As someone who’s grown up in the age of the anti-bullying campaign, these few verses can sound downright mean. But that’s not to say that there isn’t any truth to them.
Let’s start with the most innocuous verse of the passage: verse two.Read More
The Christian leader Stephen bursts into the Acts story. Luke tells us he was “full of faith and the Spirit” (v 5) and “full of grace and power” (v 8). Through him the Spirit does “signs and wonders” and his opponents in the Greek-speaking Jewish synagogues cannot withstand “the wisdom and Spirit with which he speaks” (v 10). And when he does present the gospel, people discern that his “face is like that of an angel” (v 15).Read More wisdom, truth, gospel
Stephen is so audacious! As his defence before the Jewish religious leaders, he gives them a history lesson, re-telling their own history through the lens of God’s sending Jesus the Messiah. What irony that these leaders who claim to know God and to be experts in the interpretation of the Jewish scriptures are treated as novices on both counts.Read More God’s story, new covenant
Stephen rehearses the story of Moses, the person whom God used to shape Israel into a nation and lead them out of Egypt. Again God’s interventions are instrumental in advancing his plans.
We discover that Moses was forty years old (v 23) when he made an explicit attempt to become Israel’s leader and “give salvation to them” (v 23).Read More patience, God’s timing, perseverance
Stephen thunders on with his fundamental charge – “you are always fighting against the Holy Spirit” (v 51). This was the story of Israel and the current Jewish leaders were just being true to type in Stephen’s view. It did not matter how often and in how many diverse ways God communicated with Israel, the response was the same – disobedience.Read More Holy Spirit, forgiveness, God’s patience
In the most dangerous circumstances Stephen sees “the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right side of God” (v 55). It’s as if God is saying to Stephen, “Your testimony is approved and I recognize your faithfulness.” God knows what is about to happen and he lays out the welcome mat for his witness, Stephen.
His claims infuriate the Jewish court and they lynch him.Read More trust, faith, good news