All we know of
Stephen is found in Acts of the Apostles, chapters Six and Seven. It is enough to tell us what kind
of man he was:
time, as the number of disciples continued to grow, the Hellenist (Greek-speaking) Christians
complained about the Hebrew-speaking Christians, saying that their widows were being neglected in
the daily distribution. So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said, “It
is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table. Brothers, select from among you
seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, whereas
we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” The proposal was acceptable to
the whole community, so they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit... (Acts
that Stephen was a man filled with grace and power, who worked great wonders among the people.
Certain Jews, members of the Synagogue of Roman Freedmen, debated with Stephen but proved no match
for the wisdom and spirit with which he spoke. They persuaded others to make the charge of blasphemy
against him. He was seized and carried before the Sanhedrin.
In his speech, Stephen recalled God’s guidance through
Israel’s history, as well as Israel’s idolatry and disobedience. He then claimed that his
persecutors were showing this same spirit. “[Y]ou always oppose the holy Spirit; you are just like
your ancestors” (Acts 7:51b).
speech brought anger from the crowd. “But [Stephen], filled with the holy Spirit, looked up intently
to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said,
‘Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God....’ They
threw him out of the city, and began to stone him.... As they were stoning Stephen, he called out,
‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.... Lord, do not hold this sin against them’” (Acts 7:55-56, 58a, 59,