Faith in the Book of Acts - Stephen - Acts 6 & 7:
Many only think of Stephen as one of seven deacons who distributed aid to poorer members in the “early church,” and who happened to be the first martyr. However, he was much more. His martyrdom actually changed the course of history in regards to God’s dealing with mankind. First, the “church” of which Stephen was a part needs to be identified for what it was, because it was not the same as The Church, The Body of Christ that exists today. The Greek word “ekklesia” (G1577) is found 115 times in the New Testament (NT), and always translated “church” except 3 times when it is translated “assembly.” It actually refers to any called-out group or meeting of people, once referring to a group assembled in a theatre in Ephesus, Acts 19:3232 Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused: and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.
, and as an unlawful assembly, or mob, Acts 19:39 & 4139 But if ye enquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly.
40 For we are in danger to be called in question for this day's uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse.
41 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.
. As noted in previous studies, Stephen’s was the Pentecostal church described in the first part of the Acts consisting totally of Jews or proselytes to their faith. They followed the Law of Moses, worshipped in the Temple in Jerusalem while awaiting the Kingdom God had promised the Nation of Israel, believing Jesus Christ was their Messiah who would return and establish that Kingdom on earth. Stephen was the first martyr in that church (not the first in the Church, the Body of Christ). His martyrdom marked the beginning of the end of the Pentecostal church. Some unique things about Stephen:
•His name is found 7 times in the NT, Acts 6:55 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:
5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:
, 8, 9; 7:59; 8:2; 11:19; 22:20, seven in Scripture being the number for Spiritual perfection,
•He and 6 others were chosen by all the members of the Pentecostal church to take care of the treasury, Acts 6:5, which was not just to help out the poor and needy because everyone had sold all they had and given the proceeds into the treasury, from which they all lived, Acts 2:44 - 4644 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
, 4:32 -37,
•He was full of the Holy Spirit Who gave him the gifts of wisdom, faith and power, Acts 6:33 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
, 5 & 8,
•The 12 Apostles appointed him with prayer and laying on of hands, Acts 6:66 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
•After Stephen’s appointment the preaching of God’s Word increased and the number of followers greatly multiplied including many priests who became believers, Acts 6:77 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
•By the power invested in him by the Holy Spirit, Stephen performed miracles and signs, that is, people were healed through Stephen, Acts 6:88 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.
As the account proceeds we find Stephen debating in a Synagogue of the Libertines, Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those in Cilicia and of Asia. These were Jews who lived in countries other than Canaan; the Libertines being Hebrew slaves who had been freed by the Romans (The Student’s Commentary, page 826). They were not able to oppose or answer Stephen’s arguments but of course they didn’t have a chance because Stephen spoke with the Holy Spirit’s wisdom, Acts 6:9 & 109 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.
10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.
. So they “suborned men,” that is, they got men, no doubt by the payment of money, to falsely accuse Stephen of blaspheming both Moses and God, Acts 6:1111 Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.
. These lies spread and as a result the Jewish leaders seized and brought him before the Jewish ruling council headed by the High Priest where the false witnesses testified he had blasphemed the Temple and the Law by saying Jesus of Nazareth would destroy the Temple and change the customs Moses had given, Acts 6:12 - 1412 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council,
13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:
14 For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.
. As the council looked on, Stephen’s face shown with the Glory of God, Acts 6:1515 And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.
, for he was truly filled with the Holy Spirit.
The high priest asked Stephen if the accusations were true, Acts 7:11 Then said the high priest, Are these things so?
. Stephen’s response was not so much a defense to the false accusations, but an indictment of Israel for their disobedience and sin against God. (And it teaches much more to us now in light of what the Apostle Paul revealed in his epistles, with which we can understand that his answer demonstrates the fact mankind is incapable of meeting God’s standards by his own power and will.) Stephen begins where the Nation of Israel began, when God appeared to the Syrian idol worshiper Abram and told him to leave his home country and family to live in a country He would show him, Acts 7:2 & 32 And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran,
3 And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee.
; Genesis 12:11 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
. There is nothing in Scripture indicating Abram sought out God. On the contrary, God in mercy and grace appeared to Abram and told him what to do. Abraham simply believed God, that is, by faith, Abraham obeyed God’s Word, Hebrews 11:8 - 108 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:
10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
. Stephen points out that when Abraham arrived in Canaan he owned no land there and he had no children (his wife was barren, Hebrews 11:1111 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.
), and yet God promised him that his progeny would possess the land, Acts 7:4 & 54 Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell.
5 And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child.
God told Abraham his descendents would go to a strange nation where they would be slaves for 400 years after which God would judge that nation and Abraham’s people would return to Canaan to serve Him, Acts 7:6 & 76 And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years.
7 And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place.
. Herein is the sovereignty of God demonstrated for God told Abraham, before he had a son, what the nation that would come out of him was going to experience 100’s of years later. Stephen tells how God gave the covenant of circumcision to Abraham and then he begat Isaac, who begat Jacob, who begat the 12 Patriarchs of Israel (all of whom the chief priest and council were so proud because they were descended from them) Acts 7:88 And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs.
. But then Stephen points out their heinous sin in that they sold their own brother Joseph into slavery (and lied to their father about it). But God intervened and not only delivered Joseph out of slavery but gave him favor before Pharaoh the king who appointed him governor over Egypt, Acts 7:9 & 109 And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him,
10 And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.
. (Joseph of course, was a type of Jesus Christ, but Israel did not realize that.)
Stephen tells how God arranged for a famine, which would bring Joseph’s family to Egypt and how, when Jacob died, his body was returned and buried in the land God had promised Israel. The 75 members of Jacob’s household who arrived in Egypt grew to a great number when the time the promise God made to Abraham grew nigh. However, the Egyptians made them slaves when Egypt’s Kings evolved until finally, one of them ordered male Israeli babies killed in order to impede the growth of the Nation, Acts 7:11 - 1911 Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance.
12 But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first.
13 And at the second time Joseph was made known to his brethren; and Joseph's kindred was made known unto Pharaoh.
14 Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls.
15 So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers,
16 And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem.
17 But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt,
18 Till another king arose, which knew not Joseph.
19 The same dealt subtilly with our kindred, and evil entreated our fathers, so that they cast out their young children, to the end they might not live.
. Moses was born then but was raised as the Egyptian King’s grandson. Thus he was taught “all the wisdom of Egypt” and became a very capable leader, Acts 7:20 - 2220 In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father's house three months:
21 And when he was cast out, Pharaoh's daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son.
22 And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.
. When Moses was 40 years old he visited his people where he saw an Egyptian abusing an Israelite and killed him, Acts 7:23 - 2423 And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel.
24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian:
, Exodus 2:11 & 1211 And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren.
12 And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand.
. Then, visiting his people the next day he witnessed one Israeli abusing another and tried to intervene but the aggressor rebuked him and asked if he was going to kill him like he had done to the Egyptian the day before, Acts 7:2525 For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.
- 2825 For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.
26 And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?
27 But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?
28 Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday?
. When Pharaoh learned about Moses killing the Egyptian he ordered him killed so he had to flee Egypt, Exodus 2:1515 Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well.
Stephen discloses something here that has not been revealed before in Scripture: “For he (Moses) supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not,” Acts 7:25. This means that at the time Moses killed the Egyptian he was aware he had been chosen to deliver Israel from bondage in Egypt, but his people know it. And herein is a lesson believers throughout history have had to learn; that no man, by his own work and power, can carry out God’s will but that it is only by God working through man that God’s will and work can be accomplished. You see, at the time of this incident Moses had received the most advanced education in the world in administration, science, war, etc., and he was mighty in both words and deeds. In man’s view, Moses had the credentials for the job. And he not only had the training, he was physically capable, he killed an offending Egyptian and went about to set right a beef between two of his countrymen. He thought he could handle these matters because he had what it takes for the job with the understanding that God appointed him to do so. But, ... at that time he didn’t know God’s way is not man’s way.
Moses had to be humbled just like Job and Gideon; he had to be shown how God takes care of business, he had to spend 40 years in the wilderness tending his father in law’s sheep (a big come down from Pharaoh’s court) in order to be emptied of self and ego; humble enough for God’s use. After 40 years in the desert he was ready when the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a burning bush and told him he was going to bring His people out of Egypt, Exodus 3:1 - 101 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.
2 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
4 And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
7 And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;
8 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.
10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.
. “And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?” Exodus 3:1111 And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?
. Even after the Angel told him God’s plans, Exodus 3:12 - 2212 And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.
13 And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?
14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, the LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.
16 Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt:
17 And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.
18 And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.
19 And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand.
20 And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go.
21 And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty.
22 But every woman shall borrow of her neighbour, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians.
, “... Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee.” Exodus 4:11 And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee.
. Thus we see that his self confidence, ego or bravado was gone and he was ready for God to use to do the job, Acts 7:29 - 3529 Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons.
30 And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush.
31 When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the LORD came unto him,
32 Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold.
33 Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground.
34 I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt.
35 This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush.
Stephen goes on to tell how God used Moses to display His Miracles and Signs in Egypt, the Red Sea and the Wilderness for 40 years, Acts 7:3636 He brought them out, after that he had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years.
; how it was Moses (the man the council claimed to revere) who predicted the coming Jesus Christ to the Nation of Israel who they should hear, Acts 7:3737 This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.
, Deuteronomy 18:1515 The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;
(at the Mount of Transfiguration God told them to hear what His Son Jesus Christ said, Matthew 17:55 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
). It was Moses who received God’s living utterances (the Law/commandments) on Mount Sinai that their fathers passed down to them, Acts 7:3838 This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:
. But, Stephen pointed out that their father’s wouldn’t obey them and wanted to return to Egypt, asking Aaron to make an idol, which they worshiped while rejoicing in that evil practice, Acts 7:39 - 4139 To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt,
40 Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
41 And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.
. Stephen then quotes from the Prophet Amos, either as a statement or rhetorical question, stating that their fathers offered sacrifices to God for 40 years in the wilderness, Acts 7:4242 Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness?
, Amos 5:2525 Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?
, but nevertheless went to serving (or worshiping) heathen idols (when they came into the land of promise) and so God told them they would be carried away, out of their country and beyond, Acts 7:4343 Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.
, Amos 5:2626 But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves.
. Stephen reminds them that their fathers had the Tabernacle of God, which Moses made to God’s specifications, with them both in the wilderness and when Joshua led them into the Promised Land and God drove out the Gentiles before them, Acts 7:44 - 4544 Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen.
45 Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David;
. God actually lived in that Tabernacle among their fathers until King David wanted to build a Temple in which God could dwell, which David’s son Solomon built, Acts 7:45 - 4745 Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David;
46 Who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob.
47 But Solomon built him an house.
Solomon’s Temple was magnificent but was subsequently destroyed. King Herod later built the one used at the time of Christ and Stephen and of which the Jews were so proud. Stephen puts that Temple in perspective by quoting from Isaiah who was inspired to write that God does not live in houses built by man; He sits in the heavens and the earth is His footstool for it was He, the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus Christ, as the Word of God, Who spoke the universe into existence, Isaiah 66:1 & 21 Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?
2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.
b, Acts 7:48 - 5048 Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet,
49 Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?
50 Hath not my hand made all these things?
. Stephen then recaps the indictment against them, calling them uncircumcised in heart and hearing by always resisting the Holy Spirit, just like their fathers before them. He points out how their fathers persecuted and killed God’s prophets who told about Jesus Christ’s coming and then they themselves betrayed and were guilty of murdering Him. Furthermore, he accuses them of disobeying the Law of Moses, of which they were so proud, Acts 7:51 - 5351 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.
52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:
53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.
At these words the Council grated their teeth in rage, Acts 7:5454 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.
, at which Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked into the heavens and said he could see the Glory of God and Jesus standing on the right side of the Throne of God, Acts 7:55 & 5655 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
. It was too much for them, they had listened to him tell how God had chosen their fathers, given them so many blessings and yet they had sinned and rejected God, and how they themselves had killed Jesus Christ, the Holy One of God. They grabbed Stephen and threw him out of the city where the witnesses stoned him (According to Moses’ Law, the witnesses were to cast the first stones, Deuteronomy 17:77 The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So thou shalt put the evil away from among you.
), Acts 7:57 & 5857 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,
58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.
. Stephen died asking God not to charge them with their sin, Acts 7:59 & 6059 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
. And a man named Saul, who later became the Apostle Paul is introduced as the one who kept the witnesses’ coats while they stoned Stephen, Acts 7:5858 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.
, so Saul was implicit in the murder of Stephen.
The NT tells of Angels, the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ appearing to men on earth, but it only records three men who saw into the Glory in Heaven and the risen Lord Jesus Christ; Stephen and the Apostles Paul and John. (The Glory of heaven was viewed on earth at the Mount of Transfiguration.) Stephen’s martyrdom was the beginning of the end of God’s exclusive dealing with the Nation of Israel ... for a time. Paul subsequently received a message directly from the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven about the secret God had kept secret since before the world began that both Jews and Gentiles can be Members of Christ’s Body, Romans 16:25 & 2625 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,
26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:
, Ephesians 2:11 - 2211 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
, 3:1 - 12. And then to John was revealed the judgment of the world and the realization/ fulfillment of all the promises God made to Israel to posses the Land with the Kingdom of God on earth, Revelation. Only then will Israel be able to reach their potential to fulfill God’s will and work because then God will pour out His spirit upon them, Ezekiel 39:25 - 2925 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name;
26 After that they have borne their shame, and all their trespasses whereby they have trespassed against me, when they dwelt safely in their land, and none made them afraid.
27 When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies' lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations;
28 Then shall they know that I am the LORD their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there.
29 Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.