Acts 6: 8-15:
And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people. But some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen, including both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and argued with Stephen. But they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.” And they stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes, and they came up to him and dragged him away and brought him before the Council. They put forward false witnesses who said, “This man incessantly speaks against this holy place and the Law; for we have heard him say that this Nazarene, Jesus, will destroy this place and alter the customs which Moses handed down to us.” And fixing their gaze on him, all who were sitting in the Council saw his face like the face of an angel.
It is interesting hat spiritual qualifications and qualities meant more to the early church than actual organizational ability. In Stephen’s case he was a person that was not only filled with the Spirit but who did miracles which kind of undercuts the notion that only the apostles did miracles in the first century. It is this popularity that attracts the attention of the Council.
Stephen is accused of blasphemy which is simply the notion that Stephen is preaching something that is truly dangerous in the sense it is so dangerous that he deserves death from their point of view. That teaching was simply that Jesus was the Christ and that he had risen from the dead. I think the rest was an embellishment to get him in front of the Council. The accusation is very similar to the one leveled at Jesus during his trials. Stephen is unmoved and it shows in the simple fact that he faces his accusers with calm and God adds an angelic touch.
Next: Stephen’s Sermon