- In his conclusion (7:44-53) how does Stephen teach the divine origin and yet the inadequacy of both the Tabernacle or ‘tent of witness’ and the temple or ‘house’ which Solomon built/ What charges does he bring against his accusers?
To what positive truths indicated or implied here ought we to pay attention?
- Consider the likeness between Stephen and his Lord in his life, character, and in his death.
What did this likeness come from?
How can we follow his example?
Cf. 2 Cor.3:18.
- What were the results for the church of Stephen’s witness:
(a) in suffering (see8:1, 3 ), and
(d) in expansion (see 8:4, 5; 11:19 , 20)?
Notice what God can do through one man fully yielded to his service.
Stephen’s speech seeks to show:
(a) That God’s presence with his people is not limited to a particular place or building (verses 2, 9, 10, 30-34, 38, 44-49); and
(b) That far from overthrowing Moses, Christ is the promised prophet like Moses of whom Moses himself spoke (verse 37).
- God intended Joseph (verses 9-16) and Moses (verses 20-43) to deliver his people from bondage. Notice:
(a) The places in which they lived,
(b) The work they had to do,
(c) The treatment they received from their brethren, and
(d) The results they achieved.
In what ways do they foreshadow the work of the Lord Jesus Christ?
- The tragedy of Israel’s spiritual blindness is described in verses 25 and 35-43.
(a) How did it manifest itself first in thought, will and desire (verse 39) (b) And finally in action (verses 40-43)?
(c) What was its penalty?
Does God still deal with his people like this?
- How did the apostles deal with the incipient troubles mentioned in 6:1?
What three results followed for the widow, the Seven, and the Twelve?
What lessons can we learn from their handling of the situation?
- Notice three things about Stephen’s life and ministry (6:5-15):
(a) the outstanding features of his life (verses 5, 8);
(b) the nature of the persecution against him (verses 11-13);
(c) the charges laid against him (verses 13, 14).Cf. mark 14:57, 58 and Acts 21:27, 28.
What do you consider to be the indispensable qualifications for, and the possible consequences of, faithful witness for Christ?
- 6:1. ‘Hellenists’ denote Jews who had lived abroad and spoke Greek ‘Hebrews’ were Jews of Palestine who spoke the Jewish language.
- Stephen’s ministry marked a vital stage in the growth of the early church, ‘first drove a wedge between Judaism and Christianity’ (see Acts [ TNTC], pp. 128-150).
- In spite of persecution and warning (cf. 4:17-210 the apostles continue to witness. Consider the different parts played by the angel (verse 19), the Holy Spirit (verses 20, 32), and Gamaliel (verses 34-40) in making this possible.
Do you know something of the same constraint – to speak to others about Christ?
- Consider the four different reactions of the religious opposition (verses 17, 24, 26, 33).
Finally they beat the apostles. Cf. 1 Pet. 2:20, 21. Are you afraid to suffer through faithful witness?
In this insight into the fellowship of the early church the sincere self-sacrifice of Barnabas is compared with the hypocrisy and greed of Ananias and Sapphira.
- In 4:32-37 what essential of fellowship are demonstrated?
See one result of them in verse 33.
- What made the sin of Ananias and Sapphira so grave and what led to it?
Why was such a divine judgment necessary?
What result did it produce?
- What example can you follow from the action of Barnabas and what danger can you avoid from the attitude of Ananias and Sapphira?
- Verses 1-22. Persecution.
The leaders of organized religion now openly persecute the disciples. What caused the arrest (verse 3) and the release (verse 21) of Peter and John?
What verbal and visible evidence did Peter offer in their defence?
Does fear of men sometimes make us silent when we ought to speak?
- Verses 23-31. Prayer. Going back to their fellow Christians, the disciples pray.
Trace the threefold reason (verses 24-28), request (verses 29, 30) and result (verse 31) found in their prayer. Could you pray with such boldness and willingness in a similar tough situation?
- What twofold offer is made in verse 38, and on what condition?
- What features marked the lives of these new believers and of the early church according to verse 42-47?
How many of these are true in your experience?