In spite of persecution and against the law laid down by the Jewish Sanhedrin, the apostles continued to preach the gospel and share the truth about the resurrected Christ, converting seekers as the fulfillment of the great commission.
Along side the apostles were countless priests and ministers who answered the call to advance the gospel and strive to further God’s kingdom.
“8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.” (Acts 6:8)
Steven was not an apostle, but one of the seven disciples appointed to look after the distribution of food to the widows in Jerusalem. He was first and foremost a preacher of the truth, chosen by Yahweh to not only advance the gospel, but also perform miracles.
As he was serving the Lord in ministry, Steven would find himself under attack by skeptics who sided with evil, and driven by fear and hatred, went on the offensive against God’s servants.
“9 Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen.” (Acts 6:9)
At the time, there were 480 synagogues in Jerusalem. The synagogue mentioned by the apostle Luke was host to foreign Jews freed from slavery, which had taken place around 60-65 B.C. There was a number of Jews who opposed the works of Stephen and felt necessary to take action against the disciple.
“10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. 11 Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12 And they stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; and they came upon him, seized him, and brought him to the council.” (Acts 6:10-12)
Because he was anointed with the Holy Spirit and gifted by God with both wisdom and knowledge, Stephen’s opposers found themselves silenced, and unable to argue with the disciple. Offended by the message preached by Stephen, that the old covenant has been washed away by the blood of Christ, the Jews resorted to deception to bring the disciple before the Sanhedrin, the lay makers in Jerusalem.
“13 They also set up false witnesses who said, “This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law; 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us.” (Acts 6:13-14)
Stephen’s opposers took their fight to a deceptive level by distorting the disciple’s words and turning the his testimony into an attack on Jews, the temple and their fundamental teaching about the Mosaic law.
“15 And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel.” (Acts 6:15)
Among those who charged Stephen with blasphemy was Saul of Tarsus, who would later become Paul, the anointed apostle of the risen Christ. The Sanhedrin watched Stephen steadfastly for a reaction, but the disciple only exuded divinely inspired peace and joy that took the law makers by surprise.
Stephen would later answer the charges against him through a spirited exhortation that will turn into an accusation against the Sanhedrin, whom the disciple held responsible for the crucifixion of the Christ. Let’s pray!
We thank you for your blessings in our lives and for your servant Luke,
We praise you Lord for his wisdom and for his works through this scripture,
We ask you Lord to inspire us to use these verses in our lives
As we grow in you through the teachings of your faithful apostle.
Lord we ask you to strengthen us each day as we endure through battles,
Allow us to praise and love each other through faith in you Jesus,
Shield us from evil through truth, the gospel, salvation and prayer,
Guide us to abide by your word as we spread your gospel to one and all
Becoming examples of faith through our character as we walk the narrow path.
God we pray that you will continue to bless us, to bless our lives and fill us with hope
We ask you Lord to guide our footsteps and lead us to the way everlasting,
Through faith in you Lord we seek salvation and a place with you in heaven
According to your word, your everlasting wisdom and strength.
May your will be done
In our lives, for your life.
We thank you for your love and all you bless us with each day.
This message was written by Daniel St.Pierre