Wisdom Wednesday: The Wisdom of Stephen

Wisdom Wednesday: The Wisdom of Stephen

Submitted by Debbie’s Dad

But they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.

(Acts 6:10 NASB 1995)

Last week, we focused on the character of Stephen, the first deacon established in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 6:10). He was chosen because he was judged to be a man “full of the Spirit and wisdom” (v. 6:3), and a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5).

Stephen was chosen to provide and distribute food to the widows in the church family. In the process of carrying out his mission, he “… was performing great wonders and signs among the people  “ (Acts 6:8). And this brought opposition from religious groups, and “… they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking” (Acts 6:10). This resulted in Stephen being falsely accused and brought before the High Priest.

In chapter 7, we see an example of the wisdom and presence of the Spirit of Stephen as he spoke before the High Priest. Stephen spoke an extended message (the record of this by Luke is 52 verses long) where he recounted the history of the Jewish people, and God’s faithfulness:

  • Abraham to Joseph- God revealed His glory to Abrahan and established His people, promised them a land, and in spite of the betrayal of Joseph, God protected them by Joseph as they moved to Egypt. (7:2-14).
  • The enslavement in Egypt–But as they multiplied, a new king (Pharaoh) arose and enslaved them (7:15-19),
  • The deliverance under Moses–So God rose up Moses, nurtured by the Pharaoh’s family, then disowned and fled Egypt; later he returned to lead the deliverance of the people out of Egypt, and through the wilderness. Yet the people were disobedient to God, returning to idolatry.  (7:20-44)
  • Joshua–So God had Joshua lead them to possess the land. (7:45).
  • David and Solomon–These men became kings, and the temple was built (7:46-47).

Citing the sequence of God’s provision to His people, Stephen also reminded them of the nations’ failures. Then Stephen asserted that God does not dwell in a physical house (the temple in Jerusalem!) citing Isaiah 66:1-2.

Then he chastised the “men” (Jewish leaders) severely:

“You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it.” Acts 7:46–53 (NASB95)

This made the leaders and people so angry they entered a rage and stoned Stephen to death. (verses 54-60)

So, we may ask, “What is the wisdom and Spirit in that message that resulted in his death?”

  • He spoke in the Spirit, being guided by the Spirit (see Verse 55).
  • He first set the context of his message on a factual account from Scripture, explaining God’s work and the Jewish people’s resistance to God and His spokesmen (the prophets).
  • He knew the Scriptures and could cite memorized passages.
  • He concluded by showing that they were like many in the record of Scripture, who were not genuine in listening to God’s Spirit; he directly said they killed “the Righteous One” (Jesus; this term is also used By Peter in Acts 3:14 and by Annanias in 22:14).

Like Stephen, we must live by the Spirit and be prepared to directly share the truth of Scripture and the message of the Gospel – in wisdom and the Spirit.


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