Join us for the best summer yet!

Inspiration on the context of Stephen's story in Acts 6 & 7 (citations B18 & B19)
The rest of the story of Stephen and the early church from GEM#11 and GEM#12:
Before Stephen was stoned in citation B18, Click to grow your church community in an Act 6 model from an infancy in diversity to maturity in unity. Cobbey Crisler insights on “the rest of the story” of Stephen
and the early church from all of Acts 6
(partly in citation B18):
[Cobbey:] “So, let’s turn to Chapter Six in Acts and continue asking the question: “After the Master What?”

The answer to that question, in the infancy of church, is not going to be the same as in the maturity of the church, perhaps.

So, let’s see if the pressures of world opposition begin to move in from all sides on this expression of unity and harmony and the incredible effects that seem to have resulted from such unity and harmony.

Where do you think this concept of church as harmony and unity of all humanity could possibly come from? Where would it have its root? Where would be its source, the source of that concept?

Oneness among men would have to come from some concept. What would it be?… Well, if you get a oneness in the result, you have to get a oneness in the source, and where does it come from? … Yes, it would be the oneness of God which, of course, is the ultimate of the Hebrew contribution to religious history isn’t it? It’s monotheism.

Now, look at it in that way. If that logic, simple though it may seem to be, is correct, it means that any challenge or attack, within or without, on the unity of man is an attack on monotheism, or the oneness of God, which would account for the unity of man.

How important then is the concept of church and working together as a chord in music, finding that individually, we don’t lose ourselves in the chord, we contribute to the chord? Wasn’t it interesting that in the second chapter of Acts in our discussion of the Pentecost that we found in the words of Acts, that “there appeared upon them “cloven tongues like as a fire, and it sat upon each of them.” (Acts 2:3)

The individual was not lost in this great collective inspiration that poured out from working together. How much are we missing? How much are we lacking today, perhaps, in not exercising this tremendous collective power as the generic son of God in that sense which the church was begun to just introduce as a concept or an idea on earth as it must have been already in heaven.

God’s idea of church would be somewhat different, probably, from the human concept of church. And if God’s idea of church or of man, in general is unity, right, then if God has outlined it that way, when we look at some of our various denominations and the divisions that have occurred, and often assume that that’s church, we probably have to take that concept of church back to the pattern – the pattern shown in the Mount and discover how close it really is to God’s concept of church – because that’s the concept of church that’s indivisible.

Obviously, the human concept of church has been divisible practically since the beginning, and the human must elevate itself to some higher concept in order to get this concept of unity as outlined by God, stemming from the oneness of God that unites all of us. It’s a major missed point in our history, isn’t it, if we’re not exercising that as a fact?

This is why Chapter 6 becomes important because the human beings who are at first huddled together just for warmth, in the beginning of Acts, are now suddenly getting challenged to get to a higher, a broader, a wider, and a deeper sense of church than they have even imagined. And, what do we know so far about the Book of Acts where the prompting comes from – the prompting for spiritual growth? Where does it come from? Is it human initiative? (It’s) the Holy Ghost, which is one of the favored terms, isn’t it, to the author of Acts?

Now, let’s look at the beginnings now of something that will reflect a wider, more spiritual, concept of church than has existed up to this point in human history, and that is the universality of Christianity. We’ve seen already that the early church meetings included home, which was a breakthrough, a departure from norm.

Also, including women is a departure from norm, I’m sure all of you agree with me. Then what else? Not just women. … Well, we haven’t come to that yet, but we will see that difference races, but…all right, Gentiles haven’t come in quite yet. All of these things: blacks, in other words, other races; Gentiles; non-monotheists – all of those will come up as serious questions marks and challenges as the church gropes humanly to fulfill the mission that’s already outlined divinely. And, the first major dispute in church, after, of course, the Ananias/Sapphira affair, remember, (which was a dishonesty from within) – interesting thing: would dishonesty from within be one of the first things one should look out for and protect a “with one accord” Pentecost environment from? (See Acts 1:1)

Here in Acts, Chapter 6 – something else occurs. When the number of disciples was multiplied – that’s a nice little red flag you know – the more people you add, usually the greater the problem becomes, that is for many of the individuals involved. It doesn’t have to be, and we ask ourselves “Is that God’s concept of unity, the more the merrier, or the reverse from merrier?”

Here we find that there were Greeks. Now, these Grecians are Hellenized Jews. We’re not talking about Gentile here, according to most scholars. These are Jews of the Diaspora who have come back at festival times and make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

But they’ve lived in other lands other than Palestine, and they have perhaps even forgotten – they don’t know Hebrew – and they don’t even speak Aramaic. “They are Greek-speaking Jews. And then you have the Aramaic-speaking Jews, the Hebrews in Verse 1.” (See below, paraphrased)

Acts 6:1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.

So, you have what as a far as potential problems are concerned? Different tongues, yes, but more than that: customs, cultures, backgrounds, nations, factions, divisions, denominations, (and) viewpoints – the whole thing.

Now, here they are in Jerusalem. Who do you think would get favored if there are political viewpoints? Sure. The Hebrew point of view.

Now what will the church do when it’s faced with this kind of potential favoritism to its members? Test that with the pattern shown to us on the Mount, God’s concept of the unity of His creation if that’s what church is meant to symbolized and eventually universalized “on earth as it is in heaven.” (See Matt 6:10)

Then, let’s see what happens when this initial challenge begins. Now, we’re getting a different glimpse of the church organization because it develops, not just suddenly full-blown and developed, but as the result of necessity and challenges, crises, that force an improvement in the church body often as crises force an improvement in our own physical body.

And here in Acts 6, verse 2, we find the twelve who were functioning virtually as what now in the church organization? Loosely as the Governing Board, the decision-makers, but we’ve also got an idea that democracy was part of the church because they elected, remember, the replacement for Judas.

Now, the twelve say here in verse 2, and notice how their job begins to get refined and defined: “It doesn’t make sense, they are saying, that we should leave the Word of God, our priority mission, and serve tables.” (See below, paraphrased)

Acts 6:2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.

Now since the Greek work there is also the Greek word for “bank,” it probably (means) “We don’t want to be table men. We don’t want to sit behind tables and transact business” in that sense, if our priority job is the Word of God, an interesting very early distinction of office responsibilities. (See below, paraphrased/repeated)

Acts 6:2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.

(There’s) the necessity to carry out the human, but not to neglect the divine — sort of like Jesus saying at one point: “These ought ye to have done, but not to leave the other undone.” (See below, partial)

Matt 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

Now, we have the first church committee appointed in Acts 6, verse 3. So, many of us who have wondered whether there was any wisdom in ever forming any committee (laughter from audience) can see that both wisdom and necessity dictated a committee fairly early in the history of the Christian church. And it was the committee on care.

“Seven men,” notice the prerequisite for the job (humor), “honest report, and full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom.” (See below, paraphrased)

Acts 6:3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

Those are not bad eligibility requirements for committee work “whom we may appoint over this business.” (See below, repeated, partial)

Acts 6:3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

But, the board that is governing the church at that point, in Acts 6, verse 4, defines its mission as “giving ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.” (See below, paraphrased)

Acts 6:4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

You see, without a manual of operation which would in writing define the offices of the church, do you see that necessity requires it, at least, to be done orally? The comprehension of various offices in serving in many ways the collective activity, making up the whole, the integral whole of the church.

Well, Acts 6, verse 5, gives the list of the first members of the first church committee. And you know what? Every one of those names is Greek. Not one Hebrew name in it! That tells us again something about the appointment. They totally weighted it on the side of those who had been neglected. But they also, by the same token, would virtually have served notice to these committee members with Greek names: “We formed the committee because there was an imbalance, not to create a new one.”

So, they now would be able to express and disseminate the love of the church equally to all widows regardless of national origin, background, persuasion, and so forth. Is that a step forward for mankind? Whether it happened in church or wherever, but how beautiful that it would happen in church where progress, collectively, should begin, if anywhere.

Well, again before that committee starts out, and notice who’s on it? Did you notice “Stephen and Philip”? We run into both of them later. That’s not Philip the apostle it’s Philip, the evangelist, so called. (It’s a different Philip.) (See below)

Acts 6:5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:

Before the committee goes out to their assignment in Acts 6, Verse 6, the “praying together of the board directing the church and this new committee” – it’s still collective, isn’t it? (See below, paraphrased)

Acts 6:6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

Even though individual notes are being sounded, they are praying collectively, because it’s a oneness that is the key to whole success of church.

Now, the result, Acts 6, verse 7, the church had met its second challenge against unity. That’s the target. “And the number of the disciples multiplied…a great company of the priests (even the Levites and those who have attained some hierarchical status in Judea) have turned to the new faith.” (See below, paraphrased)

Acts 6:7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

Now, that can offer both plus and minus elements. If the ritual, which these priests would be used to, were now to be imposed from within on the church, that would be a challenge.

But also, the Biblical insights, the knowledge, the awareness of the great closeness to the monotheistic concept of God – all of those – would be pluses. So, we’ll see what happens.

In the event that we might be under the delusion that committee work is nothing but (sort of) hand-to-mouth type of operation, mechanical, read Acts 6, verse 8, and see if that is how Stephen regarded his assignment when he accepted the post.

Is that all he did was serve on that committee, to serve widows? “Full of faith and power,” he was doing what simultaneously? — “Great wonders and miracles.” (See below)

Acts 6:8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.

And now, remember what generally happened when Jesus did too much healing?

The next verse, or verses, would generally bring us into the resistance to that kind of thing.

And here, in Acts 6, verse 9, we find those who belong to…apparently in Jerusalem, there were synagogues of Jews from various nationalities.

In other words, they were ghetto-like in a way, but appealing to their own national group of origin.

“So, you have “the Libertines, the Cyrenians, Alexandrians (these are in North Africa), Cilicia (which is Paul’s territory in Tarsus), Asia (which would be a part of modern-day Turkey)” and the synagogues, undoubtedly were…there were several synagogues, hundreds of them perhaps, in and around the Jerusalem area, and some of them just more nationalities.

“And they’re disputing with Stephen now.” (See below, paraphrased)

Acts 6:9 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.

“And yet something Stephen had was irresistible. And it’s defined as the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.” (Acts 6:10)

Much of it must have been based on what? – Scripture, the Holy Ghost, of course, and what about this new concept and strength that would come from the unity which the church was manifesting at this time?

Well, “the accusations, however, are made directly against Stephen,” sounding very familiar to all of us. There the same accusations that were made against Jesus, weren’t they? “They haul Stephen to the Sanhedrin, the same council that had convicted Jesus. (See below, Acts 6:12, paraphrased)

“They set up false witnesses, which again happened in the narrative of Jesus.” (See below, Acts 6:13, paraphrased)

And “they charge him with blasphemy, and announcing that Jesus would destroy this place which is another term for temple.” Do you remember that charge was made against Jesus as well? (See below, Acts 6:11,13, paraphrased)

Acts 6:11 Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.

Acts 6:12 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,

Acts 6:13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:

One of the groups of early disciples, most of whom had fled in the opposite direction when Jesus was being charged similarly, look and study whether Stephen budges.

Despite the malice, the falsehood, the vengefulness hurled at him at this moment, “all he could do when they looked at Stephen was to see that, if his human face resembled anything, it resembled the face of an angel.” (See below)

Acts 6:15 And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.

Now that has to do with transparency probably, because the “face of an angel” conveys that. (See above)

Can you imagine that Stephen had one resentful thought in his consciousness? If he was giving that kind of appearance even to his enemies.

If thoughts are things, if thoughts are expressed by our bodies as they so often are, and we can tell what total strangers are thinking just at a distance often, just think how we could (perhaps) guess, but fairly validly, at what Stephen was thinking at that moment.

His thoughts had pinions if they reminded the onlookers of an angel. And you know, out from that state of thought comes Acts, Chapter 7, which we won’t deal with too extensively. It is for the benefit for his Sanhedrin hearers – something they, of course, already knew – it was the history of Israel.
“After the Master, What? The Book of Acts,” by B. Cobbey Crisler**

[Cobbey:] Stephen was drawing God’s design as he saw it, that silver, if not golden, thread through the scriptures. Starting with Abraham and working through to Moses in Acts 7, verse 32, notice that he selects for his example Moses’s beautiful view of God when “he stopped and looked to see why the bush was burning.” (See below, paraphrased)

Acts 7:32 Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold.

Ex 3:2 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.

That’s a very important intersection for mankind because between Genesis and Exodus, there may be maybe nearly 400 hears of silence between Joseph and Moses.

What caused the silence? Wasn’t God revealing? Wasn’t God communicating? Well, where did the fault lie? (Answers heard as murmurs in the background) Since communication has that prefix co, the fault lies either with the source or the receiver. And we almost find an abrupt change as Moses becomes a receiver. And it took him some while before he became a receiver.

And there he was in the mostly unlikely place in the middle of Sinai, and here is a bush burning. But somehow it wasn’t consumed. If that were happening in the middle of Times Square the local commuters and pedestrians would merely rustle their “Wall Street Journals” and walk on by,

But Moses stops to find out why. That makes him an inquirer and immediately casts him as an important scientific observer in the history of humanity. That’s scientific inquiry, isn’t it? He wants to know why that the bush hasn’t burned.

And, at that moment, he receives communication. And he receives one of the greatest breakthroughs about God, one that every one of us must have today before we can progress in any comprehension of the Godhead, I AM.

Why is that such a breakthrough? Because here those children of Israel for nearly 400 years in bondage had been worshiping the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who lived hundreds of years before. After many centuries of long, tired prayers to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and nothing happening currently, what happens to any concept of God as I AM? It really becomes you’re worshipping not an I AM God, but what? an I WAS God.

And that’s a God who is dead. And not too long ago, “Time” magazine, on their cover, brought that back again. That’s a I WAS God. Here the tremendous pushing aside, waiting for the receiver, Moses, to get that point: “I AM, the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, and I AM has sent me unto you.” (See below, Partial)

I’m still I AM. I’m not a God of the past.

Ex 6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.

Ex 3:14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

Now, what’s so beautiful about that is that Jesus took the statement a little further later in the gospels. He said that that’s the proof that there’s a resurrection, that man is eternal. You remember that in his argument with the Sadducees? He made the point that since God said, “I AM the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,” what did that do for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?” (See above, Partial)

If “I AM the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac…” where are Isaac and Jacob? (See below, Partial)

Ex 1:6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.

They are still living. So, you see, Jesus elevated manhood to eternality just as Moses saw, in the revelation from God, that God was eternal and always I AM.

Jesus added that God was now revealing that makes man eternal. Now, what does that do to church and the concept of man working together cooperatively? An immense breakthrough!

“Stephen’s face was like an angel’s…,” so were his thoughts. (See below, paraphrased)

Acts 6:15 And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.

And we can consult with these thoughts and learn immensely.

In Acts 7, verse 37, Stephen quotes from Deuteronomy – that’s (also) from Deuteronomy 18, verse 15. We’ve heard this before. Remember Peter quoted this? It’s Acts, Chapter 7, 37, “where Moses predicted a Prophet would come that would be raised up like unto me; him shall ye hear.” (See below, paraphrased in all three verses)

Acts 7:37 This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.

Acts 3:22 For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.

Deut 18:15  The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;

Stephen is actually taking the Sanhedrin on what? Yes, the trip through the scriptures, or the walk to Emmaus, isn’t he? A comprehension of the Old Testament as it points to Jesus. Here we’re going Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and Joseph, and Moses. Where is he building up to in showing the plan of God through the Scriptures?

Well, Acts 7, verse 38, the word “Church” appears. Now Stephen’s concept of church may be higher than anyone has given him credit for.

He looks back in the history of Israel; he sees “the church in the wilderness….” (See below, Partial)

Acts 7:38 This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sinai, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:

Now, let’s stop to think of that: “the church, the assembly, of one accord, under one God.”

Wasn’t the movement away from bondage in Egypt, the forging together of a nation in the wilderness, an attempt to express the concept of church – getting together, working together, and progressing as a result of such work?

“Church in the wilderness” – maybe he then, in this entire, so called, apology of Stephen, in the Greek sense of it, his defense is tracing the history of church, of man working together with man, the second commandment in the history of his own nation. (See above, Acts 7:38, partial)

Well, Acts 7, verse 44, he refers again a concept of church: “the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness….” (See below, partial)

Acts 7:44 Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen.

This is an extreme amount of courage because Stephen, in a sense, is taking the concept of church out of the wilderness. He’s taking it away from the temporary, which was the tabernacle, in Acts 7, verse 44.

And in Acts 7, verse 47, even away from the “permanent temple which Solomon built” and moved it into verse 48, (see below, paraphrased).

Acts 4:47 But Solomon built him an house.

A concept that we ran into initially in the Gospel of Mark where Jesus is quoted, referring to this concept of “temples not made with hands” as being the ultimate sense of church. (See below, paraphrased)

Acts 4:48 Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet,

The Holy Spirit must be using Stephen to give even us in this room this beautiful, connecting link throughout all time, connecting receptive thought from generation to generation. And does the link snap at the twentieth century? “The temple not made with hands, as saith the prophet” in Acts 4, verse 48, (See below, repeated, partial)

Acts 4:48 Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet,

He even finds that in prophecy which we find in Isaiah. Now, the quote from Isaiah is verse 49, which comes from the 66th Chapter of Isaiah, verse 1 and 2.

In other words, right from the beginning are we told church is a physical or material structure? Did Stephen invent that idea of church? Where does he find it? It’s revealed to Isaiah back to the prophets. We find Jesus quoted as referring to it; we see Stephen here talking about the “temple made without hands.” (See above, paraphrased) And guess who is standing there listening to Stephen say this? Right. Saul.

And who is the next one in history to make this same point? Paul (from audience). In his talk in Athens, he looks around at all the physical structures to as many Gods as you can think of, and any they couldn’t think of, they had an alter to them, “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD,” just to be safe. (See below)

Acts 17:23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.

What resulted? Paul suddenly talked about “the temples made without hands, eternal in the heavens.” (See below, paraphrased) He heard that for the first time, as far as we can tell from Stephen.

II Cor 5:1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Was Stephen’s martyrdom in vain? (“No.” From member of audience) It was probably always in the memory of Paul.

(It) may have something to do with the “throne in the flesh,” which he says reminds him continually, of his past.

II Cor 12:7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

He had to forget his past. Can you imagine that anyone here in this room, and I think all of us have a past that we would like to forget. If we dwell on the past, we’d like to forget, we’re not going to forget it. And Paul’s approach to that might be good advice for us.

Because, remember he said, “Therefore forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark….” (See below)

Phil 3:13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

Phil 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

So, he went forward despite what he had done.

Well, Acts, verse 54, shows you that even the angelic demeanor amongst mankind doesn’t receive too great a reception when thought is collectively united against this – the collective lie that the collective good is designed to overthrow. The “mass-ism,” the “mob-ism,” the unthinking subordination of individuality.

And they gnash on him with their teeth, which is a quaint Elizabethan phrase, but he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looks up steadfastly into heaven, and here’s what he sees. He saw the glory of God and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.

He was bearing witness to a vision that few have had. “Behold,” he said, “I see the heavens open and the son of man,” that’s even human-hood, “elevated to the right hand of God.” (See below, paraphrased

Acts 7:55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,

Acts 7:56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

The dominion even possible for human-hood under God’s government, he saw.

Now that’s exactly what he needs to survive what’s about to happen to him. “They cried with a loud voice, they stopped their ears”; and look how Luke uses a phrase in mockery of what is the meaning of true church! “They run upon him,” how? “With one accord.” (See below, paraphrased)

Acts 7:57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,

The collective malice you see trying to destroy, stop, obstruct, the progress of collective good. “They cast him out of the city, they stone him, and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.” (See below)

Acts 7:58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.

Now, there’s something very special about Stephen’s experience, and before we leave it, I think it might be of interest to you to note that what Stephen says in Acts 7, verse 56, has a prophetic precedent. (Repeated below)

Acts 7:56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

Matthew 16, verse 28. Jesus predicted something. He said, “There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” (See below)

Matt 16:28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

Did Stephen know that he was that close to his master, that he was number one to fulfill that prophecy? He was very close to his master indeed, because in going back to Acts Chapter 7, when “they stoned Stephen,” his last recorded words are “receive my spirit.” (See below, partial)

Acts 7:59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

Do you remember what Jesus said? “Into thine hand I commit my spirit.” (See below)

Ps 32:5 Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.

And the last thing in Acts 7, verse 60, “Lord, with a very loud voice…” – they hadn’t (you see) suppressed the Word of God as far as Stephen was concerned.

Acts 7:60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

The stones bouncing off his flesh, hardly noticed because of that glorious vision that he was seeing, that the Son of Man did have dominion over all these obstacles, and that Jesus was right – never budging despite the persecution and the obstacles. “Lay not this sin to their charge.” (See above, partial)

The ultimate of love, sounding like what that Jesus had said? “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (See below, partial)

Luke 23:34  Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

What a way to go with victory! Saul could not help but be impressed by that, especially in his later years.

At this point part of the fury, however, against this kind of thing which the human mind couldn’t cope with — the human mind isn’t ready for that – the helpless, the squealing, the weaseling, the tail tucked between the legs, the I’ll do anything, I’ll sign any document under any pressure, kind of thing.

None of that satisfaction was there – a higher commitment to God completely subordinating everything else.

Well, we’re introduced to Saul, unfortunately, persecuting the church. And yet the result of his persecution is that the church no longer becomes parochial as far as geographical location is concerned. Jerusalem doesn’t become the exclusive place where the action is.

On to Judea and Samaria in advance of Saul’s attempt to persecute go the early Christian church members. But this time the apostles don’t budge. The ones they would have wanted the most, they don’t move from Jerusalem.”
After the Master What? – The Book of Acts, by B. Cobbey Crisler**

American Camp Association

(November - May)
410 Sovereign Court #8
Ballwin, MO 63011
(636) 394-6162

(Memorial Day Weekend - October)
19772 Sugar Dr.
Lebanon, MO 65536
(417) 532-6699

Support our mission!

CedarS Camps

to top