Steadfast Stephen

by | Aug 12, 2023 | August 2023 | 0 comments

They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit…
Acts 6:5 (NIV) 

If someone asked me which book in the Bible is a good place to start, I would probably recommend the book of Acts, because it gives a general overview of Israel in the Old Testament through Stephen’s speech to the Sanhedrin (Acts 7), and covers the beginnings and incredible events of the early church. 

Certainly, the day of Pentecost is a major feature of Acts, when the power of the Holy Spirit was given to the apostles and others, with as many as 3000 people being converted in one day, along with people hearing the apostles speak in their own languages at the same time. But I want to draw attention to Stephen, described in Acts 6:8 as, ‘…a man full of God’s grace and power, [who] performed great wonders and signs among the people.’ 

In Acts 7, after being arrested, Stephen stood up and spoke clearly, with authority, to the Sanhedrin. He spoke in detail about the nation of Israel’s history and their relationship with God, starting with Abraham (Acts 7:2) and ending with Stephen fearlessly telling them, “…You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him—you who have received the law…” (vv.51-53).

Stephen told the Sanhedrin straight! And they hated what he said. Things were exacerbated even more when Stephen looked up and said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” (v.56). This  enraged them and they dragged him outside and stoned him. But he was still able, just before he died, to ask God, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” (v.60). Incredible!

It was not only Stephen who stood up for God but, later in Acts, so too did Peter, Philip, Paul, Silas, Lydia and others.

Stephen was a witness for Jesus in vastly different circumstances to us, however, are we prepared to stand up for Jesus when we are called to declare our faith in him, rather than keep quiet and not ‘rock the boat’! Not always easy, but we should not be afraid to explain, if we can to those who ask, what we believe and why. As the apostle Peter encourages us in 1 Peter 3:15, ‘…Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that

you have…’.

Our Father in Heaven, thank you for all the great people you have called over the years who have trusted you. Please help us to be inspired by their example and to gain confidence knowing we have the power of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’s name. Amen.


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