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Stephen’s Speech

The high priest asked Stephen, “Are they telling the truth about you?”

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. God told him, “Leave your country and your relatives and go to a land that I will show you.” Then Abraham left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran.

After his father died, Abraham came and settled in this land where you now live. God didn’t give him any part of it, not even a square foot. But God did promise to give it to him and his family forever, even though Abraham didn’t have any children. God said that Abraham’s descendants would live for a while in a foreign land. There they would be slaves and would be mistreated four hundred years. But he also said, “I will punish the nation that makes them slaves. Then later they will come and worship me in this place.”

God said to Abraham, “Every son in each family must be circumcised to show that you have kept your agreement with me.” So when Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him. Later, Isaac circumcised his son Jacob, and Jacob circumcised his twelve sons. These men were our ancestors.

Joseph was also one of our famous ancestors. His brothers were jealous of him and sold him as a slave to be taken to Egypt. But God was with him 10 and rescued him from all his troubles. God made him so wise that the Egyptian king Pharaoh[a] thought highly of him. The king even made Joseph governor over Egypt and put him in charge of everything he owned.

11 Everywhere in Egypt and Canaan the grain crops failed. There was terrible suffering, and our ancestors could not find enough to eat. 12 But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our ancestors there for the first time. 13 It was on their second trip that Joseph told his brothers who he was, and Pharaoh learned about Joseph’s family.

14 Joseph sent for his father and his relatives. In all, there were seventy-five of them. 15 His father went to Egypt and died there, just as our ancestors did. 16 Later their bodies were taken back to Shechem and placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought from the sons of Hamor.

17 Finally, the time came for God to do what he had promised Abraham. By then the number of our people in Egypt had greatly increased. 18 Another king was ruling Egypt, and he didn’t know anything about Joseph. 19 He tricked our ancestors and was cruel to them. He even made them leave their babies outside, so they would die.

20 During this time Moses was born. He was a very beautiful child, and for three months his parents took care of him in their home. 21 Then when they were forced to leave him outside, the king’s daughter found him and raised him as her own son. 22 Moses was given the best education in Egypt. He was a strong man and a powerful speaker.

23 When Moses was forty years old, he wanted to help the Israelites because they were his own people. 24 One day he saw an Egyptian mistreating one of them. So he rescued the man and killed the Egyptian. 25 Moses thought the rest of his people would realize that God was going to use him to set them free. But they didn’t understand.

26 The next day Moses saw two of his own people fighting, and he tried to make them stop. He said, “Men, you are both Israelites. Why are you so cruel to each other?”

27 But the man who had started the fight pushed Moses aside and asked, “Who made you our ruler and judge? 28 Are you going to kill me, just as you killed that Egyptian yesterday?” 29 When Moses heard this, he ran away to live in the country of Midian. His two sons were born there.

30 Forty years later, an angel appeared to Moses from a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. 31 Moses was surprised by what he saw. He went closer to get a better look, and the Lord said, 32 “I am the God who was worshiped by your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Moses started shaking all over and didn’t dare to look at the bush.

33 The Lord said to him, “Take off your sandals. The place where you are standing is holy. 34 With my own eyes I have seen the suffering of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groans and have come down to rescue them. Now I am sending you back to Egypt.”

35 This was the same Moses that the people rejected by saying, “Who made you our leader and judge?” God’s angel had spoken to Moses from the bush. And God had even sent the angel to help Moses rescue the people and be their leader.

36 In Egypt and at the Red Sea[b] and in the desert, Moses rescued the people by working miracles and wonders for forty years. 37 Moses is the one who told the people of Israel, “God will choose one of your people to be a prophet, just as he chose me.” 38 Moses brought our people together in the desert, and the angel spoke to him on Mount Sinai. There he was given these life-giving words to pass on to us. 39 But our ancestors refused to obey Moses. They rejected him and wanted to go back to Egypt.

40 The people said to Aaron, “Make some gods to lead us! Moses led us out of Egypt, but we don’t know what’s happened to him now.” 41 Then they made an idol in the shape of a calf. They offered sacrifices to the idol and were pleased with what they had done.

42 God turned his back on his people and left them. Then they worshiped the stars in the sky, just as it says in the Book of the Prophets, “People of Israel, you didn’t offer sacrifices and offerings to me during those forty years in the desert. 43 Instead, you carried the tent where the god Molech is worshiped, and you took along the star of your god Rephan. You made those idols and worshiped them. So now I will have you carried off beyond Babylonia.”

44 The tent where our ancestors worshiped God was with them in the desert. This was the same tent that God had commanded Moses to make. And it was made like the model that Moses had seen. 45 Later it was given to our ancestors, and they took it with them when they went with Joshua. They carried the tent along as they took over the land from those people that God had chased out for them. Our ancestors used this tent until the time of King David. 46 He pleased God and asked him if he could build a house of worship for the people[c] of Israel. 47 And it was finally King Solomon who built a house for God.[d]

48 But the Most High God doesn’t live in houses made by humans. It is just as the prophet said, when he spoke for the Lord,

49 “Heaven is my throne,
and the earth
    is my footstool.
What kind of house
    will you build for me?
In what place will I rest?
50     I have made everything.”

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.[e] 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.[f] 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.[g]

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.

1-2 Saul approved the stoning of Stephen. Some faithful followers of the Lord buried Stephen and mourned very much for him.

Saul Makes Trouble for the Church

At that time the church in Jerusalem suffered terribly. All of the Lord’s followers, except the apostles, were scattered everywhere in Judea and Samaria. Saul started making a lot of trouble for the church. He went from house to house, arresting men and women and putting them in jail.

The Good News Is Preached in Samaria

The Lord’s followers who had been scattered went from place to place, telling the good news. Philip went to the city of Samaria and told the people about Christ. They crowded around Philip because they were eager to hear what he was saying and to see him work miracles. Many people with evil spirits were healed, and the spirits went out of them with a shout. A lot of crippled and lame people were also healed. Everyone in that city was very glad because of what was happening.

For some time a man named Simon had lived in the city of Samaria and had amazed the people. He practiced witchcraft and claimed to be somebody great. 10 Everyone, rich and poor, crowded around him. They said, “This man is the power of God called ‘The Great Power.’”

11 For a long time, Simon had used witchcraft to amaze the people, and they kept crowding around him. 12 But when they believed what Philip was saying about God’s kingdom and about the name of Jesus Christ, they were all baptized. 13 Even Simon believed and was baptized. He stayed close to Philip, because he marveled at all the miracles and wonders.

14 The apostles in Jerusalem heard that some people in Samaria had accepted God’s message, and they sent Peter and John. 15 When the two apostles arrived, they prayed that the people would be given the Holy Spirit. 16 Before this, the Holy Spirit had not been given to anyone in Samaria, though some of them had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Peter and John then placed their hands on everyone who had faith in the Lord, and they were given the Holy Spirit.

18 Simon noticed that the Spirit was given only when the apostles placed their hands on the people. So he brought money 19 and said to Peter and John, “Let me have this power too! Then anyone I place my hands on will also be given the Holy Spirit.”

20 Peter said to him, “You and your money will both end up in hell if you think you can buy God’s gift! 21 You don’t have any part in this, and God sees that your heart isn’t right. 22 Get rid of these evil thoughts and ask God to forgive you. 23 I can see that you are jealous and bound by your evil ways.”

24 Simon said, “Please pray to the Lord, so that what you said won’t happen to me.”

25 After Peter and John had preached about the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem. On their way they told the good news in many villages of Samaria.

Philip and an Ethiopian Official

26 The Lord’s angel said to Philip, “Go south[h] along the desert road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza.”[i] 27 So Philip left.

An important Ethiopian official happened to be going along that road in his chariot. He was the chief treasurer for Candace, the Queen of Ethiopia. The official had gone to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was now on his way home. He was sitting in his chariot, reading the book of the prophet Isaiah.

29 The Spirit told Philip to catch up with the chariot. 30 Philip ran up close and heard the man reading aloud from the book of Isaiah. Philip asked him, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

31 The official answered, “How can I understand unless someone helps me?” He then invited Philip to come up and sit beside him.

32 The man was reading the passage that said,

“He was led like a sheep
    on its way to be killed.
He was silent as a lamb
whose wool
    is being cut off,
and he did not say
    a word.
33 He was treated like a nobody
and did not receive
    a fair trial.
How can he have children,
if his life
    is snatched away?”

34 The official said to Philip, “Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or about someone else?” 35 So Philip began at this place in the Scriptures and explained the good news about Jesus.

36-37 As they were going along the road, they came to a place where there was some water. The official said, “Look! Here is some water. Why can’t I be baptized?”[j] 38 He ordered the chariot to stop. Then they both went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.

39 After they had come out of the water, the Lord’s Spirit took Philip away. The official never saw him again, but he was very happy as he went on his way.

40 Philip later appeared in Azotus. He went from town to town, all the way to Caesarea, telling people about Jesus.

Footnotes

  1. 7.10 Pharaoh: A Hebrew word sometimes used for the title of the King of Egypt.
  2. 7.36 Red Sea: This name comes from the Bible of the early Christians, a translation made into Greek about 200 B.C. It refers to the body of water that the Israelites crossed and was one of the marshes or fresh water lakes near the eastern part of the Nile Delta, where they lived and where the towns of Exodus 13.17—14.9 were located.
  3. 7.46 the people: Some manuscripts have “God.”
  4. 7.47 God: Or “the people.”
  5. 7.52 One Who Obeys God: That is, Jesus.
  6. 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).
  7. 7.58 Saul: Better known as Paul, who became a famous follower of Jesus.
  8. 8.26 Go south: Or “About noon go.”
  9. 8.26 the desert road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza: Or “the road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza in the desert.”
  10. 8.36,37 Why can’t I be baptized: Some manuscripts add, “Philip replied, ‘You can, if you believe with all your heart.’ The official answered, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’”

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