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Acts 7: Stephen is martyred

I actually read this passage on Monday and am, sadly, just now blogging about it. Getting off my duff, I plan to return to daily blogging about Bible reading. Later today or, most likely, tomorrow, I’ll blog about the next chapter of Daniel.

Acts 7 is a fascinating chapter, in that it’s the first Biblical recording–post crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus–of a martyr.

That martyr’s name, of course, was Stephen.

In his sermon, Stephen preached a sermon summarizing the Old Testament from Abraham, to Moses, down the line and eventually ending in the New Testament with Jesus. He concentrated heavily on Moses, particularly his early life and when he was receiving the laws from God on Mt. Sinai.

Bluntness was a normal practice in the early church’s preaching, and Stephen was no different. He referred to the authorities in the temple in verse 51 as “stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears.” Notice he did not say they were physically uncircumcised. All obedient male Jews then were. He was telling them they were crude and stubborn in their ability to listen and hear what was being preached, and if they were truly open and receptive, they would’ve seen that Jesus’ life was a fulfillment of Scripture. Instead, the authorities and their ancestors chose to persecute, torture and even kill the messengers who called for obedience unto God.

And then Stephen looked up to the sky and described seeing Jesus at the right hand of God. A death sentence. They took him outside the city and stoned him.

Like Jesus at His crucifixion, Stephen showed compassion to those who stoned him. In his final words in verse 60, he asked God not to lay this sin at their charge.

We also see in verse 58 that Saul held the outergarments of those who went to kill Stephen. Saul had yet to become a Christian and transform into Paul, but I have to wonder what went through his mind at this time. Perhaps seeds were being planted and watered as he saw this Christian die for their faith.

Richard Zowie, a Christian for 28 years, operates several blogs. Post a comment or e-mail richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

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