Bible: Acts 6-7
The Appointment of the First Seven Deacons
6:1 Now in those 1 days, when the disciples were growing in number, 2 a complaint arose on the part of the Greek-speaking Jews 3 against the native Hebraic Jews, 4 because their widows 5 were being overlooked 6 in the daily distribution of food. 7 6:2 So the twelve 8 called 9 the whole group 10 of the disciples together and said, “It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to wait on tables. 11 6:3 But carefully select from among you, brothers, 12 seven 13 men who are well-attested, 14 full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge 15 of this necessary task. 16 6:4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 6:5 The 17 proposal pleased the entire group, so 18 they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, with 19 Philip, 20 Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a Gentile convert to Judaism 21 from Antioch. 22 6:6 They stood these men before the apostles, who prayed 23 and placed 24 their hands on them. 6:7 The word of God continued to spread, 25 the number of disciples in Jerusalem 26 increased greatly, and a large group 27 of priests became obedient to the faith.
Stephen is Arrested
6:8 Now Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and miraculous signs 28 among the people. 6:9 But some men from the Synagogue 29 of the Freedmen (as it was called), 30 both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, as well as some from Cilicia and the province of Asia, 31 stood up and argued with Stephen. 6:10 Yet 32 they were not able to resist 33 the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. 6:11 Then they secretly instigated 34 some men to say, “We have heard this man 35 speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 6:12 They incited the people, the 36 elders, and the experts in the law; 37 then they approached Stephen, 38 seized him, and brought him before the council. 39 6:13 They brought forward false witnesses who said, “This man does not stop saying things against this holy place 40 and the law. 41 6:14 For we have heard him saying that Jesus the Nazarene will destroy this place and change the customs 42 that Moses handed down to us.” 6:15 All 43 who were sitting in the council 44 looked intently at Stephen 45 and saw his face was like the face of an angel. 46
Stephen’s Defense Before the Council
7:1 Then the high priest said, “Are these things true?” 47 7:2 So he replied, 48 “Brothers and fathers, listen to me. The God of glory appeared to our forefather 49 Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he settled in Haran, 7:3 and said to him, ‘Go out from your country and from your relatives, and come to the land I will show you.’ 50 7:4 Then he went out from the country of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After his father died, God 51 made him move 52 to this country where you now live. 7:5 He 53 did not give any of it to him for an inheritance, 54 not even a foot of ground, 55 yet God 56 promised to give it to him as his possession, and to his descendants after him, 57 even though Abraham 58 as yet had no child. 7:6 But God spoke as follows: ‘Your 59 descendants will be foreigners 60 in a foreign country, whose citizens will enslave them and mistreat them for four hundred years. 61 7:7 But I will punish 62 the nation they serve as slaves,’ said God, ‘and after these things they will come out of there 63 and worship 64 me in this place.’ 65 7:8 Then God 66 gave Abraham 67 the covenant 68 of circumcision, and so he became the father of Isaac and circumcised him when he was eight days old, 69 and Isaac became the father of 70 Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs. 71 7:9 The 72 patriarchs, because they were jealous of Joseph, sold 73 him into Egypt. But 74 God was with him, 7:10 and rescued him from all his troubles, and granted him favor and wisdom in the presence of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made 75 him ruler over Egypt and over all his household. 7:11 Then a famine occurred throughout 76 Egypt and Canaan, causing 77 great suffering, and our 78 ancestors 79 could not find food. 7:12 So when Jacob heard that there was grain 80 in Egypt, he sent our ancestors 81 there 82 the first time. 7:13 On their second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers again, and Joseph’s family 83 became known to Pharaoh. 7:14 So Joseph sent a message 84 and invited 85 his father Jacob and all his relatives to come, seventy-five people 86 in all. 7:15 So Jacob went down to Egypt and died there, 87 along with our ancestors, 88 7:16 and their bones 89 were later moved to Shechem and placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a certain sum of money 90 from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.
7:17 “But as the time drew near for God to fulfill the promise he had declared to Abraham, 91 the people increased greatly in number 92 in Egypt, 7:18 until another king who did not know about 93 Joseph ruled 94 over Egypt. 95 7:19 This was the one who exploited 96 our people 97 and was cruel to our ancestors, 98 forcing them to abandon 99 their infants so they would die. 100 7:20 At that time Moses was born, and he was beautiful 101 to God. For 102 three months he was brought up in his father’s house, 7:21 and when he had been abandoned, 103 Pharaoh’s daughter adopted 104 him and brought him up 105 as her own son. 7:22 So Moses was trained 106 in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful 107 in his words and deeds. 7:23 But when he was about forty years old, it entered his mind 108 to visit his fellow countrymen 109 the Israelites. 110 7:24 When 111 he saw one of them being hurt unfairly, 112 Moses 113 came to his defense 114 and avenged the person who was mistreated by striking down the Egyptian. 7:25 He thought his own people 115 would understand that God was delivering them 116 through him, 117 but they did not understand. 118 7:26 The next day Moses 119 saw two men 120 fighting, and tried to make peace between 121 them, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers; why are you hurting one another?’ 7:27 But the man who was unfairly hurting his neighbor pushed 122 Moses 123 aside, saying, ‘Who made 124 you a ruler and judge over us? 7:28 You don’t want to kill me the way you killed the Egyptian yesterday, do you?’ 125 7:29 When the man said this, 126 Moses fled and became a foreigner 127 in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons.
7:30 “After 128 forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the desert 129 of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning bush. 130 7:31 When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight, and when he approached to investigate, there came the voice of the Lord, 7:32 ‘I am the God of your forefathers, 131 the God of Abraham, Isaac, 132 and Jacob.’ 133 Moses began to tremble and did not dare to look more closely. 134 7:33 But the Lord said to him, ‘Take the sandals off your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. 135 7:34 I have certainly seen the suffering 136 of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to rescue them. 137 Now 138 come, I will send you to Egypt.’ 139 7:35 This same 140 Moses they had rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and judge?’ 141 God sent as both ruler and deliverer 142 through the hand of the angel 143 who appeared to him in the bush. 7:36 This man led them out, performing wonders and miraculous signs 144 in the land of Egypt, 145 at 146 the Red Sea, and in the wilderness 147 for forty years. 7:37 This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, 148 ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers.’ 149 7:38 This is the man who was in the congregation 150 in the wilderness 151 with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors, 152 and he 153 received living oracles 154 to give to you. 155 7:39 Our 156 ancestors 157 were unwilling to obey 158 him, but pushed him aside 159 and turned back to Egypt in their hearts, 7:40 saying to Aaron, ‘Make us gods who will go in front of us, for this Moses, who led us out of the land of Egypt 160 – we do not know what has happened to him!’ 161 7:41 At 162 that time 163 they made an idol in the form of a calf, 164 brought 165 a sacrifice to the idol, and began rejoicing 166 in the works of their hands. 167 7:42 But God turned away from them and gave them over 168 to worship the host 169 of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets: ‘It was not to me that you offered slain animals and sacrifices 170 forty years in the wilderness, was it, 171 house of Israel? 7:43 But you took along the tabernacle 172 of Moloch 173 and the star of the 174 god Rephan, 175 the images you made to worship, but I will deport 176 you beyond Babylon.’ 177 7:44 Our ancestors 178 had the tabernacle 179 of testimony in the wilderness, 180 just as God 181 who spoke to Moses ordered him 182 to make it according to the design he had seen. 7:45 Our 183 ancestors 184 received possession of it and brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our ancestors, 185 until the time 186 of David. 7:46 He 187 found favor 188 with 189 God and asked that he could 190 find a dwelling place 191 for the house 192 of Jacob. 7:47 But Solomon built a house 193 for him. 7:48 Yet the Most High 194 does not live in houses made by human hands, 195 as the prophet says,
7:49 ‘Heaven is my throne,
and earth is the footstool for my feet.
What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord,
or what is my resting place? 196
7:51 “You stubborn 199 people, with uncircumcised 200 hearts and ears! 201 You are always resisting the Holy Spirit, like your ancestors 202 did! 7:52 Which of the prophets did your ancestors 203 not persecute? 204 They 205 killed those who foretold long ago the coming of the Righteous One, 206 whose betrayers and murderers you have now become! 207 7:53 You 208 received the law by decrees given by angels, 209 but you did not obey 210 it.” 211
Stephen is Killed
7:54 When they heard these things, they became furious 212 and ground their teeth 213 at him. 7:55 But Stephen, 214 full 215 of the Holy Spirit, looked intently 216 toward heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing 217 at the right hand of God. 7:56 “Look!” he said. 218 “I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” 7:57 But they covered their ears, 219 shouting out with a loud voice, and rushed at him with one intent. 7:58 When 220 they had driven him out of the city, they began to stone him, 221 and the witnesses laid their cloaks 222 at the feet of a young man named Saul. 7:59 They 223 continued to stone Stephen while he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 7:60 Then he fell 224 to his knees and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” 225 When 226 he had said this, he died. 227