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Stephen; The speech of his life

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posted on Jul, 11 2014 @ 05:04 PM
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The final speech of Stephen fills the seventh chapter of Acts
We ought to expect expect great things from it, because the previous chapter has already called him an unrivalled speaker, “full of grace and power”, in his debates with his opponents.
“They could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke”- Acts ch6 v10

His opponents have now brought him in front of the Sanhedrin.
There are two charges against him, that he threatened an end to the Temple, and that he threatened an end to the Law of Moses.
“This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the Law; for we have heard him say that Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place , and will change the customs which Moses delivered to us”- ch6 vv13-14

Then Stephen makes his defence.
It doesn’t look like a great speech, at first glance; it looks rambling and disjointed.
But that’s the true master at work.
Giving what sounds like a leisurely and unspectacular speech is what keeps him alive long enough to present his message, before his enemies can realise what he’s doing.

vv2-8 The opening passage is a safe, uncontroversial account of the beginning of God’s relationship with Israel, from the calling of Abraham down to the sons of Jacob.
It includes the promise of the land, and the covenant of circumcision.
It’s about the common heritage which Stephen shares with his audience, and it gives them no reason to expect any challenge to their beliefs.
It’s the kind of opening they might find re-assuring.

vv9-16 Then he jumps to the story of Joseph.
Again, this is a simple summary of the account found in scripture.
However, there are points in the story of Joseph which have parallels in the story of Jesus.
Firstly, Joseph was betrayed by his brethren and sold to his enemies.
Secondly, being taken down into Egypt, Joseph went ahead of his brethren, as the Psalmist observes;
“He had sent a man ahead of them, Joseph who was sold as a slave”- Psalm 105 v17
He prepared the way for them.
Thirdly, his brethren did not know him the first time they met him.
They came to recognise him only on the second encounter.
Just as Jesus, having been betrayed, and having “gone ahead”, will be recognised when he returns.
Stephen does nothing to draw attention to these parallels.
He just leaves the facts there, in the narrative, for people to think about at in their own time.

Next he moves on to a much longer account of the early life of Moses.
When he comes to the story about killing the Egyptian, he drops in a poignant observation not supplied by his scriptural source;
“He supposed that his brethren understood that God was giving them deliverance by his hand, but they did not understand”- v25
This is very pointed indeed, because Jesus had the same expectation; that the Jews would understand how God was giving them deliverance by his hand.

This episode is followed by the episode of the Burning Bush, revealing God’s determination to save his people, and culminating in the instruction sending Moses back to Egypt.
Stephen can then dwell on the irony of the contrast between the two episodes.
The Israelites had rejected Moses, with the question “Who made you a ruler and a judge?”
Yet this was the same man whom God later appointed as their ruler, the man who would save them from their troubles (vv35-36).
He was also, incidentally, the man who forewarned his people that God would raise up another prophet in the same way.
Which suggests, of course, the possibility that they might repeat the mistake they made with Moses, and once again reject the man who had been sent by God.
But that thought is left unspoken.

As for the Law- yes, Moses received the “living oracles”.
But the people rejected him again and refused to obey him, and worshipped other gods instead of the God of Israel (vv38-43).

Nobody has noticed yet, but Stephen has already answered the first charge.
The charge was one of rejecting Moses and his Law.
And the answer is that they themselves, in the persons of their ancestors, did exactly the same thing.
So what can they criticise?

The second charge is considered more briefly.
Stephen tells the story of the tent of witness, and how it was finally replaced by the Temple in Jerusalem.
Then he quotes the words of Isaiah, that God needs no house to live in.
That’s enough in itself, though he does not press the point, to answer the second charge.
The charge was one of rejecting the Temple.
The answer is that God himself never wanted or needed a Temple.

Nobody has noticed yet, but the two charges have already been answered in full.
He was accused of wanting the Law and the Temple to be destroyed, and he has answered, in effect, that there is no reason why they should not be destroyed.

If he had said these things outright, at the beginning, then he would have provoked a violent reaction, and his reasons would not have been heard.
But he kept himself under restraint, leaving his arguments incomplete, leaving his conclusions unspoken, so that his message could be delivered into their unconscious minds.

Once the bulk of his message has been safely delivered, though, he can afford to let loose, and he does let loose.
“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit…Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the Law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”
This part of his message could not be disguised or made palatable, for it rebukes their own guilt and forces Jesus upon their attention as the one sent by God.

Stephen shows himself to be a great orator by the timing of that outburst.
Not at the opening of his speech, when it would have got him killed on the spot.
But held back for another fifty verses, until his case had been laid out, and the reaction of the Jews was too late to suppress the words which had already been spoken.

At that point, his hearers are nearly ready to kill him.
Now that the job has been done, he may as well give them the signal.
When he looks into heaven and sees Jesus “standing at the right hand of God”, and announces the fact, that will do.

Even though they throw stones at him, they have unconsciously absorbed his teaching.
It’s possible that many of them mulled over his words, in their own time, and finally came to accept his gospel message.
It’s possible, I believe, that Saul of Tarsus was one of them.
But if Saul was convinced by the case that Stephen made, he would not have acknowledged the fact even to himself.
One way of understanding the persecuting zeal he displayed over the next few years would be to regard it as a classic example of behaviour “in denial”.
The rebuke he received, on the road to Damascus, was that he was “kicking against the pricks”.
And what were those “pricks”, if not the nagging suspicion, which he tried to thrust away from his conscious mind, that Stephen was right?

If it should be true that the words of Stephen were partly instrumental in the final conversion of Paul, then this will have been one of the most important speeches in the history of the church.

And once again the overall speech has been built on the common heritage of Stephen with the rest of the Jews.
It presents the relation between God and his people as a continuous history from the time of Abraham, one that comes to a climax with Jesus Christ himself.




posted on Jul, 11 2014 @ 06:20 PM
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Thank you. I always enjoy reading your posts.



posted on Jul, 11 2014 @ 06:24 PM
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a reply to: ketsuko
Thank you for the encouragement.



posted on Jul, 12 2014 @ 09:23 AM
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"Stephen" which means crown of victory, was a literary device (not an actual historical person) to make a whole lot of exposition in an authoritative way (in the midst of a vision by a martyr), to explain the writer of Acts' philosophy on Christianity and how it diverged from Judaism.



posted on Jul, 12 2014 @ 01:22 PM
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a reply to: jmdewey60 lol you may want to do a faith check. Seems that you may have misplaced it. I would have to ask myself what forces me to take a beautiful message and belittle it based on no real proof. This seems to be another misunderstanding by way of knowledge infered on your part.



posted on Jul, 12 2014 @ 01:54 PM
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a reply to: deadeyedick

This seems to be another misunderstanding by way of knowledge infered on your part.
So what does that mean, the more you know, the less you understand?

It is beautiful in a sad way that many Christians were martyred, and it would be comforting to think that they went to their deaths with visions of Heaven.
That being said, compelling as it may be, it is only a setting to expound the writer's personal view, which is interesting, of course but should not be considered any more factual because of how well written it may be.

edit on 12-7-2014 by jmdewey60 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 12 2014 @ 02:00 PM
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a reply to: jmdewey60

Many among us could sit down and interput the bible according to todays logic and miss the whole of the message in doing so. True faith means that you seek not to rewrite the word of god but to understand that it is all true and then gain understanding based on truth and not perception.



posted on Jul, 12 2014 @ 02:36 PM
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a reply to: deadeyedick

True faith means that you seek not to rewrite the word of god but to understand that it is all true . . .
Faith in things is idolatry, in my book.
The Pharisees had that.



posted on Jul, 12 2014 @ 02:52 PM
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originally posted by: deadeyedick
a reply to: jmdewey60

Many among us could sit down and interput the bible according to todays logic and miss the whole of the message in doing so. True faith means that you seek not to rewrite the word of god but to understand that it is all true and then gain understanding based on truth and not perception.



There's truth in this statement however the truth it points to is hidden in the lies it exposes.The scriptures have ONE purpose and YAHOSHUA expounded it.

You search the scripture "thinking" that IN them you have LIFE [spirit] yet you FAIL to come to me [Yahoshua....Yahweh is salvation] whom they "testify" of that I may give you life."

Yahoshua did NOT teach the "scriptures".He did not "teach" a new religion nor a new morality or ethics.He "proclaimed" by statement (preached) the Truth.The scriptures ARE NOT the "word of God"that is an extrapolation into the doctrines of men.Yahoshua proclaimed what the Truth is(I am the WAY the Truth and the Life).Yahoshua IS the "living word of the creator God".

By twisting the words of scriptures it makes them into the doctrines of men that make VOID the "living" word of the creator God.That is the nature of ALL of mankind …to form religious doctrines of "belief" then bound others by them.The creator God is very aware of this.It is the snare the religious carnal mind..the adversary..satan…falls into.It does not (and cannot) seek the creator God nor their Kingdom it seeks itself..and FINDS IT!!

The religious carnal mind perverts words and turns them into a personal agenda which is their Belief System religion.It makes them the authority(the abomination of desolation) to sit on the throne of their kingdom and declare themselves "My God". Every kingdom that is threatened by another kingdom attempts to overthrow it by "their will".Those that are the most"successful" are called churches…ekklesia(groups of people).

It is an insidious evil that believes it is GOOD!This is EXACTLY what Yahoshua dealt with and why the religious Jews murdered him.He was not proclaiming a new religion and him as the founder ,he was proclaiming the freedom FROM religion…..just the opposite of the religious.The people were not interested in that.They only came to him for the miracles of healing and food so that is what he gave them but only to the disciples was it given to "KNOW" the freedom from their religion and it was a process (hard headed Simon/Peter is a prime example).

The scriptures are a testimony that testify of the truth…Yahoshua…Yahweh(the creator God) WILL save/deliver ALL of mankind from hades(the realm of death and imperception). NONE have been delivered out of the realm of death yet.All those that are dead are still dead.They have NOT been resurrected to a "new" LIFE yet.Some (the few are chosen…the disciples) were beginning to be freed from their religion(the realm of imperception).They were the "first fruits" from the first FRUIT seed…Yahoshua.They proclaimed the same thing Yahoshua did…NOT a new religion or morality or ethics….the Good News…ALL of mankind WILL be delivered from hades…that's all she wrote….nothing can be added to it.

There are no "words " to be twisted into a false religious Belief System.There is no method or creed or doctrines to follow.It is ALL a statement of Truth and nothing but the Truth…..Yahoshua….




edit on 12-7-2014 by Rex282 because: (no reason given)

edit on 12-7-2014 by Rex282 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 12 2014 @ 07:27 PM
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Faith in GOD and his word including his sons word is not idolatry. By those terms then we are all idolatrers who belive in GOD. By the info presented it would seem to show that GOD does not want our worship and that in order to live a better life and understand the roots of our heritage then we should not search for answers in the bible. It is very sad to see so many blasfhem the word of GOD. You seek to discount the very book that has been guided by the hand of GOD and in doing so you fail to give credit to the holy spirit in the guidence of the word being written. Why in the hell would we even have a bible if not to find GOD through. You seek to equate the bible to a book of lies by discounting the truth within. There is a difference in misiterupting the word and destroying it. Without GOD'S word would any of you know the SON or the father. I submit to you all that every word in the book was ment to be just as you and i are ment to be. For better or worse it is what it is.



posted on Jul, 12 2014 @ 07:29 PM
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originally posted by: jmdewey60
a reply to: deadeyedick

True faith means that you seek not to rewrite the word of god but to understand that it is all true . . .
Faith in things is idolatry, in my book.

The Pharisees had that.



Blows my mind how you can say such as stephen never took a breath then compare me calling you out on it as being like the pharisees. You should tell us now that Jesus was never real and GOD is made of speggiti in order to keep up your confusion.



posted on Jul, 12 2014 @ 07:30 PM
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a reply to: Rex282

Yahoshua IS the "living word of the creator God".

By twisting the words of scriptures it makes them into the doctrines of men . . .
A lot of people think that Jesus is "the word", but the Logos that was being described (in the first chapter of the Gospel of John) came into Jesus, along with the others, John the Baptist, the disciples, and the writer of that gospel.
When Jesus speaks to Nicodemus, he says, "We understand the spiritual things" (to paraphrase) , not "I understand . . ."

. . . he was proclaiming the freedom FROM religion…..just the opposite of the religious.
True religion, according to James is helping others.
"Religion" originally meant doing what is right in God's eyes as service to Him as a form of worship.

…ALL of mankind WILL be delivered from hades…
We are delivered from the inevitability of hell.
edit on 12-7-2014 by jmdewey60 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 12 2014 @ 08:36 PM
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a reply to: deadeyedick

Blows my mind how you can say such as stephen never took a breath then compare me calling you out on it as being like the pharisees.
You have this verse,
John 10:35
If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
(King James Version)
where I think Jesus is being sarcastic towards "The Jews" (verse 24) implying, in a not so obvious way, that they had idolized the scripture.

edit on 12-7-2014 by jmdewey60 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 15 2014 @ 05:53 PM
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N.B. One aspect of this thread continues a theme which has already been devloped in these threads;
The God of Jesus, the God of the Old Testament
The God of Peter, the God of the Old Testament




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