Stephen seized and killed, Acts 6:8-8:3


APRIL AD35 – Acts 6:8 – 8:3

Enraged by Stephen’s teaching of Jesus, Council members killed Stephen.

Stephen told them of seeing the glory of God and Jesus, and acknowledged Jesus in his death. Like Jesus he prayed for their forgiveness and then called upon Jesus to receive his spirit as he died.

Saul, later to be called Paul, was at this event.

Background Reading:

Stephen is Arrested

6:8 Now Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people. 9 But some men who belonged to the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), as well as some Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and men from Cilicia and Asia, stood up and began to debate with Stephen. 10 But they could neither refute the wisdom nor withstand the Spirit by which he kept speaking. 11 So they secretly got some men to say, “We have heard him speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12 They stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes. Then they rushed at Stephen, grabbed him, and brought him before the Council.

13 They had false witnesses stand up and say, “This man never stops saying things against this Holy Place and against the Law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus from Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs that Moses handed down to us.” 15 Then everyone who was seated in the Council glared at him and saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

Stephen Defends Himself in Speech to the Sanhedrin

7:1 Then the high priest asked, “Is this true?”

2 Stephen replied:

“Listen, brothers and fathers!

“The glorious God appeared to our ancestor Abraham while he was in Mesopotamia before he settled in Haran. 3God told him, ‘Leave your country and your relatives and go to the land I’ll show you.’ 4So he left the country of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. Then after the death of his father, God had him move to this country where you now live. 5God gave him no property here, not even a foot of land,e yet he promised to give it to him and to his descendants after him as a permanent possession, even though he had no child.

6“This is what God promised: His descendants would be strangers in a foreign country, and its people would enslave them and oppress them for 400 years. 7‘But I will punish the nation they serve,’ said God, ‘and afterwards they will leave and worship me in this place.’

8Later, God gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. Later, he fathered Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day. Then Isaac fathered Jacob, and Jacob fathered the twelve patriarchs.

9“Joseph’s brothers became jealous of him and sold Joseph as a slave in Egypt. However, God was with him 10and rescued him from all his troubles. He granted him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who appointed him ruler of Egypt and of his whole household.

11“But a famine spread throughout Egypt and Canaan, and with it great suffering, and our ancestors couldn’t find any food. 12But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our ancestors on their first trip. 13On their second trip, Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph introduced his family to Pharaoh. 14Then Joseph invited his father Jacob and all his relatives to come to him in Egypt —75 persons in all. 15So Jacob went down to Egypt. Then he and our ancestors died. 16They were brought back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought at a high price from Hamor’s descendants in Shechem.

17“Now as the time approached for the fulfillment of the promise that God had made to Abraham, the people’s population increased a great deal in Egypt. 18Eventually, a different king who had not known Joseph became ruler of Egypt. 19By shrewdly scheming against our people, he oppressed our ancestors and forced them to abandon their infants to the elements, so that they wouldn’t live.

20“At this time Moses was born. He was beautiful in the sight of God, and for three months he was cared for in his father’s house. 21When he was placed outside, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. 22So Moses learned all the wisdom of the Egyptians and became a great man, both in words and in deeds.

23“When he was 40 years old, he decided to visit his brothers, the descendants of Israel. 24When he saw one of them being mistreated, he defended him and avenged the man who was being mistreated by killing the Egyptian. 25He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was using him to rescue them, but they didn’t understand. 26The next day, he presented himself to some of them while they were fighting and tried to reconcile them. He said, ‘Men, you are brothers. Why should you be hurting another?’

27“But the man who was harming his neighbor pushed Moses away and said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us? 28You don’t want to kill me like you killed the Egyptian yesterday, do you?’ 29Because of this, Moses fled and lived as a foreigner in the land of Midian. There he had two sons.

30“After 40 years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. 31When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight, and when he approached the bush to look at it, the voice of the Lord said, 32‘I am the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’ Moses became terrified and didn’t dare to look. 33Then the Lord told him, ‘Remove your sandals from your feet, because the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34I have surely seen the oppression of my people in Egypt, I’ve heard their groans, and I’ve come down to rescue them. Now come, I’ll send you to Egypt.’

35“This same Moses—whom they rejected by saying, ‘Who made you ruler and judge?’ —was the man whom God sent to be both their ruler and deliverer with the help of the angel who had appeared to him in the bush. 36It was he who led them out, performing wonders and signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness for 40 years. 37It was this Moses who told the Israelis, ‘God will raise up a prophet for you from among your own brothers, just as he did me.’ 38This Moses is the one who was in the assembly in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai and to our ancestors. He received living truths to give to us, 39but our ancestors refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and wished to return to Egypt. 40They told Aaron, ‘Make gods for us who will lead us. This Moses who led us out of the land of Egypt—we don’t know what happened to him!’

41“At that time they even made a calf to be their idol, offered a sacrifice to it, and delighted in what they had made with their hands. 42So God turned away from them and gave them over to worship the heavenly bodies. As it is written in the book of the Prophets:

‘O house of Israel,

you didn’t offer me slaughtered animals and

sacrifices those 40 years in the wilderness, did you?

43You even took along the tent of Moloch,

the star of your god Rephan,

and the images you made in order to worship them.

So I will take you into exile as far as Babylon.’

44 “Our ancestors had the Tent of Testimony in the wilderness constructed, just as the one who spoke to Moses directed him to make it according to the pattern he had seen. 45 Our ancestors brought it here with Joshua when they replaced the nations that God drove out in front of our ancestors, and it was here until the time of David. 46 He found favor with God and asked to design a dwelling for the house of Jacob, 47 but it was Solomon who built a house for him. 48 However, the Most High does not live in buildings made by human hands. As the prophet says,

49 “‘Heaven is my throne,

and the earth is my footstool.

What kind of house can you build for me,’ declares the Lord,

“or what place is there in which I can rest?

50 It was my hand that made all these things, wasn’t it?’”

51 “You stubborn people with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are always opposing the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do. 52 Which of the prophets did your ancestors fail to persecute? They killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One, and now you have become his betrayers and murderers. 53 You received the Law as ordained by angels, and yet you haven’t obeyed it!”

Stephen is Stoned to Death

54 While they were listening to these things, they became more and more furious and began to grind their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 He said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”

57 But they shouted out loud, stopped listening, and together they all rushed at him, 58 ran him outside of the city, and began to stone him to death. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 As they continued to stone Stephen, he kept praying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, don’t hold this sin against them!” After he had said this, he died.

The Church Persecuted and Scattered

8:1 Now Saul heartily approved of putting Stephen to death. That day a severe persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and everyone except for the apostles was scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria. 2 Devout men buried Stephen as they mourned loudly for him. 3 But Saul kept trying to destroy the church. Going into one house after another, he began dragging off men and women and throwing them in prison.
Acts 6:8–8:3

More Information:

Stephen is the Greek form of Stephanos which means Crowned.

Other modules in this unit: