Series: The First Church (Acts 1-10)

Title: 12. Stephen Acts 6:8-7:60


  • 2017-04-22: White Rock Lake

  1. Stephen’s character
    1. Hellenistic Jew
    2. Full of the Holy Spirit
    3. Courageous
  2. The setup
    1. Acts 6:8-15: The power of the Holy Spirit’s work through Stephen caused the religious leaders to decide to get rid of him.
      1. False accusations:
        1. v. 11: blasphemy against Moses and God
        2. v. 13: speaking against the holy place (temple?)
        3. v. 13: speaking against God
      2. Arrested and hauled before the Sanhedrin, the same council which condemned Jesus.
    2. Ch. 7:1ff: Stephen’s defence to the Sanhedrin
  3. Stephen’s message
    1. It appears that he didn’t get a chance to finish it, but it is clear that he knew the scriptures well.1
      1. The speech is complex and an excellent example of understatement and non-statement to make a point. This makes it complex for a non-Jew living in the 21st century to fully comprehend. Instead, we will draw some lessons from the defense.
    2. What Stephen wanted the Sanhedrin to know (Acts 7). We’re looking at this from the perspective of lessons we can learn, and not concerning ourselves so much with all the details.2
      1. Stephen wanted the people to remember their heritage (vss. 2-8).
        1. The existence of the Jewish nation was no coincidence or human contrivance. God had a plan and one of the first steps He took was to call Abraham, gather those people together, form a covenant with them and eventually build a nation.
        2. One part of the rebellious unbelief that rejected Jesus was, the leaders lost a good sound perception of their past with God.
        3. They grew closer and closer to the world and farther and farther away from God. They constructed a religious empire that was not a function of God’s plan; it was by men and for men.
        4. Stephen was inspired by the Holy Spirit to take them back to their roots…. His sermon establishes that Israel failed to respond to God’s purpose and that “the religion of the Jews had lost its soul” (FF Bruce, The Acts of the Apostles).
      2. Stephen wanted the people to understand, God never abandoned His righteous people.
        1. When Joseph may have thought there was no hope, “God was with him, and delivered him out of all his troubles,” (v.10).
        2. In all that God did with the patriarchs, He blessed the righteous and responded justly toward the wicked. God had not changed. Even after the patriarchs died, the nation continued and God carried out His plan to send the Savior to die for all. Through all their history, God had been faithful to His people and faithful to His plan, providentially moving history toward His holy end.
      3. Stephen wanted the people to see, back through their history, the destructive consequences of rejecting God.
        1. [vv. 39-41] God not only chose the patriarchs and worked through their lives, He chose Moses. The people soon rejected him, and their “hearts turned back to Egypt.” They made a golden calf, offered sacrifices to the idol, “and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.”
        2. [vv. 42-43] God responded to their apostasy. He “turned and gave them up to worship the host of heaven…,” (see Acts 7:42-43) and eventually carried the nation away to Babylon! … It is the concept of sowing and reaping that Stephen wanted the people to consider, in the reality of their rejection of Christ.
      4. Stephen wanted the people to know of God’s real presence.
        1. [vv. 44-50] “The Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands.” They had misunderstood the function of the temple (vss. 44-50).
        2. God cannot be confined to a place. As the Creator, it can be said, the universe is His seat and the earth a mere footstool.
    3. vv. 51-54: Stephen leveled his accusation against them, and was cut off, unable to finish his speech.
      1. “Amid a growing uproar of fury and dissent, he hammered home his conclusion. The had accused him of reviling the holy place. He accused them of resisting the Holy Spirit. They had accused him of slighting Moses, the man of God. He accused them of slaying Jesus, the Son of God. They had accused him of blaspheming the Law. He accused them of breaking the law. Stephen took the charges leveled against him, picked them up, and flung them back in the faces of his accusers.”3
      2. vv. 55-60: As Stephen is martyred, he still alludes to Jesus and shows his true Christian spirit


  1. See Matthew Henry on Acts 7 

  2. Below points from here 

  3. From p.#348, EXPLORING THE PEOPLE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT by John Phillips. Source