As the council members heard Stephen’s accusation, they became furious, grinding their teeth at him in anger (248).
But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven & proclaimed, “I see heaven opened & Jesus standing at the right side of God!”
With a loud cry the council members covered their ears with their hands, so as not to hear what they considered Stephen’s blasphemy. At once, they all rushed at Stephen, dragged him outside the city (Jerusalem), and began stoning him! The executioners left their cloaks in the care of a young man named Saul.
As they kept on stoning Stephen, he called out, “Jesus, receive my spirit!” Then Stephen knelt down & prayed in a loud voice, “God, please do not remember this sin against them!” And after he said this, Stephen died.
Devout Christians buried Stephen & lamented his death. But that event was only the beginning of an extended persecution of the church in Jerusalem.
As a result of this persecution, Jewish Christians were scattered to various regions of Judea & Samaria, as illustrated by the ministry of Philip.
However, the original 12 witnesses continued public ministry in Jerusalem.
The believers shared the gospel in every place to which they were scattered. So God used this persecution — not to silence the good news about Jesus, but to proclaim it to more people in more places!
(248) Acts 7:54-8:4