Stephen was a great man of faith. Earlier the Lord had identified him as a man of conviction, reputation, wisdom, and the Holy Spirit. All these traits of character were going to be necessary for what he was about to face.
It is easy to speak favorably of one’s commitment to the Lord when resistance is minimal, but when the heat in the kitchen rises (so to speak), the qualities of character are put to a test in a way that the temperature of the room is unable to accomplish. This was the experience of Stephen. He had been accused by the Jewish community of turning the world associated with the nation’s Law of Moses and their peculiar customs, upside down (Acts 6:13-14). Stephen had to be a man steady on his feet to have any opportunity to speak clearly. Stressful situations can make the body and tongue quiver. The words of wisdom from Proverbs come to mind: “If thou faint in the day of adversity, Thy strength is small” (24:10, ASV).
As the so-called trial of Stephen got underway, Stephen recounts, briefly, Israel’s history; this allowed for him to have an audience before he got to his main point. He gave attention to the call of Abraham, the family of Joseph in Egypt, the Law received by Moses, and how Moses wrote about a coming prophet unlike any prophet before or after him (7:37).
Stephen begins to zero in on his greater point, with a repetition of earlier prophetic tones, how the nation of Israel, as it currently was, was guilty of stubbornness, nationalism, and a refusal to consider the evidence God presented for His Son (7:51-53). This was more than those in the audience were willing to take. Stephen knew this would be their response, but he said what he did because it needed to be said on this day.
There are many who call themselves Christians who would not do what Stephen did. It’s easy to read and understand what we need to, but is there a heart for enduring something similar? RT