Acts + Letters Lesson 5 Day 2

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Acts 6:8-15

Questions

Stephen’s Witness and Arrest

3. Stephen’s background, character, and relationship with Jesus

Stephen was a foreign-born Jew who spoke Greek. All seven of the chosen men had Greek names, so they were probably all Hellenists.

He was full of faith, full of grace and power, and the Holy Spirit.

…full of faith and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. (Acts 6:8 WEB)

Empowered by the Holy Spirit, Stephen answered his accusers by the Spirit of Wisdom.

Even when accused, Stephen’s “face reflected the perfect peace and confidence of one that knows and trusts his God. His face had the same reflected glory that Moses had as he beheld God intimately.” (Enduring Word)

“The description is of a person who is close to God and reflects some of His glory as a result of being in his presence (Exodus 34:29ff).” (Marshall) (Enduring Word)

Stephen’s character, demeanor, and convincing signs and wonders confirms how deeply and intimately he knew the Father. “The world hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” John 17:14 WEB

4. Stephen’s opposition John 2:19-25

The Jews conspired against Stephen. Since they lacked a good evidence to convict him, “The opponents of Stephen could not win a fair fight, so they used lies and secret strategies to shape popular opinion against Stephen.” (Enduring Word)

False witnesses from nations now known as Libya, Egypt, and Turkey* lied about Stephen to the council. *Acts 6:9 TPT

Or “the Synagogue of the Freedmen.” Although most expositors view these as former Hebrew slaves, the Aramaic is “Libertines.” It is possible that these were pagan cult members who followed a Roman mythical hero named Liber. From this word we get the English word liberty. They emphasized drunkenness and promiscuity. They boasted in their freedom from all moral laws as the Men Set Free to do whatever they desired. They were so hedonistic that even other pagans viewed them as wicked. These Libertines were the antithesis to the true freedom that comes through Christ (John 8:36). (Footnote on Acts 6:9 TPT) Also see Wikipedia article.

“Our bodies (temples) have forty-six chromosomes in every cell.” (Foot note on John 2:20 in TPT)

5. They secretly induced men to say…

Those who oppose a move of God that they perceive as a threat to their position and authority operate from pure evil. They are unethical, determined, and relentless.

Composed of archaic traditions and obsolete practices, and masterminded by the enemy of our souls, the spirit of religion seeks to keep individual believers and the corporate church stagnant and unaware of the call of the Holy Spirit for change. We witnessed the spirit of religion when the Pharisees failed to recognize the coming of the Christ. Today, the spirit of religion can be so subtle that we are unaware of its impact, instead being deceived into believing that God is directing us. Only when we recognize the hold that this counterfeit religion has over Christianity can we be freed to experience the transformation of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in the heart of the church. (Wagner, Freedom from the Spirit of Religion) (Affiliate link)

Guzik suggests,

Normally, Luke would not know what the opponents of Stephen secretly induced men to say. Possibly he knew it because a man named Saul of Tarsus was among the opponents. Some of them were from Paul’s home region of Cilicia. Saul (who became known as Paul the apostle) may have told Luke about this incident.

The religious leaders stirred up the people against Stephen. They recylced the same accusations hurled at Jesus saying he blasphemed Moses, God, the temple, the law, and threatened to destroy the temple and change their customs.

How to avoid crowd manipulation

Crowd manipulation is the intentional use of techniques based on the principles of crowd psychology to engage, control, or influence the desires of a crowd in order to direct its behavior toward a specific action.[1] This practice is common to religion, politics and business and can facilitate the approval or disapproval or indifference to a person, policy, or product. (Wikipedia)

Crowd psychology “differs from and interacts with that of the individuals within it,” so it’s often difficult to discern in the moment. We must pay attention to the still small voice that warns us that the loud voices are saying and the behavior they encouraging wrong beliefs and actions.

Love not judge

Seek first to love. God loved the world. He didn’t come to condemn.

Love does not intimidate, manipulate, conspire, slander, or hate.

 


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My answers to BSF Bible Study Fellowship questions Acts + Letters of the Apostles Lesson 5 Day 2