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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.
Stephen's Defense
1The high priest said, "Are these things so?"
2And he said, "Hear me, brethren and fathers! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, 3and said to him, 'leave your country and your relatives, and come into the land that I will show you.' 4Then he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. From there, after his father died, God had him move to this country in which you are now living. 5But He gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot of ground, and yet, even when he had no child, He promised that he would give it to him as a possession, and to his descendants after him. 6But God spoke to this effect, that his descendants would be aliens in a foreign land, and that they would be enslaved and mistreated for four hundred years. 7 'and whatever nation to which they will be in bondage I myself will judge,' said God, 'and after that they will come out and #Or worshipserve me in this place.' 8And He gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.
9"The patriarchs became jealous of Joseph and sold him into Egypt. Yet God was with him, 10and rescued him from all his afflictions, and granted him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he made him governor over Egypt and all his household.
11"Now a famine came over all Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction with it, and our fathers could find no food. 12But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our fathers there the first time. 13On the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph's family was disclosed to Pharaoh. 14Then Joseph sent word and invited Jacob his father and all his relatives to come to him, seventy-five persons in all. 15And Jacob went down to Egypt and there he and our fathers died. 16From there they were removed to Shechem and laid in the tomb which Abraham had purchased for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.
17"But as the time of the promise was approaching which God had assured to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt, 18until there arose another king over egypt who knew nothing about joseph. 19It was he who took shrewd advantage of our race and mistreated our fathers so that they would expose their infants and they would not survive. 20It was at this time that Moses was born; and he was lovely in the sight of God, and he was nurtured three months in his father's home. 21And after he had been set outside, Pharaoh's daughter took him away and nurtured him as her own son. 22Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds. 23But when he was approaching the age of forty, it entered his mind to visit his brethren, the sons of Israel. 24And when he saw one of them being treated unjustly, he defended him and took vengeance for the oppressed by striking down the Egyptian. 25And he supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him, but they did not understand. 26On the following day he appeared to them as they were fighting together, and he tried to reconcile them in peace, saying, 'Men, you are brethren, why do you injure one another?' 27But the one who was injuring his neighbor pushed him away, saying, 'who made you a ruler and judge over us? 28you do not mean to kill me as you killed the egyptian yesterday, do you?' 29At this remark, moses fled and became an alien in the land of midian, where he became the father of two sons.
30"After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning thorn bush. 31When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he approached to look more closely, there came the voice of the Lord: 32'I am the God of your fathers, the God of abraham and isaac and jacob.' Moses shook with fear and would not venture to look. 33but the Lord said to him, 'take off the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground. 34I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in egypt and have heard their groans, and I have come down to rescue them; come now, and I will send you to egypt.'
35"This Moses whom they disowned, saying, 'who made you a ruler and a judge?' is the one whom God sent to be both a ruler and a deliverer with the help of the angel who appeared to him in the thorn bush. 36This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in the land of Egypt and in the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years. 37This is the Moses who said to the sons of Israel, 'God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren.' 38This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness together with the angel who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai, and who was with our fathers; and he received living oracles to pass on to you. 39Our fathers were unwilling to be obedient to him, but repudiated him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt, 40saying to aaron, 'make for us gods who will go before us; for this moses who led us out of the land of egypt-we do not know what happened to him.' 41At that time they made a calf and brought a sacrifice to the idol, and were rejoicing in the works of their hands. 42But God turned away and delivered them up to serve the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, 'it was not to me that you offered victims and sacrifices forty years in the wilderness, was it, O house of israel? 43you also took along the tabernacle of moloch and the star of the god rompha, the images which you made to worship. I also will remove you beyond babylon.'
44"Our fathers had the tabernacle of testimony in the wilderness, just as He who spoke to Moses directed him to make it according to the pattern which he had seen. 45And having received it in their turn, our fathers brought it in with Joshua upon dispossessing the nations whom God drove out before our fathers, until the time of David. 46David found favor in God's sight, and asked that he might find a dwelling place for the #The earliest mss read house instead of God; the Septuagint reads GodGod of Jacob. 47But it was Solomon who built a house for Him. 48However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet says:
49'heaven is my throne,
and earth is the footstool of my feet;
what kind of house will you build for me?' says the Lord,
'or what place is there for my repose?
50'was it not my hand which made all these things?'
51"You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. 52Which 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; 53you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it."
Stephen Put to Death
54Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him. 55But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; 56and he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." 57But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse. 58When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" 60Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them!" Having said this, he fell asleep.