The First Christian Martyr

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Acts 6:7 - 7:8

The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.

And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and [a]signs among the people. But some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen, including both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and [b]Asia, rose up and argued with Stephen.10 But they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. 11 Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and againstGod.” 12 And they stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes, and they came up to him and dragged him away and brought him [c]before the [d]Council. 13 They put forward false witnesses who said, “This man incessantly speaks against this holy place and the Law; 14 for we have heard him say that this Nazarene, Jesus, will destroy this place and alter the customs which Moses handed down to us.” 15 And fixing their gaze on him, all who were sitting in the [e]Council saw his face like the face of an angel.

Stephen’s Defense

The high priest said, “Are these things so?”

And he said, “Hear me, brethren and fathers! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in [f]Haran, and said to him, ‘Leave your country and your relatives, and come into the land that I will show you.’ Then he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in [g]Haran. From there, after his father died, God had him move to this country in which you are now living. But He gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot of ground, and yet, even when he had no child, He promised that He would give it to him as a possession, and to his descendants after him. But God spoke to this effect, that his descendants would be aliens in a foreign land, and that they would [h]be enslaved and mistreated for four hundred years. ‘And whatever nation to which they will be in bondage I Myself will judge,’ said God, ‘and after that they will come out and [i]serve Me in this place.’ And He gave him [j]the covenant of circumcision; and so Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac became the father ofJacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.

Discussion Questions

January 13th, 2019

Discussion Questions:

1. Who was Stephen and why is he so important to the early church? Where do we read in scripture about him? Hint: Acts 6:3—8:2, Acts 11:19, 22:20.

2. What are some of the characteristics of Stephen? He was a believer with great character qualities, list a few. Do you have some of these same characteristics or do you pray for them daily?

3. What does it mean to be “filled with the Holy Spirit.” Where do you read this in the Bible?

4. How has God used persecution over the years to grow the church or your own personal life? Maybe through trials of health, job loss, a family member or a personal challenge in life?

5. What do you think of when you read Acts 6:15 with: “Stephen’s face was shining as the face of an angel.” Does this remind you of someone else in the Bible that this happens to? Who was it and where do you find the scripture reference?