Bible: Acts 6-8
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 8:1 And Saul agreed completely with killing 228 him.
Saul Begins to Persecute the Church
Now on that day a great 229 persecution began 230 against the church in Jerusalem, 231 and all 232 except the apostles were forced to scatter throughout the regions 233 of Judea and Samaria. 8:2 Some 234 devout men buried Stephen and made loud lamentation 235 over him. 236 8:3 But Saul was trying to destroy 237 the church; entering one house after another, he dragged off 238 both men and women and put them in prison. 239
Philip Preaches in Samaria
8:4 Now those who had been forced to scatter went around proclaiming the good news of the word. 8:5 Philip went down to the main city of Samaria 240 and began proclaiming 241 the Christ 242 to them. 8:6 The crowds were paying attention with one mind to what Philip said, 243 as they heard and saw the miraculous signs 244 he was performing. 8:7 For unclean spirits, 245 crying with loud shrieks, were coming out of many who were possessed, 246 and many paralyzed and lame people were healed. 8:8 So there was 247 great joy 248 in that city.
8:9 Now in that city was a man named Simon, who had been practicing magic 249 and amazing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great. 8:10 All the people, 250 from the least to the greatest, paid close attention to him, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called ‘Great.’” 251 8:11 And they paid close attention to him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic. 8:12 But when they believed Philip as he was proclaiming the good news about the kingdom of God 252 and the name of Jesus Christ, 253 they began to be baptized, 254 both men and women. 8:13 Even Simon himself believed, and after he was baptized, he stayed close to 255 Philip constantly, and when he saw the signs and great miracles that were occurring, he was amazed. 256
8:14 Now when the apostles in Jerusalem 257 heard that Samaria had accepted the word 258 of God, they sent 259 Peter and John to them. 8:15 These two 260 went down and prayed for them so that they would receive the Holy Spirit. 8:16 (For the Spirit 261 had not yet come upon 262 any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 263 8:17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on the Samaritans, 264 and they received the Holy Spirit. 265
8:18 Now Simon, when he saw that the Spirit 266 was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, offered them money, 8:19 saying, “Give me this power 267 too, so that everyone I place my hands on may receive the Holy Spirit.” 8:20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, 268 because you thought you could acquire 269 God’s gift with money! 8:21 You have no share or part 270 in this matter 271 because your heart is not right before God! 8:22 Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord 272 that he may perhaps forgive you for the intent of your heart. 273 8:23 For I see that you are bitterly envious 274 and in bondage to sin.” 8:24 But Simon replied, 275 “You pray to the Lord for me so that nothing of what you have said may happen to 276 me.”
8:25 So after Peter and John 277 had solemnly testified 278 and spoken the word of the Lord, 279 they started back to Jerusalem, proclaiming 280 the good news to many Samaritan villages 281 as they went. 282
Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch
8:26 Then an angel of the Lord 283 said to Philip, 284 “Get up and go south 285 on the road that goes down from Jerusalem 286 to Gaza.” (This is a desert 287 road.) 288 8:27 So 289 he got up 290 and went. There 291 he met 292 an Ethiopian eunuch, 293 a court official of Candace, 294 queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasury. He 295 had come to Jerusalem to worship, 296 8:28 and was returning home, sitting 297 in his chariot, reading 298 the prophet Isaiah. 8:29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 8:30 So Philip ran up 299 to it 300 and heard the man 301 reading Isaiah the prophet. He 302 asked him, 303 “Do you understand what you’re reading?” 8:31 The man 304 replied, “How in the world can I, 305 unless someone guides me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 8:32 Now the passage of scripture the man 306 was reading was this:
“He was led like a sheep to slaughter,
and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he did 307 not open his mouth.
Who can describe his posterity? 310
8:34 Then the eunuch said 313 to Philip, “Please tell me, 314 who is the prophet saying this about – himself or someone else?” 315 8:35 So Philip started speaking, 316 and beginning with this scripture 317 proclaimed the good news about Jesus to him. 8:36 Now as they were going along the road, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look, there is water! What is to stop me 318 from being baptized?” 8:37 [[EMPTY]] 319 8:38 So he ordered the chariot to stop, and both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, 320 and Philip baptized 321 him. 8:39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him any more, but 322 went on his way rejoicing. 323 8:40 Philip, however, found himself 324 at Azotus, 325 and as he passed through the area, 326 he proclaimed the good news 327 to all the towns 328 until he came to Caesarea. 329