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STEPHEN WITH THE SHINING FACE
Acts vi: 1, to viii: 3.
E have read how the members of the church in Jerusalem
gave their money freely to help the poor. This free
giving led to trouble, as the church grew so fast; for
some of the widows who were poor were passed by; and
their friends made complaints to the apostles. The
twelve apostles called the whole church together, and
"It is not well, that we should turn aside from
preaching and teaching the word of God, to sit at
tables and give out money. But, brethren, choose from
among yourselves seven good men, men who have the
Spirit of God and are wise, and we will give this work
to them; so that we can spend our time in prayer and in
preaching the gospel."
This plan was pleasing to all the church; and they
chose seven men, to take charge of the gifts of the
people, and to see that they were sent to those who
were in need. The first man chosen was Stephen, a man
full of faith and of the Spirit of God; and with him
were Philip and five other good men. These seven men
they brought before the apostles; and the apostles laid
their hands on their heads, setting them apart for
their work of caring for the poor.
But Stephen did more than look after the needy ones.
He began to preach the gospel of Christ; and to preach
with such power as made every one who heard him feel
the truth. Stephen saw before any other man in the
church saw, that the gospel of Christ was not for Jews
only, but for all men; that all men might be saved if
they would believe in Jesus; and this great truth
Stephen began to preach with all his power.
Such preaching as this, that men who were not Jews
might be saved by believing in Christ, made many of the
Jews very angry. They called all the people who were
not Jews "Gentiles," and they looked upon them with
hate and scorn; but they could not answer
 the words that Stephen spoke. They roused up the
people and the rulers, and set them against Stephen,
and at last they seized Stephen, and brought him before
the great council of the rulers. They said to the
"This man is always speaking evil words against the
Temple and against the law of Moses. We heard him say
that Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and
shall change the laws that Moses gave to us!"
This was partly true and partly false; but no lie is so
harmless as that which has a little truth with it.
Then the high-priest said to Stephen, "Are these things
And as Stephen stood up to answer the high-priest all
fixed their eyes upon him; and they saw that his face
was shining, as though it was the face of an angel.
Then Stephen began to speak of the great things that
God had done for his people of Israel in the past; how
he had called Abraham, their father, to go forth into a
new land; how he had given them great men, as Joseph,
 and the prophets. He showed them how the Israelites
had not been faithful to God who had given them such
blessings. Then Stephen said:
"You are a people with hard hearts and stiff necks, who
will not obey the words of God and his Spirit. As your
fathers did, so you do also. Your fathers killed the
prophets whom God sent to them; and you have slain
Jesus, the Righteous One!"
As they heard these things, they became so angry against
Stephen that they gnashed on him with their teeth, like
wild beasts. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit,
looked up toward heaven with his shining face; and he
saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on Godís right
hand, and he said:
"I see the heavens opened and the Son of man standing
on the right hand of God!"
But they cried out with angry voices, and rushed upon
him, and dragged him out of the council-room, and
outside the wall of the city. And there they threw
stones upon him to kill him, while Stephen was kneeling
down among the falling stones and praying:
"Lord Jesus, receive my spirit! Lord, lay not this sin
up against them!"
And when he had said this he fell asleep in death, the
first to be slain for the gospel of Christ.
STEPHEN FELL ASLEEP
Among those who stoned Stephen was a young man named
Saul. He showed his fierce hate against Stephen and
against the gospel which Stephen preached by holding
the loose garments which the slayers of Stephen flung
off, so that they might the more easily throw the
stones upon him. Saul had heard Stephen speak; and he
saw his glorious face, but he gave his help to those
who killed him. And after Stephen had been slain, Saul
went out to seize those who believed in Christ. He
dragged men and women out of their houses, and thrust
them into prison. He went into the synagogues and
seized them as they were worshipping, and stripped off
their garments, and caused them to be beaten.
By the hands of Saul and those who were with him the
church of Christ, where so many had lived in love and
peace, was broken up, and its members were scattered
far and wide over the lands. The apostles stayed in
the city, and no harm came to them, for they were kept
hidden, but all the rest of the believers were driven
away; and for the time the church of Christ seemed to
have come to an end.