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Stephen Defends Himself

Then the high priest asked, “Are these things true?”

Stephen said, “Gentlemen, brothers and fathers, listen! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran. God said to him, ‘Leave your land and your relatives and come to the land that I will show you.’[a]

“Then he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After his father died, God had him move from there to this land where you are now living.

“He gave him no inheritance in this land, not even enough to set his foot on. But God promised to give it as a possession to him and to his descendants[b] after him,[c] even though Abraham still had no child. God revealed that his descendants[d] would live as strangers in a foreign country, and that they would be enslaved and mistreated for four hundred years. God added, ‘I will judge the nation that they will serve as slaves, and after that they will leave there and serve me in this place.’[e]

“Then he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. So Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day. Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs.

Stephen Defends Himself

“The patriarchs, filled with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt, but God was with him. 10 God rescued him from all his troubles and granted him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt. And Pharaoh made him governor over Egypt and over his whole palace.

11 “A famine came over all of Egypt and Canaan, causing great suffering, and our fathers found no food. 12 But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our fathers on their first visit. 13 On their second visit, Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to Pharaoh. 14 Then Joseph sent word and invited his father Jacob and all his relatives to come to him, seventy-five people in all. 15 Jacob went down to Egypt, and there he died, he and our fathers. 16 Their bodies were brought back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.

17 “As the time approached that God spoke about in the promise he had made[f] to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt. 18 This continued until another king who knew nothing about Joseph became ruler of Egypt. 19 He took advantage of our people in a cunning way, and he mistreated our fathers by forcing them to get rid of their babies so that they would not survive.[g]

Stephen Defends Himself

20 “At that time, Moses was born, and he was favored by God. For three months he was cared for in his father’s house. 21 After he was placed outside,[h] Pharaoh’s daughter took him in and brought him up as her own son. 22 Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was powerful in his words and actions.

23 “But when he was forty years old, it entered his mind to visit his brothers, the sons of Israel. 24 When he saw one of them being mistreated, he defended him and avenged the oppressed man by striking down the Egyptian. 25 He thought that his brothers would understand that God was giving them deliverance by his hand, but they did not understand. 26 The next day, he came across two of them while they were fighting, and he tried to reconcile them. He said, ‘Men, you are brothers. Why are you harming each other?’ 27 But the one who was harming his neighbor pushed him away, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? 28 Do you want to kill me the same way you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’[i] 29 At this remark, Moses fled and lived as an exile in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons.

30 “After forty years had passed, an angel of the Lord[j] appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flames of a burning bush. 31 When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight. As he went closer to look, the voice of the Lord said, 32 ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of[k] Jacob.’[l] Moses trembled and did not dare to look. 33 Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take your sandals off your feet, because the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34 I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning. I have come down to rescue them. Now come, I will send you to Egypt.’[m]

35 “This is the same Moses they had rejected by saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and judge?’ This is the one whom God sent to be a ruler and deliverer with the help of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36 This is the one who led the people out, as he performed wonders and miraculous signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness for forty years. 37 This is the Moses who said to the people of Israel, ‘God[n] will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers.’[o] 38 This is the one who was in the assembly in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai and with our fathers. He received living messages to give to us, 39 but our fathers refused to obey him. Instead they pushed him away and turned back, in their hearts, to Egypt. 40 They told Aaron, ‘Make gods for us who will go before us. As for this Moses who led us out of the land of Egypt—we do not know what has happened to him.’[p] 41 That was the time when they made a calf, offered a sacrifice to the idol, and were taking delight in the works of their hands.

42 “But God turned away and gave them over to the worship of the heavenly bodies, as it is written in the book of the prophets:

Did you bring me slaughtered animals and sacrifices
forty years in the wilderness, house of Israel?
43 No, you even took up the tent of Moloch
and the star of your god Rephan,
the statues you made to worship.
Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.[q]

Stephen Defends Himself

44 “Our fathers had the Tent of the Testimony in the wilderness. It was just like the model Moses had seen, just as he who spoke to Moses directed him to make it. 45 After our fathers received it from him, they brought it in with Joshua when they took possession of the land from the nations God drove out before our fathers. It was here until the days of David. 46 He found favor in the presence of God and asked that he might obtain a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.[r] 47 But it was Solomon who built a house for him.

48 “However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands, just as the prophet says:

49 Heaven is my throne,
and earth is my footstool.
What sort of house will you build for me? says the Lord,
or what is my resting place?
50 Did not my hand make all these things?[s]

Stephen Condemns the Jewish Rulers

51 “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit! You are doing just what your fathers did. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who prophesied the coming of the Righteous One, and now you have become his betrayers and murderers— 53 you who received the law as transmitted by angels, but did not keep it.”

The Stoning of Stephen

54 When they heard these things, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed up into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 He said, “Look, I see heaven opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

57 But they screamed at the top of their voices, covered their ears, and rushed at him with one purpose in mind. 58 They threw him out of the city and stoned him. The witnesses laid their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul.

59 While they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 60 Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” After he said this, he fell asleep.


  1. Acts 7:3 Genesis 12:1
  2. Acts 7:5 Literally seed
  3. Acts 7:5 Genesis 12:7; 13:15; 17:8; 48:4
  4. Acts 7:6 Literally seed
  5. Acts 7:7 Genesis 15:13-14
  6. Acts 7:17 Some witnesses to the text read sworn.
  7. Acts 7:19 Pharaoh commanded the Israelites to throw their newborn baby boys into the Nile River (Exodus 1:22).
  8. Acts 7:21 Moses was set in a basket by his mother and placed among the reeds of the Nile River (Exodus 2:3).
  9. Acts 7:28 Exodus 2:13-14
  10. Acts 7:30 Some witnesses to the text omit of the Lord.
  11. Acts 7:32 Some witnesses to the text read Isaac and Jacob.
  12. Acts 7:32 Exodus 3:6
  13. Acts 7:34 Exodus 3:5,7,8,10
  14. Acts 7:37 A few witnesses to the text read The Lord your God.
  15. Acts 7:37 Deuteronomy 18:15
  16. Acts 7:40 Exodus 32:1
  17. Acts 7:43 Amos 5:25-27
  18. Acts 7:46 A few witnesses to the text read house of Jacob.
  19. Acts 7:50 Isaiah 66:1-2