8 Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Then some from what is called the Freedmen’s Synagogue, composed of both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, came forward and disputed with Stephen. 10 But they were unable to stand up against his wisdom and the Spirit by whom he was speaking.
11 Then they persuaded some men to say, “We heard him speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God!” 12 They stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; so they came, dragged him off, and took him to the Sanhedrin. 13 They also presented false witnesses who said, “This man does not stop speaking blasphemous words against this holy place and the law. 14 For we heard him say that Jesus, this Nazarene, will destroy this place and change the customs that Moses handed down to us.” 15 And all who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at him and saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
But they were unable to stand up against his wisdom and the Spirit by whom he was speaking.
What has power over you? That’s actually a really important question and one we don’t generally consciously address. From news channels to commercials, sports teams to education, and preachers to teachers. Lots of voices speak into our lives, and many of them have influence on us that we don’t realize.
This first part of Stephen’s story is about power. Stephen was speaking in “grace and power” and performing great signs and wonders. He had the power of the Holy Spirit in him, and the Spirit was acting through him.
That threatened another setting of power—the religious leaders and the established Jewish faith. Jesus’ new teaching threatened the whole structure of what they believed, so they tried to dispute with Stephen. But the Spirit’s wisdom destroyed the wisdom of man.
When they couldn’t argue with Stephen, they lied about him. They stirred up the people and religious leaders who seized him and brought him to trial, repeating the rumors and lies that had been said about him.
When you’re serving the Lord, expect resistance from this world. Many falsely teach that you can tell God’s path because circumstances become easy. Nothing could be further from the Truth.
In acting in line with God’s Will, the powers of this world will come against you, sometimes destroying your reputation, isolating you, and speak all manner of evil against you falsely in Christ’s name. It may seem like noise and confusion in your circumstances. But the power isn’t in your circumstance.
The word for “stirred up” in this passage is also the word for earthquake. This harkens back to Elijah in 1 Kings 19 where God calls him out of the cave. Elijah sees a wind that tore the mountains and broke the rocks, an earthquake, and a fire, but the Lord wasn’t in those. He wasn’t in the earthquake of the stirred-up people lying about Stephen either.
Often God’s power is found in the most humble of places, like the still small voice in the quiet of the storm or the angelic face of the first martyr of our faith. We just have to know where to look.
- How powerful are news channels and commercials, sports teams and education, etc. in your life compared to Christ and Scripture?
- Do you face resistance to what you believe? If not, are you sure you’re living in the power and grace of the Spirit?