This chapter is the continuation of the story of Stephen. We saw last chapter how Stephen was chosen as part of the “committee” in charge of food distribution for the new church – which was growing and growing every day.
Stephen was falsely accused of blasphemy by those who did not agree with Stephen’s methods…even though we read that Stephen was “full of God’s grace and power.” This led to the elders calling Stephen before the high priest for an official explanation.
Stephen launches into one of the first gospel sermons – and the people gathered there did NOT like what he was saying. But – if you read it, you’ll see a simple, powerful narrative of the Old Testament stories of Moses and the children of Israel.
Apparently, Stephen gets pretty worked up and starts to stepping on toes with this commentary:
51“You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— 53 you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it.”
Oops…did he cross some kind of line? I find it interesting that we see that those involved in the ensuing stoning of Stephen “covered their ears” and yelled at the top of their voices. The had heard enough. They had decided what they would do with Stephen.
Meanwhile – this entire scene was done in front of a young man who would later become a key player in our Lord’s story of forgiveness and restoration leading to powerful changes in the church. This young man’s name is Saul. Saul got to see the whole thing and was apparently assigned to hold people’s coats while they stoned this Christian leader. What kind of impression did that make?