The Book of Acts
Stephen is on trial before the
Sanhedrin, the Jewish Supreme Court. They are determined to find
fault with him regardless. He responds with an excellent overview
of Jewish history. His purpose was to show that the Jews who
accused Stephen were guilty of the same thing as were their
ancestors. They had rejected Jesus as Godís Son and killed Him.
Their ancestors had also rebelled against God and His Word.
A History of the Jewish People (Verses
The History of Abraham (Verses
Abraham was the first ancestor of the Jewish people to whom was
given a promise about their descendents. Stephen shows his respect
for both God and Abraham. He reminds them of the origin of the
covenant of circumcision which was of great importance to the Jews.
The History of Joseph (Verses
God needed someone in Egypt to save His people from famine. That
person was Joseph. Here is evidence of Godís providential care for
The History of Moses and Israel in Egypt (Verses
Stephen, by inspiration, proclaims that the time had drawn near for
the fulfillment of the promises to Abraham. This is not something
for the future! Moses was raised and matured in Egypt. Moses
wanted to help the Israelites, but instead they rejected him. This
is Stephenís main point in his discourse. He had been accused of
blaspheming Moses and God, (Acts
ďThen they secretly induced men to say, ĎWe have heard him speak
blasphemous words against Moses and God.í Ē
but his discussion shows great respect for both.
The History of Israelís Rebellion against Moses
Stephen reminds his Jewish audience that Moses had predicted the
rising up of another prophet from their midst. This prophet was
Jesus. His work and teaching were not against Moses, but in
fulfillment of Moses prophecies! The Israelites refused to obey
Moses and rebelled against him. Stephen was driving home the point
that their ancestors had time after time, rejected their leaders.
This began with Moses. During their history they had rebelled
against Godís leaders and turned to false gods. (Amos
ďTherefore I will send you into captivity beyond Damascus,í Says the
Lord, whose name is the God of hosts.Ē
Their captivity in Babylon was due to their rebelling against God.
The History of Godís Dwelling Place (Verses
Moses had provided the tabernacle [Godís dwelling place] for
Israel. His successor brought it into the Promised Land and then
Solomon built the Temple [the new dwelling place of God]. Stephen
had been accused of blaspheming the temple but Stephen shows his
respect for it as part of Godís plan. God could not be limited to a
single place and Stephenís listeners should not put their trust in
the temple, but in God. Stephen then finished his defense in a very
powerful way by charging the Jews with resisting Godís Holy Spirit,
killing Jesus the Righteous One, and not keeping the Law.
A History of the Death of Stephen (Verses
There were two possible outcomes: Repent or Reject. They were cut
to the heart; they were enraged and gnashed their teeth at him! But
Stephen gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God. Also, Jesus was
standing at the Fatherís right hand. The Jews rushed him, grabbed
him, and stoned him to death. They had no legal right to do this!
Stephen expected God to receive his spirit. He also showed a true
spirit of forgiveness. But his prayer did not remove their sin.
Let us remember that our duty
is to call the world to repentance. Some will open their hearts and
obey while others will close their ears and reject the message.
August 23, 2015 [Evening}
Acts: Lesson 19 Acts 7:1-60