Friday, November 25, 2011
Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Acts. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses and encourages you through this material. Stay strong. Live in the Spirit. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming…
Take a few minutes to pray and savor chapter 7 of the book of Acts. Read it with the thought in mind that this is the first display of the power of the Holy Spirit working through man – aside from Christ, that is. Imagine what the Spirit can do through you if you let Him! Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…
7:1-53 – Stephen delivers a clear and concise speech beginning with Abraham that was designed to convict the listeners of their sins. This led to his execution. He is giving the Sanhedrin a lesson of the history they have obviously forgotten.
7:51-53 – Stephen took an offensive rather than a defensive posture at his trial.
7:54-60 – Stephen met earthly circumstances with heavenly responses.
“St. Stephen suffered the next in order. His death was occasioned by the faithful manner in which he preached the Gospel to the betrayers and murderers of Christ. To such a degree of madness were they excited, that they cast him out of the city and stoned him to death. The time when he suffered is generally supposed to have been at the passover which succeeded to that of our Lord's crucifixion, and to the era of his ascension, in the following spring.
“Upon this a great persecution was raised against all who professed their belief in Christ as the Messiah, or as a prophet. We are immediately told by St. Luke, that "there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem;" and that "they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles."
“About two thousand Christians, with Nicanor, one of the seven deacons, suffered martyrdom during the "persecution that arose about Stephen."” (Fox’s Book of Martyrs)
7:55 – Stephen saw God’s glory and Christ at God’s side before he was executed because he was full of the Holy Spirit.
7:58 – The mob stoned Stephen, but the Sanhedrin didn’t stop them.
Saul, an eye-witness, may have told this account to Luke, the author.
7:59-60 – forgiveness.
7:59 – “receive my spirit” is based on Psalm 31:5, a prayer Jewish children would say at bedtime.
7:60 – fell asleep – died.
• The book of Acts teaches us much about what the Holy Spirit is capable of doing through a mortal life. What have you learned about how He wants to work through you today? What will you do to give up a bit of control to Him?
• What attributes of God do you see in this book?
• What verse of scripture seemed to be God speaking directly to you? What is He teaching you in these verses? How does He want you to respond?