Key Bible Verses
Acts 6:1-15, 7:54-60
Who Was He?
Stephen was the first Christian martyr. He had been chosen as a deacon in the Jerusalem church to help administer the distribution of bread to the widows. He also saw God work through him in miraculous ways and this led opponents of the gospel to seize him and have him stoned to death. In the space of these two chapters, we are told three times that Stephen was full of the Spirit. He is clearly an example to us of what a spirit-filled life looks like!
How Did the Spirit Work In Him?
1.Humility to serve
In just a few short verses, Stephen is described as ‘of good repute’, ‘full of the Spirit and of wisdom’, ‘full of faith and of the Holy Spirit’ and ‘full of grace and power’. He was clearly somebody who God was doing something remarkable in, and yet the first introduction we get to Stephen is not an invitation to join the apostolic team, but being selected to fulfil a practical administrative role. Stephen had no qualms serving behind the scenes in order to advance the gospel and meet the needs of others.
2. Wonders and words
In verse 8 we are told that Stephen did great wonders and signs among the people. This is mentioned in a low-key way and is an example of a man living a supernatural life in his everyday circumstances. When some from outside the church began to dispute with him, he added words to his wonders and spoke with the powerful wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
3. Grace in suffering
When Stephen experienced opposition for his faith, he held fast to the gospel with courage and grace that is a model for us whatever form the opposition we face might take. As the council brought their false charges against him, they saw somebody who basked in God’s presence to such an extent that his face glowed like that of an angel. When he was questioned he presented truth with compelling logic and unapologetic bluntness. When he was brought to die he was given a clear vision of Jesus and he prayed for those who persecuted him, just as Jesus had done before him.