54 When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, 56 and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
Verses 54-60 relate to Stephen’s martyrdom.
When they heard these things they were cut to the heart,
Israel’s representatives were seen to be what they were—apostates.
and they gnashed at him with their teeth.
They ground their teeth with rage against Stephen. This goon squad was calloused against God’s messenger, as was their history.
But he [Stephen],
Luke now contrasted Jewish attitudes toward Stephen and the preacher’s perspective toward them.
being full of the Holy Spirit,
The Holy Spirit filled Stephen. The word “being” indicates that Stephen was in a state of being consistently filled with the Spirit. He remained under the control of the Spirit during a time of severe duress for himself.
gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God,
God gave Stephen, a Spirit-filled believer, a vision of heaven and the glory of God (1 Pe 4:14). Stephen did not see the unqualified glory of God, but only the glory that he could bear as a finite human being.
and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,
The vision also included Jesus standing at the right hand of God. He saw the resurrected and ascended Jesus. Jesus is normally seated in heaven (Ps 110:1; Ro 8:34; Col 3:1; He 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Pe 3:22), but here He stood to possibly welcome Stephen into glory.
and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
Stephen shared his vision with those who would listen to him—the exalted Son of Man and His status in heaven. The title “Son of Man” triggered violence by those who heard it because it made a direct connection between the Father and His Son, whom the Jews denied. The title speaks of the promised Messiah. Jesus said similar words before the Sanhedrin (Lu 22:69).
Jesus as “seated” refers to His completed redemption (He 10:12; cf. He 9).
Christianity is Christocentric.
When the Sanhedrin put Jesus on trial, the Lord prophesied that the Father would seat Him at His right hand (Mt 26:64; Mk 14:62; Lu 22:69). Stephen gave testimony to that prophecy in our passage. Jesus’ prediction was fulfilled. He fulfilled the purpose of the Temple and its sacrifices, removing the need for both. Everything about Christianity centers on the person and work of Christ.