come forth, and serve me in this place.-
They would still be in bondage if God had not kept His promise. But, as Stephen addressed the Sanhedrin, God had mercifully granted Israel a foothold in the land of promise, the holy land.
...He gave him the covenant of circumcision...-
The external mark of God's covenant with Abraham was also given before the birth of the son of promise. Ishmael was born as a result of Abraham's fleshly attempt to obtain the promised son. The symbolic lesson in circumcision (which is the removal of a piece of flesh from the male reproductive organ) is that it is impossible for the flesh to please God. By Himself, the living God would accomplish His purposes and fulfill His Covenant, through the promised Seed.
...and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him...-
God did what He had promised. Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah when they were well beyond the age of childbearing. God did what the flesh could not. Nothing is impossible for Him. The birth of Isaac confirmed the certainty of all of God's promises, including the deliverance of the nation from Egypt, several centuries later. cp. Num 23:19
...and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs.-
The great nation, which God promised to Abraham, consists of the twelve tribes descended from Jacob (whom God renamed 'Israel').
Note: Critics have imagined several discrepancies in Stephen's recounting of Israel's history.
It should be remembered, that Stephen did not have time to develop every detail. The Holy Spirit was speaking through him, to confront the unbelieving leaders of the nation. Excessive attention to details would distract from the essence of that message. Therefore, as we seek to understand Stephen's message, we cannot allow ourselves to be distracted with the points raised by modern critics. However, we will note them briefly, along with some plausible explanations.
     At v.6 above, critics say '400 years' conflicts with '430 years' as mentioned in other passages (Ex 12:40,41; Gal 3:17).
  1. God could have rounded the number that he gave to Abraham. Stephen quoted Gen 15:13 correctly.
  2. The precise number of years is determined by when the count begins and ends.
    As we will see in the next paragraph, Joseph entered Egypt about 30 years before his father and brothers. So, it may be that, in Joseph, the seed of Abraham was in Egypt 430 years, but the remainder of the family was there for 400 years.
       However, if the 430 years began when Jacob and his family entered Egypt, perhaps they enjoyed 30 years of blessing, until a king, who did not know Joseph, began to afflict and enslave the children of Israel for the next 400 years (Ex 1:1-14).
9 And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: (Gen 37:4-11,18-28)
but God was with him,
(Gen 39:1-2,21)
10 And delivered him out of all his afflictions,
and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt;
and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.
(Gen 41:14-44)
11 Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan,
and great affliction:
(Gen 41:53-57)
and our fathers found no sustenance.
12 But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt,
he sent out our fathers first.
(Gen 42:1-5)
13 And at the second [time] Joseph was made known to his brethren;
(Gen 45:4-11)
and Joseph's kindred was made known unto Pharaoh.
(Gen 45:16-18)
14 Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to [him],
and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls.
(Gen 46:26-28)
15 So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers,
16 And were carried over into Sychem,
and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money
of the sons of Emmor [the father] of Sychem.
(Gen 50:1-14)
Critics stumble over two matters in the above paragraph:
  1. The number of Israelites who entered Egypt - Verse 14 states it was "75 souls," while Gen 46:26,27 says it was "70 souls."
    Explanation: Stephen was a Hellenistic (Greek) Jew. He was probably most familiar with the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament, which numbers "75 souls" at Gen 46:27. Stephen was faithful to the text he knew.
       Another possibility is that the 75 souls which accompanied Jacob to Egypt (not counting those who were already there), included the wives of Jacob's sons. (Some of their wives might have died prior to the journey.)
  2. The burial place of 'Jacob and our fathers'- Stephen indicates that the patriarchs were buried in a sepulchre which Abraham purchased from the sons of Emmor of Shechem (v.16). However, Abraham purchased the Cave of Machpelah from Ephron the Hittite. It was there that Jacob was buried (Gen 23:16-20; 49:29-33).
       It was Jacob (not Abraham) who purchased the sepulcher in Shechem to bury some of his family members (Gen 33:16-20).
    Explanation: Stephen is covering a lot of territory. The details were well known to his audience. Stephen refers to the burial of the patriarchs (but is not specific as to who was buried where). Joseph was the last of the patriarchs to be buried in the promised land. His burial, in the sepulchre in Shechem (Josh 24:32), brought closure to the period of the patriarchs, which began with Abraham. In effect, Abraham purchased this property, through his grandson, Jacob.
       It is noteworthy that prior to Joseph's burial in Shechem, the only possessions pertaining to the seed of Abraham, in the promised land, were burial places for their dead. The patriarchs' desire, to be buried there, was an evidence of their faith in God's promise (Heb 11:8-22).
Why did the Holy Spirit (speaking through Stephen) remind the rulers of Israel about Joseph?
Because they, like the patriarchs of old, were moved with envy against the One whom God would make a Prince and a Deliverer, for the salvation of many (Gen 50:15-20; Acts 5:30,31). Like Joseph's brethren, they too could know the deliverance that God had provided, if they would repent and turn to the One sent by Him (Acts 3:13-21).
17. But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham,
the people grew and multiplied in Egypt,
18 Till another king arose, which knew not Joseph.
(Ex 1:8)
19 The same dealt subtilly with our kindred, and evil entreated our fathers,
so that they cast out their young children, to the end they might not live.
(Ex 1:15-18)
20 In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair,
and nourished up in his father's house three months:
(Ex 2:1-3)
21 And when he was cast out, Pharaoh's daughter took him up,
and nourished him for her own son.
(Ex 2:4-10)
22 And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians,
and was mighty in words and in deeds.
23 And when he was full forty years old,
it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel.
24 And seeing one [of them] suffer wrong, he defended [him],
and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian:
25 For he supposed his brethren would have understood
how that God by his hand would deliver them:
but they understood not.
26 And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove,
and would have set them at one again, saying,
Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?
27 But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying,
Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?
28 Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday?
(Ex 2:11-15)
29 Then fled Moses at this saying,
and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons.
(Ex 2:16-22)
Moses "supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them:
but they understood not." -
  • Moses, like Joseph, was also rejected by his brethren.
  • Moses, like Joseph, sensed that God was going to use him to deliver Israel.
  • Moses, like Joseph, and like their brethren, did not understand God's time or plan.
  • Moses also did not understand God's ways.
         Like Abraham, Moses attempted to force God's hand with his own fleshly efforts. But the works of the flesh cannot please God. All of the education afforded to Egypt's royalty, and all of his "mighty words and deeds" (v.22) were not adequate to prepare Moses for the Lord's work.
         Therefore, God took him to the backside of the desert, for forty years, until Moses had come to the end of his fleshly presumption and self-confidence (cf. v.22 with Ex 4:1,10). His confidence had to be in God alone, for He alone is the Deliverer of His people. Moses would become known as the meekest of men, due to his submission to God (Num 12:3).
         Today also, before the Lord can use you, He must teach you meekness. Mat 11:28-30; cp. Zech 4:6; 1Cor 2:4; 2Cor 3:5
...when the time of the promise drew nigh... (v.17) -
God raised up Moses, when He was about to fulfill His promise that Abraham's seed would be delivered and returned to the promised land, following 400 years of bondage in a strange land (v.6,7). God never fails to keep His Word. But He does so, in ways which are beyond what we might expect or imagine (Isa 55:8,9; Eph 3:20).
30. And when forty years were expired,
there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina
an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush.
31 When Moses saw [it], he wondered at the sight:
and as he drew near to behold [it], the voice of the Lord came unto him,
32 [Saying], I [am] the God of thy fathers,
the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.
Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold.
33 Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet:
for the place where thou standest is holy ground.
34 I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt,
and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them.
And now come, I will send thee into Egypt.
(Ex 3:1-10)
...there appeared to him... an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush...-
The God of Glory (v.2) appeared to Moses.
     This encounter profoundly affected Moses. As he humbled himself and worshipped in terrified amazement, the Lord spoke directly to him.
...I have seen... I have seen... I have heard... I am come down to deliver... I will send thee...-
God sent Moses, but God Himself was the active agent ("I have... I am... I will..."). The living God, before whom the patriarchs live eternally (Mat 22:31,32), personally observed the plight of their children, and personally took action to deliver them, as He had promised. He delivered them because He had promised, not due to any merit on their part (Deu 7:7-9; 26:5-9).
35 This Moses whom they refused, saying,
Who made thee a ruler and a judge?
the same did God send [to be] a ruler and a deliverer
by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush.
36 He brought them out,
after that he had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt,
and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years.
This Moses whom they refused... the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer...-
As God had elevated and used Joseph, though he was rejected by his brothers, so God elevated Moses to be a Prince and a Deliverer. Many in Stephen's audience, remembering Peter's recent testimony before them, could not miss the application to the rejected Jesus (Acts 5:30,31; cp. Luk 19:14; Joh 18:39,40; 19:15). the hand of the angel... he brought them out... wonders and signs...-
Moses led the people. But their deliverance was by the hand of God, who moved, in their behalf and against their captors, with supernatural power.
37 This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel,
A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me;
him shall ye hear.
(Deu 18:15-19)
38 This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness
with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and [with] our fathers:
who received the lively oracles to give unto us:
(Ex 19:3-8; Lev 18:1-5)
39 To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust [him] from them,
(eg., Num 16:1-4)
and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt,
(Num 14:1-4)
40 Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us:
for [as for] this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt,
we wot not
{ie., know not} what is become of him. (Ex 32:1-8)
This is that Moses, which said... A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up... like unto me...-
The Moses, whom the people rejected, and whom the Lord elevated to be a Prince and a Deliverer, had prophesied that God would send another great leader, like him... and that it would be imperative for the nation to give heed to Him. As the NT opens, many in Israel were watching expectantly for "that prophet" (eg., Joh 1:19-27; 6:14).
This is he [ie., the same Moses]... who was...
  • in the church in the wilderness...-
    Here, the word 'church' refers to the assembled multitude of Israel, that Moses led through the wilderness. Be careful not to confuse Israel and the Church of Christ. The NT 'church' is not found in the OT, because God had not yet revealed it. In v.38, the same word {GK=ekklesia, called out ones} that refers to the NT 'church' is used of the children of Israel, during their wilderness wanderings. They were a privileged people, who had been 'called out' and physically delivered from Egypt by God's great power. They were enroute to the land of Israel which God had promised to their fathers. However, because Christ had not yet come, they were not part of His Church, which consists of those who have been spiritually 'called out' of the world of sin and death, and into life eternal, through faith in His finished work of redemption.
  • with the angel... in mount Sinai...-
    This Moses went up into mount Sinai, into the presence of God, as the people trembled in the valley below. He was there for two separate 40 day periods.
  • who received the lively oracles...-
    While Moses was on the mountain, the Lord gave him the Law consisting of commandments and a covenant between Him and the people of Israel, to which the nation readily agreed (Ex 19:3-8). They were a privileged people (Rom 3:1,2). Stephen refers to God's Word as "the lively {ie., living} oracles." On the mount, Moses received far more than "customs" (Acts 6:14). The Law offered life to those who obeyed it (Lev 18:5; Deu 30:19,20).
  • to whom our fathers would not obey...-
    This Moses (the one through whom God had delivered the nation, and through whom He had spoken to them) was again rejected, as the unbelieving nation rebelled against God and pursued their own way. their hearts turned back to Egypt...-
On multiple occasions, during their journey from Egypt to the promised land, the children of Israel complained that it would have been better for them, if they had stayed in Egypt (eg., Ex 14:11,12; 16:3; 17:3). Then, upon arriving at the threshold of entering the land, they rebelled in unbelief and took action to return to Egypt. The Lord prevented them from doing so, and sentenced them to forty years of wandering in the wilderness (Num ch. 14). The people had departed from Egypt, but most of them had taken Egypt with them in their hearts. They were quick to turn from the living God, to idols (Eze 20:6-14).
...saying unto Aaron, Make us gods...-
While Moses was on the mountain, during the first 40 day period, the people turned back to the idolatry of Egypt. The golden calf was built and worshipped, prior to most of the events mentioned in v.37-39. However, Stephen's purpose is not to deliver a strict chronological history, but to show the pattern of Israel's unbelief. Aaron's golden calf was the first of many idols to which Israel would give themselves, in the centuries that followed. Idolatry was symptomatic of their unbelieving hearts.
41 And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol,
and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.
42. Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven;
as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel,
have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices
[by the space of] forty years in the wilderness?
43 Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch,
and the star of your god Remphan,
figures which ye made to worship them:
and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.
...God turned and gave them up...-
The Lord was very patient toward His people, although they continually turned from Him to serve the idols of the gentile nations around them. Over the course of hundreds of years, He sent prophets to call the people back to Himself. But they would not turn to Him with their whole heart. Eventually, God gave them up to the heathen worship that they preferred (Psa 81:11,12; Hos 4:17). it is written...- Verses 42,43 quote Amos 5:25-27.
While the nation honored the LORD with their mouths, their hearts went after other gods. Therefore, the LORD gave them over to the consequences of their sin. The nation was carried away from the land, in two captivities, first to Assyria and then to Babylon.
     Critics complain that Stephen misquoted Amos, who foretold the Assyrian (not the Babylonian) captivity. Stephen combines both captivities, in his brief historical overview of the nation's self-destructive course. He was addressing the leaders in Jerusalem, whose ancestors had been taken captive to Babylon, about six hundred years prior to his time. He adapted this text, making application to his hearers, to demonstrate that they, like their forefathers, also possessed unbelieving hearts and were worthy of similar judgment.
44 Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness,
as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses,
that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen.
(Ex 25:40)
45 Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus
{ie., Joshua}
into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers,
unto the days of David;
46 Who found favour before God,
and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob.
(1Chr 17:1-f)
47 But Solomon built him an house.
(1Kin 8:1-6)
48 Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
(1Kin 8:27; 2Chr 2:5,6; 6:18)
as saith the prophet,
49 Heaven [is] my throne, and earth [is] my footstool:
what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what [is] the place of my rest?
50 Hath not my hand made all these things?
(Isa 66:1,2)
...our fathers had the tabernacle... according to the fashion that he had seen.-
While Moses was on the mount, during the second 40 day period, the Lord gave him the design for the construction of the Tabernacle, and its order of worship. The Lord was emphatic that all should be according to the pattern that He prescribed. It was called 'the Tabernacle of Witness' (v.44) or 'the Tabernacle of Testimony' (eg. Ex 38:21), because the order of the Tabernacle pictured the only acceptable way for sinful men to approach unto the Holy God. The Tabernacle spoke of the means by which God would fulfill His Covenant with Abraham and with Israel. The book of Hebrews explains that these pictures were fulfilled in the Person and Work of Christ (Heb 8:1-6).
...which also our fathers... brought in with Jesus {ie., Joshua}...-
When Joshua led Israel into the promised land, they brought the Tabernacle with them and set it up at Shiloh (Josh 18:1). In the course of years of conflict, during which Israel failed to fully drive out the heathen from the land, the Tabernacle was relocated and fell into disuse.
    Later, king David desired to build a permanent Temple. But it was king Solomon who built it, incorporating many of the features from the pattern of the Tabernacle. When the building was completed, Solomon offered a prayer of dedication (v.48 is an excerpt from his prayer). saith the prophet {ie., the Lord speaking through Isaiah}, Heaven is my throne... what house will ye build me?...-
While in the wilderness, Israel had the Tabernacle which testified to the God of the Covenant. Yet, in their hearts, they had served the tabernacle of false gods (v.42,43). After the Tabernacle came into the Land... and even after the Temple was built, Israel adopted the false gods of their heathen neighbors, alongside the worship of the Lord. Because Israel had defiled themselves and the holy place with their idols, God had allowed the destruction of the Temple and the captivities of His people.
     But when the time was right, Israel's gracious and faithful God had kept His promise of restoration. The nation was partially restored to the land and the Temple was rebuilt.
     It was in a chamber of that rebuilt Temple, that the Holy Spirit (through Stephen) confronted Israel's rulers with the charge that they had made the Temple itself their idol... and imagining themselves to hold supreme authority in that place, they had rejected the One who does (Mal 3:1).
51. Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears,
ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers [did], so [do] ye.
52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted?
and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One;
of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:
53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept [it].
Deu 9:6,13; Isa 48:4; Jer 17:23; Eze 2:4,5; Zech 7:11,12
...uncircumcised in heart and ears...-
Deu 10:16; 30:6; Jer 4:4; Rom 2:25,28,29 do always resist the Holy Ghost... persecuted the prophets...-
Mat 23:31-33,37-39
...the prophets... shewed the coming of the Just One...-
2Chr 36:16; Mat 21:33-46
...of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers...-
Acts 2:23; 3:15; 4:10
...who... received the law by the disposition {ie., injunction} of angels (v.30,35,38), have not kept it.
Joh 7:19; Heb 2:1-4
The Lord had sent Stephen, like an angel, with this message to the rulers of Israel (Acts 6:15).
54. When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart,
and they gnashed on him with [their] teeth.
55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven,
and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened,
and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
57 Then they cried out with a loud voice,
and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,
58 And cast [him] out of the city, and stoned [him]:
and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.
When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart...-
Confronted by the Holy Spirit, with the truth of God's Word, the nation's rulers were deeply convicted. But rather than repenting, they responded again with murderous rage (but this time unrestrained, cp. Acts 5:33-35).
But he, being full of the Holy Ghost...-
The Holy Spirit, who had enabled Stephen to speak of "the God of Glory" (v.2), now enables him to look into heaven to see "the glory of God" and, in that glory, "Jesus standing {GK=histemi} on the right hand of God."
     Elsewhere we read that Jesus, having completed the work of redemption, is seated at the right hand of God (Heb 1:3; Psa 110:1). But here, He stands...
  • as Stephen's advocate against the enemies who stood against him (cp. Acts 6:13, where 'set up' is GK=histemi, stood up).
  • ready to welcome Stephen, His first martyr, into the Father's house (Psa 116:15).
...they... stopped their ears... ran upon him with one accord... cast him out... stoned him...-
They could not endure another moment of Stephen's vivid testimony. They refused to acknowledge Jesus as "the Son of man" in glory (Dan 7:13,14).
...the witnesses laid their clothes... [before] Saul.-
According to Deu 17:6,7, the witnesses who brought the charges against Stephen must cast the first stones. Saul's role was to guard the garments of those who did the killing, but he was in full agreement with their action (Acts 8:1; 22:20). At this point, Saul and Stephen were enemies, divided by the cross of Christ (much like two other men, Luk 23:33,38-43). Yet, in his death, Stephen sewed seeds that would lead to Saul's conversion.
59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon [God],
and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice,
Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.
And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Lord, lay not this sin to their charge...
Stephen's last word was a prayer that his enemies should be forgiven.
Being full of the Spirit, he bore the likeness of his Savior. Luk 23:34,46
...he fell asleep.-
For the believer, sleep is a beautiful description of death. The 'sleeping' body will be awaken in resurrection (Joh 11:11-14; 1The 4:13-18). But until that day, the believer's disembodied spirit continues in conscious communion with the Lord (2Cor 5:6-8; Php 1:21-23). Therefore, the believer can witness for the Lord with bold confidence, in the face of all enemies (as Paul would soon learn for himself, Rom 8:35-39).
With its definite rejection by the rulers, the offer of the Messianic kingdom was temporarily withdrawn. Mat 23:38,39
The Gospel had been proclaimed in Jerusalem. Now, it must go to Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 1:8).

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