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.

7:17But 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.

7:30After 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,

7:49Heaven 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 

7:50 Did my hand 197  not make all these things? 198 

7:51You 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 

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