Stephen now gets his turn to speak (Acts 7). He has heard the lies they told but he doesn’t go after them at the personal level he goes to their heart. He peels back the layers to reveal what is truly in their hearts. He doesn’t pull any punches, “you stiff-necked, uncircumcised in your heart and ears, you always oppose the Holy Spirit, you are just like your ancestors.” They didn’t want to hear they were like the uncircumcised as those were the heathens and they wanted nothing to do with heathens and when he compared them to their ancestors it struck a chord as no one wants to be compared to their father or their mother. We want to believe that we are nothing like them, even though we know we are more like them that anyone wants to admit.
He asks them a question, “Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They put to death any of them that foretold the coming of the righteous one. You know the law but you did not observe it.” They knew they had put to death Jesus the only righteous one.
Their anger boils over. But Stephen filled with the Holy Spirit looked to heaven and saw the glory of God. Jesus was standing at the right hand of God. The religious leaders cover their ears and rushed at him and threw him out of the city where they began to stone him. The men took their cloaks and they laid them at the feet of Saul.
Jesus stood in heaven and watched Stephen be stoned and yet his death was peaceful. The Bible says he fell asleep. Even in his death he did not want God to hold this against them. Stephen spoke the truth with boldness. The message of Jesus will not be stopped. Stephen’s death will bring about the conversion of Saul who becomes the great missionary of the church to bring the message of Jesus to the Gentiles.
If we could do a spiritual genealogy all the way back to Bible times, we would end up back at Paul the missionary who brought the Gospel to the known world at that time and his conversion goes back to Stephen. So if we could go back that far, we would all have Paul and Stephen in our spiritual genealogical tree.