Our study is about Stephen today. We will review some of the Old Testament people that he talked about and also Jesus. For our IFA: Investigating Facts in Acts addition, there is a printable evidence card with directions to make an evidence bag. This can be used for any lesson! There is also a Fill-in-the-Blank STEPHEN Flap Book. The kids love these!Our Bible lesson is found in Acts 6:8-8:4.Last week we studied a married couple named Ananias and Sapphira. They sold land and Ananias told Peter that the money they were giving was the full amount from the sale. But they only gave a portion. Peter told him he was lying to God and he fell down dead.
After three hours his wife Sapphira came in and said, yes that’s what we sold the land for. Peter said "Your husband said the same thing, so look at these men because they are the ones that carried him out when he died and they will carry you out." She died right way, and they buried her right next to her husband.
Peter and John and Stephen were some of the people who did what Jesus commanded. They went about healing people and telling about Jesus. They were beaten and made fun of. When they were brought to the chief priests and asked why they kept doing what they were told not to do, they answered that “We obey God instead of men!”
They taught DAILY in the temple and in every house, preaching and teaching about Jesus being the Savior. The word of God spread.
Today we will be talking about Stephen and how his works for Jesus and his death introduces us to Saul, who we know as Paul. Read today’s Bible verse: "Now Stephen, a man full of God's grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people."
Some of the Jewish leaders were arguing with Stephen about what he taught. They just couldn’t stop him from preaching, so they secretly told men to say that they had heard Stephen say offensive words against God. (vs. 11) The Jewish leaders got the people all worked up and Stephen was brought to the Jewish council.
They had false witnesses come in and tell lies. Everyone sitting at council thought Stephen had a face of an angel.(vs. 15) The high priest asked if the people were telling the truth with their accusations and Stephen began by telling the council about Old Testament Bible people:
1. God told Abraham to go to a new land. Which he did. God promised Abraham a son. God gave him Isaac. Abraham would be the father of all nations. His descendants would be like the stars in the sky! Which they are!
2. Isaac had Jacob. And Jacob had 12 sons. We know them as the 12 tribes of Israel. One of those sons was Joseph. His brothers were so jealous because Jacob gave Joseph a coat of many colors. They sold him and Joseph was taken to Egypt.
God gave Joseph "favor and wisdom". Pharaoh, the King of Egypt, made him Governor over Egypt, which gave him a lot of power in Egypt. God was watching over him! Joseph sent for his father, Jacob, during a famine, and they were able to be together again! All these men are found in the book of Genesis.
3. And then Stephen talked about Moses. He is in Exodus and it's over 400 years later. Moses was 40 when he killed the man and left Egypt. Moses saw the burning bush when he was 80 years old! (Acts 7:23-34) God had Moses and his brother Aaron take the Israelites out of Egypt. After the 10 plagues, they left Egypt. God also gave them the 10 commandments.
4. Stephen then talks about David. He fought the giant Goliath. He was also a king for 40 years.
5. His son, Solomon who was the wisest man that ever lived, was king after him.
6. Stephen finishes up with Jesus. He calls Jesus 'The Just One'.
Stephen told the council they were stubborn, because all those people knew about God but they wanted to do what they felt like instead of what God says to do.
Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit and when he looked up into heaven, Stephen saw 'the glory of God' (no one is permitted to see God) and on the right side of God, Jesus was standing! (Acts 7:55-56) The Bible tells us that Jesus is sitting on God's right side. (Mark 16:19)
The men shouted out and plugged their ears! They ran at Stephen and took him out of the city to stone him.
The men that were witnesses in the temple were by law supposed to throw the first stones. Those witnesses laid their coats at the feet of Saul. (vs. 57) The clothes they laid at Saul’s feet would have been the outer coat that would get in the way when they heaved the rocks at Stephen.
As the people were stoning him, Stephen called to Jesus to “receive my spirit”. Stephen was ready to go to heaven with Jesus and he asked Jesus to forgive them for what they were doing to him. (vs. 58)
This is the first time the Bible talks about Saul, who we are going to study. We know him as Paul.
This was the persecution of the Christians. They were killed for telling others about Jesus. People left Jerusalem and went to other countries telling about Jesus.
Read: Acts 8:3-4 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. He approved of Stephen getting stoned to death. And, those who were Christians, went everywhere preaching the word.