The Stoning of Stephen
Acts 7:54-60 (New International Version)
“54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 ”Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.” Introduction
Within the stoning of Stephen there are many significant factors that are explained; including many similarities with the death of Jesus Christ, the symbolism of Jesus’ resurrection, and the significance of how Stephen is described as falling asleep instead of dying. Luke also displays the similarities between Stephen’s speech and stoning to other passages within the bible. Stephen’s speech before his stoning was harsh and honest with the Jewish leaders. Many people do not appreciate the truth especially when they know that they are in the wrong, and this leads many to persecute those that spread the truth. Persecution is a major theme of Acts and is displayed within these verses and will be discussed as to hoe to deal with persecution as a Christian. Many think that the Christian walk is supposed to be easy, but if we are truly living for Christ, then we are going to face trials that will allow others to learn and to help them find or grow in Christ. As Christians in today’s world it is important to study and understand relatable stories as well as know that one will be persecuted but needs to stay strong and the Lord will stand strong along side those who stand up for Him. Background
The circumstances that lead to Stephen’s stoning was the speech that he gave to the members of the Sanhedrin. He recounted the history of Moses and his descendants and pointed out all of the times that they chose to ignore the Lord and persecute leaders that were chosen by God. The purpose of Stephen’s speech is not obvious during the beginning recounting of Israel’s history. (Sweeney, 2002) Stephen even went as far as to point out the fact that they were so reluctant to follow God that they persecuted and killed the one sent to save them all, Jesus. 51 ”You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— 53 you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.” Stephen attacks the members of the Sanhedrin without any hesitation and insults how they have conducted themselves in the past, in their dealings with Christians. The way that Luke writes about Stephen being led into the Sanhedrin is parallel to how Jesus was led into the Sanhedrin in Luke 22:66. (Brodie, 1983) There are many similarities throughout Stephen’s speech and stoning that are parallel to the judgment and crucifixion of Jesus. Due to Stephen being the first Christian martyr there has been many texts written looking into his story. There are three that were written in Greek in order to further look into his persecution, those texts being Passio, Revelatio, and Translatio. Each of these texts explore something different so that we can get the story in full and learn about new things that Luke may have not...