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Bobby Stafford Stephen's Defense (Acts 7:1-60) Lesson 19       

The Book of Acts

Stephenís Defense

Introduction:

Stephen is on trial before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish Supreme Court.  They are determined to find fault with him regardless.  He responds with an excellent overview of Jewish history.  His purpose was to show that the Jews who accused Stephen were guilty of the same thing as were their ancestors. They had rejected Jesus as Godís Son and killed Him.  Their ancestors had also rebelled against God and His Word.

Text: Acts 7:1-60

Body:

A History of the Jewish People (Verses 1-53)

I.  The History of Abraham (Verses 1-8)

Abraham was the first ancestor of the Jewish people to whom was given a promise about their descendents.  Stephen shows his respect for both God and Abraham.  He reminds them of the origin of the covenant of circumcision which was of great importance to the Jews.

II.  The History of Joseph (Verses 9-16)

God needed someone in Egypt to save His people from famine.  That person was Joseph.  Here is evidence of Godís providential care for His people.

III.  The History of Moses and Israel in Egypt (Verses 17-36)

Stephen, by inspiration, proclaims that the time had drawn near for the fulfillment of the promises to Abraham.  This is not something for the future!  Moses was raised and matured in Egypt.  Moses wanted to help the Israelites, but instead they rejected him.  This is Stephenís main point in his discourse.  He had been accused of blaspheming Moses and God, (Acts 6:11) ďThen they secretly induced men to say, ĎWe have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.í Ē NKJV but his discussion shows great respect for both. 

IV.  The History of Israelís Rebellion against Moses (Verses 37-43)

Stephen reminds his Jewish audience that Moses had predicted the rising up of another prophet from their midst.  This prophet was Jesus.  His work and teaching were not against Moses, but in fulfillment of Moses prophecies!  The Israelites refused to obey Moses and rebelled against him.  Stephen was driving home the point that their ancestors had time after time, rejected their leaders.  This began with Moses.  During their history they had rebelled against Godís leaders and turned to false gods.  (Amos 5) Amos 5:27 ďTherefore I will send you into captivity beyond Damascus,í Says the Lord, whose name is the God of hosts.Ē NKJV  Their captivity in Babylon was due to their rebelling against God.

V.  The History of Godís Dwelling Place (Verses 44-53)

Moses had provided the tabernacle [Godís dwelling place] for Israel.  His successor brought it into the Promised Land and then Solomon built the Temple [the new dwelling place of God].  Stephen had been accused of blaspheming the temple but Stephen shows his respect for it as part of Godís plan.  God could not be limited to a single place and Stephenís listeners should not put their trust in the temple, but in God.  Stephen then finished his defense in a very powerful way by charging the Jews with resisting Godís Holy Spirit, killing Jesus the Righteous One, and not keeping the Law.

A History of the Death of Stephen (Verses 54-60)

There were two possible outcomes: Repent or Reject.  They were cut to the heart; they were enraged and gnashed their teeth at him!  But Stephen gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God.  Also, Jesus was standing at the Fatherís right hand.  The Jews rushed him, grabbed him, and stoned him to death.  They had no legal right to do this!  Stephen expected God to receive his spirit.  He also showed a true spirit of forgiveness.  But his prayer did not remove their sin.

Conclusion:

Let us remember that our duty is to call the world to repentance.  Some will open their hearts and obey while others will close their ears and reject the message. 

Bobby Stafford 
August 23, 2015 [Evening} 
Acts:  Lesson 19  Acts 7:1-60
 

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