(Greek words can be viewed using the Symbol font.)
set of notes.
Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
November 27 & December 4, 2005
Stephen, The First Martyr
This morning we come to the short, but incredible life and ministry of
Stephen. We met him last week in Acts 6:5 as one of the seven that were chosen
to help with the serving of the widows. He is specifically marked as a man
full of faith and of the Holy Spirit. This morning we will see that displayed
in his incredible witness even in the face of persecution. As one writer
commented, if Stephen had not been martyred, he would have been the one doing
the things Paul ends up doing. Perhaps that is one reason this same passage
also introduces us to Saul, who becomes the apostle Paul.
Recall that by this time the early church was now facing rising persecution
as the chief priests, Sadducees and the Sanhedrin react negatively to the
preaching of the gospel. And though the apostles have been flogged by them for
proclaiming Jesus Christ, they continue preaching his death and resurrection
along with performing many signs and wonders that authenticate their message.
The church has also grown so rapidly that the sheer logistics of trying to
keep up with all the ministry gave rise to complaining and the start of a
faction, but the apostles quickly handled the situation and had the
congregation find seven men full of the Spirit and wisdom that they then
appointed to the task. The complaining ceased and the church was again unified
and as verse 7 states: “And the word of God kept on spreading; and the
number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a
great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.”
The church continues to grow with even a large number of priests becoming
followers of Jesus Christ. The church is bold and Stephen is one of the men at
the forefront of declaring Christ. Verses 8-10 tell us about his ministry and
Stephen’s Ministry (vs. 8-10)
8 And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and
signs among the people. 9 But some men from what was called the Synagogue of
the Freedmen, [including] both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from
Cilicia and Asia, rose up and argued with Stephen. 10 And [yet] they were
unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.
These verses tells us that Stephen is full of grace and power and that he
is marked by the same major elements of ministry as the Apostles. He was doing
miracles among the people and he was a bold apologist for the truth of Jesus
Christ. We find these two elements consistently linked together throughout
Acts and the Epistles. The power shown in the signs and wonders were for the
purpose of authenticating the message being given. The New Testament only
records them being done by Jesus (gospels), the apostles (Acts 2:43, 5:12,
6:8), Stephen (Acts 6:8), Phillip (Acts 8:6), Paul & Barnabas (Acts 14:3,
15:12 also Rom. 15:19, 2 Cor. 12:12) and always in conjunction with
proclaiming Christ. We are not told exactly what signs and wonders Stephen was
doing, but our text emphasizes that they were great, and we assume they would
include the same miracles as the apostles including healings and casting out
of demons. The grace of Stephen was in proclaiming the message of hope in
Jesus Christ. It also tells us that his manner of speaking was not harsh or
I think it is safe to assume that the effectiveness of Stephen struck fear
in the hearts of the Jewish traditionalists. They clearly recognize that with
the rapid growth of the church and the great number of priests also becoming
followers of Jesus Christ there was a real threat to their traditional
practices of Judaism. Verse 9 tells us of the reactions of some of these in
rising up to argue with Stephen.
The Synagogue of the Freedmen is related to the descendants of the
Jewish prisoners that had been captured by Pompey in 63 B.C. and deported to
Rome. In the years that followed they were released and they built a colony
along the Tiber River in Rome. Some of their descendants had come back to
Jerusalem and established Synagogues. Synagogues were meeting places for
reading of Scripture and worship, sort of like a neighborhood church or
chapel. The Talmud says there were 480 of them in Jerusalem at this time. The
Cyrenians came from the capital of the area that is now Libya and the
Alexandrians came from that city in Egypt. Cilicia and Asia were provinces in
the area which is now the nation of Turkey. It would appear from the wide
diversity in the regions mentioned that Luke is referring to more than one
synagogue. Since Stephen is a Greek name, it is possible that he may have even
been a member of one of the synagogues before coming to faith in Jesus Christ.
The term “argue” here (suzhtevw suzÃÂªteÃÂ´)
should be more understood in the sense of “debate.” They were giving point
counter-point on matters of doctrine and worship for they could not argue
against the miracles. The place of these debates is not specifically given,
but it may well be that Stephen was going into the synagogues to proclaim
Christ, much as Paul does later in his missionary journeys. God gave Stephen
the ability through the Holy Spirit to overwhelmingly win every debate with
his opponents. But as is often the case when a person clearly loses a debate
but refuses to acknowledge the truth, they resort to unethical methods to
accomplish their goal of silencing their opponent. This still happens today.
Consider what happens in politics in which those who cannot win a debate
resort to name calling, ad hominem attacks and character assassination
including the use of false witnesses. Part of the reason for the zealousness
of these people is that since they are Hellenistic Jews, they are striving to
gain the favor of the native Jews by showing extreme commitment to Moses, the
Law and the Temple.
Lying Opponents (vs. 11-15)
11 Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak
blasphemous words against Moses and [against] God.” 12 And they stirred up the
people, the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and dragged him
away, and brought him before the Council. 13 And they put forward false
witnesses who said, “This man incessantly speaks against this holy place, and
the Law; 14 for we have heard him say that this Nazarene, Jesus, will destroy
this place and alter the customs which Moses handed down to us. ” 15 And
fixing their gaze on him, all who were sitting in the Council saw his face
like the face of an angel.
With the accusations made by the false witnesses that Stephen was
blaspheming Moses and God, the crowds quickly turn against him despite the
signs and wonders and clearly superior arguments concerning God’s commandments
and will for His people. Stephen is now without the popular support of the
people so the Jewish religious leaders and the Sanhedrin are no longer afraid
to act, so they came and dragged him away. The term “dragged” (sunarpazw
/ sunarpazo) shows a greatly increased violence in the arrest as
compared to the Apostles in Acts 4:3. Luke makes no comment on how long it
takes for the Sanhedrin to assemble, but once they have, Stephen is placed
before them. The false witnesses come forward and make their accusations which
are some of same charges that had been made against Jesus, specifically that
Jesus would destroy the temple and would change the customs they claimed were
received from Moses. Perhaps they thought that if it worked against the
leader, then the same lie would also work against His followers.
The truth is that Jesus said that if they destroyed this temple, He would
rebuild it in three days (John 2:19). Jesus was referring to His own body, but
even missing that point it was utterly false to say that Jesus spoke against
the temple or would destroy it. Jesus was actually zealous for the Temple for
it was supposed to be a house of prayer for all nations. That is why he
cleared out the moneychangers and merchants in John 2 and Matthew 21. Neither
Jesus nor Stephen spoke against the Law, though it was a common part of Jesus’
teaching as he corrected their wrong practices which were based on their wrong
interpretations of Moses’ laws (cf. Matt. 5-7, etc.).
As Stephen stands before the council, which is seated in an elevated
semicircle around him, they see his face as like the face of an angel. Luke
does not explain exactly what this means. Angels are characteristically
described in Scripture as looking like men, but there are times when they are
described as having a bright appearance (Ezek. 8:2; Luke 2:9; Acts 12:7; 22:6;
Rev. 18:1) so it is thought that Stephen’s face was shining much like Moses’
did when he came down from Mt. Sinai in Exod. 34:30). But even this did not
dissuade them from the evil already in their hearts.
Stephen’s Defense (7:1-53)
In 7:1 “the high priest said, “Are these things so?” This is a court
and they will give him a chance to make his plea and defend himself. There are
four accusations against Stephen. 1) He has blasphemed Moses. 2) He has
blasphemed God. 3) He has spoken against the Temple. 4) He has spoken against
the law. Note that they put blasphemy against Moses before God.
The Truth About God (vs. 2-16)
Stephen begins his defense by showing his respect for them. “Hear me,
brethren and fathers!” He calls their attention to the fact that he is
also a Jew and then shows deference to their position as Elders in Israel by
calling them fathers.
Stephen then goes on in verse 2 with a defense that is not made with the
goal of gaining acquittal, but rather of establishing the truth of his message
about Jesus Christ and their need for him. It is given according to the Jewish
culture of the time by recounting God’s working throughout their history and
the truth about God, Moses, the Law and the Temple.
The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia,
before he lived in Haran, 3 and said to him, ‘Depart from your country
and your relatives, and come into the land that I will show you.’ 4 “Then he
departed from the land of the Chaldeans, and settled in Haran. And from there,
after his father died, [God] removed him into this country in which you are
now living. (cf. Gen. 11:31 -12:4 under inspiration of the
Spirit Stephen reveals that either God called Abram twice or the call was the
reason he went to Haran and then continued the journey after his father died.
The age of his father at Abram’s birth is actually not stated, only that Terah
was 70 when he became father to sons (Gen. 11:26). Abram could have been
listed first because of prominence in the family rather than birth order.
Terah would have been 130 yrs old (205-75) at Abram’s birth). 5 “And
He gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot of ground; and [yet,] even
when he had no child, He promised that He would give it to him as a
possession, and to his offspring after him. (Gen. 12:7;
13:15) 6 “But God spoke to this effect, that his offspring
would be aliens in a foreign land, and that they would be enslaved and
mistreated for four hundred years.7 “‘And whatever
nation to which they shall be in bondage I Myself will judge,’ said God, ‘and
after that they will come out and serve Me in this place.’
(Gen. 15:13-16) 8 “And He gave him the covenant of circumcision;
(Gen. 17:9-14) and so [Abraham] became the father of
Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day; (Gen. 21:1-4)
and Isaac [became the father of] Jacob (Gen.
25:21f), and Jacob [of] the twelve patriarchs
(Gen. 29:31f). 9 “And the patriarchs became jealous of Joseph and
sold him into Egypt (Gen. 37:4f). And [yet] God
was with him, 10 and rescued him from all his afflictions, and granted him
favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and he made him
governor over Egypt and all his household (Gen. 41:12f).
11 “Now a famine came over all Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction [with
it;] and our fathers could find no food. 12 “But when Jacob heard that there
was grain in Egypt, he sent our fathers [there] the first time
(Gen. 43). 13 “And on the second [visit] Joseph made
himself known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family was disclosed to Pharaoh
(Gen. 45). 14 “And Joseph sent [word] and invited
Jacob his father and all his relatives to come to him, seventy-five persons
[in all.] (Gen. 45:14f – Stephen uses the figure from the
Septuagint which calculated the figure differently by including Joseph’s
grandsons) 15 “And Jacob went down to Egypt and [there] passed away,
he and our fathers (Gen. 49:33; Exod. 1:6). 16
“And [from there] they were removed to Shechem, and laid in the tomb which
Abraham had purchased for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor in Shechem
(Exod. 13:19 – Abraham had built an alter at Shechem – Gen.
12:6-7- and probably would have purchased it, but without his, Isaac or
Jacob’s presence for a such a long time it reverted to the locals from whom
Jacob re-purchased it).
In this brief history of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the patriarchs, Stephen
affirmed his believe in God’s covenant work through their ancestors even in
adversity. God is sovereign and Stephen did not and would not blaspheme this
great God. At the same time Stephen also highlighted the failure of the
patriarchs to follow God properly but had even sold their brother, Joseph,
into slavery. God even used their evil intent to accomplish good.
The Truth About Moses (vs. 17-36)
In verses 17- 36 Stephen affirms his respect for Moses by recounting
highlights from his life from birth through deliverance. He will then go on in
verses 37-43 to talk about the law that came through Moses. In recounting
Moses’ life, Stephen also points out the rebellion of the people against him.
Stephen has not and would not blaspheme Moses, but the nation of Israel did so
from the beginning.
17 “But as the time of the promise was approaching which God had assured to
Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt, (This refers to the
end of the 400 year time of oppression prophesied in Genesis 15:13-16) 18
until there arose another king over Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph
(Ex. 1:8). 19 “It was he who took shrewd
advantage of our race, and mistreated our fathers so that they would expose
their infants and they would not survive (This was Thutmose I, an
exceedingly cruel man who became Pharaoh just before Moses was born about 1530
B.C.). 20 “And it was at this time that Moses was born; and he was lovely
in the sight of God; and he was nurtured three months in his father’s home. 21
“And after he had been exposed, Pharaoh’s daughter took him away, and nurtured
him as her own son. 22 “And Moses was educated in all the learning of the
Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds (Stephen
emphasizes God’s care over Moses as well as his training and abilities). 23
“But when he was approaching the age of forty, it entered his mind to visit
his brethren, the sons of Israel. (Hebrews 11:24f says that Moses did not
want to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter and instead choose to identify
with his own people).
24 “And when he saw one [of them] being treated unjustly, he defended
him and took vengeance for the oppressed by striking down the Egyptian. 25
“And he supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them
deliverance through him; but they did not understand. (This action was an
attempt to begin the effort to free them from slavery, but it was too soon and
by the wrong method). 26 “And on the following day he appeared to them as
they were fighting together, and he tried to reconcile them in peace, saying,
‘Men, you are brethren, why do you injure one another?’ 27 “But the one who
was injuring his neighbor pushed him away, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and
judge over us ? 28 ‘You do not mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian
yesterday, do you?’ (The Egyptians were cruel taskmasters and Moses’
question sought to contrast how the Egyptians treated them with how they
should treat each other as fellow Hebrews. That would be a basis for building
a following, but they did not accept Moses as a deliverer. Instead he received
a rude rebuff).
29-34 “And at this remark Moses fled, and became an alien in the land of
Midian, where he became the father of two sons. And after forty years had
passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the
flame of a burning thorn bush. And when Moses saw it, he [began] to marvel at
the sight; and as he approached to look [more] closely, there came the voice
of the Lord: ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and Isaac and
Jacob.’ And Moses shook with fear and would not venture to look. But the Lord
said to him, ‘Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you
are standing is holy ground. ‘I have certainly seen the oppression of My
people in Egypt, and have heard their groans, and I have come down to deliver
them; come now, and I will send you to Egypt.’ (This is God’s supernatural
call of Moses in Exod. 3 & 4. Moses acted on his own the first time. Now he is
specifically told to do it by God). 35 “This Moses whom they disowned,
saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’ is the one whom God sent [to be]
both a ruler and a deliverer with the help of the angel who appeared to him in
the thorn bush. 36 “This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in the
land of Egypt and in the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years.
Stephen’s account makes it clear that he regarded Moses as a man called of
God. His comment in verse 36 stresses this fact by pointing out his belief
that God brought through Moses the ten plagues on Egypt, the crossing of the
Red Sea and the many miracles in wilderness. Stephen did not and would not
blaspheme Moses. However, Stephen also makes it clear that the nation of
Israel did initially reject Moses, but God used him a ruler and deliverer
The Truth About the Law (vs. 37-43)
In verses 37-43 Stephen gives the history of the coming of the law through
Moses while stressing certain points of it which the people, including the
present Sanhedrin, would not obey.
37 “This is the Moses who said to the sons of Israel, ‘God shall raise up
for you a prophet like me from your brethren.’ 38 “This is the one who was in
the congregation in the wilderness together with the angel who was speaking to
him on Mount Sinai, and [who was] with our fathers; and he received living
oracles to pass on to you. Stephen specifically cites Moses as the one
through whom the law was given on Mt. Sinai (Exod. 19 & 20). He calls the law
here the “living oracles.” Oracle refers to a brief utterance or short saying
which is a good description of the commandments of God. They are living in the
sense that they are not just words preserved in stone, but are full of meaning
that penetrates the soul to reveal what is in the heart of a man (cf. Heb.
4:12). Moses received the law and then repeated it to the nation so that they
could live according to it. Stephen specifically points out Moses as the
author of the prophecy in Deut. 18:15-19 that another prophet was to come that
they were to listen to. His clear insinuation is that this prophet has come in
the person of Jesus Christ. Stephen did not and would not speak against the
law. He upholds it as coming from God through Moses.
Stephen goes on the offensive in verses 39-43 by pointing out that the
Israelites had rebelled against Moses and the law from the time it was first
given. 39 – 43 “And our fathers were unwilling to be obedient to him, but
repudiated him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt, saying to Aaron,
‘Make for us gods who will go before us; for this Moses who led us out of the
land of Egypt– we do not know what happened to him.’ “And at that time they
made a calf and brought a sacrifice to the idol, and were rejoicing in the
works of their hands. “But God turned away and delivered them up to serve the
host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, ‘It was not to
Me that you offered victims and sacrifices forty years in the wilderness, was
it, O house of Israel? ‘You also took along the tabernacle of Moloch and the
star of the god Rompha, the images which you made to worship them. I also will
remove you beyond Babylon.’
Among the many rebellious acts he could have mentioned, Stephen points
out the rebellion against Moses and the law that occurred in Exodus 32 while
Moses was receiving the law. They turned against God to make for themselves
their own gods that would take them back to Egypt. Stephen then condenses
Israelite history by pointing out that God gave them over to the idolatry of
their hearts which they struggled with the whole time they were a nation. He
then cites Amos 5:25-27 and the judgement pronounced on them for their
idolatry that existed even in the years of the wilderness wandering. Stephen
changes the last words of the prophecy from beyond Damascus to beyond Babylon
to encompass both captivities instead of just the Assyrian captivity
prophesied by Amos. Stephen had not spoken against the law, but they had.
Let me add here that their specific accusation that he was speaking against
the law was that Jesus would “alter the customs which Moses handed down to
us.” That aspect of their charge was true, but not because Jesus or
Stephen were against the law or the “customs of Moses” but because they were
against the perversions of the law and those customs. Jesus often spoke
against their wrong interpretations and practices (see Matthew 5-7).
The Truth About the Temple (vs. 44-50)
Stephen has shown that he is not a blasphemer of God, Moses or the law even
though the people of Israel often had been. In verses 44-50 he goes on to cite
the history of God’s dwelling among the people to show that while Temple is
good, it is not necessary. 44 “Our fathers had the tabernacle of testimony
in the wilderness, just as He who spoke to Moses directed [him] to make it
according to the pattern which he had seen. 45 “And having received it in
their turn, our fathers brought it in with Joshua upon dispossessing the
nations whom God drove out before our fathers, until the time of David. 46
“And [David] found favor in God’s sight, and asked that he might find a
dwelling place for the God of Jacob. 47 “But it was Solomon who built a house
Stephen first points out that God directed the Tabernacle or Tent of
Meeting to be made while they were in the wilderness (Exod. 35-40). This was
the location for His glory to reside among the people and for sacrifices and
worship to be made until the time of David. And though David desired to build
a house for the Lord he could not because he was a man of war (1 Chr. 28:3).
It was Solomon that actually built it. What Stephen does not say, but which
they were keenly aware, was that Solomon’s temple was destroyed. Zerubbabel
rebuilt it after the captivity, but it too was destroyed. The current Temple
that they revered so much was actually built by the non-Jew, Herod. That
temple would be destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70. Stephen then goes on in
verses 48-50 to point out the truth about God’s presence.
“However, the Most High does not dwell in [houses] made by [human]
hands; as the prophet says: ‘Heaven is My throne, And earth is the footstool
of My feet; What kind of house will you build for Me?’ says the Lord; ‘Or what
place is there for My repose? ‘Was it not My hand which made all these
Stephen had not spoken against the Temple, but even if he had, the Temple
itself could not be the issue for God is greater than any Temple ever could
be. That is still a truth that people need to remember today even in the
church. There is no building that can contain God. While we are grateful for
the buildings God provides that we may use in our worship of Him, we must
always remember that He provides such buildings for our benefit and not His
own. He transcends anything man could ever make. Under the new covenant we
find that God indwells the believer so that you become a living Temple for Him
(Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:21,22).
Stephen’s Conclusion (vs. 51-53)
Stephen’s conclusion is not an apology to win acquittal of the accusations,
for he has already shown the accusations to be false and in the case of the
temple, irrelevant. He now brings home the point that they are the ones that
blaspheme against God and all His prophets including the prophesied Righteous
One. He is not the law breaker, they are.
51 “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are
always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. 52
“Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed
those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose
betrayers and murderers you have now become; 53 you who received the law as
ordained by angels, and [yet] did not keep it. ”
They were no different than their rebellious forefathers. They were
“stiff-necked,” an agricultural illusion to being stubborn and refusing to
obey, and “uncircumcised,” a direct accusation that they were not keeping the
Abrahamic covenant. This was equivalent to Stephen calling them Gentiles.
Their forefathers had killed the prophets of old. They had killed the
Righteous One, the Messiah. They had received the law that came from God
through angels, but they did not keep it. How then could they accuse and sit
in judgement of Stephen who did keep it?
Their Response (vs. 54-60)
When Peter had preached a similar sermon in Acts 2 in which he laid the
responsibility for Jesus’ death on the people, they cried out to know how they
could be saved. That would be the desired response in this situation, but
their evil hearts responded in the opposite manner. 54 Now when they heard
this, they were cut to the quick, and they [began] gnashing their teeth at
him. They were convicted like those in Acts 2, but they respond with
anger, so much so they are “gnashing their teeth at him” which is
clenching and/or grinding their teeth and making noise at him.
55 But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and
saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; 56 and he
said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the
right hand of God.” Stephen is given a glimpse of the scene in heaven and
Jesus is standing at the right hand of God. This is too much for them.
57 But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears, and
they rushed upon him with one impulse. 58 And when they had driven him out of
the city, they [began] stoning [him,] and the witnesses laid aside their robes
at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And they went on stoning Stephen as
he called upon [the Lord] and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 60 And
falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this
sin against them!” And having said this, he fell asleep.
When Jesus was on trial he was asked if He was the Son of God. He answered
“You have said it [yourself]; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you shall
see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the
clouds of heaven.” They then charged Him with blasphemy and called for His
crucifixion. Stephen now describes what Jesus had predicted. They still
consider it blasphemy and cannot even listen to it, so they cover their ears
and start crying out so they will not hear any more. This ruling council then
degenerates into a mob. The only semblance of law they still maintain is
driving Stephen outside the city before stoning him and having the witnesses
involved. They did not have the right to carry out capital punishment, but
Pilate had already proven to be powerless when they coerced him into
crucifying Jesus. They are not afraid to usurp him now.
Luke introduces us to Saul here by noting the witness laid their coats at
his feet. Saul, a student of Gamaliel a member of the Sanhedrin, was from
Antioch, and may have been one of those who debated Stephen. He is approving
of his stoning.
Stephen proves to be as powerful a witness in death as he was in life. He
calls upon the Lord Jesus to receive his spirit, and then like the Lord, he
cried out on behalf of his persecutors for the Lord not to hold their sin
against them. Even while being stoned he desired mercy for his murderers.
Stephen is the example to follow in the midst of persecution. A bold
witness who would not compromise the truth or back down. Yet, he deeply cared
about his opponents. He was never out to “win” the argument. His goal was to
proclaim Christ regardless of personal cost.
What about you? What would you have done if you were in Stephen’s position?
What do you do when asked about your faith? Do those around you even know you
are a follower of Jesus Christ. Is your life lived for yourself or for the God
that created you? Stephen lived for Jesus Christ, and when he died he went to
live with Christ forever more, and we can be sure he was told, “Well done,
thou good and faithful servant.” Will you hear that when you stand before the
Lord. It should be, and it can be. You just need to follow Him and do His will
above your own.
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives.
Here is some help.
Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the
sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch.
Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down all the
verses mentioned in the sermon and look them up. 2) Count how many times Moses
is mentioned. Talk with your parents about how to be truthful, yet gracious
even when you are afraid.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.
Describe the character of Stephen. What is happening in the church by Acts
6? Who does signs and wonders in the New Testament? What are they associated
with? Who are the people that make up the “Synagogue of the Freedmen”? What
kind of “arguing” were they doing? Why do they get false witnesses? What
accusations do they make against Stephen? How does that affect the favor of
the people? How does Stephen appear before the Sanhedrin? How does his
salutation show respect? How does Stephen show his beliefs about God. What is
the importance of the particular events he cites about Abraham? About Joseph?
How did the patriarchs treat Joseph? Why? What was the God directed result?
What is the importance of the particular events cited about Moses? What was
Moses desire toward the Hebrews? Why did they reject him? Why did he go back?
Would Stephen have blasphemed either God or Moses? Why or why not? What did
Stephen believe about the Law? Who rejected the law? What is good about the
Temple? Why is the issue of the Temple irrelevant? Where does God dwell? Why
does Stephen speak so forcefully about their sins in verses 51-53? Should he
have done that? Why do they react so strongly? How does Stephen reflect
Christ? What would you have done if you were Stephen? How do you witness to
those around you? How well do you submit to God’s will?
Sermon Notes – November 27 & December 4, 2005
Stephen, The First Martyr – Acts 6:7-7:60
Stephen’s Ministry (6: 8-10)
Lying Opponents (6:11-15)
Stephen’s Defense (7:1-53)
The Truth About God (7:2-16)
The Truth About Moses (7:17-36)
The Truth About the Law (7:37-43)
The Truth About the Temple (7:44-50)
The Truth about His Opponents (7:50-53)
Sinful Response (7:54-60)