Acts 7

Acts 7: Testimony of Stephen

                In the previous chapter, Stephen was placed before the Council [Sanhedrin] facing accusations that he spoke blasphemy against the temple, and the Law.

Stephen responds to these charges by reviewing the call of Abraham and God’s promise to him and the nation of Israel.  Stephen explains how God used Moses to deliver Israel from Egyptian bondage and how he led them for forty years through the wilderness.  Even with this direction from God, Israel rebelled against Moses, through whom God gave the Law.

Turning to the matter of God’s dwelling place, Stephen acknowledged the role of the tabernacle of Moses and the Temple of Solomon, but contended that God does not dwell in temples made with hands. Stephen continued by  charging the council of resisting the Holy Ghost just like their ancestors, for as their fathers persecuted and killed the prophets who foretold the coming of the Just One [Jesus Christ] so they became His betrayers and murderers. He pointed out that the Council was the one not keeping the law, not the Apostles called of God.

Stephen continued to recount many stories of the Old Testament that led them to the present affairs;

  • God’s Dealings with Abraham (Acts 7:1-8)
    • The call to leave Mesopotamia
    • The short stay in Canaan
    • The promise of possession to his descendants
    • The covenant of circumcision
    • His descendants:  Isaac, Jacob, the twelve patriarchs
  • The Patriarchs Stay in Egypt (Acts 7:9-16)
    • Joseph sold into Egypt, becomes governor
    • Jacob and his sons move to Egypt during the famine
    • The patriarchs buried in Canaan
  • God’s Deliverance of Israel through Moses (Acts 7:17-36)
    • The children Israel in Egypt become slaves
    • The work of Moses, deliverer of Israel
      • Raised by Pharaoh’s daughter
      • Kills an Egyptian, but despised by his brethren
      • Flees to Midian where he lives for forty years
      • The Lord appears to Moses in a burning bush at Mount Sinai
      • Returns to Egypt, delivers Israel and brings them into the wilderness
  • Israel’s Rebellion Against God and Moses (Acts 7:37-43)
    • Moses is the person:
      • Who said God would raise up another prophet like him
      • Who spoke to the Angel on Mount Sinai
      • Who received living oracles to give to Israel
      • Whom the fathers would not obey but rejected
  • Israel is the nation:
    • Who turned back into Egypt in their hearts
    • Who pressured Aaron to make a golden calf
    • Whom God gave up to worship the host of heaven for forty years in the wilderness
  • They may have offered sacrifices to the Lord
  • They also worshiped Moloch and Remphan
  • God’s Tabernacle (Acts 7:44-50)
    • The fathers of Israel had the tabernacle of witness
      • In the wilderness, built according to the pattern shown Moses
      • Brought into the promised land by Joshua
  • They also had the temple
    • Asked for by David, who found favor before God
    • Built by his son Solomon
  • Yet the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands
    • For heaven is His throne and earth is His footstool
    • His hand has made all these things
  • Israel’s Resistance of the Holy Ghost (Acts 7:51-53)
    • Stephen charges the council of resisting the Holy Spirit, just as their fathers did
    • Their fathers persecuted and killed the prophets, so they have killed the Just One
    • They received the law, but did not keep it

With Stephen’s recount on History and his testimony, the members of the Council are cut to the heart, those in the council gnashed their teeth at Stephen. However, full of the Holy Ghost, he gazed “…into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:55)

Upon telling the council what he saw, they were enraged! So much, that they cast him out of city and began to stone him. The witnesses who brought the false charges laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul (later known as Paul, the apostle).  As Stephen was stoned, he called upon Jesus to receive his spirit, and to not charge his murderers with his death.   In this way Stephen became the first martyr for Christ.

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