But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.” Everyone liked this idea, and they chose the following: Stephen (a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit), Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas of Antioch (an earlier convert to the Jewish faith). These seven were presented to the apostles, who prayed for them as they laid their hands on them. So God’s message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too. Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed amazing miracles and signs among the people.
But one day some men from the Synagogue of Freed Slaves, as it was called, started to debate with him. They were Jews from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia, and the province of Asia. None of them could stand against the wisdom and the Spirit with which Stephen spoke. So they persuaded some men to lie about Stephen, saying, “We heard him blaspheme Moses, and even God.” This roused the people, the elders, and the teachers of religious law. So they arrested Stephen and brought him before the high council. The lying witnesses said, “This man is always speaking against the holy Temple and against the law of Moses. We have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy the Temple and change the customs Moses handed down to us.” At this point everyone in the high council stared at Stephen, because his face became as bright as an angel’s.Acts 6:1-15
To aid your investigation, below I will give you the end of Chapter 5 and the beginning and the end of Chapter 7.
The end of Chapter 5:
The others accepted his advice. They called in the apostles and had them flogged. Then they ordered them never again to speak in the name of Jesus, and they let them go. The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus. And every day, in the Temple and from house to house, they continued to teach and preach this message: “Jesus is the Messiah.”Act 5:40-42
The Opening to Chapter 7:
Then the high priest asked Stephen, “Are these accusations true?” This was Stephen’s reply: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me. Our glorious God appeared to our ancestor Abraham in Mesopotamia before he settled in Haran. God told him, ‘Leave your native land and your relatives, and come into the land that I will show you.’ So Abraham left the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran until his father died. Then God brought him here to the land where you now live.Acts 7:1-4
The End of Chapter 7:
The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen’s accusation, and they shook their fists at him in rage. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honour at God’s right hand. And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honour at God’s right hand!” Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.Acts 7:54-60
Let me spell it out to you. Stephen’s speech runs from Acts 7:2-53. So I wasn’t going to give you all of Chapter 7 here. Stephen’s speech in Acts 7 is the longest speech in the Book of Acts.
Take time to read Acts 5 again to the end of Acts 7.
- What do you notice about the way this section of Acts is divided?
- Remember what I have told you about Robert Estienne and his chapter divisions in the Bible.
- Would you divide this block of Scripture any differently?
- Do you notice some curious features of Chapter 6?
- Does it remind you of something you have seen before?
- Do you see any recurring features in the Book of Acts here?
I have told you before, the speeches in the book of Acts are important to the thrust and theme of the book.
Read again Bible Gem 1336 to see what I said about Speeches in the book of Acts.
God gave us an ordinary world filled with the raw materials to create the extraordinary. Within is the seed to be extraordinary.George Washington Carver
When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way you will command the attention of the world.George Washington Carver
There is no shortcut to achievement. Life requires thorough preparation – veneer isn’t worth anything.George Washington Carver
Ninety-nine percent of failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.George Washington Carver
In your efforts to understand Stephen’s speech in Acts, do the common things (usual Deeper Bible methods) in an uncommon way and don’t make excuses.Ian Vail