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Acts 7-8 Common English Bible (CEB)

The high priest asked, “Are these accusations true?”

Stephen responded, “Brothers and fathers, listen to me. Our glorious God appeared to our ancestor Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he settled in Haran. God told him, ‘Leave your homeland and kin, and go to the land that I will show you.’[a] So Abraham left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After Abraham’s father died, God had him resettle in this land where you now live. God didn’t give him an inheritance here, not even a square foot of land. However, God did promise to give the land as his possession to him and to his descendants, even though Abraham had no child. God put it this way: His descendants will be strangers in a land that belongs to others, who will enslave them and abuse them for four hundred years.[b] And I will condemn the nation they serve as slaves, God said, and afterward they will leave[c] that land and serve me in this place. God gave him the covenant confirmed through circumcision. Accordingly, eight days after Isaac’s birth, Abraham circumcised him. Isaac did the same with Jacob, and Jacob with the twelve patriarchs.

“Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him into slavery in Egypt. God was with him, however, 10 and rescued him from all his troubles. The grace and wisdom he gave Joseph were recognized by Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who appointed him ruler over Egypt and over his whole palace. 11 A famine came upon all Egypt and Canaan, and great hardship came with it. Our ancestors had nothing to eat. 12 When Jacob heard there was grain in Egypt, he sent our ancestors there for the first time. 13 During their second visit, Joseph told his brothers who he was, and Pharaoh learned about Joseph’s family. 14 Joseph sent for his father Jacob and all his relatives—seventy-five in all—and invited them to live with him. 15 So Jacob went down to Egypt, where he and our ancestors died. 16 Their bodies were brought back to Shechem and placed in the tomb that Abraham had purchased for a certain sum of money from Hamor’s children, who lived in Shechem.

17 “When it was time for God to keep the promise he made to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt had greatly expanded. 18 But then another king rose to power over Egypt who didn’t know anything about Joseph.[d] 19 He exploited our people and abused our ancestors. He even forced them to abandon their newly born babies so they would die. 20 That’s when Moses was born. He was highly favored by God, and for three months his parents cared for him in their home. 21 After he was abandoned, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted and cared for him as though he were her own son. 22 Moses learned everything Egyptian wisdom had to offer, and he was a man of powerful words and deeds.

23 “When Moses was 40 years old, he decided to visit his family, the Israelites. 24 He saw one of them being wronged so he came to his rescue and evened the score by killing the Egyptian. 25 He expected his own kin to understand that God was using him to rescue them, but they didn’t. 26 The next day he came upon some Israelites who were caught up in an argument. He tried to make peace between them by saying, ‘You are brothers! Why are you harming each other?’ 27 The one who started the fight against his neighbor pushed Moses aside and said, ‘Who appointed you as our leader and judge? 28 Are you planning to kill me like you killed that Egyptian yesterday?’[e] 29 When Moses heard this, he fled to Midian, where he lived as an immigrant and had two sons.

30 “Forty years later, an angel appeared to Moses in the flame of a burning bush in the wilderness near Mount Sinai. 31 Enthralled by the sight, Moses approached to get a closer look and he heard the Lord’s voice: 32 I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.[f] Trembling with fear, Moses didn’t dare to investigate any further. 33 The Lord continued, ‘Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34 I have clearly seen the oppression my people have experienced in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning. I have come down to rescue them. Come! I am sending you to Egypt.’[g]

35 “This is the same Moses whom they rejected when they asked, ‘Who appointed you as our leader and judge?’ This is the Moses whom God sent as leader and deliverer. God did this with the help of the angel who appeared before him in the bush. 36 This man led them out after he performed wonders and signs in Egypt at the Red Sea and for forty years in the wilderness. 37 This is the Moses who told the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your own people.[h] 38 This is the one who was in the assembly in the wilderness with our ancestors and with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai. He is the one who received life-giving words to give to us. 39 He’s also the one whom our ancestors refused to obey. Instead, they pushed him aside and, in their thoughts and desires, returned to Egypt. 40 They told Aaron, ‘Make us gods that will lead us. As for this Moses who led us out of Egypt, we don’t know what’s happened to him![i] 41 That’s when they made an idol in the shape of a calf, offered a sacrifice to it, and began to celebrate what they had made with their own hands. 42 So God turned away from them and handed them over to worship the stars in the sky, just as it is written in the scroll of the Prophets:

Did you bring sacrifices and offerings to me
    for forty years in the wilderness, house of Israel?
43 No! Instead, you took the tent of Moloch with you,
    and the star of your god Rephan,
    the images that you made in order to worship them.
        Therefore, I will send you far away, farther than Babylon.[j]

44 “The tent of testimony was with our ancestors in the wilderness. Moses built it just as he had been instructed by the one who spoke to him and according to the pattern he had seen. 45 In time, when they had received the tent, our ancestors carried it with them when, under Joshua’s leadership, they took possession of the land from the nations whom God expelled. This tent remained in the land until the time of David. 46 God approved of David, who asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.[k] 47 But it was Solomon who actually built a house for God. 48 However, the Most High doesn’t live in houses built by human hands. As the prophet says,

49 Heaven is my throne,
    and the earth is my footstool.
‘What kind of house will you build for me,’ says the Lord,
    ‘or where is my resting place?
50 Didn’t I make all these things with my own hand?’[l]

51 “You stubborn people! In your thoughts and hearing, you are like those who have had no part in God’s covenant! You continuously set yourself against the Holy Spirit, just like your ancestors did. 52 Was there a single prophet your ancestors didn’t harass? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the righteous one, and you’ve betrayed and murdered him! 53 You received the Law given by angels, but you haven’t kept it.”

54 Once the council members heard these words, they were enraged and began to grind their teeth at Stephen. 55 But Stephen, enabled by the Holy Spirit, stared into heaven and saw God’s majesty and Jesus standing at God’s right side. 56 He exclaimed, “Look! I can see heaven on display and the Human One[m] standing at God’s right side!” 57 At this, they shrieked and covered their ears. Together, they charged at him, 58 threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses placed their coats in the care of a young man named Saul. 59 As they battered him with stones, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, accept my life!” 60 Falling to his knees, he shouted, “Lord, don’t hold this sin against them!” Then he died. Saul was in full agreement with Stephen’s murder.

The church scatters

At that time, the church in Jerusalem began to be subjected to vicious harassment. Everyone except the apostles was scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. Some pious men buried Stephen and deeply grieved over him. Saul began to wreak havoc against the church. Entering one house after another, he would drag off both men and women and throw them into prison.

Philip in Samaria

Those who had been scattered moved on, preaching the good news along the way. Philip went down to a city in Samaria[n] and began to preach Christ to them. The crowds were united by what they heard Philip say and the signs they saw him perform, and they gave him their undivided attention. With loud shrieks, unclean spirits came out of many people, and many who were paralyzed or crippled were healed. There was great rejoicing in that city.

Before Philip’s arrival, a certain man named Simon had practiced sorcery in that city and baffled the people of Samaria. He claimed to be a great person. 10 Everyone, from the least to the greatest, gave him their undivided attention and referred to him as “the power of God called Great.” 11 He had their attention because he had baffled them with sorcery for a long time. 12 After they came to believe Philip, who preached the good news about God’s kingdom and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. 13 Even Simon himself came to believe and was baptized. Afterward, he became one of Philip’s supporters. As he saw firsthand the signs and great miracles that were happening, he was astonished.

14 When word reached the apostles in Jerusalem that Samaria had accepted God’s word, they commissioned Peter and John to go to Samaria. 15 Peter and John went down to Samaria where they prayed that the new believers would receive the Holy Spirit. (16 This was because the Holy Spirit had not yet fallen on any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 17 So Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

18 When Simon perceived that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money. 19 He said, “Give me this authority too so that anyone on whom I lay my hands will receive the Holy Spirit.”

20 Peter responded, “May your money be condemned to hell along with you because you believed you could buy God’s gift with money! 21 You can have no part or share in God’s word because your heart isn’t right with God. 22 Therefore, change your heart and life! Turn from your wickedness! Plead with the Lord in the hope that your wicked intent can be forgiven, 23 for I see that your bitterness has poisoned you and evil has you in chains.”

24 Simon replied, “All of you, please, plead to the Lord for me so that nothing of what you have said will happen to me!” 25 After the apostles had testified and proclaimed the Lord’s word, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the good news to many Samaritan villages along the way.

Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch

26 An angel from the Lord spoke to Philip, “At noon, take[o] the road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert road.) 27 So he did. Meanwhile, an Ethiopian man was on his way home from Jerusalem, where he had come to worship. He was a eunuch and an official responsible for the entire treasury of Candace. (Candace is the title given to the Ethiopian queen.) 28 He was reading the prophet Isaiah while sitting in his carriage. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Approach this carriage and stay with it.”

30 Running up to the carriage, Philip heard the man reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you really understand what you are reading?”

31 The man replied, “Without someone to guide me, how could I?” Then he invited Philip to climb up and sit with him. 32 This was the passage of scripture he was reading:

Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter
    and like a lamb before its shearer is silent
    so he didn’t open his mouth.
33 In his humiliation justice was taken away from him.
    Who can tell the story of his descendants
        because his life was taken from the earth?[p]

34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, about whom does the prophet say this? Is he talking about himself or someone else?” 35 Starting with that passage, Philip proclaimed the good news about Jesus to him. 36 As they went down the road, they came to some water.

The eunuch said, “Look! Water! What would keep me from being baptized?”[q] 38 He ordered that the carriage halt. Both Philip and the eunuch went down to the water, where Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Lord’s Spirit suddenly took Philip away. The eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Philip found himself in Azotus. He traveled through that area, preaching the good news in all the cities until he reached Caesarea.

Footnotes:

  1. Acts 7:3 Gen 12:1
  2. Acts 7:6 Gen 15:13
  3. Acts 7:7 Gen 15:14
  4. Acts 7:18 Exod 1:8
  5. Acts 7:28 Exod 2:14
  6. Acts 7:32 Exod 3:6
  7. Acts 7:34 Exod 3:5, 7
  8. Acts 7:37 Deut 18:15
  9. Acts 7:40 Exod 32:1
  10. Acts 7:43 Amos 5:25-27
  11. Acts 7:46 Critical editions of the Gk New Testament read house of Jacob.
  12. Acts 7:50 Isa 66:1-2
  13. Acts 7:56 Or Son of Man
  14. Acts 8:5 Or the city of Samaria
  15. Acts 8:26 Or travel south along
  16. Acts 8:33 Isa 53:7-8
  17. Acts 8:36 Critical editions of the Gk New Testament do not include 8:37 Philip said to him, “If you believe with all your heart, you can be.” The eunuch answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is God’s Son.”
Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

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