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7
Stephen Speaks to the Sanhedrin
1Then the high priest questioned Stephen. "Is what these people are saying true?" he asked.
2"Brothers and fathers, listen to me!" Stephen replied. "The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham. At that time Abraham was still in Mesopotamia. He had not yet begun living in Haran. 3'Leave your country and your people,' God said. 'Go to the land I will show you.' (Genesis 12:1)
4"So Abraham left the land of Babylonia. He settled in Haran. After his father died, God sent Abraham to this land where you are now living. 5God didn't give him any property here. He didn't give him even a foot of land. But God made a promise to him and to all his family after him. He said they would possess the land. The promise was made even though at that time Abraham had no child.
6"Here is what God said to him. 'Your family after you will be strangers in a country that is not their own. They will be slaves and will be treated badly for 400 years. 7But I will punish the nation that makes them slaves,' God said. 'After that, they will leave that country and worship me here.' (Genesis 15:13,14)
8"Then God made a covenant with Abraham. God told him that circumcision would show who the members of the covenant were. Abraham became Isaac's father. He circumcised Isaac eight days after he was born. Later, Isaac became Jacob's father. Jacob had 12 sons. They became the founders of the 12 tribes of Israel.
9"Jacob's sons were jealous of their brother Joseph. So they sold him as a slave. He was taken to Egypt. But God was with him. 10He saved Joseph from all his troubles. God made Joseph wise. He helped him to become the friend of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. So Pharaoh made Joseph ruler over Egypt and his whole palace.
11"There was not enough food for all Egypt and Canaan. This brought great suffering. Jacob and his sons couldn't find food. 12But Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt. So he sent his sons on their first visit. 13On their second visit, Joseph told his brothers who he was. Pharaoh learned about Joseph's family.
14"After this, Joseph sent for his father Jacob and his whole family. The total number of people was 75. 15Then Jacob went down to Egypt. There he and his family died. 16Some of their bodies were brought back to Shechem. They were placed in a tomb Abraham had bought. He had purchased it from Hamor's sons at Shechem for a certain amount of money.
17"In Egypt the number of our people grew and grew. It was nearly time for God to make his promise to Abraham come true. 18Another king became ruler of Egypt. He knew nothing about Joseph. 19He was very evil and dishonest with our people. He beat them down. He forced them to throw out their newborn babies to die.
20"At that time Moses was born. He was not an ordinary child. For three months he was taken care of by his family. 21Then he was placed outside. But Pharaoh's daughter took him home. She brought him up as her own son. 22Moses was taught all the knowledge of the people of Egypt. He became a powerful speaker and a man of action.
23"When Moses was 40 years old, he decided to visit the people of Israel. They were his own people. 24He saw one of them being treated badly by a man of Egypt. So he went to help him. He got even by killing the man. 25Moses thought his own people would realize that God was using him to save them. But they didn't.
26"The next day Moses saw two men of Israel fighting. He tried to make peace between them. 'Men, you are both of Israel,' he said. 'Why do you want to hurt each other?'
27"But the man who was treating the other one badly pushed Moses to one side. He said, 'Who made you ruler and judge over us? 28Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?' (Exodus 2:14) 29When Moses heard this, he escaped to Midian. He lived there as a stranger. He became the father of two sons there.
30"Forty years passed. Then an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush. This happened in the desert near Mount Sinai. 31When Moses saw the bush, he was amazed. He went over for a closer look. There he heard the Lord's voice. 32'I am the God of your fathers,' the Lord said. 'I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.' (Exodus 3:6) Moses shook with fear. He didn't dare to look.
33"Then the Lord said to him, 'Take off your sandals. The place you are standing on is holy ground. 34I have seen my people beaten down in Egypt. I have heard their groans. I have come down to set them free. Now come. I will send you back to Egypt.' (Exodus 3:5,7,8,10)
35"This is the same Moses the two men of Israel would not accept. They had said, 'Who made you ruler and judge?' But God himself sent Moses to rule the people of Israel and set them free. He spoke to Moses through the angel who had appeared to him in the bush. 36So Moses led them out of Egypt. He did wonders and miraculous signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and for 40 years in the desert.
37"This is the same Moses who spoke to the people of Israel. 'God will send you a prophet,' he said. 'He will be like me. He will come from your own people.' (Deuteronomy 18:15) 38Moses was with the Israelites in the desert. He was with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai. Moses was with our people of long ago. He received living words to pass on to us.
39"But our people refused to obey Moses. They would not accept him. In their hearts, they wished they were back in Egypt. 40They told Aaron, 'Make us a god who will lead us. This fellow Moses led us out of Egypt. But we don't know what has happened to him!' (Exodus 32:1) 41That was the time they made a statue to be their god. It looked like a calf. They brought sacrifices to it. They were glad because of what they had made with their own hands. 42But God turned away from them. He left them to worship the sun, moon and stars. This agrees with what is written in the book of the prophets. There it says, " 'People of Israel, did you bring me sacrifices and offerings
for 40 years in the desert?
43You lifted up the place where Molech was worshiped.
You lifted up the star of your god Rephan.
You made statues of them to worship.
So I will send you away from your country.' (Amos 5:25-27)
God sent them to Babylon and even farther.
44"Long ago our people had with them in the desert the holy tent where the tablets of the covenant were kept. Moses had made the holy tent as God had commanded him. It was made like the pattern he had seen. 45Our people received the tent from God. They brought it with them when they took the land of Canaan. God drove out the nations that were in their way. At that time Joshua was Israel's leader.
"The tent remained in the land until David's time. 46David was blessed by God. So David asked if he could build a house for the God of Jacob. 47Instead, it was Solomon who built it for him.
48"But the Most High God does not live in houses made by human hands. As God says through the prophet,
49" 'Heaven is my throne.
The earth is under my control.
What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord.
Where will my resting place be?
50Didn't my hand make all these things?' (Isaiah 66:1,2)
51"You people! You won't obey! You are stubborn! You won't listen! You are just like your people of long ago! You always oppose the Holy Spirit! 52Was there ever a prophet your people didn't try to hurt? They even killed those who told about the coming of the Blameless One. And now you have handed him over to his enemies. You have murdered him. 53The law you received was brought by angels. But you haven't obeyed it."
Stephen Is Killed
54When the Sanhedrin heard this, they became very angry. They ground their teeth at Stephen. 55But he was full of the Holy Spirit. He looked up to heaven and saw God's glory. He saw Jesus standing at God's right hand. 56"Look!" he said. "I see heaven open. The Son of Man is standing at God's right hand."
57When the Sanhedrin heard this, they covered their ears. They yelled at the top of their voices. They all rushed at him. 58They dragged him out of the city. They began to throw stones at him to kill him. The witnesses took off their coats. They placed them at the feet of a young man named Saul.
59While the members of the Sanhedrin were throwing stones at Stephen, he prayed. "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit," he said. 60Then he fell on his knees. He cried out, "Lord! Don't hold this sin against them!" When he had said this, he died.
7
Stephen's speech
1The high priest asked Stephen, “Are they telling the truth about you?”
2Stephen answered:#Gn 12.1.
Friends, listen to me. Our glorious God appeared to our ancestor Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he had moved to Haran. 3God told him, “Leave your country and your relatives and go to a land that I will show you.” 4Then Abraham left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran.#Gn 11.31; Gn 12.4.
After his father died, Abraham came and settled in this land where you now live. 5God didn't give him any part of it, not even a square metre. But God did promise to give it to him and his family for ever, even though Abraham didn't have any children.#Gn 12.7; 13.15; 15.18; 17.8. 6God said that Abraham's descendants would live for a while in a foreign land. There they would be slaves and would be ill-treated four hundred years.#Gn 15.13,14. 7But he also said, “I will punish the nation that makes them slaves. Then later they will come and worship me in this place.”#Ex 3.12.
8God said to Abraham, “Every son in each family must be circumcised to show that you have kept your agreement with me.” So when Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him. Later, Isaac circumcised his son Jacob, and Jacob circumcised his twelve sons.#Gn 17.10-14; Gn 21.2-4; Gn 25.26; Gn 29.31—35.18. 9These men were our ancestors.
Joseph was also one of our famous ancestors. His brothers were jealous of him and sold him as a slave to be taken to Egypt. But God was with him#Gn 37.11; Gn 37.28; Gn 39.2,21. 10and rescued him from all his troubles. God made him so wise that the Egyptian king Pharaoh#7.10 Pharaoh: A Hebrew word sometimes used for the title of the King of Egypt. thought highly of him. Pharaoh even made Joseph governor over Egypt and put him in charge of everything he owned.#Gn 41.39-41.
11Everywhere in Egypt and Canaan the grain crops failed. There was terrible suffering, and our ancestors could not find enough to eat.#Gn 42.1,2. 12But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our ancestors there for the first time. 13It was on their second trip that Joseph told his brothers who he was, and Pharaoh learnt about Joseph's family.#Gn 45.1; Gn 45.16.
14Joseph sent for his father and his relatives. In all, there were seventy-five of them.#Gn 45.9,10,17,18; Gn 46.27 (LXX). 15His father went to Egypt and died there, just as our ancestors did.#Gn 46.1-7; Gn 49.33. 16Later their bodies were taken back to Shechem and placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought from the sons of Hamor.#Gn 23.3-16; 33.19; 50.7-13; Js 24.32.
Stephen continued:
17Finally, the time came for God to do what he had promised Abraham. By then the number of our people in Egypt had greatly increased.#Ex 1.7,8. 18Another king was ruling Egypt, and he didn't know anything about Joseph. 19He tricked our ancestors and was cruel to them. He even made them leave their babies outside, so they would die.#Ex 1.10,11; Ex 1.22.
20During this time Moses was born. He was a very beautiful child, and for three months his parents took care of him in their home.#Ex 2.2. 21Then when they were forced to leave him outside, the king's daughter found him and raised him as her own son.#Ex 2.3-10. 22Moses was given the best education in Egypt. He was a strong man and a powerful speaker.
23When Moses was forty years old, he wanted to help the Israelites because they were his own people.#Ex 2.11-15. 24One day he saw an Egyptian ill-treating one of them. So he rescued the man and killed the Egyptian. 25Moses thought the rest of his people would realize that God was going to use him to set them free. But they didn't understand.
26The next day Moses saw two of his own people fighting, and he tried to make them stop. He said, “Men, you are both Israelites. Why are you so cruel to each other?”
27But the man who had started the fight pushed Moses aside and asked, “Who made you our ruler and judge? 28Are you going to kill me, just as you killed that Egyptian yesterday?” 29When Moses heard this, he ran away to live in the country of Midian. His two sons were born there.#Ex 18.3,4.
Stephen continued:
30Forty years later, an angel appeared to Moses from a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai.#Ex 3.1-10. 31Moses was surprised by what he saw. He went closer to get a better look, and the Lord said, 32“I am the God who was worshipped by your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Moses started shaking all over and didn't dare to look at the bush.
33The Lord said to him, “Take off your sandals. The place where you are standing is holy. 34With my own eyes I have seen the suffering of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groans and have come down to rescue them. Now I am sending you back to Egypt.”
35This was the same Moses that the people rejected by saying, “Who made you our leader and judge?” God's angel had spoken to Moses from the bush. And God had even sent the angel to help Moses rescue the people and be their leader.#Ex 2.14.
36In Egypt and at the Red Sea#7.36 Red Sea: This name comes from the Bible of the early Christians, a translation made into Greek about 200 BC. It refers to the body of water that the Israelites crossed and was one of the marshes or fresh water lakes near the eastern part of the Nile Delta, where they lived and where the towns of Exodus 13.17—14.9 were located. and in the desert, Moses rescued the people by performing miracles and wonders for forty years.#Ex 7.3; Ex 14.21; Nu 14.33. 37Moses is the one who told the people of Israel, “God will choose one of your people to be a prophet, just as he chose me.”#Dt 18.15,18. 38Moses brought our people together in the desert, and the angel spoke to him on Mount Sinai. There he was given these life-giving words to pass on to us.#Ex 19.1—20.17; Dt 5.1-33. 39But our ancestors refused to obey Moses. They rejected him and wanted to go back to Egypt.
40The people said to Aaron, “Make some gods to lead us! Moses led us out of Egypt, but we don't know what's happened to him now.”#Ex 32.1. 41Then they made an idol in the shape of a calf. They offered sacrifices to the idol and were pleased with what they had done.#Ex 32.2-6.
42God turned his back on his people and left them. Then they worshipped the stars in the sky, just as it says in the Book of the Prophets, “People of Israel, you didn't offer sacrifices and offerings to me during those forty years in the desert.#Am 5.25-27 (LXX). 43Instead, you carried the tent where the god Molech is worshipped, and you took along the star of your god Rephan. You made those idols and worshipped them. So now I will have you carried off beyond Babylonia.”
Stephen continued:
44The tent where our ancestors worshipped God was with them in the desert. This was the same tent that God had commanded Moses to make. And it was made like the model that Moses had seen.#Ex 25.9,40. 45Later it was given to our ancestors, and they took it with them when they went with Joshua. They carried the tent along as they took over the land from those people that God had chased out for them. Our ancestors used this tent until the time of King David.#Js 3.14-17. 46He pleased God and asked him if he could build a house of worship for the people#7.46 the people: Some manuscripts have “God”. of Israel.#2 S 7.1-16; 1 Ch 17.1-14. 47And it was finally King Solomon who built a house for God.#7.47 God: Or “the people”.#1 K 6.1-38; 2 Ch 3.1-17.
48But the Most High God doesn't live in houses made by humans. It is just as the prophet said, when he spoke for the Lord,
49“Heaven is my throne,#Is 66.1,2.
and the earth
is my footstool.
What kind of house
will you build for me?
In what place will I rest?
50I have made everything.”
51You stubborn and hard-headed people! You are always fighting against the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors did.#Is 63.10. 52Is there one prophet that your ancestors didn't ill-treat? They killed the prophets who told about the coming of the One Who Obeys God.#7.52 One Who Obeys God: That is, Jesus. And now you have turned against him and killed him. 53Angels gave you God's Law, but you still don't obey it.
Stephen is stoned to death
54When the council members heard Stephen's speech, they were angry and furious. 55But Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit. He looked towards heaven, where he saw our glorious God and Jesus standing at his right side.#7.55 standing at his right side: The “right side” is the place of honour and power. “Standing” may mean that Jesus is welcoming Stephen (see verse 59). 56Then Stephen said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right side of God!”
57The council members shouted and covered their ears. At once they all attacked Stephen 58and dragged him out of the city. Then they started throwing stones at him. The men who had brought charges against him put their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.#7.58 Saul: Better known as Paul, who became a famous follower of Jesus.
59As Stephen was being stoned to death, he called out, “Lord Jesus, please welcome me!” 60He knelt down and shouted, “Lord, don't blame them for what they have done.” Then he died.