1The high priest said to Stephen, “Is all this true?” 2Stephen answered, “My Jewish fathers and brothers, listen to me. Our great and glorious God appeared to Abraham, our ancestor, when he was in Mesopotamia. This was before he lived in Haran. 3God said to him, ‘Leave your country and your people, and go to the country I will show you.’#Quote from Gen. 12:1.
4“So Abraham left the country of Chaldea.#7:4 Chaldea Or “Babylonia,” a land in the southern part of Mesopotamia. See verse 2. He went to live in Haran. After his father died, God sent him to this place, where you live now. 5But God did not give Abraham any of this land, not even a foot of it. But God promised that in the future he would give Abraham this land for himself and for his children. This was before Abraham had any children.
6“This is what God said to him: ‘Your descendants will live in another country. They will be strangers. The people there will make them slaves and mistreat them for 400 years. 7But I will punish the nation that made them slaves.’#Quote from Gen. 15:13-14. And God also said, ‘After those things happen, your people will come out of that country. Then they will worship me here in this place.’#Quote from Gen. 15:14; Ex. 3:12.
8“God made an agreement with Abraham; the sign for this agreement was circumcision. And so when Abraham had a son, he circumcised him when he was eight days old. His son’s name was Isaac. Isaac also circumcised his son Jacob. And Jacob did the same for his sons, who became the twelve great ancestors of our people.
9“These ancestors of ours became jealous of their brother Joseph and sold him to be a slave in Egypt. But God was with him 10and saved him from all his troubles. Pharaoh was the king of Egypt then. He liked Joseph and respected him because of the wisdom God gave him. Pharaoh gave Joseph the job of being a governor of Egypt. He even let him rule over all the people in Pharaoh’s house. 11But all the land of Egypt and of Canaan became dry. It became so dry that food could not grow, and the people suffered very much. Our people could not find anything to eat.
12“But Jacob heard that there was food in Egypt. So he sent our people there. This was their first trip to Egypt. 13Then they went there a second time. This time Joseph told his brothers who he was. And Pharaoh learned about Joseph’s family. 14Then Joseph sent some men to tell Jacob, his father, to come to Egypt. He also invited all his relatives, a total of 75 people. 15So Jacob went down to Egypt. He and our other ancestors lived there until they died. 16Later, their bodies were moved to Shechem, where they were put in a tomb. It was the same tomb that Abraham had bought in Shechem from the sons of Hamor. He paid them with silver.
17“The number of our people in Egypt grew. There were more and more of our people there. The promise that God made to Abraham was soon to come true. 18Then a different king began to rule Egypt, one who knew nothing about Joseph. 19This king tricked our people. He treated them badly, making them leave their children outside to die.
20“This was the time when Moses was born. He was a very beautiful child, and for three months his parents took care of him at home. 21When they put him outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him. She raised him as her own son. 22The Egyptians taught Moses everything they knew. He was powerful in all he said and did.
23“When Moses was about 40 years old, he decided to visit his own people, the people of Israel. 24He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he defended him. Moses hit the Egyptian to pay him back for hurting the man. He hit him so hard that it killed him. 25Moses thought that his people would understand that God was using him to save them. But they did not understand.
26“The next day, Moses saw two of his own people fighting. He tried to make peace between them. He said, ‘Men, you are brothers! Why are you trying to hurt each other?’ 27The man who was hurting the other one pushed Moses away and said to him, ‘Did anyone say you could be our ruler and judge? 28Will you kill me just as you killed that Egyptian yesterday?’#Quote from Ex. 2:14. 29When Moses heard him say this, he left Egypt. He went to live in the land of Midian, where he was a stranger. During the time he lived there, he had two sons.
30“Forty years later Moses was in the desert near Mount Sinai. An angel appeared to him in the flame of a burning bush. 31When Moses saw this, he was amazed. He went near to look closer at it. He heard a voice; it was the Lord’s. 32The Lord said, ‘I am the same God your ancestors had—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’#Quote from Ex. 3:6. Moses began to shake with fear. He was afraid to look at the bush.
33“The Lord said to him, ‘Take off your sandals, because the place where you are now standing is holy ground. 34I have seen my people suffer much in Egypt. I have heard my people crying and have come down to save them. Come now, Moses, I am sending you back to Egypt.’#Quote from Ex. 3:5-10.
35“This Moses was the one his people said they did not want. They said, ‘Did anyone say you could be our ruler and judge?’#Quote from Ex. 2:14. But he is the one God sent to be a ruler and savior. God sent him with the help of an angel, the one Moses saw in the burning bush. 36So Moses led the people out of Egypt. He worked wonders and miraculous signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and then in the desert for 40 years.
37“This is the same Moses who said these words to the people of Israel: ‘God will give you a prophet. That prophet will come from among your own people. He will be like me.’#Quote from Deut. 18:15. 38This same Moses was with the gathering of God’s people in the desert. He was with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and he was with our ancestors. He received life-giving words from God to give to us.
39“But our ancestors did not want to obey Moses. They rejected him. They wanted to go back to Egypt again. 40They said to Aaron, ‘Moses led us out of the country of Egypt. But we don’t know what has happened to him. So make some gods to go before us and lead us.’#Quote from Ex. 32:1. 41So the people made an idol that looked like a calf. Then they brought sacrifices to it. They were very happy with what they had made with their own hands. 42But God turned against them and let them continue worshiping the army of false gods in the sky. This is what God says in the book that contains what the prophets wrote:
‘People of Israel, you did not bring me blood offerings and sacrifices
in the desert for 40 years;
43You carried with you the tent for worshiping Moloch
and the image of the star of your god Rephan.
These were the idols you made to worship.
So I will send you away beyond Babylon.’ Amos 5:25-27
44“The Holy Tent#7:44 Holy Tent Literally, “Tent of the Testimony.” See “Holy Tent” in the Word List. was with our ancestors in the desert. God told Moses how to make this tent. He made it like the plan that God showed him. 45Later, Joshua led our ancestors to capture the lands of the other nations. Our people went in and God made the other people go out. When our people went into this new land, they took with them this same tent. Our people received this tent from their fathers, and our people kept it until the time of David. 46God was very pleased with David. He asked God to let him build a Temple for the people of Jacob.#7:46 for the people of Jacob Some Greek copies have “for the God of Jacob.” 47But Solomon was the one who built the Temple.
48“But the Most High God does not live in houses built by human hands. This is what the prophet#7:48 prophet Isaiah, who spoke for God about 740–700 B.C. writes:
49‘The Lord says, Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is where I rest my feet.
So do you think you can build a house for me?
Do I need a place to rest?
50Remember, I made all these things!’” Isaiah 66:1-2
51Then Stephen said, “You stubborn Jewish leaders! You refuse to give your hearts to God or even listen to him. You are always against what the Holy Spirit wants you to do. That’s how your ancestors were, and you are just like them! 52They persecuted every prophet who ever lived. They even killed those who long ago said that the Righteous One would come. And now you have turned against that Righteous One and killed him. 53You are the people who received God’s law, which he gave you through his angels. But you don’t obey it!”
Stephen Is Killed
54When those in the council meeting heard this, they became very angry. They were so mad they were grinding their teeth at him. 55But Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit. He looked up into heaven and saw the glory of God. And he saw Jesus standing at God’s right side. 56Stephen said, “Look! I see heaven open. And I see the Son of Man standing at God’s right side.”
57Everyone there started shouting loudly, covering their ears with their hands. Together they all ran at Stephen. 58They took him out of the city and began throwing stones at him. The men who told lies against Stephen gave their coats to a young man named Saul. 59As they were throwing the stones at him, Stephen was praying. He said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 60He fell on his knees and shouted, “Lord, don’t blame them for this sin!” These were his last words before he died.