The Story of Redemption


Chapter 36—Death of Stephen

This chapter is based on Acts 6:8 to 7:60.

Stephen was very active in the cause of God and declared his faith boldly. “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 they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.” These students of the great rabbis had felt confident that in a public discussion they could obtain a complete victory over Stephen, because of his supposed ignorance. But he not only spoke with the power of the Holy Ghost, but it was plain to all the vast assembly that he was also a student of the prophecies and learned in all matters of the law. He ably defended the truths he advocated, and utterly defeated his opponents. SR 262.1

The priests and rulers who witnessed the wonderful manifestation of the power that attended the ministration of Stephen were filled with bitter hatred. Instead of yielding to the weight of evidence he presented, they determined to silence his voice by putting him to death. SR 262.2

They therefore seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin council for trial. SR 262.3

Learned Jews from the surrounding countries were summoned for the purpose of refuting the arguments of the accused. Saul, who had distinguished himself as a zealous opponent of the doctrine of Christ, and a persecutor of all who believed on Him, was also present. This learned man took a leading part against Stephen. He brought the weight of eloquence and the logic of the rabbis to bear upon the case, and convince the people that Stephen was preaching delusive and dangerous doctrines. SR 262.4

But Saul met in Stephen one as highly educated as himself, and one who had a full understanding of the purpose of God in the spreading of the gospel to other nations. He believed in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and was fully established in regard to the privileges of the Jews; but his faith was broad, and he knew the time had come when the true believers should worship not alone in temples made with hands; but, throughout the world, men might worship God in Spirit and in truth. The veil had dropped from the eyes of Stephen, and he discerned to the end of that which was abolished by the death of Christ. SR 263.1

The priests and rulers prevailed nothing against his clear, calm wisdom, though they were vehement in their opposition. They determined to make an example of Stephen and, while they thus satisfied their revengeful hatred, prevent others, through fear, from adopting his belief. Charges were preferred against him in a most imposing manner. False witnesses were hired to testify that they had heard him speak blasphemous words against the temple and the law. Said they, “For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.” SR 263.2

As Stephen stood face to face with his judges, to answer to the crime of blasphemy, a holy radiance shone upon his countenance. “And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.” Many who beheld the lighted countenance of Stephen trembled and veiled their faces, but stubborn unbelief and prejudice never faltered. SR 263.3