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1The high priest asked, "Are these accusations true?"
2Stephen responded, “Brothers and fathers, listen to me. Our glorious God appeared to our ancestor Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he settled in Haran. 3God told him, ‘Leave your homeland and kin, and go to the land that I will show you.’#Gen 12:1 4So Abraham left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After Abraham’s father died, God had him resettle in this land where you now live. 5God didn’t give him an inheritance here, not even a square foot of land. However, God did promise to give the land as his possession to him and to his descendants, even though Abraham had no child. 6God put it this way: His descendants will be strangers in a land that belongs to others, who will enslave them and abuse them for four hundred years.#Gen 15:13 7And I will condemn the nation they serve as slaves, God said, and afterward they will leave#Gen 15:14 that land and serve me in this place. 8God gave him the covenant confirmed through circumcision. Accordingly, eight days after Isaac’s birth, Abraham circumcised him. Isaac did the same with Jacob, and Jacob with the twelve patriarchs.
9“Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him into slavery in Egypt. God was with him, however, 10and rescued him from all his troubles. The grace and wisdom he gave Joseph were recognized by Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who appointed him ruler over Egypt and over his whole palace. 11A famine came upon all Egypt and Canaan, and great hardship came with it. Our ancestors had nothing to eat. 12When Jacob heard there was grain in Egypt, he sent our ancestors there for the first time. 13During their second visit, Joseph told his brothers who he was, and Pharaoh learned about Joseph’s family. 14Joseph sent for his father Jacob and all his relatives—seventy-five in all—and invited them to live with him. 15So Jacob went down to Egypt, where he and our ancestors died. 16Their bodies were brought back to Shechem and placed in the tomb that Abraham had purchased for a certain sum of money from Hamor’s children, who lived in Shechem.
17“When it was time for God to keep the promise he made to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt had greatly expanded. 18But then another king rose to power over Egypt who didn’t know anything about Joseph.#Exod 1:8 19He exploited our people and abused our ancestors. He even forced them to abandon their newly born babies so they would die. 20That’s when Moses was born. He was highly favored by God, and for three months his parents cared for him in their home. 21After he was abandoned, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted and cared for him as though he were her own son. 22Moses learned everything Egyptian wisdom had to offer, and he was a man of powerful words and deeds.
23“When Moses was 40 years old, he decided to visit his family, the Israelites. 24He saw one of them being wronged so he came to his rescue and evened the score by killing the Egyptian. 25He expected his own kin to understand that God was using him to rescue them, but they didn’t. 26The next day he came upon some Israelites who were caught up in an argument. He tried to make peace between them by saying, ‘You are brothers! Why are you harming each other?’ 27The one who started the fight against his neighbor pushed Moses aside and said, ‘Who appointed you as our leader and judge? 28Are you planning to kill me like you killed that Egyptian yesterday?’#Exod 2:14 29When Moses heard this, he fled to Midian, where he lived as an immigrant and had two sons.
30“Forty years later, an angel appeared to Moses in the flame of a burning bush in the wilderness near Mount Sinai. 31Enthralled by the sight, Moses approached to get a closer look and he heard the Lord’s voice: 32I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.#Exod 3:6 Trembling with fear, Moses didn’t dare to investigate any further. 33The Lord continued, ‘Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34I have clearly seen the oppression my people have experienced in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning. I have come down to rescue them. Come! I am sending you to Egypt.’#Exod 3:5, 7
35“This is the same Moses whom they rejected when they asked, ‘Who appointed you as our leader and judge?’ This is the Moses whom God sent as leader and deliverer. God did this with the help of the angel who appeared before him in the bush. 36This man led them out after he performed wonders and signs in Egypt at the Red Sea and for forty years in the wilderness. 37This is the Moses who told the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your own people.#Deut 18:15 38This is the one who was in the assembly in the wilderness with our ancestors and with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai. He is the one who received life-giving words to give to us. 39He’s also the one whom our ancestors refused to obey. Instead, they pushed him aside and, in their thoughts and desires, returned to Egypt. 40They told Aaron, ‘Make us gods that will lead us. As for this Moses who led us out of Egypt, we don’t know what’s happened to him!#Exod 32:1 41That’s when they made an idol in the shape of a calf, offered a sacrifice to it, and began to celebrate what they had made with their own hands. 42So God turned away from them and handed them over to worship the stars in the sky, just as it is written in the scroll of the Prophets:
Did you bring sacrifices and offerings to me
for forty years in the wilderness, house of Israel?
43No! Instead, you took the tent of Moloch with you,
and the star of your god Rephan,
the images that you made in order to worship them.
Therefore, I will send you far away, farther than Babylon.#Amos 5:25-27
44“The tent of testimony was with our ancestors in the wilderness. Moses built it just as he had been instructed by the one who spoke to him and according to the pattern he had seen. 45In time, when they had received the tent, our ancestors carried it with them when, under Joshua’s leadership, they took possession of the land from the nations whom God expelled. This tent remained in the land until the time of David. 46God approved of David, who asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.#Critical editions of the Gk New Testament read house of Jacob. 47But it was Solomon who actually built a house for God. 48However, the Most High doesn’t live in houses built by human hands. As the prophet says,
49Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
‘What kind of house will you build for me,’ says the Lord,
‘or where is my resting place?
50Didn’t I make all these things with my own hand?’#Isa 66:1-2
51"You stubborn people! In your thoughts and hearing, you are like those who have had no part in God’s covenant! You continuously set yourself against the Holy Spirit, just like your ancestors did. 52Was there a single prophet your ancestors didn’t harass? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the righteous one, and you’ve betrayed and murdered him! 53You received the Law given by angels, but you haven’t kept it."
54Once the council members heard these words, they were enraged and began to grind their teeth at Stephen. 55But Stephen, enabled by the Holy Spirit, stared into heaven and saw God’s majesty and Jesus standing at God’s right side. 56He exclaimed, "Look! I can see heaven on display and the Human One#Or Son of Man standing at God’s right side!" 57At this, they shrieked and covered their ears. Together, they charged at him, 58threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses placed their coats in the care of a young man named Saul. 59As they battered him with stones, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, accept my life!" 60Falling to his knees, he shouted, "Lord, don’t hold this sin against them!" Then he died.
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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.