Chronicles of the Apostles
Ministering to the Cultures


  1. Ministering to Cultures
    1. There was a division between the two cultures in the body of believers
      1. The Hellenistic Jews were being overlooked in the distribution of food
    2. Problems are usually recognized by those not in power first
    3. The leaders picked Hellenistic leaders to minister
      1. More effective at reaching their own culture than other cultures
    4. The result is the number of believers greatly increased
    5. Priests who do not have to deal with the Hellenistic Jews are becoming believers
  2. The Arrest of Stephen (Acts 6:8 – 15)
    1. Stephen was ministering in power of the Holy Spirit (Vs 8)
      1. The gifts were not limited to the Apostles
      2. This may prove the seven deacons were not he same level as the Apostles
    2. Stephen ministered to the Greek-speaking Jews in Jerusalem
    3. The Synagogue of Freedmen (Vs 9)
      1. Jews who were slaves of Roman people could earn freedom
        1. Was probably filled with these people
      2. They would have been elitists – only way you could earn freedom was through education or payment
      3. When freed, returned to Jerusalem
      4. Not everyone was once a slave – probably a majority
      5. The Babylonian Talmud calls it“Synagogue of the Tarsians” or “Jews from Tarsus” (Paul would have studied there)
      6. Discovered in 1913
    4. Stephen was teaching in their synagogue (Vs 9, 10)
      1. Stephen debated the leaders of the synagogue
      2. They could not stand up to the wisdom of Stephen
      3. Problem was probably two-fold
        1. Stephen was disrupting the social climate
        2. The theological debate
        3. Social problems usually precede the theological problems
        4. They could understand the Galileans preaching, but for an educated Hellenistic Jew to be preaching, that was another matter
      4. Stephen would have been preaching the same message as the Apostles, and Jesus before them,
        1. “Repent for destruction is coming”
      5. Gamaliel stated that the Jews should let the believing sect go so that they would not find themselves fighting against God
        1. Saul did not agree with this so he fought against Stephen
      6. They incite fans accusers to come against Stephen
        1. Same pattern used throughout Acts and was also used against Jesus when they tried to find people to speak against Jesus (Matthew 26:59)
        2. Four accusations
          1. He speaks against the Temple
          2. He speaks against the Torah
          3. Jesus will destroy the Temple
          4. Jesus will change the customs handed down from Moses
        3. Stephen was not the only one who stood on trial – the entire Jesus sect was on trial if these accusations were proven true
        4. Stephen is also going to suggest that the gospel is for the whole world not just select Jewish people (Acts 7:48 – 50)
      7. Face glowed with the glory of God (Vs 15)
        1. This was terrifying (Judges 13:6)
      8. Caiaphas listened to the accusations and turned to Stephen and asked if these were true:
  3. The Trial (Vs 7:1 – 10)
    1. Important to know the accusations against Stephen were lies made up by false witnesses (Acts 6:11)
    2. Stephen is going to speak about three people: Abraham, Joseph and Moses. 
      1. Stephen is going to emphasize that God spoke to all three of them outside the Holy Land
        1. Abraham in Mesopotamia
        2. Joseph in Egypt
        3. Moses on Mount Sinai
    3. This means you did not have to come to the Temple to hear from God.
      1. He does emphasize the term place (Vs 7) — which would be the Temple
    4. To refute that he is speaking against he law of Moses, Stephen emphasizes the  covenant of Circumcision (Vs 8)
    5. 75 people move to Egypt (Vs 14)
      1. Proves this was Greek speaking as the Jewish Bible mentions 70 people came to Egypt (Genesis 46:27) and the Greek Septuagint version says 75 which they get by including Joseph and his family who are already there
    6. To show he is not speaking against Moses, he mentions the birth of Moses (Vs 20)
      1. A glow on his face so they could not kill him, but hid Moses for three months
    7. God gave Moses the Torah so he is refuting the claim of speaking against it (Vs 38, 39), but the people rejected the Torah.
    8. Stephen gives legitimacy to the Temple (Vs 44 – 48)
    9. God is bigger than any temple (Vs 49, 50)
      1. He shares the wisdom that God is going to go beyond the Jewish people
        1. Mentions Samaria where Abraham bought land for a tomb (Vs 16)
        2. Quotes Deuteronomy 18:15 — which is the only verse the Samaritians accepted (Vs 37)
      2. Just as the Jews rejected Torah — you have rejected the living Torah Jesus Christ (Vs 52, 53)
    10. Statement that probably kills Stephen (Vs 55, 56)
      1. If Jesus is at the right hand of the Father, then what they are believing is illegitimate
      2. Jesus stated the same vision in his trial (Mark 14:62)
    11. They grind their teeth in anger against Stephen (Vs 54, 57)
    12. Torah demands stoning a blasphemer (Leviticus 24:16)
      1. This was an illegitimate killing — Rome only had authority to kill people
      2. Maybe they put Stephen in prison for the night and attained permission
  4. The Killing (Acts 7:59 – Acts 8:3)
    1. They throw Stephen over a cliff – Saul as the key witness
      1. He would have to throw the first stone (Deuteronomy 17:7)
    2. Stephen fell asleep
    3. A persecution came against the Hellenistic Jews of Jerusalem