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Then the high priest asked, `Is this true?'

Stephen replied, `Men, brothers and fathers, listen to me. When our father Abraham was in the country of Mesopotamia, before he lived in the country of Haran, the God who is great and wonderful came to him.

God said, "Leave your country and your family and come to the country that I will show you."

Then Abraham came out of the country of the Chaldeans and lived for a while in the country of Haran. After his father died, God led him from there to this country where you are living now.

But God did not give any of the land to Abraham, not even a small part. But he promised that the land would belong to him. After him it would belong to his children, even though he did not have a child then.

This is what God told Abraham. He told him that his children would travel and live in another land. They would be slaves to the people there. They would have a hard time for four hundred years.

And God said, "I will judge the people who make them slaves. After that, they will come out of that land and serve me here."

God made the agreement of circumcision with Abraham. Abraham had a son Isaac. He made the mark of circumcision on the child's body and circumcised him on the eighth day. Isaac had a son Jacob, and Jacob had twelve sons who were our fathers.

`Because they were jealous, they sold Joseph to be a slave in the country of Egypt. But God was with Joseph.

10 He took him out of all his troubles. He blessed him and made him wise in the eyes of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. Pharaoh made him president in Egypt and a ruler over all the people of his house.

11 For a long, long time there was no rain in Egypt and Canaan. And so there was very little food. This caused much trouble. Our fathers had nothing to eat.

12 Then Jacob heard that there was food in Egypt. He sent his sons on their first trip to buy some. They were our fathers of long ago.

13 The second time they went, Joseph told his brothers who he was. And Pharaoh found out who Joseph's family was.

14 Then Joseph sent for Jacob his father and all the family to come. There were seventy-five people.

15 So Jacob went to Egypt. There he and our fathers died.

16 They were taken back to the place called Shechem and buried. Abraham had bought a grave from the family of Hamor in Shechem. He had paid money for it.

17 `Then it was almost time for God to do what he had promised to Abraham. The family of Jacob had become very large in Egypt.

18 Then a new king who did not know Joseph ruled over Egypt.

19 This king was not kind to our fathers but he gave them a hard time. They had to put their babies outside to die.

20 `Moses was born during that time. He was a very fine baby. For three months he was raised in his own father's home.

21 When he was put outside to die, Pharaoh's daughter took him. She raised him as her own son.

22 Moses was taught all the things the Egyptians knew. He knew how to talk and could do great things.

23 `When he was forty years old he decided to visit his own family, the people of Israel.

24 There he saw one of them being hurt by an Egyptian. So he helped him. He fought for him and knocked down the Egyptian.

25 He thought his people would know that God wanted him to make them free. But they did not understand.

26 The next day he saw two of his own people fighting and he wanted to make peace. "You are brothers," he said. "Why are you fighting?"

27 But the one who was fighting his neighbour pushed Moses away. He said, "Who made you our ruler and our judge?

28 Do you want to kill me as you did the Egyptian yesterday?"

29 When Moses heard these words, he left Egypt at once. He lived as a stranger in the country of Midian. While he was there, two sons were born to him.

30 `When forty years had passed, he was in the wilderness near the hill called Sinai. There he saw fire in a small tree. An angel of the Lord was in the fire.

31 Moses looked at it. He was very much surprised. He came closer to look at it better. Then he heard the Lord speak to him.

32 The Lord said, "I am the God of your fathers. I am the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob." Moses began to shake. He was afraid to look.

33 Then the Lord said, "Take off your shoes. You are standing on holy ground.

34 I have looked and seen the trouble my people have in Egypt. I have heard them crying and I have come to make them free. Now come, I will send you to Egypt."

35 `This is the same Moses the people would not accept when they said, "Who made you our ruler and our judge?" This is the one God sent to be their ruler and to make them free when he spoke through the angel in the small tree.

36 It was Moses who led the people out of Egypt. He had done wonderful things and signs there, and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness, for forty years.

37 `This is the same Moses who said, "God will raise up one of your brothers to be a prophet, as he did me. Listen to him."

38 This is the same Moses who was with God's people in the wilderness at the hill called Mount Sinai. He was with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers of long ago . It was he who received the words of life to give to us.

39 `Our fathers would not obey Moses. They did not want him to lead them. They wished they were back in Egypt.

40 They said to Aaron, "Make gods to lead us. We do not know what has happened to this Moses who brought us out of Egypt."

41 They made a young cow at that time and gave sacrifices to this god which was not the true God. They were very happy. What they had made pleased them.

42 `Then God turned away from them. He let them worship the sun, moon, and the many stars in the sky. The prophets of God wrote about it long ago. They said, "You people of Israel, did you sacrifice animals to me forty years in the wilderness?

43 You carried the house of the god called Moloch and the star of the god called Rephan. You made gods of them to worship. I will carry you away to the other side of Babylon."

44 `Our fathers had the tent for the laws of God in the wilderness. It was built the way God showed Moses to make it.

45 Our fathers brought that tent with them when they came to this country. Joshua was their leader. God put aside the people who lived here first. Our fathers kept that tent with them until the time of David.

46 God blessed David who asked God to let him make a better house for Jacob's God.

47 But it was Solomon who built a house for him.

48 But even so, God is above all. He does not live in houses that people make with their hands. The prophet says,

49 "The Lord said, `The sky is the big chair from which I rule. I put my feet on the earth. So then, what kind of house will you build for me? Or where will I rest myself?

50 I have made all these things myself.''

51 `You hard-hearted people! You have hearts and ears like the people who are not Jews. You always fight against the Holy Spirit just as your fathers did long ago.

52 What did your fathers do to the prophets of God? They made a lot of trouble for every one of them. They killed the ones who told that the Right and True One would come. He is the One you gave up to be killed. You are the killers.

53 You received the law given by angels, but you have not kept it.'

54 When the men heard what Stephen said, they were very angry. They made noises with their teeth to show they hated him.

55 But Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit. He looked at the sky and saw the greatness of God. He saw Jesus standing at God's right side.

56 `Look,' he said, `I see the sky open. I see the Son of man standing at God's right hand side.'

57 Then the men shouted. They put their fingers in their ears. All together they ran at Stephen.

58 They put him out of the city and threw stones at him. (Those who had talked against him laid their clothes down by the feet of a young man named Saul.)

59 They kept on throwing stones at Stephen. He spoke to God and said, `Oh, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.'

60 Then he kneeled down and said in a loud voice, `Lord, do not punish them for this wrong thing they are doing,' After he said this, he died.