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Stephen’s Speech

The high priest asked Stephen, “Are they telling the truth about you?”

Stephen answered:

Friends, listen to me. Our glorious God appeared to our ancestor Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he had moved to Haran. God told him, “Leave your country and your relatives and go to a land that I will show you.” Then Abraham left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran.

After his father died, Abraham came and settled in this land where you now live. God didn’t give him any part of it, not even a square foot. But God did promise to give it to him and his family forever, even though Abraham didn’t have any children. God said that Abraham’s descendants would live for a while in a foreign land. There they would be slaves and would be mistreated four hundred years. But he also said, “I will punish the nation that makes them slaves. Then later they will come and worship me in this place.”

God said to Abraham, “Every son in each family must be circumcised to show that you have kept your agreement with me.” So when Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him. Later, Isaac circumcised his son Jacob, and Jacob circumcised his twelve sons. These men were our ancestors.

Joseph was also one of our famous ancestors. His brothers were jealous of him and sold him as a slave to be taken to Egypt. But God was with him 10 and rescued him from all his troubles. God made him so wise that the Egyptian king Pharaoh[a] thought highly of him. The king even made Joseph governor over Egypt and put him in charge of everything he owned.

11 Everywhere in Egypt and Canaan the grain crops failed. There was terrible suffering, and our ancestors could not find enough to eat. 12 But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our ancestors there for the first time. 13 It was on their second trip that Joseph told his brothers who he was, and Pharaoh learned about Joseph’s family.

14 Joseph sent for his father and his relatives. In all, there were seventy-five of them. 15 His father went to Egypt and died there, just as our ancestors did. 16 Later their bodies were taken back to Shechem and placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought from the sons of Hamor.

17 Finally, the time came for God to do what he had promised Abraham. By then the number of our people in Egypt had greatly increased. 18 Another king was ruling Egypt, and he didn’t know anything about Joseph. 19 He tricked our ancestors and was cruel to them. He even made them leave their babies outside, so they would die.

20 During this time Moses was born. He was a very beautiful child, and for three months his parents took care of him in their home. 21 Then when they were forced to leave him outside, the king’s daughter found him and raised him as her own son. 22 Moses was given the best education in Egypt. He was a strong man and a powerful speaker.

23 When Moses was forty years old, he wanted to help the Israelites because they were his own people. 24 One day he saw an Egyptian mistreating one of them. So he rescued the man and killed the Egyptian. 25 Moses thought the rest of his people would realize that God was going to use him to set them free. But they didn’t understand.

26 The next day Moses saw two of his own people fighting, and he tried to make them stop. He said, “Men, you are both Israelites. Why are you so cruel to each other?”

27 But the man who had started the fight pushed Moses aside and asked, “Who made you our ruler and judge? 28 Are you going to kill me, just as you killed that Egyptian yesterday?” 29 When Moses heard this, he ran away to live in the country of Midian. His two sons were born there.

30 Forty years later, an angel appeared to Moses from a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. 31 Moses was surprised by what he saw. He went closer to get a better look, and the Lord said, 32 “I am the God who was worshiped by your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Moses started shaking all over and didn’t dare to look at the bush.

33 The Lord said to him, “Take off your sandals. The place where you are standing is holy. 34 With my own eyes I have seen the suffering of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groans and have come down to rescue them. Now I am sending you back to Egypt.”

35 This was the same Moses that the people rejected by saying, “Who made you our leader and judge?” God’s angel had spoken to Moses from the bush. And God had even sent the angel to help Moses rescue the people and be their leader.

36 In Egypt and at the Red Sea[b] and in the desert, Moses rescued the people by working miracles and wonders for forty years. 37 Moses is the one who told the people of Israel, “God will choose one of your people to be a prophet, just as he chose me.” 38 Moses brought our people together in the desert, and the angel spoke to him on Mount Sinai. There he was given these life-giving words to pass on to us. 39 But our ancestors refused to obey Moses. They rejected him and wanted to go back to Egypt.

40 The people said to Aaron, “Make some gods to lead us! Moses led us out of Egypt, but we don’t know what’s happened to him now.” 41 Then they made an idol in the shape of a calf. They offered sacrifices to the idol and were pleased with what they had done.

42 God turned his back on his people and left them. Then they worshiped the stars in the sky, just as it says in the Book of the Prophets, “People of Israel, you didn’t offer sacrifices and offerings to me during those forty years in the desert. 43 Instead, you carried the tent where the god Molech is worshiped, and you took along the star of your god Rephan. You made those idols and worshiped them. So now I will have you carried off beyond Babylonia.”

44 The tent where our ancestors worshiped God was with them in the desert. This was the same tent that God had commanded Moses to make. And it was made like the model that Moses had seen. 45 Later it was given to our ancestors, and they took it with them when they went with Joshua. They carried the tent along as they took over the land from those people that God had chased out for them. Our ancestors used this tent until the time of King David. 46 He pleased God and asked him if he could build a house of worship for the people[c] of Israel. 47 And it was finally King Solomon who built a house for God.[d]

48 But the Most High God doesn’t live in houses made by humans. It is just as the prophet said, when he spoke for the Lord,

49 “Heaven is my throne,
and the earth
    is my footstool.
What kind of house
    will you build for me?
In what place will I rest?
50     I have made everything.”

51 You stubborn and hardheaded people! You are always fighting against the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors did. 52 Is there one prophet that your ancestors didn’t mistreat? They killed the prophets who told about the coming of the One Who Obeys God.[e] And now you have turned against him and killed him. 53 Angels gave you God’s Law, but you still don’t obey it.

Stephen Is Stoned to Death

54 When the council members heard Stephen’s speech, they were angry and furious. 55 But Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit. He looked toward heaven, where he saw our glorious God and Jesus standing at his right side.[f] 56 Then Stephen said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right side of God!”

57 The council members shouted and covered their ears. At once they all attacked Stephen 58 and dragged him out of the city. Then they started throwing stones at him. The men who had brought charges against him put their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.[g]

59 As Stephen was being stoned to death, he called out, “Lord Jesus, please welcome me!” 60 He knelt down and shouted, “Lord, don’t blame them for what they have done.” Then he died.

Footnotes

  1. 7.10 Pharaoh: A Hebrew word sometimes used for the title of the King of Egypt.
  2. 7.36 Red Sea: This name comes from the Bible of the early Christians, a translation made into Greek about 200 B.C. It refers to the body of water that the Israelites crossed and was one of the marshes or fresh water lakes near the eastern part of the Nile Delta, where they lived and where the towns of Exodus 13.17—14.9 were located.
  3. 7.46 the people: Some manuscripts have “God.”
  4. 7.47 God: Or “the people.”
  5. 7.52 One Who Obeys God: That is, Jesus.
  6. 7.55 standing at his right side: The “right side” is the place of honor and power. “Standing” may mean that Jesus is welcoming Stephen (see verse 59).
  7. 7.58 Saul: Better known as Paul, who became a famous follower of Jesus.

Stephen’s Speech to the Sanhedrin

Then the high priest asked Stephen, “Are these charges true?”

To this he replied: “Brothers and fathers,(A) listen to me! The God of glory(B) appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Harran.(C) ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you.’[a](D)

“So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Harran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living.(E) He gave him no inheritance here,(F) not even enough ground to set his foot on. But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land,(G) even though at that time Abraham had no child. God spoke to him in this way: ‘For four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated.(H) But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves,’ God said, ‘and afterward they will come out of that country and worship me in this place.’[b](I) Then he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision.(J) And Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him eight days after his birth.(K) Later Isaac became the father of Jacob,(L) and Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs.(M)

“Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph,(N) they sold him as a slave into Egypt.(O) But God was with him(P) 10 and rescued him from all his troubles. He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh king of Egypt. So Pharaoh made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace.(Q)

11 “Then a famine struck all Egypt and Canaan, bringing great suffering, and our ancestors could not find food.(R) 12 When Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our forefathers on their first visit.(S) 13 On their second visit, Joseph told his brothers who he was,(T) and Pharaoh learned about Joseph’s family.(U) 14 After this, Joseph sent for his father Jacob and his whole family,(V) seventy-five in all.(W) 15 Then Jacob went down to Egypt, where he and our ancestors died.(X) 16 Their bodies were brought back to Shechem and placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought from the sons of Hamor at Shechem for a certain sum of money.(Y)

17 “As the time drew near for God to fulfill his promise to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt had greatly increased.(Z) 18 Then ‘a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt.’[c](AA) 19 He dealt treacherously with our people and oppressed our ancestors by forcing them to throw out their newborn babies so that they would die.(AB)

20 “At that time Moses was born, and he was no ordinary child.[d] For three months he was cared for by his family.(AC) 21 When he was placed outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him and brought him up as her own son.(AD) 22 Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians(AE) and was powerful in speech and action.

23 “When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his own people, the Israelites. 24 He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defense and avenged him by killing the Egyptian. 25 Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not. 26 The next day Moses came upon two Israelites who were fighting. He tried to reconcile them by saying, ‘Men, you are brothers; why do you want to hurt each other?’

27 “But the man who was mistreating the other pushed Moses aside and said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us?(AF) 28 Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’[e] 29 When Moses heard this, he fled to Midian, where he settled as a foreigner and had two sons.(AG)

30 “After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. 31 When he saw this, he was amazed at the sight. As he went over to get a closer look, he heard the Lord say:(AH) 32 ‘I am the God of your fathers,(AI) the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’[f] Moses trembled with fear and did not dare to look.(AJ)

33 “Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.(AK) 34 I have indeed seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groaning and have come down to set them free. Now come, I will send you back to Egypt.’[g](AL)

35 “This is the same Moses they had rejected with the words, ‘Who made you ruler and judge?’(AM) He was sent to be their ruler and deliverer by God himself, through the angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36 He led them out of Egypt(AN) and performed wonders and signs(AO) in Egypt, at the Red Sea(AP) and for forty years in the wilderness.(AQ)

37 “This is the Moses who told the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your own people.’[h](AR) 38 He was in the assembly in the wilderness, with the angel(AS) who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors;(AT) and he received living words(AU) to pass on to us.(AV)

39 “But our ancestors refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt.(AW) 40 They told Aaron, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who led us out of Egypt—we don’t know what has happened to him!’[i](AX) 41 That was the time they made an idol in the form of a calf. They brought sacrifices to it and reveled in what their own hands had made.(AY) 42 But God turned away from them(AZ) and gave them over to the worship of the sun, moon and stars.(BA) This agrees with what is written in the book of the prophets:

“‘Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings
    forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel?
43 You have taken up the tabernacle of Molek
    and the star of your god Rephan,
    the idols you made to worship.
Therefore I will send you into exile’[j](BB) beyond Babylon.

44 “Our ancestors had the tabernacle of the covenant law(BC) with them in the wilderness. It had been made as God directed Moses, according to the pattern he had seen.(BD) 45 After receiving the tabernacle, our ancestors under Joshua brought it with them when they took the land from the nations God drove out before them.(BE) It remained in the land until the time of David,(BF) 46 who enjoyed God’s favor and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.[k](BG) 47 But it was Solomon who built a house for him.(BH)

48 “However, the Most High(BI) does not live in houses made by human hands.(BJ) As the prophet says:

49 “‘Heaven is my throne,
    and the earth is my footstool.(BK)
What kind of house will you build for me?
says the Lord.
    Or where will my resting place be?
50 Has not my hand made all these things?’[l](BL)

51 “You stiff-necked people!(BM) Your hearts(BN) 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?(BO) They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him(BP) 53 you who have received the law that was given through angels(BQ) but have not obeyed it.”

The Stoning of Stephen

54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious(BR) and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit,(BS) looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.(BT) 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open(BU) and the Son of Man(BV) 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(BW) and began to stone him.(BX) Meanwhile, the witnesses(BY) laid their coats(BZ) at the feet of a young man named Saul.(CA)

59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”(CB) 60 Then he fell on his knees(CC) and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”(CD) When he had said this, he fell asleep.(CE)

Footnotes

  1. Acts 7:3 Gen. 12:1
  2. Acts 7:7 Gen. 15:13,14
  3. Acts 7:18 Exodus 1:8
  4. Acts 7:20 Or was fair in the sight of God
  5. Acts 7:28 Exodus 2:14
  6. Acts 7:32 Exodus 3:6
  7. Acts 7:34 Exodus 3:5,7,8,10
  8. Acts 7:37 Deut. 18:15
  9. Acts 7:40 Exodus 32:1
  10. Acts 7:43 Amos 5:25-27 (see Septuagint)
  11. Acts 7:46 Some early manuscripts the house of Jacob
  12. Acts 7:50 Isaiah 66:1,2

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