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Stephen's Speech

The High Priest asked Stephen, “Is this true?”

(A)Stephen answered, “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! Before our ancestor Abraham had gone to live in Haran, the God of glory appeared to him in Mesopotamia and said to him, ‘Leave your family and country and go to the land that I will show you.’ (B)And so he left his country and went to live in Haran. After Abraham's father died, God made him move to this land where you now live. (C)God did not then give Abraham any part of it as his own, not even a square foot of ground, but God promised to give it to him, and that it would belong to him and to his descendants. At the time God made this promise, Abraham had no children. (D)This is what God said to him: ‘Your descendants will live in a foreign country, where they will be slaves and will be badly treated for four hundred years. (E)But I will pass judgment on the people that they will serve, and afterward your descendants will come out of that country and will worship me in this place.’ (F)Then God gave to Abraham the ceremony of circumcision as a sign of the covenant. So Abraham circumcised Isaac a week after he was born; Isaac circumcised his son Jacob, and Jacob circumcised his twelve sons, the famous ancestors of our race.

(G)“Jacob's sons became jealous of their brother Joseph and sold him to be a slave in Egypt. But God was with him 10 (H)and brought him safely through all his troubles. When Joseph appeared before the king of Egypt, God gave him a pleasing manner and wisdom, and the king made Joseph governor over the country and the royal household. 11 (I)Then there was a famine all over Egypt and Canaan, which caused much suffering. Our ancestors could not find any food, 12 and when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent his sons, our ancestors, on their first visit there. 13 (J)On the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and the king of Egypt came to know about Joseph's family. 14 (K)So Joseph sent a message to his father Jacob, telling him and the whole family, seventy-five people in all, to come to Egypt. 15 (L)Then Jacob went to Egypt, where he and his sons died. 16 (M)Their bodies were taken to Shechem, where they were buried in the grave which Abraham had bought from the clan of Hamor for a sum of money.

17 (N)“When the time drew near for God to keep the promise he had made to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt had grown much larger. 18 At last a king who did not know about Joseph began to rule in Egypt. 19 (O)He tricked our ancestors and was cruel to them, forcing them to put their babies out of their homes, so that they would die. 20 (P)It was at this time that Moses was born, a very beautiful child. He was cared for at home for three months, 21 (Q)and when he was put out of his home, the king's daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. 22 He was taught all the wisdom of the Egyptians and became a great man in words and deeds.

23 (R)“When Moses was forty years old, he decided to find out how his fellow Israelites were being treated. 24 He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his help and took revenge on the Egyptian by killing him. (25 He thought that his own people would understand that God was going to use him to set them free, but they did not understand.) 26 The next day he saw two Israelites fighting, and he tried to make peace between them. ‘Listen, men,’ he said, ‘you are fellow Israelites; why are you fighting like this?’ 27 But the one who was mistreating the other pushed Moses aside. ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us?’ he asked. 28 ‘Do you want to kill me, just as you killed that Egyptian yesterday?’ 29 (S)When Moses heard this, he fled from Egypt and went to live in the land of Midian. There he had two sons.

30 (T)“After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. 31 Moses was amazed by what he saw, and went near the bush to get a better look. But he heard the Lord's voice: 32 ‘I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’ Moses trembled with fear and dared not look. 33 The Lord said to him, ‘Take your sandals off, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34 I have seen the cruel suffering of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groans, and I have come down to set them free. Come now; I will send you to Egypt.’

35 (U)“Moses is the one who was rejected by the people of Israel. ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us?’ they asked. He is the one whom God sent to rule the people and set them free with the help of the angel who appeared to him in the burning bush. 36 (V)He led the people out of Egypt, performing miracles and wonders in Egypt and at the Red Sea and for forty years in the desert. 37 (W)Moses is the one who said to the people of Israel, ‘God will send you a prophet, just as he sent me,[a] and he will be one of your own people.’ 38 (X)He is the one who was with the people of Israel assembled in the desert; he was there with our ancestors and with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and he received God's living messages to pass on to us.

39 “But our ancestors refused to obey him; they pushed him aside and wished that they could go back to Egypt. 40 (Y)So they said to Aaron, ‘Make us some gods who will lead us. We do not know what has happened to that man Moses, who brought us out of Egypt.’ 41 (Z)It was then that they made an idol in the shape of a bull, offered sacrifice to it, and had a feast in honor of what they themselves had made. 42 (AA)So God turned away from them and gave them over to worship the stars of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets:

‘People of Israel! It was not to me
    that you slaughtered and sacrificed animals
    for forty years in the desert.
43 It was the tent of the god Molech that you carried,
    and the image of Rephan, your star god;
    they were idols that you had made to worship.
And so I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.’

44 (AB)“Our ancestors had the Tent of God's presence with them in the desert. It had been made as God had told Moses to make it, according to the pattern that Moses had been shown. 45 (AC)Later on, our ancestors who received the tent from their fathers carried it with them when they went with Joshua and took over the land from the nations that God drove out as they advanced. And it stayed there until the time of David. 46 (AD)He won God's favor and asked God to allow him to provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.[b] 47 (AE)But it was Solomon who built him a house.

48 “But the Most High God does not live in houses built by human hands; as the prophet says,

49 (AF)‘Heaven is my throne, says the Lord,
    and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house would you build for me?
    Where is the place for me to live in?
50 Did not I myself make all these things?’

51 (AG)“How stubborn you are!” Stephen went on to say. “How heathen your hearts, how deaf you are to God's message! You are just like your ancestors: you too have always resisted the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there any prophet that your ancestors did not persecute? They killed God's messengers, who long ago announced the coming of his righteous Servant. And now you have betrayed and murdered him. 53 You are the ones who received God's law, that was handed down by angels—yet you have not obeyed it!”

The Stoning of Stephen

54 As the members of the Council listened to Stephen, they became furious and ground their teeth at him in anger. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw God's glory and Jesus standing at the right side of God. 56 “Look!” he said. “I see heaven opened and the Son of Man standing at the right side of God!”

57 With a loud cry the Council members covered their ears with their hands. Then they all rushed at him at once, 58 threw him out of the city, and stoned him. The witnesses left their cloaks in the care of a young man named Saul. 59 They kept on stoning Stephen as he called out to the Lord, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 60 He knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord! Do not remember this sin against them!” He said this and died.

Footnotes

  1. Acts 7:37 just as he sent me; or like me.
  2. Acts 7:46 the God of Jacob; some manuscripts have the people of Israel.

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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