Monday, November 19, 2007

Acts, Chapter 7

Can you imagine making a case for Christ with your life hanging in the balance? That is what was asked of Stephen. When we left him last week in chapter 6 he was facing the leadership of the day because of the message he had been spreading. Stephen had accomplished great things, but was now being asked to answer to them in the court of man. He does nothing less than make the case for Christ throughout Biblical history and how those with the true message of God had been rejected before him.

9"Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him 10and rescued him from all his troubles. He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh king of Egypt; so he made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace." – Acts 7:9-10

This is the first instance Stephen mentions of the one that God has chosen to carry out His message being rejected by those around him. Joseph was thrown out by his brothers, but God put him in a unique position in not only to help them later on, but to lead them to a better life later on. What Stephen is trying to do is show that God can triumph over the will of man to advance His plan even when all hope seems lost. How else do you explain a young Jewish boy sold into slavery by his brothers becoming a high official in the court of Egypt? Another important message Stephen was trying to say here was one of forgiveness. Joseph easily could have turned his back on his brothers when they came for help, but instead he welcomed them with open arms. We all reject Christ in our own way when we sin, but He welcomes us back with open arms just like Joseph did.

35"This is the same Moses whom they had rejected with the words, 'Who made you ruler and judge?' He was sent to be their ruler and deliverer by God himself, through the angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36He led them out of Egypt and did wonders and miraculous signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea[g] and for forty years in the desert. 37"This is that Moses who told the Israelites, 'God will send you a prophet like me from your own people.' – Acts 7:35-37

One time might have been a fluke, but we also see here that Moses was rejected by the Israelites as well. Stephen uses Moses here because of the high regard that he carried in Jewish culture. In the next few verses he also shows how Moses was rejected yet again because of the impatience and lack of faith the Israelites showed during the exodus. Here they had been delivered from Egypt by a sheer miracle of God, but they grew impatient and rebelled against God not long after. It is here that Stephen rebukes them for persecuting the prophets and calls them out for the role they had in killing Christ.

51"You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— 53you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it." – Acts 7:51-53

These are strong words, but Stephen had the courage to say them because they were true. It had to be difficult standing there knowing these words would likely cost him his life, but it was not his life to give since he had already given it to Christ. Once we are filled with the Holy Spirit we cannot resist its pull. These men needed to be called out because of the responsibility given to them as rulers and keepers of the law, so Stephen called them out. It cost him his life, but as the first martyr, his sacrifice was not in vain. He stayed strong until the end and surely made an impression on one young man that was in the crowd that day. That was a young man named Saul, who would later become the greatest evangelist that has ever lived.


  1. How does the Old Testament story of Abraham, Joseph, and the promise relate to Christ?
  2. Why would using Moses as an example speak to these men?
  3. What effect did Stephen's stoning have on Paul?

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