In chapter 6, at the urging of the apostles, the disciples chose seven men for the apostles to appoint to “serve tables” for the church – the first deacons. It is an important distinction. It is the elders of the church who are to appoint the deacons, true enough. But they make their decisions as to who to appoint based solely upon the group of men that the church members select. One could logically assume that the wisdom in doing it this way is because the members are closer to their fellow disciples and they are going to better know the hearts and lives of the men that they select,
Two of the men they select will become key figures. Though Stephen’s time will end in chapter 7, his life, the speech that he gives, and his death have great meaning and served the fulfillment of the Lord’s commands, as well as the growth of his church in ways that we can only partially know. Phlip will be instrumental in chapters to come for the conversion and salvation of many. The other five that the text mentions do not appear elsewhere after this chapter.
Stephen makes his enemies much angrier in his “history lesson to the Sanhedrin in chapter 7. He speaks of the tabernacle that Moses had built under God’s direction (verse 44, Exodus 25). He speaks of the Israelites bringing it into Canaan under Joshua, where it remained until David’s time. Then Solomon built a house for the Lord. But he reminds them in verses 48-50, that God does not dwell in the temple, and for all its glory, His own hands made everything in it.
He then addresses the council more personally, and speaks of their own vile rejection of “the cornerstone” and their betrayal of God and His son, saying:
You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.
Stephen had not only turned the tables on his own accusers as having gone against God, but had called them the murderers that they were! Their fury had to have been something to see. So they dragged him out of the city, and laid their garments at the feet of a man named Saul (stoning was hard, sweaty work) before they stoned Stephen to death.
Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Colossians and Luke
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All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.