Stephen, Deacon and Martyr

Stephen Dies for His Faith in Jesus

Acts 7: 55 - 60

Stephen was the first person to die for his belief in Jesus.

He also had been the first person chosen to care for the widows of the Greek-speaking Jews because of his good reputation in the community.

He became powerful among the early Christians because he was a great teacher and preacher, and because he did miracles when he was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Some self-righteous Jews brought him to the Jewish court, the Sanhedrin, on charges of blasphemy. The elders became angry because he told them they weren't living the good lives God wanted them to, and they decided to stone him to death.

After his death, Peter and the other apostles restricted their preaching only to those Jews who spoke Aramaic. They believed that preaching to Greek-speaking Jews, those Jews whose families had left Jerusalem and had given their children educations in Greek, naming them with Greek names, would bring a split among the early Christians.

Ironically, Peter's own brother Andrew, the second disciple called by Jesus, had a Greek name and spoke Greek to the Greek visitors who came to hear Jesus.

Saul, who became Paul, approved of the stoning and held the coats of the people who killed Stephen. After his conversion, he had a hard time forgiving himself for doing that.

1. What did Stephen see when he looked up into heaven?

[Stephen saw heaven open and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.]

2. What did the other people do when Stephen said those words?

[The other people covered their ears and starting yelling.]

3. What did his enemies do to Stephen?

[They dragged him out of the city and stoned him to death.]

4. Who held the coats of Stephen's enemies?

[Saul, who later became Paul, held their coats.]

5. What was Stephen's last prayer as he was dying?

[Stephen's last prayer was, "Lord, do not hold their sin against them."]

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