Summary: A detailed description of Stephen and the model he was for us to follow.
Last time we looked at the election of seven men to serve as deacons of the first church. One of those seven was Stephen. We finish chapter 6 tonight with a detailed description of Stephen and the model he was for us to follow. For the next three studies, including tonight, we are going to look closely at Stephen and see how he was the first martyr of the church as well. Each study will take us into the next scene, as if we were watching a play. Tonight is scene one.
Stephen was a layman, he was an extraordinary man, and he was a great servant of God. His name means a crown. We are going to see in the next three studies that Stephen was:
• Full of the Holy Spirit.
• Full of grace.
• Full of power.
• Full of wisdom.
• A man of great reputation or testimony.
• A man of great works.
• A great defender.
• The first deacon of the church.
• The first martyr of the church.
Let’s get into the Scripture.
READ v. 8. Here Stephen is described as a man full of grace and power, doing great works for God. When it says he was full of grace, it means that Stephen was a man full of God’s love, God’s favor, His gifts and His blessings. He had a godly gracious character. His behavior exemplified God’s character.
He was also full of God’s power. He did great wonders and miraculous signs. God’s grace and power were on him. And it’s here that we need to be reminded that both grace and power from the Holy Spirit are necessary before a person can serve God effectively.
So many times someone comes up with a project or a plan on how they can enhance God’s ministry. Unfortunately, so many times, that person is trying to handle the ministry on their own, seeking to gain recognition, seeking fame, and they forget Whose ministry it is. If a person doesn’t have the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, they cannot effectively serve God—mostly because of the wrong motives.
Am I clear enough on that? If you are trying to “climb the corporate ladder”, (if there is such a thing in church), then that is the wrong motive. If your motive is to get your name in the church bulletin, or in the church minutes, or whatever, is that the right motive? No. If a ministry is going to work, it must be from God. If it’s from God, He will give His grace and the power of the Holy Spirit to carry out that ministry, to HIS glory.
When we say “power”, we mean that the believer’s power is the presence and power of the Holy Spirit within him. The believer has no spiritual power of himself. The power is of the Holy Spirit alone.
READ v. 9-10. Stephen was a man who defended the faith. He preached in several synagogues throughout Jerusalem. The synagogues mentioned in v. 9 are Grecian names. Sometime around A.D. 19 the Roman emperor, Tiberius, had expelled all Jews from Rome. Many of them had returned to their homeland, some settling in Jerusalem. When they returned, because of their common language and culture, they clung together, starting their worship centers or synagogues.