Day10

Stephen Martyred

from the Acts reading plan


Acts 7:1-60, Genesis 15:13-14, Deuteronomy 18:15

BY Claire Gibson

The cabin lights were dim when the airplane began to dip and jerk. I was flying home from visiting my sister, who at the time lived in Hawaii, and I was aware that we were flying over the vast Pacific Ocean. The plane lurched again, sending my stomach to my throat. Seated between two strangers, I grabbed the armrests with a white knuckle grip, closed my eyes, and prayed. I wish I could say that I had profound thoughts, or a hopeful glimpse of eternity. But all I could think was, I don’t want to die between these two strangers.

In Acts 7, we witness one of the first displays of murderous violence against Christ’s Church. Stephen had been chosen to care for the growing number of new believers—in particular, the community’s widows—and so powerful was his ministry, a group of Jewish leaders within the community rose up in opposition, fearing their loss of influence. There was no doubt about their intentions. Acts 6:12 says they “dragged him off” (HCSB), and brought him to the Sanhedrin. Stephen must have recognized the pattern. It is what had happened to Jesus before a crowd yelled, “Crucify him!”

What would your last words be? Would you ask the murderous crowd for mercy? Would you defend yourself? Stephen does neither. Instead, he launches into an Old Testament exegesis worthy of the world’s best seminary. Throughout history, he says, Israelites have rejected the leaders and prophets God sent to them. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. Moses was rejected by his Hebrew neighbors. Having just escaped Egypt, the Israelites still resist God in the desert, begging Aaron to build them a calf to worship. Time and time again, God’s people cut off His outstretched arm. “You stiff-necked people with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are always resisting the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:51).

He isn’t able to tell the part of the story that we long to hear. He can’t explain the grace that Jesus offers to all of us stiff-necked resisters, because the crowd can’t stand it anymore. Imagine the rush of terror they drag him outside of the city. Coats are thrown down, rocks are picked up. And there goes the first stone. Dust flies up, and now, he is crying out. But he doesn’t call down judgment. He begs God to forgive.

Stephen is the Church’s first martyr. His life was marked by joy, service, and profound suffering. His last words were not about himself, or the injustice of his end. His last thoughts were of his Savior, and of the forgiveness available to all, through Christ’s mercy. 

Post Comments (47)

47 thoughts on "Stephen Martyred"

  1. Beverly Watley says:

    Wow! Acts 7:55-56 really spoke to my heart ❤️ But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
    vs. 56 And he said, “behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God”.

  2. Lexi B says:

    Foster Mama- thank you so much for praying that for me! Love how God meets all our needs and hears our prayers.
    Nads- thank you for your prayers :)

    Erin Griffith- Thank you! I am launching a new adventure excursion business in my area called Authentic Adventures Central CA. I’m taking my passion and love for the outdoors and hoping to make it a profitable business. It has been SCARY- but God has provided and walked beside me through the whole thing. Providing the business school opportunity is a huge help! So thankful :)

  3. Heidi V says:

    I do as well. I went back and did a different two week study instead of Hosea and her comments were so helpful and insightful. Part of me wonders if maybe that came to feel like pressure and maybe she participates now under a different name but just not in a leadership role. I could certainly understand that!

  4. Brittany Bowers says:

    I’m sorry to hear you’re struggling with fear and anxiety. Motherhood brings on a whole new perspective and can cause anxiety and fear in a whole new way. You’re not alone. God has chosen you to be your child’s mother. He will carry you along. God has won and we do have the power of the Holy Spirit!

  5. Emma Schilter says:

    I pray that I may grow my faith as bold & strong as Stephen. I’m struggling right now with fear & anxiety over the future. I don’t know why it scares me…because I know ultimately that God has won because of Jesus and we have the power of the Holy Spirit within. But maybe it’s because I have my first baby – 6 months old. And reading about the infants being tossed out in the beginning of this reading just hurts my heart in so many ways. But so thankful that Moses was saved!
    Anyway…would absolutely appreciate prayers from you amazing warrior women.

  6. Emma Schilter says:

    I pray that I may grow my faith as bold & strong as Stephen. I’m struggling right now with fear & anxiety over the future. I don’t know why it scares me…because I know ultimately that God has won because of Jesus and we have the power of the Holy Spirit within. But maybe it’s because I have my first baby – 6 months old. And reading about the infants being tossed out in the beginning of this reading just hurts my heart in so many ways. But so thankful that Moses was saved!

  7. Emma Schilter says:

    I pray that I may grow my faith as bold & strong as Stephen. I’m struggling right now with fear & anxiety over the future. I don’t know why it scares me…because I know ultimately that God has won because of Jesus and we have the power of the Holy Spirit within. But maybe it’s because I have my first baby – 6 months old. And reading about the infants being tossed out in the beginning of this reading just hurts my heart in so many ways. But so thankful that Moses was saved!

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