Acts 7 -- 8
Stephen was a deacon in the Church at Jerusalem. He was a man of honest report, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom (Acts 6:3). Stephen knew Old Testament Scriptures well and his faith was unshakable as he faced the anger and jealousy of the religious authorities. He boldly reminded them: You always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, and he went on to proclaim: Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom you have been now the betrayers and murderers. . . . And (they) cast him out of the city. . . . And . . . stoned Stephen (7:51-59).
Stephen could have avoided being stoned to death by saying nothing, but he remained true to the Lord Jesus. He made it clear to the hostile crowd that they were responsible for crucifying The Just One. With the same hatred which had demanded the crucifixion of Christ, these religious zealots dragged Stephen out of the city, and stoned him; as he was dying, he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge (7:60). Saul stood by, watching and listening. If Stephen had not remained loyal to his Lord and loved his enemies, there might never have been a converted Saul, who became the writer of much of the New Testament.
In the same spirit of love, we too need to pray for those who wrong us. One who seems to be our enemy may someday be saved if we remain faithful and express the love of Christ as Stephen did.
At that time there was a great persecution against the Church which was at Jerusalem (8:1). However, instead of discouraging believers, this persecution resulted in a great missionary movement. They that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the Word concerning Jesus Christ as the Messiah (8:4). Just think! They could have gone into hiding or denied their faith. But this persecution did not destroy their faith or result in denying the Lord, but was used by the Lord to fulfill His command: You shall be witnesses to Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (1:8). At times, it may seem that someone or something has kept us from experiencing God's best; but as we wait upon the Lord a greater usefulness often presents itself.
Philip, who was also a deacon, was led by the Holy Spirit to meet with the Ethiopian official who had left Jerusalem in a chariot and was reading the Book of Isaiah. He then explained to the Ethiopian official how the prophecy of Isaiah 53:7-8 had been fulfilled; and, on being enlightened concerning Jesus as the Messiah and Savior, the Ethiopian asked to be baptized. Philip said, If you believe with all your heart, you may. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. . . . And they both went down into the water . . . and he (Philip) baptized him. And when they came up out of the water . . . the eunuch . . . went on his way rejoicing (Acts 8:37-39).
For Acts 7:3: See Gen. 12:1. Acts 7:27-28: See Ex. 2:14. Acts 7:32: See Ex. 3:6. Acts 7:33-34: See Ex. 3:5,7-8,10. Acts 7:37: See Deut. 18:15. Acts 7:40: See Ex. 32:1. Acts 7:42-43: See Amos 5:25-27. Acts 7:49-50: See Isa. 66:1-2. Acts 8:32-33: See Isa. 53:7-8.
Government Officials: Sen. Barbara Boxer (CA), Rep. Corrine Brown (FL), Rep. Saxby Chambliss (GA), and Rep. Fortney (Pete) Stark (CA) · Pray for Eagles Nest Ministries/Love Packages and Steven Schmidt, Founder/Director · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio Broadcast in honor of Rob and Joanne Brannon & 4 children, missionaries to Chad · Country: Israel (4 million) in the Middle East · Major languages: Hebrew and Arabic · Witnessing to Jews about Christ the Messiah is actively discouraged · 88% Jewish; 8% Muslim; 2% Christian · Prayer Suggestion: Keep the Word of God and pray to Him who has given you an open door into His presence (Revelation 3:8).
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