Stephen’s Testimony Is Rejected, and He Is Stoned to Death

Acts 7:51–60

51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.
52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:
53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.
54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.
55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,
58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.
59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Elder James E. Talmage wrote:

“It is plain to be seen that Stephen’s speech [before the Sanhedrin] was not one of vindication, and far from a plea in his own defense; it was a proclamation of the word and purposes of God by a devoted servant who had no thought for personal consequences. In forceful arraignment he thus addressed His judges: [Acts 7:51–52]. Maddened at this direct accusation, the Sanhedrists ‘gnashed on him with their teeth’ [Acts 7:54]. He knew that they thirsted for his blood; but, energized by the Holy Ghost, he looked steadfastly upward, and exclaimed in rapture: ‘Behold I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God’ [Acts 7:56]. This is the first New Testament record of a manifestation of Christ to mortal eyes by vision or otherwise, subsequent to His Ascension. The priestly rulers cried aloud, and stopped their ears to what they chose to regard as blasphemous utterances; and, rushing upon the prisoner with one accord, they hurried him outside the city walls and stoned him to death. True to his Master, he prayed: ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit’ [Acts 7:59]; and then, crushed to earth, he cried with a loud voice: ‘Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep’ [Acts 7:60].

“So died the first martyr for the testimony of the risen Christ. He was slain by a mob comprising chief priests, scribes, and elders of the people. What cared they that no sentence had been pronounced against him, or that they were acting in reckless defiance of Roman law? Devout men bore the mangled body to its burial; and all the disciples lamented greatly. Persecution increased, and members of the Church were scattered through many lands, wherein they preached the gospel and won many to the Lord. The blood of Stephen the martyr proved to be rich and virile seed, from which sprang a great harvest of souls [see Acts 8:4; 11:19].”

(Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. [1916], 711–12.)

Comments