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Acts of the Apostles
Lesson 3
Stephen - The First Christian Martyr

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Reading assignment for this lesson: Acts 5:12 – 7:60

Peter and other apostles continued teaching about Jesus to the Jews in Jerusalem. They gained many converts, but they faced intense opposition from the Jewish religious leaders. The number of believers increased so greatly that the apostles found it necessary to appoint seven assistants. One of these assistants, Stephen, was so full of grace and power that he drew intense opposition from the religious establishment. He was arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council. Stephen presented an eloquent defense before the council, but his opponents were so infuriated that they dragged him out of the city and stoned him to death.

1. Solomon's Portico (or Colonnade or Porch) was a roofed area at one side of the Temple in Jerusalem. The apostles went there daily to worship and teach. How did other people who came to worship react to the apostles? (See Acts 5:12-16).

2. a) Why did the religious leaders have Peter and the other apostles put in jail?
b) How did they get out of jail? (See Acts 5:17-20.)

3. How did the Pharisee Gamaliel persuade the council to let the apostles go free? (See Acts 5:21-42.)

4. What issue led the apostles to appoint Stephen and six other helpers? (See Acts 6:1-6.)

5. Stephen was originally appointed to help with food distribution. How did his role change? (See Acts 6:8.)

6. a) What charges were made against Stephen?
What was the real motive for Stephen's arrest? (See Acts 6:8-15.)

7. Stephen's speech to the Sanhedrin is the longest speech in Acts. Stephen did not say much in his own defense. His main points were that the Jews had historically misinterpreted God's intentions and had reacted to God's prophets and God's Son with violence.

a) How did the angry mob react to Stephen's speech?
b) How did Stephen react to the actions of the mob? (See Acts 7:54-60.)

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