Act 7:1 Then said the high priest, Are these things so? COMMENT: Stephen needed no invitation to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that is obviously what he intended to do if he could get their attention. Stephen gives a historical message to the rulers of the people reminding them along the way of some of the backslidings of their nation, then he too introduces Christ to them through the prophecy of Moses and their responsibility for his murder. But the greatest provocation of all is his statement that they the rulers, teachers, examples and enforcers of the law were not keeping the law. This proves to be an open invitation by Stephen for them to martyr him, and the rulers in a rage do execute him according to the practices of the Jewish nation by stoning him. There were no appeals to give them time for their tempers to cool, no long waits on death row; but a mob of angry Jewish rulers murdered their holy Jewish brother. This forever branded them in the Ages to come while Stephen set the example so few Christians understand today; and that is the need to die a perfect death to be a martyr. And this can only be done in the power of the Spirit by those few who attain to the anointing of Christ.

Act 7:2 And he said, "Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelled in Charran,

Act 7:3 And said unto him, "Get thee out of thy country, and from your kindred, and come into the land which I shall show you.

Act 7:4 Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelled in Charran: and from there, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein you now dwell.

Act 7:5 And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not [so much as] to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when [as yet] he had no child.

Act 7:6 And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat [them] evil four hundred years.

Act 7:7 And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place.

Act 7:8 And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so [Abraham] begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac [begat] Jacob; and Jacob [begat] the twelve patriarchs.

Act 7:9 And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him,

Act 7:10 And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.

Act 7:11 Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance.

Act 7:12 But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first.

Act 7:13 And at the second [time] Joseph was made known to his brethren; and Joseph's kindred was made known unto Pharaoh.

Act 7:14 Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to [him], and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls.

Act 7:15 So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers,

Act 7:16 And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor [the father] of Sychem.

Act 7:17 But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt,

Act 7:18 Till another king arose, which knew not Joseph.

Act 7:19 The same dealt subtilly with our kindred, and evil entreated our fathers, so that they cast out their young children, to the end they might not live.

Act 7:20 In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father's house three months:

Act 7:21 And when he was cast out, Pharaoh's daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son.

Act 7:22 And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. COMMENT: How little we know of Moses in Egypt from the Scriptures. But Flavious Josephus tells of him in THE WARS OF THE JEWS, saying Moses was the General who defended Egypt against a great army of Ethiopians. The Jewish take on Josephus is that he was a traitor to them; but the truth is he believed in Jesus Christ; and was a man of truth who turned the Light on Israel's sins in the 1st Century when the wrath of God came upon them to disperse them into all the world and take away their land from them. Josephus may be the greatest of all historians from antiquity. Now we return to Stephen's message as he spoke angelically to the Council of Moses.

Act 7:23 "And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. COMMENT: You will notice the life of Moses moved in segments of forty years. At the end of his first forty years he tries to make himself the deliverer of the Jews from their bondage in Egypt but they have no ears to hear in those days. He flees Egypt and forty years later is visited by the angel of the Lord in the burning bush who sends him back to Egypt to rescue Israel. Then at the end of forty years of wandering in the Sinai desert, Moses climbs the mountain to depart from this world. Now Stephen continues to tell of Moses.

Act 7:24 "And seeing one [of them] suffer wrong, he defended [him], and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian:

Act 7:25 For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.

Act 7:26 And the next day he showed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, you are brethren; why do you wrong one to another?

Act 7:27 But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made you a ruler and a judge over us?

Act 7:28 Will you kill me, as you did the Egyptian yesterday? COMMENT: Moses perceived in the trecherous answer from the Jewish man that he was no longer safe in Egypt. Instead of being grateful for deliverance, the Jewish man openly despised Moses and for that reason he knew his secret would not remain a secret from the authrities for very long.

Act 7:29 Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons.

Act 7:30 And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush.

Act 7:31 When Moses saw [it], he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold [it], the voice of the Lord came unto him,

Act 7:32 [Saying], I [am] the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and dared not behold. COMMENT: Moses at first was attracted to the what appeared to be a phenomenon, but as soon as the voice came out of the bush introducing himself as God; Moses being a mighty humble and wise man knew better than to stare out of curiosity any further at the sight.

Act 7:33 Then said the Lord to him, "Put off your shoes from your feet: for the place where you are standing is holy ground.

Act 7:34 "I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt. COMMENT: In the Old Testament the angel of the Lord is not identified as Christ. The New Testament writers do make the identification for us. Get to know the Scriptures better and you will get to know Christ better and will develop a greater appreciation for him. Stephen went on to say to the council:

Act 7:35 "This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made you a ruler and a judge? the same did God send [to be] a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush.

Act 7:36 He brought them out, after he showed signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years.

Act 7:37 This is that Moses, who said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall you hear. COMMENT: Stephen is quoting the prophecy of Moses pointing to Christ as Israel's Messiah.

Act 7:38 This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and [with] our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us: COMMENT: Here in his message to the Council, Stephen is quoted as identifying Christ as the angel of the Lord in the New Testament looking back to the visitation Moses received in Mount Sinai at the burning bush.

Act 7:39 To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust [him] from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, COMMENT: Stephen is showing the Council of seventy we know as the Sanhedrin that not only did Israel openly disobey Moses but also Christ Jesus whom Moses foretold would come. Now Stephen shows the wickedness of Israel in rejecting Moses as the people,....

Act 7:40 Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for [as for] this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we know not what is become of him. COMMENT: Israel gave Aaron gold jewelry for him to make them gods of gold to worship while Moses tarried on the mountain top with God.

Act 7:41 And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.

Act 7:42 Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O you house of Israel, have you offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices forty years in the wilderness? COMMENT: The host of heaven in the Old Testament are the same as "the powers of the Prince of the air" in the New Testament. When 33% of the angels in heaven rebelled with the Devil, he in the form of a red dragon gathered them up in his tail and cast them down to the earth where they inhabit the atmosphere above the world population like vultures looking for opportunities to turn good to evil and evil into wickedness and in doing so; they inhabit false religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam to receive the worship of their adherents. When Israel made golden idols to worship. The question of whether Israel offered animal sacrifices forty years in the desert seems somewhat mute since the Sinai desert was not exactly grazing land for the good of raising animals. But Israel backslid again in the Sinai as you might expect; looking for some god to rescue them out of that burning hot furnance of a desert.

Act 7:43 Yea, you took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which you made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon. COMMENT: Moloch is mentioned as far back in the Scriptures as Leviticus. Apparently Israel had an inclination to carry the tabernacle of Moloch. (Amos 5;26) Israel also made idols to worship of Remphan.

Act 7:44 Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen.

Act 7:45 Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Joshua into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David; COMMENT: The name of Jesus refers to Joshua, the Prophet who led Israel into the promised land.

Act 7:46 Who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob.

Act 7:47 But Solomon built him an house. COMMENT: The glorious temple of Solomon which was located on the temple Mount where the Mosque of Omar, the Muslim temple stands as of this writing; but not for long.

Act 7:48 Howbeit the most High dwells not in temples made with hands; as says the prophet,

Act 7:49 "Heaven [is] my throne, and earth [is] my footstool: what house will you build me? says the Lord: or what [is] the place of my rest?

Act 7:50 "Has not my hand made all these things?

Act 7:51 You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers [did], so [do] you. COMMENT: Stephen's case against the Council was very clearly made as he summed up the history of Israel. To call them uncircumcised in heart and ears was in provocative language they could not fail to understand, for the Israelities required their boys to be circumcised soon after childbirth. So the lack of circumcision of their hearts and ears showed them to be in violation of the laws of Moses.

And once again, New Testament language helps us understand the Old Testament, for the "Holy Ghost" is not mentioned in those words in the Old Testament. Now, Stephen continues to heap up accusations in truth against the Sanhedrin sitting in judgment over him, saying to them.

Act 7:52 "Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom you have been now the betrayers and murderers:

Act 7:53 "Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept [it]. COMMENT: Here is the final insult to the pride of the rulers. Stephen has made his case clear that they have betrayed and killed the Lord whom Moses promised, and have not kept the law of Moses they say they represent to the people. They have no choice but to execute him or repent.

Act 7:54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with [their] teeth. COMMENT: We don't have the quotes of what they said to Stephen as he stood there before the Council, for they would be too vulgar and foul to print in the holy Book; so we are told "they gnashed on him with their teeth" which means they were snarling words at him in a rage, and not just one of them; for the Council had become an angry mob.

Act 7:55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, COMMENT: Remember, Stephen came into the Council chambers in the shining Light of the anointing in Christ Jesus. Now he is seeing into the unseen realm of the Spirit. It is of great importance to realize his "CONVERSATION WAS IN HEAVEN" this whole time he was preaching to the Sanhedrin. The vision of Christ standing on the right hand of God the Father in his throne means he was with Stephen in this rebuke of the Sanhedrin who announced,...

Act 7:56 And said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. COMMENT: The murderers of Christ found this report even more intolerable than the Scriptural message Stephen had just delivered into their ears in the power of the Spirit. Stephen was telling them the man they turned over to Pilate to be crucified was alive! He was standing at the right hand of God! But they couldn't see in the unseen! Their positions as rulers of the people were threatened, their prestige, their authority, their wealth!

Act 7:57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, COMMENT: Here we see the Sanhedrin turns into a raging mob.

Act 7:58 And cast [him] out of the city, and stoned [him]: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. COMMENT: Saul who became the Apostle Paul was there. He was ranked in those days high among the Pharisees and according to the custom of Israel in executions by stonings, they "laid down their clothes" at his feet. This made him the identifier of the witnesses against Stephen were anyone to inquire concerning the execution which had degenerated into murder.

Act 7:59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon [God], and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. COMMENT: Stephen called upon God, saying "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." In doing so, he leaves a final witness behind in this world showing all who have ears to hear, that Christ is God.

Act 7:60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." And when he had said this, he fell asleep. COMMENT: Here is the power of the Spirit in a dying Saint. We see a similar occurrence in the deaths of Jacob and of Moses. Jacob speaking with strength on the day of his death. Moses marching up to a mountain top to die. Stephen crying out with a loud voice in his Martyr's prayer, which was Christ in him praying through him to Himself saying, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." We see this hard to comprehend precept in Saint Paul's writings where he said: "I AM CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST: NEVETHELESS I LIVE; YET NOT I, BUT CHRIST LIVES IN ME:" (Galatians 2:20a) It was Christ in Stephen preaching to the Sanhedrin and while Stephen was dying, it was Christ in him praying, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge."

Too many presume dying for their faith in the Lord is martyrdom, but the word "martyr" in the Greek was attributed to the Apostles on the Mount of Olives when Christ last spoke to them saying they would be witnesses (martyr or martus in the Greek) to all the world. (Acts 1:8) Martyrdom is not a death anyone other than a Saint full of the Holy Ghost and faith like Stephen could expect to do. For those who can receive it; it was Christ in Stephen interceding to God for Stephen's murderers and you shall see after the Resurrection, that Christ does not pray in vain.

This is "THE GREAT MYSTERY OF GODLINESS" then, that you as a believer can study to show yourself approved of God to go on to Sainthood, and when death of self is attained so Christ can preach, and praise and pray through you; then you too can avail yourself of that perfect death where you like Stephen would be of one mind with Christ to pray for his murderers. And in martyrdom we are told the enmity within us in the flesh toward God is slain, (Ephsians 2:15/16) so in the world to come; martyrs no longer have to endure flesh contrary to the Spirit as we do in this world in spiritual warfare both interiorly and exteriorly.

Now we will read of the persecution that arose in Jerusalem against the movement of God there as might be expected once the Sanhedrin became the roaring Lion seeking whom he may devour!