Stephen’s Sermon Acts: The Unfinished Story of the Church Series  Acts 7:1-53 June 17, 2012 Pastor Paul K. Kim
PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS ON STEPHEN’S SERMON It is the longest sermon recorded in the book of Acts. It is Stephen’s response to the twofold accusations: 13 “This man never ceases to speak words against (1) this holy place and (2) the law. 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.” (vs.13-14)
PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS ON STEPHEN’S SERMON It is the longest sermon recorded in the book of Acts. It is Stephen’s response to the twofold accusations: It is a prophetic proclamation of the truths to Stephen’s judges (the Sanhedrin)—rather than a mere attempt to dodge the trouble (death by stoning).
THREE QUESTIONS IN UNDERSTANDING STEPHEN’S SERMON 1) What is Stephen’s purpose in telling the familiar Old Testament stories that the Jews knew by heart? And the high priest said, “Are these things so?” (v.1) It is to provide the historical context of his answers to the accusations. It is to let the OT Scriptures tell the truths about the issues at hand—the temple and the law. It is to reveal Jesus—whom they rejected—as the promised Messiah of the Old Testament.
THREE QUESTIONS IN UNDERSTANDING STEPHEN’S SERMON 2) What is Stephen’s main point in each era of Israel’s history? Abraham: God’s sovereign initiative and covenant (vs. 2-8) “The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, 3 and said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.’... 8 And he gave him the covenant of circumcision…” It was God who took the sovereign initiative to appear to Abraham and to make the covenant with him. It was in spite of Abraham’s imperfect life and back ground—his father’s idolatrous family and his reluctance. God was with Abraham in everywhere—from Ur to Haran to Canaan—being faithful to his covenant.
THREE QUESTIONS IN UNDERSTANDING STEPHEN’S SERMON 2) What is Stephen’s main point in each era of Israel’s history? Joseph: God’s sovereign plan and provision (vs. 9-16) 9 “And the patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him 10 and rescued him out of all his afflictions and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt and over all his household…” In Joseph’s story, we see God’s plan of salvation for Israel— the twelve sons of Jacob as sojourners in Egypt. They rejected young Joseph as God’s chosen leader but God used their sins to save and provide for Israel in Egypt.
THREE QUESTIONS IN UNDERSTANDING STEPHEN’S SERMON 2) What is Stephen’s main point in each era of Israel’s history? Moses: God’s prophets and Israel’s disobedience (vs. 17-43) “ 37 This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.’ 38 This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles to give to us. 39 Our fathers refused to obey him, but thrust him aside, and in their hearts they turned to Egypt” His first 40 years: Education in Egyptian wisdom His second 40 years: Preparation in the Midian desert. His third 40 years: Leading the Israelite to Canaan. Israel refused to obey the words of Moses [the law] and turned to idols.
THREE QUESTIONS IN UNDERSTANDING STEPHEN’S SERMON 2) What is Stephen’s main point in each era of Israel’s history? David & Solomon: God’s tabernacle & temple (vs. 44-50) “ 48 Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says, 49 “‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? 50 Did not my hand make all these things?’” Tabernacle & Temple: a temporary symbolic place made by hands (to meet Holy God). Israel turned this holy place for their self-entitlement and religious establishment rather than pleasing God. God doesn’t dwell in houses made by hand.
THREE QUESTIONS IN UNDERSTANDING STEPHEN’S SERMON 3)What is Stephen’s conclusion in examining the OT Scriptures? “ 51 You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” (vs.51-53) Concerning the Temple: God is not restricted to one place—no building can confine him. God is wherever his people are. Concerning the Law: God gave Israel Moses and the law but Israel rejected the prophets and disobeyed the law. Concerning Israel: Therefore, you are the ones who (1) resisted the Holy Spirit; (2) persecuted the prophets/the Righteous One; (3) disobeyed the law in spite of receiving the law as God’s people.
Lord, bend that proud and stiff-necked I, Help me to bow the head and die; Beholding Him on Calvary, Who bowed His head for me. Roy Hession
THREE PRACTICAL QUESTIONS FOR OUR EVERYDAY LIFE 1.How can I prevent/repent from becoming a stiff-necked person—being unbroken and callous toward God’s word and the leading of the Spirit? 1.In what ways can I follow Stephen’s example in boldness and readiness to share God’s truths with others? 1.What must be changed so that my life can be a part of God’s story?