Opening Prayer

Thank you, Father, for the great mercies that are mine in Christ Jesus. Help me to make my life a testimony of praise.

Read ACTS 7:44 – 8:3

44 “Our ancestors had the tabernacle of the covenant law with them in the wilderness. It had been made as God directed Moses, according to the pattern he had seen. 45 After receiving the tabernacle, our ancestors under Joshua brought it with them when they took the land from the nations God drove out before them. It remained in the land until the time of David, 46 who enjoyed God’s favor and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.[a] 47 But it was Solomon who built a house for him.

48 “However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says:

49 “‘Heaven is my throne,
    and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house will you build for me?
says the Lord.
    Or where will my resting place be?
50 Has not my hand made all these things?’[b]

51 “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 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— 53 you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.”

The Stoning of Stephen

54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.

59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

And Saul approved of their killing him.

The Church Persecuted and Scattered

On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.


  1. Acts 7:46 Some early manuscripts the house of Jacob
  2. Acts 7:50 Isaiah 66:1,2

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


May we hear the crucial question this text asks of us and our faith.

Think Further

The story of Stephen – church administrator become dynamic preacher – moves to its tragic climax. His indictment of his accusers appears to suggest that the reign of Solomon, often presented as the pinnacle of Israel’s history, was a turning point which resulted in the collapse of the nation and ended in the destruction of both city and temple. The criticism of the temple is taken to a new level. It provokes the crowd to furious outrage, precisely because Stephen’s message implied that the tragic history of biblical Israel was repeating itself and the rejection of God’s servant – the ‘Righteous One’ (v. 52) – would have the same terrible consequences for his own generation. The audience is transformed into a frenzied mob and we have the extraordinary picture of the crowd, covering their ears and screaming their demand for blood. In the midst of this frenzy and in contrast with it, we see Stephen’s calm vision of the exalted Son of Man, vindicated at the right hand of God.

For at least the next 300 years, scenes like this one would be repeated on many occasions. Hundreds of men and women faced the decision between life and death as the Christian movement expanded across the Roman Empire. The story of the church and its martyrs reminds us that ‘there were Christians who quite joyfully parted with possessions, family, friends, even life itself in order to remain faithful.’1 This may seem very remote from our lives, but perhaps above all else the story of Stephen compels us to ask: what is really worth living for and dying for today?


As you reflect on that question, consider the advice of Hebrews 12:1–3.

Closing prayer

Lord God, thank you for the ways your Word and your Spirit build my faith. Help me to stand against any opposition to Jesus, no matter how great or how small.

Last Updated on June 8, 2024 by kingstar

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