The religious leaders arrested Stephen and set up false witnesses to testify against him. As they accused him, they asked Stephen if the testimony against him was true. Stephen then recites a summary of the history of Israel. In this testimony he points out how God had been faithful to the people, but the people had not been faithful to God. They followed their own selves and “resisted the Holy Spirit.” They killed the prophets who announced the coming of Jesus and eventually killed Jesus, the “Righteous One.”
This angered the crowd all the more so they seized him.
“But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”Acts 7:55 ESV
Stephen told them what he saw. They rushed at Stephen and they stoned him to death.
There standing in the crowd, approving of the killing, was a young man named Saul, who eventually encountered Jesus and became the Apostle Paul. Stephen’s witness, empowered by the Holy Spirit, influenced a man who became one of the first missionaries and a writer of much of the New Testament.
The Holy Spirit’s power in Stephen’s life enabled Him to endure persecution and death. The Holy Spirit’s presence in Stephen enabled Him to bring glory to God no matter the circumstances. We live in a world that is increasingly wicked as the world in Stephen’s time was. We need the power to be a witness that Jesus promised before Pentecost.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.””
Acts 1:8 ESV
We need to be full of the Holy Spirit!