Stephen

Sometime later, as the body of believers had continued to increase in number, there was a quarrel between Jewish Christians & Gentile Christians (242).

The Gentile Christians claimed that their widows were being neglected in the body’s daily distribution of resources.

The 12 witnesses called the whole body of believers together & said, “God has chosen us to continue praying & preaching his word.  Through you, God will now choose seven members of the body — full of the Holy Spirit & godly wisdom — to be in charge of the daily distribution.”

The whole body was pleased with this proposal, so they chose Stephen (a man full of faith & the Holy Spirit), Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, & Nicolaus (a Gentile from Antioch who had earlier been converted to Judaism, and later to Christianity). These 7 men were presented to the 12 witnesses, who placed their hands on them & prayed for their ministry.

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In this way, the word of God continued to spread, and the body of Christ in Jerusalem continued increasing in number – eventually including a great number of Jewish priests who placed their faith in Jesus.

Because he was richly blessed by God & full of the Spirit’s power, Stephen was used by God to do great miracles & wonders among the people. But he was opposed by certain non-Christian Jewish men who started arguing with him. However, the Spirit gave Stephen such wisdom that, when he spoke, they never could overcome him.

So the jealous Jews bribed some men to say, “We heard Stephen speaking against Moses & against God!” This false accusation stirred up the people, the elders & the teachers of the law.

Stephen was seized & taken before the council. More false witnesses were brought in to tell lies about Stephen. “This man,” they said, “is always talking against our sacred temple and the law of Moses. We heard him say that Jesus of Nazareth will tear down the temple and change all the customs which have come down to us from Moses!”

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Then all those sitting in the council fixed their eyes on Stephen, whose face seemed like the face of an angel . . .

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(242) Acts 6:1-15