After being filled with the Holy Spirit, Christians were called to be witnesses of the gospel message and spread the good news throughout the world.
The word “witnesses” in Greek is μάρτυρες, martyres, which is where we get the word martyr. I don’t know about you, but I don’t associate the word “witness” with the potential for death. However, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, a martyr is “a person who is killed because of religious or other beliefs.”
Enter Stephen, the first ultimate witness for Jesus Christ. We read his story in Acts 6 and 7. He is referred to as a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit and chosen as a man devoted to prayer and the ministry of the word.
Our modern-day church came into being by a few sold out believers who were obedient and faithful to God.
We never know what God will accomplish through us and our obedience to Him.
I love what verse 7 says: “And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.”
Stephen was preaching to the diaspora Jews. These were Jews who were living outside of Palestine. The scripture tells us Stephen was full of the Spirit and spoke with wisdom. The word of God continued to increase and the discipled multiplied.
Stephen recounts a brief history of the Old Testament to the Sanhedrin in Acts 7:1-53. The Sanhedrin was the religious council of the day, made up of the High Priests and Elders. They were considered to be the supreme religious leaders. Stephen concluded his speech by turning the accusation of his accusers in Acts 7:51-53.
Stephen continued to share his vision of the exalted Christ and, in doing so, enraged the high priests.
Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit and, at that moment, saw the glory of God and Christ seated at his right hand. Stephen remained faithful to Jesus Christ until the very end. He cried out to God as he was being stoned. Right before he died, he prayed, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”
Stephen died praying for the very men who killed him. His final prayers were “Lord Jesus, receive my Spirit,” and “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Stephen was an incredible example of a faithful witness!
Here are three powerful lessons we can learn from the life and death of Stephen.
- Being a witness for Jesus means there is a potential for martyrdom.
- With the power of the Holy Spirit, we can remain faithful throughout our lives.
- We need to pray for those who mean us harm.
Join me for a further in-depth study on the life of Stephen and many other men and women of both the Old and Testament who exemplified faith in The Struggle is Real: But so is God Bible Study.
Now is the time to know what God says about you and how you can live a victorious life. Discover faith and integrity are the character qualities that are yours as an overcomer. Each in-depth study has thought-provoking questions to journal, so you will be able to see your personal growth.
The Struggle Is Real, But So Is God is a 6-week journey through the Bible that will:
- Equip you with empowering wisdom.
- Help you grow spiritually by claiming God’s promises as your own.
- Teach you how to declare scripture over yourself to strengthen your inner being.
- Show you how to conquer challenges by activating God’s Word in your life.
Author Misty Phillip has lived through many difficult seasons of life where all she could do was look to God and His Word for hope. She found biblical solutions and scriptural promises that helped her overcome, and she can’t wait to share with you what she has learned.
For another faith-building read, try this: Is God Prompting You to Step out in Faith Right Now?
So what DOES the Bible say about women? It’s a conversation many of us mull around or discuss with friends. Or, perhaps we simply question in silence. Here’s a piece I wrote for Crosswalk. What are your thoughts?
Misty Phillip is passionate about helping women overcome challenges in life by seeking Jesus, studying the Word and growing in grace. She is the author of The Struggle is Real: But so is God Bible Study, founder and host of the By His Grace Podcast, sought after speaker and blogger at MistyPhillip.com and co-author of Dear Wife and contributor to A Wife Like Me.