Acts 7:51-53 The Voice (VOICE)
As Stephen recounts how God has worked with the Jews in spite of their faltering fidelity, his speech up to this point sounds like any good synagogue sermon. In the stories of Abraham, Joseph, and Moses, he narrates the history of God’s work of salvation among the Jewish people in the midst of their repeated struggle with unfaithfulness and idolatry. However, it is one thing for his audience to agree that idolatry was a problem in the past and another when they are charged with the accusation of the same idolatry in the present. According to Stephen, those who reject Jesus are following the same path as the people who rejected Moses to follow idols. Such a strong message strikes a nerve, and Stephen becomes the first martyr of the church because of it.
Stephen: 51 You stubborn, stiff-necked people! Sure, you are physically Jews, but you are no different from outsiders in your hearts and ears! You are just like your ancestors, constantly fighting against the Holy Spirit. 52 Didn’t your ancestors persecute the prophets? First, they killed those prophets who predicted the coming of the Just One; and now, you have betrayed and murdered the Just One Himself! 53 Yes, you received the law as given by heavenly messengers, but you haven’t kept the law which you received.