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Sunday: Persecutor of Christians — 21 Comments

  1. There is a comment that Stephen was a Greek speaking Jew. A Hellenist is one definition for a Greek speaking Jew. However the original complaint in Acts 6:1 was against the Hebrew women that the Hellenist were getting unfair food rations. Perhaps it would be a real stretch to say that Stephen was a Hellenist and participated in this debate as a Hellenist.

    • Hello Paul, just an observation, you said "the original complaint in Acts 6:1 was against the Hebrew women that the Hellenist were getting unfair food rations," but I believe its the opposite. The verse reads, "Acts 6:1 NKJV Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution." The complains were against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, please take a look again.

      • Alvin, I believe you are right. I stopped where it said there arose a murmuring against the Hebrews. I read it in my mind that there was a murmuring against the Hebrews because they the Hebrews were complaining. Thank you for helping me get it right. Interesting there are some other comments on this list regarding how we are wrong when we are certain that we were right. This is a good example Alvin.

  2. The possibility of being wrong is an admitted fact called a definite maybe. Do we even always know what we believe? We often rely on others because it is a majority opinion. When we have concrete facts that we can believe, this is what we use as evidence.

    • I am not sure just where your thought fits into the lesson hear Paul, but here is something to think about:

      Belief is something that has to be tested as we gain experience. It is something that grows and develops. It is not a set of static facts that be learned and recited, but rather an experience that is lived.

  3. just like Saul we also might be so confident and overzealous that whatever we are doing is right. there is need to allow God to wrk through us, to teach us what is true and right. we are not to allow our knowledge surpass our the wisdom and the holy scriptures. may our zeal be channeled in the right direction.

  4. It's hard to slow down when we think we're right and others are wrong in spiritual matters.

    We can pay attention to what our zealous beliefs lead us to do towards those who don't agree with us. Is the Spirit of Christ seen in how we respond to those who don't accept or agree with our beliefs?

    It's important, I believe, to ask God to give us discernment when it comes to our true motivations for what we're doing. Could it be possible that pride or a need for value, or attention, maybe even a need for God's approbation is really moving us with intensity?

    Only the Spirit can reveal the truth and redirect us if we need to be redirected and if we're willing.

    • I like your question: "Is the Spirit of Christ seen in how we respond to those who don't accept or agree with our beliefs?" All too often when we respond to those with different beliefs to us, we act with self interest rather than with a spirit of fellow seekers. Our attitude is often the biggest hurdle to communication with others.

  5. Hello All, I just need a little more clarification on this statement "Stephen is of particular significance because his preaching and martyrdom appear to have had a profound influence on Saul of Tarsus".


    • Hi Michelle Jacks, in Acts of the Apostles p. 101,explains it
      The martyrdom of Stephen made a deep impression upon all who witnessed it. The memory of the signet of God upon his face; his words, which touched the very souls of those who heard them, remained in the minds of the beholders, and testified to the truth of that which he had proclaimed. His death was a sore trial to the church, but it resulted in the conviction of Saul, who could not efface from his memory the faith and constancy of the martyr, and the glory that had rested on his countenance
      At the scene of Stephen's trial and death, Saul had seemed to be imbued with a frenzied zeal. Afterward he was angered by his own secret conviction that Stephen had been honored by God at the very time when he was dishonored

      Hope this makes it clearer

  6. "and he probably believed it was his task to help God bring that day about"
    This sounds familiar. Abram, Sarai and Hagar come to mind. Humanity's track record of "helping God out" isn't that great.
    Perhaps the lesson here for us is this: if our understanding of Scripture requires us to help God out (as in Saul's case, defending his vision of the Messiah), it's time for us to take another look at God's Word and see where we went wrong.
    Make no mistake, God has a work for us to do. He is gracious to include us in the work of saving souls - in spite of ourselves. But there is a huge difference between serving God and "having to help God out."

    • Thank you Sharon there certainly is a big difference, In my past experience I've learned now to serve God our creator rather than to try to help him out on my terms.

      • I can relate, I have a friend who asked me, How do you not worry about your son?
        I told her, I prayed, God take my son, he's yours, you gave him to me as a gift, i took him to church every Sabbath, he knows right from wrong, I raised him to "know God" what he does at the age of 28 is on him! I cut "the strings" washed my hands of him.....Yes I pray everyday, there is a song my Grandmother would sing to me " Little Feet Be careful were you lead me to,,,,anything for Jesus only let me do" that is my prayer for my son. we must cut the string so we are no longer hanging on....Let God do his work, stop pulling on the string....

  7. MichellJacks, Sauls' Influence on Stephen was changed twice. First when the angry mob, who by the way were terrible liars with an agenda to placate the Priest and Jewish leadership. Saul was a definite determined part in the martyrdom of Stephen. Saul and the Damascus experience, now Paul. did i80 degree change. I believe Paul had a very difficult time accepting forgiveness for his part in Stephens death. We are told in some of Pauls' writings that there is forgiveness available to all. That's us.

  8. When Jesus said, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do," here JESUS actually wrote out A CHECK OF FORGIVENESS for every human soul with each person's name on it. But, unless each person does their part in taking that check to JESUS' BANK OF FORGIVENESS and sign it and CASH IT IN THAT BANK, he or she will never benefit from JESUS' FORGIVENESS.

  9. They shall put you out of the synagogues, and the hour will even come when whosoever kills you will think that he does God service. John 16:2.

    • This passage described the circumstances that led to Steven's stoning. The synagogue was the meeeting place of jews with connections to Egypt and Africa. The "Libertines" refers to freed men who had been slaves. It is thought that quite possibly Steven had been a member of this group. (We need to remember that a synagogue was more than a church. It was a meeting place and often a school with a library where a community would focus on for their daily social interaction.)

      Obviously they were quite angry at Steven for what he had said and the passage cites their grievances. They decided to take Steven to the ruling council and as often happens in these cases they took what Steven had said and exaggerated it to the extreme extent. (A technique frequently used now-a-days in trying to destroy someone else's argument.)

      I suspect that the members of the synagogue, given their background of coming from backgrounds outside Palestine, were probably over defensive of Judaism, hence their reaction.

  10. The most interesting observation is that Jesus and when the disciples had come to understand the faith never forced anyone to accept their beliefs. Isn,t it possible that the over zealousness to force others to accept our/your faith might be a sign that you are likely to be wrong and relying on force to convert people?

  11. Saul was a product of his environment and times: proudly nationalistic, a Pharisee of Pharisees, and an intolerant bigot violently opposed to 'Jesus-worshipping heretics' and the Gentile occupation of his homeland. Yet God pursued him and changed him into a disciple for Christ. God's grace is truly amazing!

  12. In the lesson above it reads in part....quote:Read Acts 6:9-15. What charges were brought against Stephen? What do these charges remind you of? (See also Matt. 26:59-61.)
    The charges brought against Stephen remind me of the charges frequently brought against our church, particularly in its early years, but in a contrasting way. Ironically, E G White made this charge...I paraphrase...we teach the law , the law, until we are as dry as the hills of Gilboa...unquote. She continued I believe to instruct us as a church to place less focus on the law, and more upon Christ, precisely the message that Stephen was accused of and what brought such offence to the Pharisees, including Paul. This instruction was amplified by Jones and Waggoner in 1888 I believe. A lesson we could well do in remembering today.


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