Stephen The First Christian Mart

During these days, while the number of the disciples was rapidly

increasing, the Jews who came from lands where Greek was spoken began to

complain against those who were born and lived in Palestine, because

their widows were neglected when the food was given out each day.

Therefore the twelve apostles called together all the disciples and

said, "It is not right that we should give up our preaching so as to

wait on tabl
s. Brothers, choose seven of your own number, men of good

reputation, wise and spiritually-minded, whom we will put in charge of

this work. But we will continue to give ourselves to prayer and to

preaching the good news." This plan pleased all the disciples; so they

chose Stephen, a man of strong faith and spiritual power, Philip,

Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, who came from Antioch

but had become a Jew. These men they brought before the apostles, who

after praying laid their hands upon them.

And the message of the Lord continued to spread, and the number of

disciples in Jerusalem was greatly increased. A large number of the

priests also accepted the faith.

Stephen, who had personal charm and power, did great wonders and

miracles among the people. Some belonging to the Synagogue of the

Libyans, and Jews from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia, and the province of

Asia began to argue with Stephen; but they were unable to get the better

of him because of the wisdom and spirit with which he spoke.

Then secretly they bribed certain men to say, "We have heard him

speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God." In this way they

stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes, so that they seized

Stephen and took him before the council. They also brought in false

witnesses who said, "This man is always talking against this holy place

and the law. We have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will

destroy this place and change the customs which Moses handed down to


Then all who were sitting in the council fixed their eyes on Stephen and

saw that his face shone like the face of an angel. But the high priest

said, "Are these charges true?" Stephen answered, "Brothers and fathers,

listen. The Most High God does not live in houses made by men.

"You stubborn and evil-minded people! you always resist the Holy Spirit,

as did your fathers before you. Which of the prophets did they not

persecute? They also killed those who foretold the coming of the Just

One, whose betrayers and murderers you have become--you who received the

law given through angels, and have not kept it!"

When they heard these words, they were furious and gnashed their teeth

at him. But Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up into heaven

and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

"Look, I see heaven open," he said, "and the Son of Man standing at the

right hand of God." But they stopped their ears and with a howl rushed

at him all together. Then they threw him out of the city and stoned him.

The witnesses who threw the first stones, laid their clothes at the

feet of a young man named Saul. As they stoned Stephen, he prayed,

"Lord, Jesus, receive my spirit!" Then he knelt down and cried aloud,

"Lord, do not lay this sin to their charge!" When he had said this, he

fell asleep. Certain devout men buried Stephen, mourning deeply for him.

But Saul consented to his murder. He also tried to destroy the church,

entering into every house, and dragging out men and women, put them in