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Stephen’s Speech

The high priest said to Stephen, “Are these things true?”

Stephen answered, “Brothers and fathers, listen to me. Our glorious God appeared to Abraham, our ancestor, in Mesopotamia before he lived in Haran. God said to Abraham, ‘Leave your country and your relatives, and go to the land I will show you.’[a] So Abraham left the country of Chaldea and went to live in Haran. After Abraham’s father died, God sent him to this place where you now live. God did not give Abraham any of this land, not even a foot of it. But God promised that he would give this land to him and his descendants, even before Abraham had a child. This is what God said to him: ‘Your descendants will be strangers in a land they don’t own. The people there will make them slaves and will mistreat them for four hundred years. But I will punish the nation where they are slaves. Then your descendants will leave that land and will worship me in this place.’[b] God made an agreement with Abraham, the sign of which was circumcision. And so when Abraham had his son Isaac, Abraham circumcised him when he was eight days old. Isaac also circumcised his son Jacob, and Jacob did the same for his sons, the twelve ancestors[c] of our people.

“Jacob’s sons became jealous of Joseph and sold him to be a slave in Egypt. But God was with him 10 and saved him from all his troubles. The king of Egypt liked Joseph and respected him because of the wisdom God gave him. The king made him governor of Egypt and put him in charge of all the people in his palace.

11 “Then all the land of Egypt and Canaan became so dry that nothing would grow, and the people suffered very much. Jacob’s sons, our ancestors, could not find anything to eat. 12 But when Jacob heard there was grain in Egypt, he sent his sons there. This was their first trip to Egypt. 13 When they went there a second time, Joseph told his brothers who he was, and the king learned about Joseph’s family. 14 Then Joseph sent messengers to invite Jacob, his father, to come to Egypt along with all his relatives (seventy-five persons altogether). 15 So Jacob went down to Egypt, where he and his sons died. 16 Later their bodies were moved to Shechem and put in a grave there. (It was the same grave Abraham had bought for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.)

17 “The promise God made to Abraham was soon to come true, and the number of people in Egypt grew large. 18 Then a new king, who did not know who Joseph was, began to rule Egypt. 19 This king tricked our people and was cruel to our ancestors, forcing them to leave their babies outside to die. 20 At this time Moses was born, and he was very beautiful. For three months Moses was cared for in his father’s house. 21 When they put Moses outside, the king’s daughter adopted him and raised him as if he were her own son. 22 The Egyptians taught Moses everything they knew, and he was a powerful man in what he said and did.

23 “When Moses was about forty years old, he thought it would be good to visit his own people, the people of Israel. 24 Moses saw an Egyptian mistreating one of his people, so he defended the Israelite and punished the Egyptian by killing him. 25 Moses thought his own people would understand that God was using him to save them, but they did not. 26 The next day when Moses saw two men of Israel fighting, he tried to make peace between them. He said, ‘Men, you are brothers. Why are you hurting each other?’ 27 The man who was hurting the other pushed Moses away and said, ‘Who made you our ruler and judge? 28 Are you going to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’[d] 29 When Moses heard him say this, he left Egypt and went to live in the land of Midian where he was a stranger. While Moses lived in Midian, he had two sons.

30 “Forty years later an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush as he was in the desert near Mount Sinai. 31 When Moses saw this, he was amazed and went near to look closer. Moses heard the Lord’s voice say, 32 ‘I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’[e] Moses began to shake with fear and was afraid to look. 33 The Lord said to him, ‘Take off your sandals, because you are standing on holy ground. 34 I have seen the troubles my people have suffered in Egypt. I have heard their cries and have come down to save them. And now, Moses, I am sending you back to Egypt.’[f]

35 “This Moses was the same man the two men of Israel rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and judge?’[g] Moses is the same man God sent to be a ruler and savior, with the help of the angel that Moses saw in the burning bush. 36 So Moses led the people out of Egypt. He worked miracles and signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and then in the desert for forty years. 37 This is the same Moses that said to the people of Israel, ‘God will give you a prophet like me, who is one of your own people.’[h] 38 This is the Moses who was with the gathering of the Israelites in the desert. He was with the angel that spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and he was with our ancestors. He received commands from God that give life, and he gave those commands to us.

39 “But our ancestors did not want to obey Moses. They rejected him and wanted to go back to Egypt. 40 They said to Aaron, ‘Make us gods who will lead us. Moses led us out of Egypt, but we don’t know what has happened to him.’[i] 41 So the people made an idol that looked like a calf. Then they brought sacrifices to it and were proud of what they had made with their own hands. 42 But God turned against them and did not try to stop them from worshiping the sun, moon, and stars. This is what is written in the book of the prophets: God says,

‘People of Israel, you did not bring me sacrifices and offerings
    while you traveled in the desert for forty years.
43 You have carried with you
    the tent to worship Molech
    and the idols of the star god Rephan that you made to worship.
So I will send you away beyond Babylon.’ Amos 5:25–27

44 “The Holy Tent where God spoke to our ancestors was with them in the desert. God told Moses how to make this Tent, and he made it like the plan God showed him. 45 Later, Joshua led our ancestors to capture the lands of the other nations. Our people went in, and God forced the other people out. When our people went into this new land, they took with them this same Tent they had received from their ancestors. They kept it until the time of David, 46 who pleased God and asked God to let him build a house for him, the God of Jacob.[j] 47 But Solomon was the one who built the Temple.

48 “But the Most High does not live in houses that people build with their hands. As the prophet says:

49 ‘Heaven is my throne,
    and the earth is my footstool.
So do you think you can build a house for me? says the Lord.
    Do I need a place to rest?
50 Remember, my hand made all these things!’” Isaiah 66:1–2

51 Stephen continued speaking: “You stubborn people! You have not given your hearts to God, nor will you listen to him! You are always against what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell you, just as your ancestors were. 52 Your ancestors tried to hurt every prophet who ever lived. Those prophets said long ago that the One who is good would come, but your ancestors killed them. And now you have turned against and killed the One who is good. 53 You received the law of Moses, which God gave you through his angels, but you haven’t obeyed it.”

Stephen Is Killed

54 When the leaders heard this, they became furious. They were so mad they were grinding their teeth at Stephen. 55 But Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit. He looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at God’s right side. 56 He said, “Look! I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at God’s right side.”

57 Then they shouted loudly and covered their ears and all ran at Stephen. 58 They took him out of the city and began to throw stones at him to kill him. And those who told lies against Stephen left their coats with a young man named Saul. 59 While they were throwing stones, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 He fell on his knees and cried in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” After Stephen said this, he died.

Footnotes

  1. 7:3 ‘Leave . . . you.’ Quotation from Genesis 12:1.
  2. 7:6–7 ‘Your descendants . . . place.’ Quotation from Genesis 15:13–14 and Exodus 3:12.
  3. 7:8 twelve ancestors Important ancestors of the people of Israel; the leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel.
  4. 7:27–28 ‘Who . . . yesterday?’ Quotation from Exodus 2:14.
  5. 7:32 ‘I am . . . Jacob.’ Quotation from Exodus 3:6.
  6. 7:33–34 ‘Take . . . Egypt.’ Quotation from Exodus 3:5–10.
  7. 7:35 ‘Who . . . judge?’ Quotation from Exodus 2:14.
  8. 7:37 ‘God . . . people.’ Quotation from Deuteronomy 18:15.
  9. 7:40 ‘Make . . . him.’ Quotation from Exodus 32:1.
  10. 7:46 Jacob Some Greek copies read “the house of Jacob.” This means 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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