The Trial of Stephen

Text: Acts 6:7-15

I.         As the numbers of the disciples grew, it began to attract members of the priesthood.

            A.        This was, perhaps, the greatest insult to the Jewish mind – that a priest would actually leave Judaism for another religion.

            B.        Notice it wasn’t one or two, but a great many of the priests who left.

II.        Stephen was a notable member of the church

            A.        He performed many signs among the people.

            B.        When men from the Synagogue of Freemen rose up to debate Stephen they were utterly unable to defeat his logic and wisdom

                        1.         I gather the Synagogue of Freemen is much like the Catholic’s Jesuit sect, a society of scholars who defend their religion

                        2.         The list of places show that they were mostly composed of non-local Jews.

            C.        Since they were not able to win against Stephen by reason, they began to spread rumors that Stephen said blasphemous things about Moses and God.

                        1.         I Corinthians 3:19-20 - God catches the wise in their own craftiness

                        2.         II Corinthians 10:3-5 - The power of the gospel to wage war

                        3.         This is probably the most common tactic I have seen men use. If you can’t win by reason then attack the character of your opponent.

            D.        They raised a mob against Stephen and he was dragged before the Jewish Council to be tried.

                        1.         False witnesses stood up and charged Stephen of speaking against the temple and the Law.

                        2.         In particular, they stated Stephen said Jesus would destroy the temple and change Jewish law.

                                    a.         Actually both statements are true, though taken out of context.

                                    b.         Jesus did say he would return in judgment against Jerusalem and that the city, along with the temple, would be destroyed (Matthew 23:34-24:2)

                                    c.         Jesus’ death did bring in a new order and law - Hebrews 8:7-9; 9:15-17

            E.        As they looked on Stephen to see his reaction to the charges, they did not see a man cowering in fear. Instead his face appeared to shine like an angel

                        1.         A phrase used to denote wisdom and confidence - II Samuel 14:17; 19:27

                        2.         Stephen was calm and confident

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