Stephen Accused of Blasphemy

from the Acts reading plan

Acts 6:1-15, Exodus 34:29-30, 1 Timothy 3:8-13

BY Jen Yokel

What makes a leader good? I ask myself this question all the time, because leaders with integrity are sadly hard to find. We see power in the hands of the charismatic and connected, wielded by the ones who can command a room and summon a following. But who are the real leaders in Jesus’s upside-down kingdom? We can learn so much from the first generation of Jesus followers, and today we’re getting to know an early church leader named Stephen.

Throughout Church history, Stephen is considered the first martyr. Acts 6 gives us a glimpse into his life and character. He’s the first name on the list of seven men who were chosen to care for the Jewish and Greek widows in the community. Think of these seven as the original deacons, if that’s part of your church tradition. These seven were chosen not for their charisma, education, or commanding presence, but for their “good reputation” as men who were “full of the Spirit and wisdom” (Acts 6:3).

In fact, you may have noticed words like “Spirit” and “wisdom” are used over and over to describe him in this short passage. He’s “full of faith and the Holy Spirit…grace and power,” and he quickly becomes known for “performing great wonders and signs among the people” through a power beyond his own ability (vv.5,8). Stephen beautifully fits Paul’s later portrait of a deacon: “worthy of respect, not hypocritical,” tested and proven “blameless” (1Timothy 3:8–10).

In his service, Stephen led. In his integrity, he became a reflection of God’s glory, like Moses whose face shone after he spent time in the presence of God (Exodus 34:29–30).

So again, what makes a leader good? The kind of integrity that comes from the Holy Spirit and time seeking God. It’s a commitment to following the way of Jesus so strong it cannot be shouted down, a faithfulness that bears up under accusation, that’s tested and proven worthy of respect—especially when the respect is questioned by the powerful.

For Stephen, that meant holding steady under the weight of judgement and lies. We’re told that his commitment to truth-telling offended a certain group of religious leaders, but “they were unable to stand up against his wisdom and the Spirit by whom he was speaking” (Acts 6:10). The only way they could even build a case against him was through lies and rumors. Of course, we have to seek wisdom and discernment when challenges come, but our character can be our truest witness.

There are so many competing stories about how to lead and serve well in this world, but in Stephen’s life, we see how following Jesus and seeking the Spirit’s wisdom can give us the humility, courage, and faithfulness we need to find our way.

Post Comments (39)

39 thoughts on "Stephen Accused of Blasphemy"

  1. Sky Hilton says:

    OK guys, so I’ll admit, I had no clue who Stephen was before this lol. I’m still not sure of who he is now, but it seems that he was a great leader, that had a lot of love for the Holy Spirit and preached in his name and worked together with other leaders to spread the word of God. Again, I think the key theme here to focus on is “together”. If more of our christian leaders worked together instead of against each other, then the world would be a very different place. And I hope that we would all keep the faith “in pure conscience” like it says in 1 Timothy 3:8-13

  2. Melanie Braun says:

    Margaret W, v.7 Same for me. I had never noticed that before.

  3. Jennifer Anapol says:

    I pray that my life would glow after being with Jesus. ❤️

  4. Madison Freismuth says:

    YES!!! I love that. “Remember WHO I represent.”

  5. Mandy Ferrugia says:

    Lord, may I seek you so fervently that my face be aglow from time in your presence. I pray others will see You in me, and that my life may be a tool used to point others to Your glory. Praise the Father! Amen.

  6. Margaret W says:

    In v. 7, I had never noticed before today that many of the priests became believers under Stephen’s teaching, causing many problems with the Jewish leaders.

  7. Dorothy says:

    There are two verses from Acts that stood out to me today. The first was Acts 6:7, “So God’s message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too.” I think the part of this Scripture that really caught my eye was the last part — “and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too.” WOW!! That must have been something to even convert the Jewish priests. These were the ones who had killed Christ, who were making life rough for the apostles and believers and early Christians.
    The other verse that stood out to me was Acts 6:15, “At this point everyone in the high council stared at Stephen, because his face became as bright as an angel’s.” I can’t imagine what that would have been like to see. Glorification so wonderful and bright that it’s like an angel. WOW!! WOW!! WOW!!
    What Jen said about what makes a good leader reminded me of what my father would always emphasize how the good leader in the church was needed.
    Sisters, I’ve rambled enough. Thank you for all your prayers for all my family members. Be blessed and go out and glorify the Lord today.

  8. Traci Gendron says:

    I want to be the kind of christian that my face reflects the glory of God. I find it is so easy to slip back into old habits. Or just the business of the day and not keep the focus on God. Please Lord fill me with the Holy Spirit. Give me the humility, courage, and faithfulness I need to stay strong in following Jesus. Let my character be my truest witness.

    KRISTEN – Lifting your moms friend in prayer. Covid is so scary with transplant recipients. I worry about my son and sometimes myself because I have only 1 kidney after donating to him. We are so careful to stay out of situations where we may become infected, but the reality is the variant is so contagious that it is difficult. I pray your FIL is improving and his BP has stabilized.

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