Multiplication & Martyrdom

Acts 5:12-8:4

512By the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. They were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch. 13None of the rest dared to join them, however the people honored them. 14More believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women. 15They even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on cots and mattresses, so that as Peter came by, at the least his shadow might overshadow some of them. 16Multitudes also came together from the cities around Jerusalem, bringing sick people, and those who were tormented by unclean spirits: and they were all healed.
17But the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy, 18and laid hands on the apostles, and put them in public custody. 19But an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors by night, and brought them out, and said,

AN ANGEL

20Go stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.

21When they heard this, they entered into the temple about daybreak, and taught. But the high priest came, and those who were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. 22But the officers who came didn’t find them in the prison. They returned and reported,

THE TEMPLE GUARDS

23We found the prison shut and locked, and the guards standing before the doors, but when we opened them, we found no one inside!

24Now when the high priest, the captain of the temple, and the chief priests heard these words, they were very perplexed about them and what might become of this. 25One came and told them,

SOMEONE

Behold, the men whom you put in prison are in the temple, standing and teaching the people.

26Then the captain went with the officers, and brought them without violence, for they were afraid that the people might stone them.
27When they had brought them, they set them before the council. The high priest questioned them, 28saying,

ANNAS THE HIGH PRIEST

Didn’t we strictly command you not to teach in this name? Behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and intend to bring this man’s blood on us.

29But Peter and the apostles answered,

THE TWELVE APOSTLES

We must obey God rather than men. 30The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you killed, hanging him on a tree. 31God exalted him with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins. 32We are His witnesses of these things; and so also is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.

33But they, when they heard this, were cut to the heart, and determined to kill them. 34But one stood up in the council, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, honored by all the people, and commanded to put the apostles out for a little while. 35He said to them,

GAMALIEL

You men of Israel, be careful concerning these men, what you are about to do. 36For before these days Theudas rose up, making himself out to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were dispersed, and came to nothing. 37After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the enrollment, and drew away some people after him. He also perished, and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered abroad. 38Now I tell you, withdraw from these men, and leave them alone. For if this counsel or this work is of men, it will be overthrown. 39But if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow it, and you would be found even to be fighting against God!

40They agreed with him. Summoning the apostles, they beat them and commanded them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41They therefore departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for Jesus’ name.
42Every day, in the temple and at home, they never stopped teaching and preaching Jesus, the Christ.
61Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, a complaint arose from the Hellenists* against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily service. 2The twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said,

THE TWELVE APOSTLES

It is not appropriate for us to forsake the word of God and serve tables. 3Therefore select from among you, brothers, seven men of good report, full of the Holy Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. 4But we will continue steadfastly in prayer and in the ministry of the word.

5These words pleased the whole multitude. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch; 6whom they set before the apostles. When they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. 7The word of God increased and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem exceedingly. A great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
8Stephen, full of faith and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. 9But some of those who were of the synagogue called “The Libertines”, and of the Cyrenians, of the Alexandrians, and of those of Cilicia and Asia arose, disputing with Stephen. 10They weren’t able to withstand the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. 11Then they secretly induced men to say,

SOME FALSE WITNESSES

We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.

12They stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes, and came against him and seized him, and brought him in to the council, 13and set up false witnesses who said,

SOME FALSE WITNESSES

This man never stops speaking blasphemous words against this holy place and the law. 14For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place, and will change the customs which Moses delivered to us.

15All who sat in the council, fastening their eyes on him, saw his face like it was the face of an angel.
71The high priest said,

ANNAS THE HIGH PRIEST

Are these things so?

2He said,

STEPHEN

Brothers and fathers, listen. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, 3and said to him, ‘Get out of your land, and from your relatives, and come into a land which I will show you.’* 4Then he came out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and lived in Haran. From there, when his father was dead, God moved him into this land, where you are now living. 5He gave him no inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on. He promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his offspring* after him, when he still had no child. 6God spoke in this way: that his offspring* would live as aliens in a strange land, and that they would be enslaved and mistreated for four hundred years. 7‘I will judge the nation to which they will be in bondage,’ said God, ‘and after that will they come out, and serve me in this place.’* 8He gave him the covenant of circumcision. So Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day. Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs.
9The patriarchs, moved with jealousy against Joseph, sold him into Egypt. God was with him, 10and delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt. He made him governor over Egypt and all his house. 11Now a famine came over all the land of Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction. Our fathers found no food. 12But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent out our fathers the first time. 13On the second time Joseph was made known to his brothers, and Joseph’s race was revealed to Pharaoh. 14Joseph sent, and summoned Jacob, his father, and all his relatives, seventy-five souls. 15Jacob went down into Egypt, and he died, himself and our fathers, 16and they were brought back to Shechem, and laid in the tomb that Abraham bought for a price in silver from the children of Hamor of Shechem.
17But as the time of the promise came close which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, 18until there arose a different king, who didn’t know Joseph. 19The same took advantage of our race, and mistreated our fathers, and forced them to throw out their babies, so that they wouldn’t stay alive. 20At that time Moses was born, and was exceedingly handsome. He was nourished three months in his father’s house. 21When he was thrown out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him up, and reared him as her own son. 22Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. He was mighty in his words and works. 23But when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brothers,* the children of Israel. 24Seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him who was oppressed, striking the Egyptian. 25He supposed that his brothers understood that God, by his hand, was giving them deliverance; but they didn’t understand.
26The day following, he appeared to them as they fought, and urged them to be at peace again, saying, ‘Sirs, you are brothers. Why do you wrong one another?’ 27But he who did his neighbor wrong pushed him away, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? 28Do you want to kill me, as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’* 29Moses fled at this saying, and became a stranger in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons.
30When forty years were fulfilled, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush. 31When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight. As he came close to see, a voice of the Lord came to him, 32‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’* Moses trembled, and dared not look. 33The Lord said to him, ‘Take your sandals off of your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. 34I have surely seen the affliction of my people that is in Egypt, and have heard their groaning. I have come down to deliver them. Now come, I will send you into Egypt.’*
35This Moses, whom they refused, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’—God has sent him as both a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36This man led them out, having worked wonders and signs in Egypt, in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness for forty years. 37This is that Moses, who said to the children of Israel, ‘The Lord our God will raise up a prophet for you from among your brothers, like me.’** 38This is he who was in the assembly in the wilderness with the angel that spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, who received living revelations to give to us, 39to whom our fathers wouldn’t be obedient, but rejected him, and turned back in their hearts to Egypt, 40saying to Aaron, ‘Make us gods that will go before us, for as for this Moses, who led us out of the land of Egypt, we don’t know what has become of him.’* 41They made a calf in those days, and brought a sacrifice to the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their hands. 42But God turned, and gave them up to serve the army of the sky,* as it is written in the book of the prophets,
‘Did you offer to me slain animals and sacrifices
forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel?
43You took up the tabernacle of Moloch,
the star of your god Rephan,
the figures which you made to worship.
I will carry you away* beyond Babylon.’
44Our fathers had the tabernacle of the testimony in the wilderness, even as he who spoke to Moses commanded him to make it according to the pattern that he had seen; 45which also our fathers, in their turn, brought in with Joshua when they entered into the possession of the nations, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers, to the days of David, 46who found favor in the sight of God, and asked to find a habitation for the God of Jacob. 47But Solomon built him a house. 48However, the Most High doesn’t dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says,
49‘heaven is my throne,
and the earth a footstool for my feet.
What kind of house will you build me?’ says the Lord;
‘or what is the place of my rest?
50Didn’t my hand make all these things?’*
51You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit! As your fathers did, so you do. 52Which of the prophets didn’t your fathers persecute? They killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One, of whom you have now become betrayers and murderers. 53You received the law as it was ordained by angels, and didn’t keep it!

54Now when they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. 55But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56and said,

STEPHEN

Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!

57But they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and rushed at him with one accord. 58They threw him out of the city, and stoned him. The witnesses placed their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59They stoned Stephen as he called out, saying,

STEPHEN

Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!

60He kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice,

STEPHEN

Lord, don’t hold this sin against them!

When he had said this, he fell asleep.
81Saul was consenting to his death. A great persecution arose against the assembly which was in Jerusalem in that day. They were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except for the apostles. 2Devout men buried Stephen, and lamented greatly over him. 3But Saul ravaged the assembly, entering into every house, and dragged both men and women off to prison. 4Therefore those who were scattered abroad went around preaching the word.

*Acts 6:1 The Hellenists used Greek language and culture, even though they were also of Hebrew descent.
*Acts 7:3 Genesis 12:1
*Acts 7:5 or, seed
*Acts 7:6 or, seed
*Acts 7:7 Genesis 15:13-14
*Acts 7:23 The word for “brothers” here and where the context allows may be also correctly translated “brothers and sisters” or “siblings.”
*Acts 7:28 Exodus 2:14
*Acts 7:32 Exodus 3:6
*Acts 7:34 Exodus 3:5,7-8,10
*Acts 7:37 TR adds “You shall listen to him.”
*Acts 7:37 Deuteronomy 18:15
*Acts 7:40 Exodus 32:1
*Acts 7:42 This idiom could also be translated “host of heaven”, or “angelic beings”, or “heavenly bodies.”
*Acts 7:43 Amos 5:25-27
*Acts 7:50 Isaiah 66:1-2

COMPARISON, CONTRAST & REPETITION

  • To compare is to associate two or more similar persons, ideas, or situations. Can you describe any comparisons made by the author of this portion of Scripture? Why do you think that the author would have made this comparison?
  • To contrast is to put side by side two or more distinct persons, ideas, or situations. Can you describe any contrasts made by the author of this story portion of Scripture? Why do you think that the author would have made this contrast?
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World English Bible (WEB)
a Public Domain Modern English translation
of the Holy Bible.

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