Sermon Notes 11/21/21 “Stephen’s Arrest and Defense”

Acts 6:8-7:53 Stephen’s Arrest and Defense
“…‘what must I do to be saved?’ They said,
‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’” Acts 16:30-31 (NASB)
Key Verses – The Council could not refute Stephen so resorted to deception and lies Acts 7:11-13 (excerpts NASB) *Speaking ’truth to power’ can be dangerous!
“Then they secretly induced men to say, ‘We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.’ And they stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes, and they came up to him and dragged him away and brought him before the Council. They put forward false witnesses…”
Acts 7:52 (NAS) *The religious leaders reacted violently to Stephen’s referral to Jesus “Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become.” Note: “the Righteous One” refers to Jesus Christ
Key x-References – Stephen – One of the 1st deacons and the 1st Christian martyr Acts 6:3-5 (excerpts NASB) *Stephen selected by the Church for his wisdom & Spirit “Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task…The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit…” Note the important connection between “faith” and the “Spirit”
1 Peter 3:13-18 (NASB) *There is a connection between our ‘witness’ and ‘suffering’
“Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, hav- ing been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.”
Acts 22:20 (NASB) *Paul’s testimony of his pre-conversion persecution of the Church “And when the blood of Your witness Stephen was being shed, I also was standing by approving, and watching out for the coats of those who were slaying him.”
Note: This Greek word can be translated as both “witness” and “testify” (see below)
Key Terms (most words have a ‘field of meaning’ —> various translations)
“make a defense” (1 Peter 3:15) Greek #627 (8x), NASB apologia; from Greek #626: a
speech in defense:– defense (7), vindication (1)
Note: cf. English “apology and “apologetics” – This is basically what Stephen was doing in Acts but he was not allowed to finish when he mentioned “the Righteous One” i.e. Jesus (vv.54-60)
“witness” (Acts 22:20) Greek #3144 (35x), NASB martus; a prim. word: a witness:– witness (12), witnesses (23)
Note: This Greek word occurs in both the verb and noun form and sense as it does in English; cf. English martyr – “a person who willingly suffers death rather than renounce their faith”
“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”
Tertullian (Church leader in the 2nd century A.D.)
The Book of Acts Series #17 11/21/21
The Birth and Expansion of the Church of Jesus Christ “…you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
Acts 1:8 (NASB)
Introduction – The transitional nature of the Book of Acts 1:1-5 I. Christian witness in Jerusalem 1:6-8:3
A. The Risen Lord – The 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection & ascension 1:6-26 B. Pentecost – Outpouring of the Holy Spirit – The birthday of the Church 2:1-47 C. Healing the lame man in the Temple, Peter’s 2nd Sermon 3:1-26
D. The beginning of persecution 4:1-37
E. Purging from within, more persecution from without 5:1-41 F. Choosing co-laborers – The first deacons 6:1-7
G. Stephen – a deacon and the first Christian martyr 6:8-8:3

  1. Part 1 – Stephen (one of the 1st deacons) persecuted & put on trial 6:8-7:53 a. Stephen is arrested and falsely accused of blasphemy 6:8-7:1
    (1) Resistance to Stephen’s powerful public ministry grows 6:8-10
    (2) They could not refute the wisdom of his words so resorted to lies 11-14 (3) Stephen’s face reflected the security of his faith in spite of danger 7:15
    Transition – Are these charges true? 7:1
    b. Stephen’s defense – A mini-history of Israel (~2,000 B.C. – A.D. 33) 7:1-53
    (1) Abraham 7:2-7 (cf. Genesis 11:10-25:11)
    (2) Isaac, Jacob and the Patriarchs 7:8 (cf. Genesis 25:19-35:29)
    (3) Joseph 7:9-19 (cf. Genesis 37:1-50:26)
    (4) Moses 7:20-44 (cf. Exodus 2:1-40:38; Num. 1:1-36:36; Deut. 1:1-34:12) (5) Joshua 7:45 (cf. Exodus 17:9-33:11; Joshua 1:1-24:31)
    (6) David 7:46 (cf. Ruth 4:17-22; 1 Sam. 16:13-30:31; 2 Sam. 1:1-24:25)
    (7) Solomon 7:47-50 (cf. 2 Sam. 5:14-12:24; 1 Kings 1:1-14:26)
    (8) The “Righteous One” (i.e. Jesus) 7:51-53 (cf. Isaiah 53:1-12; Gospels)
  2. Part 2 – Stephen suffers martyrdom for his faith in Christ 7:51-8:3
    a. Stephen’s charge against the Jewish religious leaders 7:51-53
    b. Stephen put to death by (illegal?) stoning 7:54-60
    c. Saul’s (Paul) involvement – Intensive persecution in Jerusalem begins 8:1-3
    II. Christian witness in Palestine and Syria 8:4-12:25
    III. Christian witness to the uttermost part of the earth 13:1-28:31
    Key Verse(s) – Stephen arrested and taken before the Council – He makes his defense Acts 6:8-11 (excerpts NASB) *The religious leaders could not refute his godly wisdom “And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people. But some men…rose up and argued with Stephen. But they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. Then they secretly induced men to say, ‘We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.’”
    “…the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 13:52 (NASB)

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