Acts 7:1-37 The high priest asked Steven if the accusations against him were true. Steven, filled with the Holy Spirit, preached to the council. Steven rehashes the Jewish history starting with Abraham. God promises through Abraham an inheritance through Isaac, then Jacob, and the Jacob’s 12 sons who would be enslaved in Egypt for 430 years. God then raised up a prophet, Moses, who would deliver them from Egyptian slavery. God spoke to Moses through the burning bush and appointment Moses to lead His people out of Egypt through many signs and wonders, through the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years. Steven emphasizes to the council that it was this Moses that spoke of Jesus when he said, “God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.”
Acts 7:38-50 God gave Moses the living oracles to give to the Jewish people (The Law), which the Jews refused to obey. They made a golden calf and worshiped it instead of God. Thus began Israel’s long history of rejecting her God-sent deliverers. God punished those that disobeyed Him. Moses made the Tabernacle after the pattern in Heaven. They brought the Tabernacle with them, led by Joshua into the Promised Land. The Tabernacle remained with them until the time of King David, and then his son, Solomon, who then replaced the Tabernacle with the Temple. God reminded Solomon that the Most High does not dwell in houses made with hands, for Heaven is God’s throne and earth is His footstool.
Notes: Israel’s error was in confining God to the temple. Further, Stephen suggested that neither the tabernacle nor the temple were intended to last forever. Both pointed to something greater that was to come.
Acts 7:51-53 Steven was basically answering the accusation about the destruction of the Temple, showing that ultimately it is the temple in our hearts where God must reign. Stephen’s point is that God is greater than the temple, and thus the Jewish leaders were guilty of blaspheming by confining God to it. Steven reminds them how their ancestors killed the prophets who announced the coming of God’s Son, Jesus. Steven claimed that those in the council were no better than their ancestors who murdered the prophets, for those in the council killed Jesus, the Son of God, the One Moses and the former prophets prophesied would one day come. The climax of Stephen’s sermon indicted the Jewish leaders for rejecting God in the same way that their ancestors had rejected him in the OT.
Acts 7:54-60 Steven’s speech angered the priests in the council. But Steven, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw a vision of the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. Steven told the priests his vision. This was the last straw. They cast Steven out of the city and stoned him to death. The stoning was orchestrated by a priest named, Saul, who we will later know as the Apostle Paul. He watched over the people’s outer garments as they stoned Steven. Just before Steven died, he asked the Lord to forgive those who stoned him, asked the Lord Jesus to receive his spirit, and fell asleep (died).