7:1The ruling priest said, “How do you plead to these charges?”
7:2Stephen began his sworn testimony: “Folks, fellow believers, ancestors, hear me! The God of Majesty appeared to our ancestor Abraham while he was in Mesopotamia before he settled in Haran.7:3And he told him, ‘Leave your land, your people, and your relatives, and move to the land I will show to you.’7:4So he left the land of the Chaldeans and moved to Haran. After his father died, God moved him to this land in which you are now settled.
7:5“But he did not give him any inheritance to enjoy, not even a place to set his foot. Yet he promised to give it to him later, to his descendants, though as yet he did not have a child.7:6He added that his descendants would be wanderers in a foreign land, where they would be enslaved and abused for four hundred years.7:7‘And the nation enslaving them will be judged,’ God said, ‘and afterwards the enslaved will leave there and offer divine service to me in this place.’
7:8“He gave him the unilateral contract of circumcision, and then Abraham fathered Isaac, whom he circumcised on the eighth day. Then Isaac fathered Jacob, and Jacob the twelve patriarchs.7:9But the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph and sold him into Egypt. Yet God was with him;7:10he got him out of all his ordeals and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh (king of Egypt). Pharaoh made him governor over all of Egypt including his own household.
7:11“Now a famine came upon all of Egypt and Canaan; it was severe and our ancestors could find no provisions.7:12Then Jacob heard that there were stores of grain in Egypt, so he dispatched our ancestors the first time.7:13At the second time, Joseph revealed his identity to his brothers, which also revealed his nationality to Pharaoh.7:14So Joseph dispatched them to invite his father Jacob and all his relatives, seventy-five people in all.7:15Jacob then went down to Egypt, where eventually he and our ancestors died.7:16They were transferred to Shechem and buried in the tomb Abraham purchased for a certain amount of silver from the tribe of Hamor there.
7:17“Now as the time drew near to fulfill the promise God had made to Abraham, the population multiplied in Egypt.7:18But then a different king came to power in Egypt, one who knew nothing of Joseph.7:19This one dealt treacherously with our ancestors and oppressed them, forcing them to let their babies die of exposure.7:20It was then that Moses was born (a divinely gifted child), and he stayed in his parents’ home for three months.7:21But when he was left to exposure, Pharaoh’s daughter took him in and raised him as her own son.7:22So Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was accomplished in word and deed.
7:23“Now as he approached his forties, he decided to visit his people, the people of Israel.7:24He saw someone being mistreated and came to that person’s aid, avenging them by killing the Egyptian.7:25He presumed that his fellow Hebrews understood that God would rescue them through him, but they did not understand this.
7:26“The next day he saw two of them fighting, and he tried to make peace between them: ‘You men are of the same nation, so why are you hurting each other?’7:27But the one who was hurting the other pushed Moses away and retorted, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us?7:28I suppose you intend to kill me just as you did to that Egyptian yesterday!’7:29Hearing this, Moses ran away and became a foreigner in the land of Midan, where he fathered two sons.
7:30“Forty years later, he saw a Messenger in the wilderness of mount Sinai, in the flame of a thorn bush fire.7:31As Moses studied it he was puzzled at the sight. But as he approached to examine it he heard the voice of the Master:7:32‘I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob.’ Moses began to shake and didn’t dare to examine it further.7:33Then the Master said to him, ‘Untie your sandals and remove them from your feet, for the place upon which you are standing is holy ground.7:34I have indeed seen the abuse of my people in Egypt; I heard their groaning and have come down to free them. So now, come here so I can send you back to Egypt.’
7:35“This is the Moses they had disowned by saying, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us?’ This is the one God commissioned, via the Messenger he saw in the thorn bush, to be a ruler as well as a redeemer and judge.7:36He led them out, performing miracles and signs in the land of Egypt and in the Red Sea, and also in the wilderness for forty years.7:37This is the Moses who told the people of Israel, ‘God will raise up a prophet like me from among you.‘
7:38“This is the one who was in the assembly in the wilderness with the Messenger, who spoke to him and our ancestors at Mount Sinai; he is the one who received the living oracles to give to you.7:39But our ancestors were unwilling to listen, so they pushed him away and returned to Egypt in their hearts.7:40They told Aaron, ‘Make us gods who will go ahead of us, because we don’t know what has become of this Moses who led us out of Egypt.’7:41So they made a calf in those days, and they sacrificed to the idol, happy with the thing they had made with their hands.
7:42“So God turned away and gave them over to offer divine service to the stars of the sky. As it is written in the book of the prophets: ‘House of Israel, was it to me that you offered slaughtered animals and sacrifices for forty years in the wilderness?7:43No, you pitched the tent of Molech and the constellation of your god Raiphan, of whom you made idols to worship. So I will exile you far beyond Babylon.’7:44Our ancestors had the Ark of the Testimony in the wilderness, which the One who spoke to Moses had him make according to the model he was shown.7:45Afterwards, our ancestors, with Joshua, carried it as they took possession of the lands of the nations God drove out before them.
“This continued till the time of David,7:46who was favored by God. He asked permission to build a dwelling place for the God of Jacob,7:47but it was Solomon who built it for him.7:48Yet the Most High does not live in what human hands build, as the prophet says:7:49‘Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footrest. What kind of house can you build for me?’, the Master says, ‘Or where do I stop to rest?7:50Is it not my hand that did all of this?’
7:51“You stiff-necked heathen!1 You continually oppose the Holy Spirit, just like your ancestors!7:52Name a prophet they didn’t persecute! They even killed those who predicted the arrival of the Just One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered—7:53you who received the law mandated by Messengers but failed to protect!”
7:54Upon hearing this, they were furious and ground their teeth at him.7:55But filled with faith and the Holy Spirit, he looked intently into heaven and saw the majesty of God, with Jesus standing at God’s right.7:56He exclaimed, “Look! I see the heavens opened up and the Human Being standing at God’s right!”
7:57Then, shouting loudly and covering their ears, they all rushed at him at once.7:58They threw him outside of the city and pelted him with rocks, and the witnesses laid their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul.7:59So they pelted Stephen with stones as he was calling on Jesus and saying, “Master Jesus, receive my spirit.”7:60He fell to his knees and shouted, “Master, don’t charge them with this sin!” Upon saying this, he passed away.
- 1“Heathen” is literally “uncircumcised hearts (minds) and ears”; they are being described as heathen in their minds and hearing.