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Summary: Stephen, who was the first of seven men chosen for the office of deacon, had a strong faith by which he was enabled to do extraordinary things. Those who are full of faith are full of power, because, by faith the power of God is engaged for us.

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December 30, 2013

By: Tom Lowe

Series: The Early Church

Title: Stephen Brought Before a Council (6:8-15)

Acts 6.8-15 (KJV)

8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.

9 Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.

10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.

11 Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.

12 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council,

13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:

14 For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.

15 And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.

Introduction

Stephen was a poor, uncultured layman who was honored with the office of deacon because he was “full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom”; and as such he was permitted to sweep the floor, and light the lamps, and collect money for the support of widows and the poor. And like all of the disciples in the Apostolic age [“Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went” (Acts 8:4).], he preached the Word of God. He did not have to get a license; the apostles didn’t have one, nor did anyone else. The short-sighted clergymen who invented license had not yet been born. Stephen is identified with those Hellenistic synagogues in which the Greek language is spoken, and he goes about preaching in them with all his might. The representatives of these synagogues had been dispersed to live in all heathen lands, but they had come to Jerusalem to attend the great Jewish feast of Pentecost. By divine intervention, this Pentecost was miraculously and unexpectedly transformed into the most memorable revival the world ever saw and is memorialized by the incarnation of the Holy Ghost, and the dawn of the Gospel message. The representatives (or delegates) of these synagogues were the Libertines, namely, the freed people, consisting of Jews who had been transported to Rome as slaves, but afterward liberated by the Emperors. The noteworthy Libertines were Cyrenians from Cyrene, a large city in northern Africa, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, where there were many Jews; the Alexandrians, from the city of Alexandria, the capital of Egypt, where the Jews dwelt in great numbers and were greatly encouraged by Ptolemy Philadelphus, who had the Hebrew Bible translated into Greek, known as the Septuagint, for the benefit of his Jewish subjects; and the Greek-speaking Jews from Cilicia and Asia.

Commentary

8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.

And Stephen, full of faith and power,

Stephen, who was the first of seven men chosen for the office of deacon, had a strong faith (confidence in God), by which he was enabled to do extraordinary things. Those who are full of faith are full of power, because, by faith the power of God is engaged for us. The remarkable death of this first Christian martyr, which occurred soon after the remarkable events that took place on the Day of Pentecost, prompted the sacred writer (Dr. Luke) to give a detailed account of his character, of his faith and miracles, of his elocution and wisdom, of his courage and daring, of his faithfulness, and of his suffering and of the circumstances which led to his martyrdom. He is said here to be full of faith, just as before [“. . . They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism” (Acts 6:5.]. He had an uncommon share of faith; it was exceedingly abundant in him; he had a sufficient amount of it for the service and sufferings he was called to: and he was full of power to preach the Gospel, and teach it the people, which he did with authority; to defend it, and oppose the adversaries of it; to endure rebuke and indignities for it, and even death itself; and to do miraculous works for the confirmation of it.

Up till now the opposition of the Jews had been confined to threats and imprisonment; but now it burst forth with furious rage that could only be satisfied with blood. This was the first in a series of persecutions against Christians which filled the church with blood, and which ended the lives of thousands, perhaps a million, who were involved in the great work of establishing the gospel on the earth.

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