The high priest asked, “Are these things true?”
Stephen said, “Brothers
and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham
when he lived in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran,and said to him, ‘Leave your country and your relatives, and come into the land which I am
going to show you.’
4 Then he left the land of the Chaldeans and lived in
Haran. From there, after his father died, God moved him to this land where
you are now living. 5 But He gave him no inheritance in it, not even a square
foot of land. Yet, even when he had no children, He promised that He would
give it to him as his possession, and to his descendants.
6 God told him that his
descendants would live as aliens in a foreign land, and that they would be
enslaved and mistreated for four hundred years.
7 God said, ‘I Myself will
punish the nation that held them in bondage, and after that they will come out
and serve Me in this place.’
 8 Then He gave Abraham the covenant of
circumcision. So Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him
on the eighth day, and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob became
the father of the twelve patriarchs. 9 “The patriarchs were jealous of Joseph and sold him into Egypt. But God
was with him,
10 and delivered him out of all his trials. He gave him favor and
wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him governor
over Egypt and all his household. 11 “Then a famine came over all Egypt and Canaan, bringing great hardship, and
our fathers could not find food.
12 So when Jacob heard that there was grain in
Egypt, he sent our fathers there the first time. 13 On their second visit, Joseph
let his brothers know who he was, and Pharaoh found out about Joseph’s
14 Joseph sent and invited Jacob his father and all his relatives to come
— seventy-five persons in all. 15 So Jacob went down to Egypt, and he and our
fathers died there.
16 They were brought back to Shechem and laid in the tomb
which Abraham had bought for a certain amount of money from the sons of Hamor in
17 “As the time for the fulfillment of the promise
which God had pledged to Abraham came
close, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt. 18 There arose another king
over Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph.
19 This king took advantage of
our nation and mistreated our fathers, forcing them to put their newborn babies outdoors so
they would not survive. 20 At that time Moses was born. He was beautiful to
God, and he was raised for three months in his father’s house. 21 When he
was set outdoors, Pharaoh’s daughter took him in and brought him up as her
own son. 22 So Moses was instructed in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was powerful in words and actions.
23 But when he was about forty years old,
it occurred to him to visit his brothers, the Israelites. 24 When he saw one of them being mistreated, Moses defended him and avenged the mistreated person by striking down the Egyptian. 25 He thought his people would
understand that God was giving them deliverance through him, but they did
26 The next day, Moses found two Israelites fighting. He tried to
make peace between them by saying, ‘Men, you are brothers! Why are you
hurting one another?’ 27 But the one who was mistreating his neighbor pushed
Moses away and said, ‘Who made you a ruler and judge over us? 28 Do you
intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ 29 When he heard this
Moses fled and became a resident alien in the land of Midian, where he became
the father of two sons. 30 “Forty years later, an angel
appeared to him in the desert of
Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning bush. 31 When Moses saw it, he
was astonished at the sight. He went closer to look, and the voice of the Lord came
to him: 32 ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and
Jacob.’ Moses trembled and did not dare to look. 33 But the Lord said to him,
‘Take off your sandals, because the place where you are standing is holy
ground. 34 I have indeed seen the oppression of My people in Egypt, and I
have heard their groaning. I have come down to rescue them. Now come, and
I will send you to Egypt.’ 35 “This Moses whom they refused by saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and
judge?’ is the one whom God sent as both a ruler and a deliverer, through the angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36 This Moses led them out,
performing wonders and miraculous signs
in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the
desert for forty years. 37 Moses is the one who said to the Israelites, ‘God will put on the scene of history a prophet like me from among your
brothers.’ 38 Moses is the one who was in the assembly in the desert
with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai. He was with our fathers,
and he received living oracles to give to you. 39 Our fathers refused to obey
him, but they pushed him away and in their hearts turned back to Egypt. 40 They
said to Aaron, ‘Make gods for us, who will go before us. As for this Moses
who led us out of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to
him.’ 41 At that time they made a calf, and brought a sacrifice to the idol, and celebrated what they had made with their own hands. 42 But God turned away
from them and gave them over to worship the host of heaven. As it is written
in the book of the prophets: ‘It was not to Me that you offered animals and
sacrifices for those forty years in the desert, was it, O house of Israel? 43 You carried the tabernacle of Moloch and the star of the god Rephan, the
figures which you made to worship. But I will send you away beyond Babylon.’ 44 “Our fathers had the tabernacle of testimony in the wilderness, just as the One
who spoke to Moses commanded him to make it according to the pattern he
had seen. 45 Our fathers, in their turn, brought it in with Joshua when they
captured the land from the nations which God drove out
before them, until the time of David. 46 David found favor in God’s sight and
requested that he might build a house for the God of Jacob. 47 But it was
Solomon who built a house for Him. 48 However the Most High does not live
in buildings made by human hands. As the prophet said, 49 ‘Heaven is My
throne, and the earth is My footstool. What kind of house will you build for
Me?’ says the Lord, ‘or what place is there where I can rest? 50 Did not My
hand make all these things?’ 51 “You stubborn people, who are uncircumcised in hearts and hearing! You
continuously resist the holy spirit, just as your fathers did! 52 Which of the
prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who foretold the
coming of the righteous one, and now you have betrayed and murdered him. 53 You received the Law as ordained through angels, but you did not obey it.” 54 When they heard this, they became infuriated and gnashed their teeth at
him in rage. 55 But Stephen was full of holy spirit, and he looked intently up to heaven
and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
 56 He said, “Look, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at
the right hand of God!”
57 But they shouted and covered their ears. All
together they rushed at him,
58 drove him out of the city, and began stoning
him. The witnesses placed their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.
59 They continued to stone Stephen as he called out, “lord Jesus, receive my
 60 Then he fell to his knees and cried out, “lord, do not hold this sin
against them!” When he had said this, he fell asleep in death.
This is the model of the Christian faith. We give up the things closest to us for the only cause
which ultimately counts: inheriting the land/Kingdom when Jesus returns (Mt. 5:5; Ps. 37: 9, 11, 18,
29). Abraham will gain his inheritance in that future resurrection with all the saints of all the ages.
This pattern of events will happen again when the nation of Israel will be severely punished by
Gentile nations, during the future period of the Great Tribulation (Mt. 24:21; Rev. 7:14). See for the
details Zech. 13 and 14. From that time of unprecedented suffering a remnant of Israel will return to the
land, and Jesus will govern them together with the then converted nations of Egypt and Assyria (Isa.
19:22-25). Zech 12:3, LXX describes the severe trouble to be experienced in Israel, and that suffering
will be relieved by the return of Jesus. Jesus alludes to Zech. 12:3, LXX in Luke 21:24 and again in
Rev. 11:2. A temple will be desecrated and Jerusalem severely punished by invasion.
Governorship is promised to believers in the Kingdom to come. Judges and Kings in the OT
are likewise a foreshadowing of the future rulership of the saints with Jesus in the Kingdom (1 Cor. 6:2;
Dan. 7:14, 18, 22, 27; Rev. 3:21; 2:26; 5:10). We are to learn not to make the mistakes of the kings who failed, and emulate those who did well.
This of course was not the ultimate fulfillment of the promise that Abraham would inherit the
land/Kingdom forever. This will happen at the resurrection when Jesus returns (Acts 3:21, etc).
This was evidently an angel and not an imagined pre-human Jesus. If Jesus had been alive in
the OT he would not qualify as Messiah, who must be a descendant of, not older than David! Heb. 1:5,
13 explicitly and lucidly opposes the idea that the Messiah was ever an angel! The Jehovah’s
Witnesses’ idea that Jesus was Michael the archangel is utterly impossible on this argument from
Hebrews (and much else). Dan. 10:13 designates Michael as “one of the chief angel-princes,” and Jesus
is absolutely not one in a class exactly like him.
Jesus as the “new Moses” was also accredited by the amazing signs and wonders he performed.
Jesus is also judge and savior of the world (17:30-31).
Another key reference to the most important Ps. 110:1, the umbrella text over the whole NT,
defining the position and status of Jesus as Messiah seated beside the One God of Israel and of Jesus.
The adoni, my lord, of Ps. 110:1 is defined as a human being, Son of Man. This proves that the Hebrew
text is precisely right and the “my lord” of the NT correctly renders the original Hebrew.
This is nothing to do with an “immortal spirit” living on after Stephen died. Stephen merely
committed himself to the care of Jesus. David also committed his spirit to God, when he was not dying
(Ps. 31:5)! So committing the spirit is not remotely to do with passing on or “passing away” conscious
to another world at death. Stephen expected to be raised from the sleep of death in the future
resurrection of Jesus at his Second Coming to bring in his Kingdom on the earth.
Death is spoken of throughout the Bible as unconscious sleep. Ecc. 9:5, 10: “The dead know
nothing at all…and there is no activity in Sheol [“gravedom,” the world of all of the dead] where you
are going.” Jesus spoke of the dead Lazarus as sleeping and he intended to wake him up from death (Jn.
11:11, 14). This simple view of death was in post-biblical times replaced by the pagan notion of an
immortal soul which could not die and thus must continue to remain conscious either in heaven or a
torturing hell. Stephen committed himself to God as he died, and he (Stephen, not just his body!) fell
asleep in the sleep of death (Ps. 13:3). Resurrection of the whole person is the only way back from
death to life (Dan. 12:2, Lk. 14:14; 1 Cor. 15:23).