Acts 6:1-15; 7:54-60
The outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit in Jerusalem had stirred the whole city and in just a few months the new church had grown to the point where the Jewish leaders remarked that these people had “filled Jerusalem with their doctrine.” When God works, Satan seeks to oppose! At issue was the miraculous resurrection of Jesus Christ: If Jesus had risen, then the Jewish rulers had crucified the Son of God, their Messiah. They—the religious leaders of their time—were not about to admit to having murdered the Son of God! Because of this conflict, the Apostles had been imprisoned and warned not to teach or preach in the Name of Jesus. About this time, Stephen appears on the scene.
- Give a short analysis of Stephen’s character.
- Why did the Jews of the synagogue of the Libertines, Cyrenians, and Alexandrians charge Stephen with “blasphemous words” in Acts 6:11,13, and 14?
- Look back at your characterization of Stephen in question 1, and at the Scriptures in our text which brought out his attributes. What part did these attributes play in Stephen’s ability to withstand persecution? Could he have withstood without them? Explain your answer.
- Stephen’s God-given wisdom did not keep him out of trouble in witnessing for Jesus. When we can foresee difficulties or persecution arising from our testimony, what should we do?
- Why would some think Stephen did not use “wisdom” in his stinging condemnation of his listeners in chapter 7, verses 51-53? Is the course he took in this situation always appropriate? Why or why not?
- Name several possible reactions to conviction for sin. In our text, how does this relate to persecution?
- Paraphrase Matthew 10:39, placing yourself in the verse.
- In Matthew 5:11, what are the three words which give us the clue to receiving the blessing of God with regard to persecution?