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Seven Leaders for the Church

A lot of people were now becoming followers of the Lord. But some of the ones who spoke Greek started complaining about the ones who spoke Aramaic. They complained that the Greek-speaking widows were not given their share when the food supplies were handed out each day.

The twelve apostles called the whole group of followers together and said, “We should not give up preaching God’s message in order to serve at tables.[a] My friends, choose seven men who are respected and wise and filled with God’s Spirit. We will put them in charge of these things. We can spend our time praying and serving God by preaching.”

This suggestion pleased everyone, and they began by choosing Stephen. He had great faith and was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they chose Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and also Nicolaus, who worshiped with the Jewish people[b] in Antioch. These men were brought to the apostles. Then the apostles prayed and placed their hands on the men to show that they had been chosen to do this work. God’s message spread, and many more people in Jerusalem became followers. Even a large number of priests put their faith in the Lord.

Stephen Is Arrested

God gave Stephen the power to work great miracles and wonders among the people. But some Jews from Cyrene and Alexandria were members of a group who called themselves “Free Men.”[c] They started arguing with Stephen. Some others from Cilicia and Asia also argued with him.

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Footnotes

  1. 6.2 to serve at tables: This may mean either that they were in charge of handing out food to the widows or that they were in charge of the money, since the Greek word “table” may also mean “bank.”
  2. 6.5 worshiped with the Jewish people: This translates the Greek word “proselyte” that means a Gentile who had accepted the Jewish religion.
  3. 6.9 Free Men: A group of Jewish men who had once been slaves, but had been freed.

Stephen answered:

Friends, listen to me. Our glorious God appeared to our ancestor Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he had moved to Haran.

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51 You stubborn and hardheaded people! You are always fighting against the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors did. 52 Is there one prophet that your ancestors didn’t mistreat? They killed the prophets who told about the coming of the One Who Obeys God.[a] And now you have turned against him and killed him. 53 Angels gave you God’s Law, but you still don’t obey it.

Stephen Is Stoned to Death

54 When the council members heard Stephen’s speech, they were angry and furious. 55 But Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit. He looked toward heaven, where he saw our glorious God and Jesus standing at his right side.[b] 56 Then Stephen said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right side of God!”

57 The council members shouted and covered their ears. At once they all attacked Stephen 58 and dragged him out of the city. Then they started throwing stones at him. The men who had brought charges against him put their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.[c]

59 As Stephen was being stoned to death, he called out, “Lord Jesus, please welcome me!” 60 He knelt down and shouted, “Lord, don’t blame them for what they have done.” Then he died.

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Footnotes

  1. 7.52 One Who Obeys God: That is, Jesus.
  2. 7.55 standing at his right side: The “right side” is the place of honor and power. “Standing” may mean that Jesus is welcoming Stephen (see verse 59).
  3. 7.58 Saul: Better known as Paul, who became a famous follower of Jesus.