Acts | Chapter 7

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Read Acts Chapter 7

For a printable version of this study, click HERE

What stands out to you as you read this chapter?

Are there any words or phrases that you feel are key ideas in this chapter?

What other features do you wish you knew more about (culture, religion, customs, etc.) in order to help you understand this chapter?

How do you think this chapter fits in the larger story of Acts and the Bible as a whole?

ACT OUT: How does the Holy Spirit want to use this text in your life, for others or for yourself?

Does it feel strange to you to read Stephen’s long recital of the story of Israel as his defense against the council’s false charges? In a modern court of law, a question like the one Stephen got in Acts 7:1 —are you saying these things you are accused of? — would require one simple answer as a defense: “No!” (Then the lawyers would go to work!) So why the recitation?

Observant commentators have pointed out that Stephen moved from defense to prosecutor in his speech. His purpose for answering as he did was to show the Jewish leaders from their own history how they constantly rejected those whom God sent as redeemers: Moses, David. . . .Jesus. In the wilderness, under Moses’ leadership, with the miraculous presence of God in the tabernacle until the time of David (Acts 7:44-45), then with Solomon and the Temple (Acts 7:46-50), the stubbornness of God’s chosen people caused them to fix their eyes on the wrong things. They valued the physical Temple and Moses as their prophet as symbols of as their national identity more than God’s spiritual covenant with Abraham to bless all nations (Acts 7:32) and the promise of a Greater Moses (Acts 7:37). Jesus fulfilled both the covenant with Abraham and the Greater Moses promise. And they rejected him too (Acts 7:52).

The scene that follows is tragically ironic (Acts 7:54-59). In the martyrdom of Stephen, the ones who accused Stephen of conspiring to destroy the Temple (Acts 6:13-14) literally destroyed the Temple themselves, for Stephen was “full of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 7:55). Glimpsing a vision of Jesus, risen and ascended to God's right hand, Stephen made his dying body an offering, and he became a priest to his accusers, praying for their forgiveness.

Prayer: Jesus, you are the fulfillment of all of God’s promises. Help me to see you and receive all that you are, that as your Temple, the Holy Spirit would fill me to overflow your grace, love and forgiveness to others, in Jesus’ name. Amen

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