Acts 4-6 Why was Stephen seized?

From Acts 4-6

44 twelve apostlesStephen was the second Christian martyr. Who was the first?

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

In the ocean a unnoticed swell of water picks up more and more volume and momentum. Likewise, this wave of the Spirit has crashed in Jesus death and resurrection getting peoples attention. Now it rushes towards the shoreline carrying people along with it. People stand in the way, but nothing can stop it. Nothing seems to be able to stop the apostles and the other believers talking about Jesus.

8 And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. (Acts 6.8)

Stephen is a man carried along by the Spirit. Changed by Jesus he not only speaks powerfully of Jesus he performs wonders and signs in her s name. He has gained some unhappy attention.

9 Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen. 10 But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. 11 Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” (Acts 6.9-11)

Synagogue of the ‘freedmen’ ‘as it was called’. I detect a note of sarcasm in the comment. They cannot stop Stephen from speaking. He runs circles around their scriptural arguments. So they resort to lies.

12 And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, 13 and they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.” 15 And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel. (Acts 6.12-15)

Stephen is quoting what Jesus said in the gospel.

Jesus said God would destroy the temple and raise it up again on the third day (Mt 26.61; 27.40; Mk 14.58; 15.29; Jn 2.19). He was speaking of himself and the clear implication is that the Jerusalem temple was being replaced with Jesus himself. Jesus is God dwelling among his people.

Jesus also overturned various Jewish customs. These Jewish customs were the Sabbath (Mt 12.1-8), the food laws (Mt 15.10-11) and possibly the sacrificial system (Mt 9.1-8; cf. Isa 53.3) and purification laws (Mk 7.19).

We see in Stephens gospel elements that will now strike at the heart of Jewish belief and morality. The Temple and Law of Moses.

About Mission

Sometimes standing by the truth will get you in trouble with existing religious establishments who resist change and continue in their traditions. Yet as we see here Stephen was fearless to proclaim Jesus and his teachings even if he was persecuted as a result.

Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights