Stephen on Trial Pt3

Acts 7
“And the patriarchs, becoming envious, sold Joseph into Egypt. But God was with him 10 and delivered him out of all his troubles, and gave him favor and wisdom in the presence of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.

Stephen is giving the history lesson!

A quick lesson is that no matter WHERE you are in life, God can make you thrive!

I also find this an interesting little statement: ” delivered him out of all his troubles “

Stephen on Trial Pt 2

Acts 7
 But God spoke in this way: that his descendants would dwell in a foreign land, and that they would bring them into bondage and oppress them four hundred years. ‘And the nation to whom they will be in bondage I will judge,’ said God, ‘and after that they shall come out and serve Me in this place.’ Then He gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so Abraham begot Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot the twelve patriarchs.

From my commentary:
His descendants would dwell in a foreign land…into bondage: The promise would not be easy or light for Abraham or his descendants. Yet, God promised to judge the nation that put Israel into bondage.

Stephen here suggested the idea that God knows how to take care of and protect His people. He rested in that assurance himself, and challenged the council to have the same assurance.

Stephen on trial.

Acts 7:

Then the high priest said, “Are these things so?”

And he said, “Brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, and said to him, ‘Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.’ Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell. And God gave him no inheritance in it, not even enough to set his foot on. But even when Abraham had no child, He promised to give it to him for a possession, and to his descendants after him.

From my commentary:
Stephen seems to have perceived…that the old order of things was passing away and a new order was coming. This becomes particularly clear when he talks about the temple. It was cherished by the Jews. But it was destined to pass away, and Stephen seemed to have sensed that. His speech is a transition speech that paves the way for presenting the gospel to the Gentiles, which begins in the very next chapter of Acts.” (Boice)

“Such a speech as this was by no means calculated to secure an acquittal before the Sanhedrin. It is rather a defense of pure Christianity as God’s appointed way of worship.” (Bruce)

Face of an Angel

Acts 6
15 And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel.

From my commentary:
His face as the face of an angel: Stephen’s face did not have that mild, soft, angelic look that we see in so many paintings; nor was it a look of stern judgment and wrath. Instead, his face reflected the perfect peace and confidence of one that knows and trusts his God. His face had the same reflected glory that Moses had as he beheld God intimately.

The face of an angel also means that Stephen was at perfect peace. His face was not filled with fear or terror, because he knew his life was in God’s hands and that Jesus never forsakes His people.

I want to be at perfect peace in adversity, KNOWING the Lord is at work on my behalf, and I am victorious through Him.

More Accusations

Acts 6
 13 They also set up false witnesses who said, “This man does not cease to speak [c]blasphemous words against this holy place and the law; 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us.” 

So here, someone who was selected to serve the widows, was public enemy #1 for this group of people. They sent up false accusers, they lied, and they did ALL they could so he would be arrested and removed.

In the midst of an attack, worship God because you may be right where the Lord wanted you. There is no need to change course if you are where the Lord wants you.

Popular Opinion

Acts 6
11 Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12 And they stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; and they came upon him, seized him, and brought him to the council. 

So after Stephen beat them down in the debate and they realized his wisdom was unmatched, they decided to take matters into their own hands.

Notes from my commentary:
They secretly induced men to say: The opponents of Stephen could not win a fair fight, so they used lies and secret strategies to shape popular opinion against Stephen.

They stirred up the people: The opponents of Stephen could do nothing against the followers of Jesus until they got popular opinion on their side. Previously, persecution against the apostles had been limited because popular opinion was with them

Popular opinion can be easily shaped. The same crowds that praised Jesus (Luke 19:35-40) soon called for His crucifixion (Luke 23:18-23). The crowds that loved the apostles (Acts 2:475:26) cry out against Stephen. This is why we should never let popular opinion shape the vision or focus of the church, but let it rest on God’s eternal Word.

This could NOT be more true in today’s society.

Teach them young.

Deuteronomy 6:“Hear, O Israel: [b]The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 

Pastor preached on this yesterday and I loved his thoughts.

We are loving the Lord with ALL our hearts, and we are teaching that love to our children. I want my kiddos to know that everything good in life, is from the father. Every good and perfect gift, is from above.

Stephen was in the debate club.

Act 6
Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen. 10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke.

From my commentary:
Stephen debated with Jews from the Synagogue of the Freedmen. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, he showed greater wisdom than his opponents (they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke).

i. There is no indication that Stephen – in himself – was smarter, better educated, or a better debater than these Jews. We should attribute his upper hand in the debate to the Spirit by which he spoke.

I find it interesting that the Spirit guided Stephen in a debate. This means that there is a place for a strong heated debate as far as the Word of God goes. This also points out that with the Spirit we will not look stupid. The Lord guides us in wisdom and victory!

A dang cook!

Acts 6
And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.

If you are blessed, and you are serving in the name of the Lord, GREAT things will happen.

You can be a cook and still accomplish other things. You can serve in one area and still accomplish other things. The Lord did not create us to be one dimensional.

Further the Kingdom

Acts 6
Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.

This is the goal. I wanted to back track so I could re read this. Serving food was secondary to the apostles preaching the Word of God and furthering the kingdom.

Make sure we are focused on the role we play today in furthering the Kingdom. If we do not do our job, then someone else will have to, and that may take away from the Kingdom progression.