Author Topic: SDA Sabbath School Lesson 4--3rd Quarter 2018--The First Church Leaders  (Read 1145 times)

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Wally

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Lesson 4 July 21-27





The First Church Leaders






Commentary in Navy                  Inspiration in Maroon

















So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants:  we have done that which was our duty to do.  Luke 17:10

Wally

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Thursday ↥         July 26

The Spread of the Gospel

The triumph over Stephen ignited a massive persecution against the believers in Jerusalem, no doubt instigated by the same group of opponents. The leader of the group was Saul, who caused no small damage to the church (Acts 8:3, 26:10). The persecution, however, was turned to good effect.

Indeed, scattered throughout Judea and Samaria, the believers went about preaching the gospel. The command to witness in those areas (Acts 1:8 ) was then fulfilled.

Read Acts 8:4-25. What lessons are revealed in this account?

The Samaritans were half-Israelites, even from the religious standpoint. They were monotheists who accepted the first five books of Moses (the Pentateuch), practiced circumcision, and expected the Messiah. To the Jews, however, Samaritan religion was corrupted, which means the Samaritans had no share whatsoever in the covenant mercies of Israel.

The unexpected conversion of Samaritans astounded the church in Jerusalem, so the apostles sent out Peter and John to assess the situation. God’s withholding the Spirit until the coming of Peter and John (Acts 8:14-17) was probably meant to convince the apostles that the Samaritans were to be accepted as full members of the community of faith (see Acts 11:1-18).

It didn’t stop there, however. In Acts 8:26-39, we have the story of Philip and the Ethiopian, a eunuch, who after a Bible study requested baptism. “Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him” (Acts 8:38, NIV).

First there were the Samaritans, then the Ethiopian, a foreigner who had come to Jerusalem to worship, and was now on his way home. The gospel was crossing the borders of Israel and reaching the world, as predicted. All this, though, was just the beginning, as these early Jewish believers would soon travel all over the known world and preach the great news of the death of Jesus, who paid the penalty for their sins and offers everyone, everywhere, the hope of salvation.

Peter told Simon that he was “poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity” (Acts 8:23, NKJV). What was the solution for his problem, and for anyone who might be in a similar situation?

Friday ↥         July 27

Further Study: “The persecution that came upon the church in Jerusalem resulted in giving a great impetus to the work of the gospel. Success had attended the ministry of the word in that place, and there was danger that the disciples would linger there too long, unmindful of the Saviour’s commission to go to all the world. Forgetting that strength to resist evil is best gained by aggressive service, they began to think that they had no work so important as that of shielding the church in Jerusalem from the attacks of the enemy. Instead of educating the new converts to carry the gospel to those who had not heard it, they were in danger of taking a course that would lead all to be satisfied with what had been accomplished. To scatter His representatives abroad, where they could work for others, God permitted persecution to come upon them. Driven from Jerusalem, the believers ‘went everywhere preaching the word.’ ”—Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 105.

Discussion Questions:

    Read carefully the Ellen G. White quote above about the dangers the early church faced in regard to being satisfied with themselves and what was accomplished through them. First, it means that, contrary to popular notions, many Jews did indeed accept Jesus as the Messiah. But even more important, what warning should we as a people take away from this today? How can we be sure that we aren’t getting too caught up in protecting what we already have, as opposed to doing what we really should be doing—reaching out to the world?

    By the time of the apostles, the relations between Jews and Samaritans were marked by centuries of fierce hostilities. What can we learn from the fact that Philip, likely a Jew, bore witness of Jesus in Samaria? Even as Seventh-day Adventists, we are not immune to cultural and ethnic biases. What should the Cross teach us about how we are all the same before God? What, too, should the universality of Christ’s death teach us about the infinite value of every human being?

    How did Philip approach the Ethiopian (Acts 8:27-30)? How can we be more open to opportunities to share the gospel with others?

    What have we learned from Acts 6-8 that might help us to fulfill the church mission more effectively?

So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants:  we have done that which was our duty to do.  Luke 17:10

Richard Myers

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Sabbath Afternoon

Read for This Week’s Study: Acts 6, Acts 7:48, Heb. 5:11-14, Micah 6:1-16, Acts 7, Acts 8:4-25.

Memory Text: “And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” Acts 6:7


And, these converts were truly converted. They gave the whole heart to Christ. And, it is important to note that many priests were also converted. This is important in our day. Many pastors who are not converted will be when they discover the power of grace. By beholding the loveliness of Jesus they will give their hearts fully to Christ and be involved in the last work in preparing a people for the soon coming of Jesus.


Many converts at Pentecost were Hellenistic Jews, that is, Jews from the Greco-Roman world who were now living in Jerusalem (Acts 2:5, 9-11). Despite being Jews, they were different from Judean Jews—the “Hebrews” mentioned in Acts 6:1—in many respects, the most visible difference being that usually they were not acquainted with Aramaic, the language then spoken in Judea.

There were several other differences, too, both cultural and religious. For having been born in foreign countries, they had no roots in Judean Jewish traditions, or at least their roots were not as deep as those of Judean Jews. They were presumably not so much attached to the temple ceremonies and to those aspects of the Mosaic law that were applicable only to the land of Israel.

Also, for having spent most of their lives in a Greco-Roman environment and having lived in close contact with Gentiles, they would naturally be more willing to understand the inclusive character of the Christian faith. In fact, it was many Hellenistic believers that God used to fulfill the command of bearing witness to the entire world.

Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, July 28.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Sunday          July 22

The Appointment of the Seven

Read Acts 6:1. What was the complaint of the Hellenistic believers?

“The cause of complaint was an alleged neglect of the Greek widows in the daily distribution of assistance. Any inequality would have been contrary to the spirit of the gospel, yet Satan had succeeded in arousing suspicion. Prompt measures must now be taken to remove all occasion for dissatisfaction, lest the enemy triumph in his effort to bring about a division among the believers.”—Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 88.

The solution proposed by the apostles was that the Jews choose seven men from among themselves to “serve [diakoneo] tables” (Acts 6:2), while they would spend their time in prayer and the “ministry [diakonia] of the word” (Acts 6:4). Since diakoneo and diakonia belong to the same word-group, the only real difference is between “tables” in Acts 6:2 and “the word” in Acts 6:4. This, together with the adjective “daily” (Acts 6:1), seems to point to the two main elements of the early church’s daily life: teaching (“the word”) and fellowship (“tables”), the latter consisting of the communal meal, the Lord’s Supper, and prayers (Acts 2:42, 46; 5:42).

That is, as the authoritative trustees of Jesus’ teachings, the apostles would occupy themselves mostly with the believers’ doctrinal teaching and with prayer, while the Seven would be in charge of the fellowship activities, in the several house-churches. Their duties, however, were not limited to those of deacons as this term is understood today. They were in fact the first congregation leaders of the church.

Read Acts 6:2-6.

 6:2   Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples [unto them], and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. 
 6:3   Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. 
 6:4   But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. 
 6:5   And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: 
 6:6   Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid [their] hands on them. 


Is there an important lesson in these verses for our church today? We have multiple false gospels being taught in our churches. One only needs to read the Review, Adventist News Network, books coming off our presses, listen to what is heard from our pulpits, and read online sites such as Spectrum to understand this is the sad condition in God's church today. There was a point in time when our church refused to study the Sabbath School quarterly and made up our own studies.

What do we find in verse two? There are some who are responsible for doctrinal teaching. Not the ones who are unconverted, new to the faith, or just plain don't have spiritual discernment. The elders ought to be doing the teaching of adults in the churches. But, even this is not good enough since many elders are not grounded either. Until the church takes this matter seriously as we see in 6:2 we shall continue  mislead the ungrounded in doctrinal matters. The church is responsible for selecting its elders, not the conference or the pastors.

How were the Seven chosen and commissioned to service?

The candidates were to be distinguished by moral, spiritual, and practical qualities: they should have an honorable reputation and be filled with the Spirit and wisdom. With the community’s approval, the Seven were selected and then commissioned through prayer and laying on of hands. The rite seems to indicate public recognition and the bestowal of authority to work as deacons.

It’s so easy to sow dissension in the ranks, isn’t it? How can we do all in our God-given power to keep peace among us and to focus on mission?

The church has a "mission" in the church. One of the functions of the local church is to bring unity in doctrine.  But, peace does not come from unity of doctrine, it comes from unity in Spirit. That can only come when the heart is wholly given to Christ. One of the fruits that the believer has when filled with the Spirit is peace. Read Galatians chapter five. All fully surrendered Christians reveal love, joy, and peace.

Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Monday         July 23

Stephen’s Ministry


After their appointment, the Seven engaged not only in church ministry but also in effective witnessing. The result was that the gospel continued to spread, and the number of believers kept increasing (Acts 6:7). This growth started, of course, to bring opposition to the early church. The narrative then focuses on Stephen, a man of rare spiritual stature.

Read Acts 6:8-15.

 6:8   And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. 
 6:9   Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called [the synagogue] of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. 
 6:10   And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. 
 6:11   Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and [against] God. 
 6:12   And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon [him], and caught him, and brought [him] to the council, 
 6:13   And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: 
 6:14   For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us. 
 6:15   And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel. 
 


What do these verses teach us about Stephen and his faith and character? Also, what was Stephen preaching that so enraged his opponents?

Stephen was preaching the truth, the truth about the foundation of our faith. The gospel has power, and it divides the sheep from the goats. If we want to see how faithful Stephen was to the leading of the Spirit, read chapter seven. How would the church today received such a message? How would you respond to hear such a message today? Whose side are we on? Are you brave enough to teach the truth in such a manner? I am not saying we are to do this without the leading of the Spirit. There is a time when we must be quiet and a time to speak in such a manner. We do not have the wisdom know when. As we pray, God will lead us.


As a Hellenistic Jew, Stephen shared the gospel in the Hellenistic synagogues of Jerusalem. There were several such synagogues in the city; Acts 6:9 probably refers to two of them, one of southern immigrants (Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria) and one of northern immigrants (those from Cilicia and Asia).

Jesus was no doubt the central issue of the debates, but the charges raised against Stephen indicate an understanding on his part of the gospel and its implications that perhaps surpassed that of the Judean believers. Stephen was accused of speaking blasphemies against Moses and God; that is, against the law and the temple. Even if he was misunderstood on some points—or his words were deliberately twisted—and false witnesses were induced to speak against him, the charges may not have been totally false, as in the case of Jesus Himself (Mark 14:58, John 2:19). Stephen’s explicit condemnation before the Sanhedrin for the idolatrous veneration of the temple (Acts 7:48) reveals that he understood the deeper implications of the death of Jesus and where it would lead, at least in regard to the temple and its ceremonial services.

In other words, while perhaps many Jewish believers of Judean origin were still too attached to the temple and other ceremonial practices (Acts 3:1; 15:1, 5; 21:17-24) and were finding it difficult to abandon them (Gal. 5:2-4, Heb. 5:11-14), Stephen, and perhaps the other Hellenistic believers as well, quickly understood that Jesus’ death signified the end of the entire temple order.

Why must we be careful not to be so locked into some of our cherished notions that we close out new light when it comes?

The answer is obvious. God sends light and we refuse it? Look at the situation today in the church. We have rebellion against Bible truth, against the world church, and against God Himself as the Spirit attempts to lead church members into unity in doctrinal matters. How long ought it take to know what do do with rebels who reject both the Bible and the church? The Bible is clear on the matter, but human wisdom is sought rather than Bible truth.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Tuesday          July 24

Before the Sanhedrin


Read Acts 7:1-53.

7:1   Then said the high priest, Are these things so? 
 7:2   And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, 
 7:3   And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall show thee. 
 7:4   Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell. 
 7:5   And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not [so much as] to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when [as yet] he had no child. 
 7:6   And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat [them] evil four hundred years. 
 7:7   And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place. 
 7:8   And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so [Abraham] begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac [begat] Jacob; and Jacob [begat] the twelve patriarchs. 
 7:9   And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him, 
 7:10   And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house. 
 7:11   Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance. 
 7:12   But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first. 
 7:13   And at the second [time] Joseph was made known to his brethren; and Joseph's kindred was made known unto Pharaoh. 
 7:14   Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to [him], and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls. 
 7:15   So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers, 
 7:16   And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor [the father] of Sychem. 
 7:17   But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, 
 7:18   Till another king arose, which knew not Joseph. 
 7:19   The same dealt subtly with our kindred, and evil entreated our fathers, so that they cast out their young children, to the end they might not live. 
 7:20   In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father's house three months: 
 7:21   And when he was cast out, Pharaoh's daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son. 
 7:22   And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. 
 7:23   And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. 
 7:24   And seeing one [of them] suffer wrong, he defended [him], and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: 
 7:25   For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not. 
 7:26   And the next day he showed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? 
 7:27   But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? 
 7:28   Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday? 
 7:29   Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons. 
 7:30   And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush. 
 7:31   When Moses saw [it], he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold [it], the voice of the Lord came unto him, 
 7:32   [Saying], I [am] the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold. 
 7:33   Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground. 
 7:34   I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt. 
 7:35   This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send [to be] a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush. 
 7:36   He brought them out, after that he had showed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years. 
 7:37   This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. 
 7:38   This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and [with] our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us: 
 7:39   To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust [him] from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, 
 7:40   Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for [as for] this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. 
 7:41   And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. 
 7:42   Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices [by the space of] forty years in the wilderness? 
 7:43   Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon. 
 7:44   Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen. 
 7:45   Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David; 
 7:46   Who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob. 
 7:47   But Solomon built him an house. 
 7:48   Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, 
 7:49   Heaven [is] my throne, and earth [is] my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what [is] the place of my rest? 
 7:50   Hath not my hand made all these things? 
 7:51   Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers [did], so [do] ye. 
 7:52   Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: 
 7:53   Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept [it]. 


The Conversion of Paul

What was Stephen saying to his accusers?

The charges raised against Stephen led to his arrest and trial by the Sanhedrin. According to Jewish tradition, the law and the temple services were two of the three pillars upon which the world rests—the last being good works. The mere insinuation that the Mosaic ceremonies had become outdated was truly considered an assault on that which was most sacred in Judaism; hence the charge of blasphemy (Acts 6:11).

Stephen’s response is the lengthiest speech in Acts, which by itself is an indication of its significance. Though at first sight it seems nothing more than a tedious recital of Israel’s history, we should understand the speech in connection with the Old Testament covenant and the way the prophets used its structure when they stood up as religious reformers to call Israel back to its requirements. When that happened, they sometimes employed the Hebrew word rî?, whose best translation is probably “covenant lawsuit”, to express the idea of God as taking legal action against His people because of their failure to keep the covenant.

In Micah 6:1, 2, for example, rî? occurs three times. Then, following the pattern of the Sinai covenant (Exodus 20-23), Micah reminds the people of God’s mighty acts on their behalf (Micah 6:3-5), the stipulations and violations of the covenant (Micah 6:6-12), and finally the curses for the violations (Micah 6:13-16).

This is probably the background of Stephen’s speech. When asked to explain his actions, he made no effort to refute the charges nor to defend his faith. Instead, he raised his voice in the same way the ancient prophets did when they brought God’s rî? against Israel. His long review of God’s past relationship with Israel was intended to illustrate their ingratitude and disobedience.

Indeed, by Acts 7:51-53 Stephen is no longer the defendant but God’s prophetic attorney presenting God’s covenant lawsuit against these leaders. If their fathers were guilty of slaying the prophets, they were even more so. The change from “our fathers” (Acts 7:11, 19, 38, 44, 45) to “your fathers” (Acts 7:51) is significant: Stephen broke his solidarity with his people and took a definite stand for Jesus. The cost would be enormous; yet, his words reveal no fear nor regret.

When was the last time you needed to take a firm and uncompromising stand for Jesus? Did you, or did you waffle instead? If the latter, what needs to change?

What was the result of the rebuke? Was it done in love? How can we know?
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Wednesday          July 25

Jesus in the Heavenly Court


Since by definition a prophet (in Hebrew, na?î) is someone who speaks for God, Stephen became a prophet the very moment he brought God’s rî? against Israel. His prophetic ministry, however, was rather short.

Read Acts 7:55, 56.

 7:55   But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 
 7:56   And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. 


What was the meaning of Stephen’s vision?

“When Stephen reached this point, there was a tumult among the people. When he connected Christ with the prophecies and spoke as he did of the temple, the priest, pretending to be horror-stricken, rent his robe. To Stephen this act was a signal that his voice would soon be silenced forever. He saw the resistance that met his words and knew that he was giving his last testimony. Although in the midst of his sermon, he abruptly concluded it.”—Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 100.

While Stephen stood before the Jewish leaders discharging God’s case against them, Jesus was standing in the heavenly court—that is, in the heavenly sanctuary, next to the Father, an indication that the judgment on earth was but an expression of the real judgment that would take place in heaven. God would judge the false teachers and leaders in Israel.

This explains why the call to repentance, a common feature in the previous speeches in Acts (2:38, 3:19, 5:31), is missing here. Israel’s theocracy was coming to an end, meaning that the world’s salvation would no longer be mediated through national Israel as promised to Abraham (Gen. 12:3, 18:18, 22:18), but through the followers of Jesus, Jew and Gentile, who were now expected to leave Jerusalem and witness to the world (Acts 1:8 ).

Read Acts 7:57-8:1, 2.

 7:57   Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 
 7:58   And cast [him] out of the city, and stoned [him]: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. 
 7:59   And they stoned Stephen, calling upon [God], and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 
 7:60   And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. 
 
Chapter 8

 8:1   And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. 
 8:2   And devout men carried Stephen [to his burial], and made great lamentation over him.


How does Luke report Stephen’s death?

Stoning was the penalty for blasphemy (Lev. 24:14), though it is not clear whether Stephen was sentenced to death or lynched by a crowd of fanatics. At any rate, he was the first recorded believer in Jesus to be killed because of his faith. That the witnesses laid their garments at Saul’s feet suggests he was the leader of Stephen’s opponents; yet, when Stephen prayed for his executioners, he prayed for Saul, as well. Only a person with a superior character and unwavering faith could do such a thing, a powerful manifestation of his faith and the reality of Christ in his life.

He had a superior character because He was truly converted and had been walking with Jesus. What was the crowning evidence that he was converted and not just putting down these great sinners? He cared for those murdering him. In other words, he loved his enemy.

Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.