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57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; 58 and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

 

Verses 57-60 set forth Stephen’s death. He died at the hands of religious leaders, as did the prophets and the Lord.

7:57

Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at [rushed] him with one accord;

The wild mob attacked Stephen as a group, screaming as they rushed him because they believed he committed blasphemy by putting Jesus at the right hand of the Father. They also saw the implication of Stephen’s message on them–they were guilty of denying and killing their Messiah.

7:58

and they cast him out of the city and stoned him.

The mob stoned Stephen to death outside the city limits, the punishment for blasphemy under the Mosaic law.

And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young [young adult] man named Saul.

Ironically, they laid their clothes at the feet of Saul, who became Paul, the man who wrote half of the New Testament. As “Saul” in his unregenerate state, he approved of Stephen’s stoning (Acts 8:1).

7:59

And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

Stephen prays for his enemies while the mob stoned him. Jesus did the same (Lu 23:34, 46). Interestingly, Stephen asked the resurrected Jesus to receive his spirit. He expected Jesus to receive him momentarily upon death (2 Co 5:8; Php 1:23).

7:60

Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Stephen then knelt and prayed a prayer to forgive those who stoned him. Having prayed his last prayer, he died (the meaning of falling asleep). Stephen was the first martyr of the church economy.

PRINCIPLE:

Persecution of the church stands in continuity with Jesus and the prophets of old.

APPLICATION:

It is often said that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” That has happened in China today and among Muslims.

Those who reject Christ today sense no remorse; their hearts are calloused toward the gospel. They buy into the many false messages of a pluralistic society. They silence the truth of the gospel by many voices in the culture.

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