6:8-15) The Face of an Angel
Let's continue our study of Acts.
Two of the seven men selected to see to the care of the widows,
are going to make a great impact in the early Church. One will die
the first martyrs death. The other will go on to become an
The temple authorities are seething in anger over the Jesus
movement. They've been somewhat restrained but now things are
about to change. The young man Stephen is going to flip the switch
for a major persecution against the Jewish believers.
Others besides the apostles are involved in miracle ministries.
Jerusalem is receiving an undeniable witness that Jesus is both
Lord and Messiah. In this study we want to look at the man Stephen
This is Acts Study #16 (Acts
6:8-15) The Face of an Angel.
"And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great
wonders and signs among the people."
Exactly what the wonders and signs are we are not told. One thing
we know, the Jewish peoples are being left without excuse. The one
thing that attracted the peoples to Jesus was His miracles. We hear
them say, "When the Christ comes, He will not perform more signs
than those which this man has, will He?" (John
Let's again examine the issue of signs and miracles for the Jews.
The peoples had been taught that when Messiah comes, He would
do awesome wonders that would even exceed the miracles of
Moses. What were some of the miracles that Jesus did?
(1) Jesus walked on the water. The Bible says, "[God] alone
stretches out the heavens and tramples down the waves of the
9:8 - The Hebrew for 'tramples' is 'darak.' It means to
walk, tread, trod, bend with the foot.)
(2) Jesus opened blind eyes. The man who received his sight says,
"Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone
opened the eyes of a person born blind." (John
(3) Jesus raised the dead, turned water into wine, healed the lepers,
restored withered limbs to perfect health, multiplied the fish and
loaves, quietened troubled seas by speaking a word, cast out
demons, caused fish nets to overflow with a catch, and many such
Then we can take note of how the apostle John ends his gospel. He
says, "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which
if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself
would not contain the books that would be written." (John
And so, once again, Israel would be left without excuse. Not only
did Jesus perform many miracles, but the apostles and their
companions continue to bear witness to the resurrection of Jesus
Christ by signs and wonders. This is all taking place in the heart of
Jerusalem, and even in the temple itself. You will hear me say
more than once, that the new covenant began in Jerusalem, and it
will complete itself in Jerusalem.
It appears that this matter of signs and wonders were more
important to the Jews than to other peoples. Paul said, "For indeed
Jews ASK FOR SIGNS and Greeks search for wisdom; but we
preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles
foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks,
Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." (1Co1:22-24)
However, with this background on signs and wonders, we need to
keep in mind that the highest form of faith is to believe in Jesus
Christ, without need of miracles or signs. Jesus said that a evil and
an adulterous generation craves for a sign. (Cf. Matt12:39)
comment was directed to the unbelieving Jewish people. Let it not
be said of us that we are cravers for signs.
Historical note: I want to mention again that out of the destruction of
Jerusalem in 70 a.d., there arose a new Judaism, which became
known as Rabbinic Judaism. The new Judaism would be without
temple, temple sacrifices, and without the ability to keep the Law of
Moses. Yet they would claim to be Torah observant. Not only
would this new Judaism lack a sacrifice, but it would also begin to
teach that miracles and wonders were to be discounted as
evidences of Messiah. In their writings they would refer to Jesus as
a sorcerer and a deceiver. (And things much worse.)
This new Judaism would add another dimension to itself. The rabbis
would begin promoting the idea that they superceded Moses and
the prophets. They would even have God listening in on their
discussions. And this is why Talmudic study took precedence over
the study of the Scriptures. This is also why the greatest thing you
can ever do for a Jew, is to get him to read his own Bible. (Isn't that
true with most religious people?)
Satan Doesn't Want You To Share Your Testimony
Let's continue ...
"But some men from what was called the Synagogue of the
Freedmen, including both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some
from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and argued with Stephen. But they
were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he
This is a sampling of the various synagogues in Jerusalem. The
'Freedmen' were likely freed Jewish slaves or descendants of freed
slaves who had formed their own synagogue. It seems there was
more than one synagogue involved in this dispute with Stephen.
This incident shows that there were Hellenist synagogues in
Jerusalem. (These are Hellenist Jews.)
... Notice they were "unable to cope with the wisdom and the
with which Stephen was speaking.
This will always be the case. And this is why Satan works so hard to
discourage Christians from sharing their testimony of Jesus. Satan
can read. The Word of God says, "And they overcame him because
of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their
testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with
"Then they secretly induced men to say, 'We have heard him
speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.'"
The words 'secretly induced' is the Greek word 'hupoballo.' It
used only here in the New Testament. This word speaks of bringing
someone under control, generally by use of a bribe. These false
witnesses were paid well to incite the Jewish peoples against
God Keeps a Good Set of Books
Isn't it amazing --- The very people who claimed to be Torah
observant, or true followers of Moses and the Law, not only break
the Law themselves, but they pay others to do the same. Their sins
are compounding. And you can believe that God keeps a good set
of books. The Old Testament writer said, "For God will bring every
act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or
"And they stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes,
and they came up to him and dragged him away and brought him
before the Council."
Up to now the apostles have had great favor with the peoples. This
is the first time we hear of a turning against them. The false
witnesses have done their job so well that a mob of people began
dragging Stephen before the Council. The Greek expressions here
show a heated mob-like activity. Perhaps some were even hitting
"They put forward false witnesses who said, "This man
incessantly speaks against this holy place and the Law; for we have
heard him say that this Nazarene, Jesus, will destroy this place and
alter the customs which Moses handed down to us."
The Spirit of a Disciple
Stephen is saying nothing. How like his Master he is. If you recall,
Jesus had been brought before many of these same people. This
scene is a near mirror reflection of what happened to Jesus. Let's
"Some stood up and began to give false testimony against Him,
saying, we heard Him say, 'I will destroy this temple made with
hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.'
Not even in this respect was their testimony consistent. The high
priest stood up and came forward and questioned Jesus, saying,
'Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against
You?' But He kept silent and did not answer .." (Matt14:57-61)
Do you not see in this man Stephen, the spirit of the disciple? How
often do we rush to defend ourselves, when by doing this we lose
the greater glory. Peter said, "If you are reviled for the name of
Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests
on you." (1Pet4:14)
"And fixing their gaze on him, all who were sitting in the
Council saw his face like the face of an angel."
It seems at this point that Stephen is standing alone before the
Council. But it is just as well. Something strange comes to bear.
Everyone gets quiet, and everyone notices, including the false
witnesses, that Stephen's face seems to have a glow. What caused
his face to glow? It was the Spirit of Jesus, or, as we might say, 'the
anointing of God's Holy Spirit.'
Does this ever happen today? It happens much more than we may
think. Its not simply a visible glow, although this can happen, but it
is an attractiveness that can be seen in the faces of godly people.
Well let's leave things where they are. In our next study we are
going to hear one of the most remarkable sermons recorded in the
Scriptures. And from this sermon our brother Stephen will make his
journey right into heaven. But not without affecting a Pharisee
The study is open.
Previous: #15 (Acts 6:1-7) Providing for the Widows
Next: #17 (Acts 7:1-60) A Message to the Stiff Necked
This study on
Acts was originally part of a
series on the book of Acts given to members of
Hebraic Foundations from July 10, 2002 through January 19, 2003.
They were written by Pastor Buddy Martin, Founder and Senior Pastor of
Christian Challenge International.