Then the high priest asked for Stephen’s defense, and Stephen preached the gospel to his accusers in the face of a cruel death.
Acts 7:1 Then said the high priest, Are these things so?
Then Stephen responded by preaching the sound doctrine of the gospel with authority; which is NOT done in these relatively easy times today.
7:2 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 [Haran on the Euphrates], 7:3 And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee.
7:4 Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran [Haran, Harran]: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell.
Abram WAS obedient to God; to the point of leaving his family, home and possessions: IF only we would be as fully dedicated and obedient as Abram was, we the supposed spiritual children of Abraham!
7:5 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.
Abraham died not having received the promises of inheriting the land in which he sojourned. The events of Egypt are clearly an allegory of the plan of salvation; for God could have delivered them from even having to go to Egypt in the first place, yet these things were told to Abraham hundreds of years in advance.
7:6 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. 7:7 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.
Brethren we are to circumcise our children on the eighth day; which is an allegory of spiritual circumcision [conversion]. Only adult converts who are already circumcised in heart and are more than eight days old are not required to be physically circumcised. In the millennial kingdom there shall be no uncircumcised person of Israel or of the Gentiles, allowed to enter the temple.
Ezekiel 44:9 Thus saith the Lord God; No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary, of any stranger [Gentile] that is among the children of Israel.
Acts 7:8 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.
Like Joseph, it is through the affliction of learning to live by EVERY Word of God, that we may become kings and priests in the Kingdom of God
7:9 And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him, 7:10 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.
7:11 Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance.
7:12 But when Jacob heard that there was corn [grain] in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first.
7:13 And at the second time [the sons of Jacob went to Egypt] Joseph was made known to his brethren; and Joseph’s kindred was made known unto Pharaoh. 7:14 Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls.
7:15 So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers, 7:16 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.
7:17 But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, 7:18 Till another king arose, which knew not Joseph. 7:19 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.
7:20 In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father’s house three months: 7:21 And when he was cast out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son. 7:22 And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.
7:23 And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel.
Moses knew that he was to be the deliverer of his brethren; and yet he was to be humbled by trial in the wilderness for 40 years before he was ready for his task. Here we find a little more on Moses who knew that he was raised up to deliver Israel, and wanted to do so at the age of forty. Later an older and wiser Moses was reluctant to do so when he was called by God at the age of 80.
7:24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: 7:25 For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.
7:26 And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one [Moses would have united the people] again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? 7:27 But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? 7:28 Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday? 7:29 Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons.
7:30 And when forty years were expired [in the wilderness, making Moses 80 years old], there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina [Stephen reveals that Moses saw the burning bush at Mount Sinai] an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush.
7:31 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, 7:32 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.
7:33 Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground.
7:34 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.
Moses becomes became the mediator of the Mosaic Covenant, as Christ became the Mediator of the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31. This Moses who was rejected, became the mediator of the Mosaic Covenant, and Jesus Christ who was rejected became the Mediator of the New Covenant.
7:35 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. 7:36 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.
Now, Stephen comes directly to Christ in his narrative; having rehearsed a long introduction of Israel’s history to make Christ plain to them.
7:37 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.
Those who today claim to be “that prophet”, are full of themselves, presumptuous and ignorant.
7:38 This is he [Moses as a type of Christ], 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: 7:39 To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt,
7:40 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. 7:41 And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.
The people committed themselves to a Marriage Covenant with Jesus Christ at Sinai on Pentecost, and quickly broke that Covenant in the wilderness.
This is just like us who have made our baptismal covenant of espousal to Jesus Christ, only to fall away and begin idolizing men and corporations, following them; instead of diligently following our Lord by diligently studying HIS Word and KEEPING HIS teachings and commandments.
Now Stephen interjects that the reason for the captivities of Israel and Judah, and Judah being taken away to Babylon; was their continual rebellions against God.
7:42 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? 7:43 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.
Stephen then says that before his human birth, Jesus was the God that led Israel out of Egypt and into the promised land of Canaan; which statement must have enraged the Sanhedrin.
7:44 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. 7:45 Which also our fathers that came after brought in with [brought into Canaan by Jesus the God of Israel] Jesus [the name Jesus is from the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua; BOTH being from the Hebrew Yeshua] into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David; 7:46 Who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob.
7:47 But Solomon built him an house.
Stephen than teaches of the temple and finally sharply rebukes these unrepentant sinners.
Stephen knowing that his life was in the balance did not shrink back from rebuking sinners. Yet many elders today, would not dare to teach the true Gospel in their outreach program or to even rebuke sin in their own congregations, and the brethren love to have it so.
In the Ekklesia today, leaders, elders and brethren; love the easy way of compromise with sin, just like ancient Israel! And they shall face most powerful correction, for they not only love permissiveness, they persecute the zealous.
7:48 Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, 7:49 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? 7:50 Hath not my hand made all these things?
Brethren, this is not just a rebuke of some people in the first century; it is a most terrible rebuke of all those who do the same things today!
7:51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. 7:52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed [prophesied] before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: 7:53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.
Like them, many of today’s Ekklesia are enraged at being told they need to turn back to sound doctrine, so they attack the messenger because they cannot refute the message from the scriptures.
7:54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.
Then Stephen was given a vision, that his zealous rebuke of sin was most acceptable to God the Father and to Jesus Christ.
7:55 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, 7:56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
When Stephen said that he saw Jesus fulfilling the prophecy and sitting in heaven with God the Father, it was the final straw for these wicked men
7:57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 7:58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s [Saul who was later called and changed his name to Paul] feet, whose name was Saul.
7:59 And they stoned Stephen, [who] calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
Stephen entrusted himself to God the Father and Jesus Christ in death, and forgave the ignorant men who were killing him.
7:60 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.
We ought to be ashamed of ourselves for our fear of men and our Business Model outreaches!
We should be ashamed for our disgraceful refusal to rebuke sin; and teaching to tolerate sin and doctrinal heresy, for the sake of organizational unity.
We call ourselves God’s people while we compromise with the teachings and commandments of Christ; to exalt our traditions, organizations and men ABOVE God the Father and Jesus Christ.
How dare we think that such actions are acceptable to our Master!
This killing of Stephen resulted in a great general persecution; which served to spread the gospel widely throughout Judea as many disciples left Jerusalem to go back to their homes in other places. Yet the apostles and many others remained at Jerusalem through this time.
This story of Saul and his repentance and conversion to Christ, may soon be replayed; as today’s Laodiceans, who now reject sound doctrine; sincerely repent like Paul on their personal ”Road to Damascus” in the tribulation.
Acts 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. 8:2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
As Saul and many others attacked the Ekklesia, the gospel was spread; and the more the zealous were attacked, the more the gospel was spread. So it is today.
It was often the brethren as well as the apostles, who spread the gospel by their example and by teaching others!
8:3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. 8:4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
Since the apostles remained at Jerusalem, it appears that this Philip was the deacon Philip who did such mighty works through God’s power in Samaria. This is the first instance of the disciples preaching directly to the Gentiles, as Samaria was a Gentile city.
8:5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. 8:6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 8:7 For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. 8:8 And there was great joy in that city.
Simon Magus the Pater or leader of the Babylonian Mysteries in Samaria, later went to Rome and was misidentified with Peter; and he being jealous of Philip, sought to infiltrate the Ekklesia.
8:9 But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:
This Simon was very like many church leaders today, who pretend to be some great one as they lead the brethren astray. Simon was also like the final abomination who is to come deceiving the people by his miracles and smooth words.
A final miracle working pope is soon to come on the scene and be set up in the Vatican, deceiving the world into viewing him as some ultimate moral authority to follow him away from God.
8:10 To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. 8:11 And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries [astonished them with miracles].
8:12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
8:13 Then Simon himself believed [but was not converted only seeking personal power and being unwilling to follow the teachings and commandments of Christ] also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.
Peter and John go to Samaria to continue the work begun by Philip the deacon.
8:14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: 8:15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: 8:16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 8:17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
Simon who like many today, equate the blessing of God with money; showed his true colours and was cast aside by Peter: Even as those who love wealth and power more than the Word of God will be rejected by Christ today.
1 Timothy 6:3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; 6:4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 6:5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 6:7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 6:8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
6:9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
6:11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
6:13 I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; 6:14 That thou keep this commandment [to treasure godly things and not lust after worldly wealth] without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Acts 8:18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, 8:19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. 8:20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. 8:21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. [Seeking personal gain and not the ways of God]
Let the elders repent of seeking personal gain; whether it be in wealth, power or the adulation of the brethren.
8:22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. 8:23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness [jealousy], and in the bond of iniquity.
Simon then tried to save face before the people
8:24 Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the LORD for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.
Peter and John then went back to Jerusalem through Samaria preaching as they went.
8:25 And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans [as they travelled back to Jerusalem].
The deacon Philip is then sent to Gaza in the south
8:26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. 8:27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, 8:28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.
God sent Philip to explain the scriptures to the Ethiopian. Again an example of teaching the Gentiles before Peter and Paul.
8:29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. 8:30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? 8:31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.
The reading was about Christ in Isaiah and opened the way for Philip to teach of Christ.
8:32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: 8:33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.
8:34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? 8:35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
Then the Ethiopian eunuch was baptized by Philip the deacon.
8:36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 8:37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.
And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
8:38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
This is not the end of the Ethiopian’s story for he was undoubtedly called by God to spread the gospel of Christ in Ethiopia. Someday in the Kingdom we may find many who were converted from the spreading of the Word by this Ethiopian brother who was called by God and not ordained by any man.
8:39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.
Philip then worked his way up the coast as far as Caesarea
8:40 But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.
The true Gospel is that which was taught by Jesus and the apostles and disciples in the first century. Yes, it was about the Kingdom of God, but was not limited to a coming physical kingdom! The true Gospel is about the way of Salvation through the Lamb of God!