Stephen was a Jew who had lived outside of Israel. He accepted Christianity and became one of the seven deacons chosen by the disciples to take care of the widows and the needy people in Jerusalem (Acts 6:1-5). Stephen is described as a man who was unusually full of faith and the Holy Spirit.
He performed miracles. One day, while he was teaching in the Synagogue, people who disagreed with Stephen argued against him. He was accused of blasphemy, a serious crime. False witnesses later testified against him, claiming, falsely, that he had said that Jesus would destroy the Temple and throw out the law of Moses (Acts 6:14).
Stephen defended himself against the accusations, but his defense made his adversaries even more angry (Acts 7:56). His adversaries then grabbed him, dragged him out of the city and stoned him to death. (A man named Saul
- who later became a Christian evangelist named Paul, was present at the stoning. He watched over the cloaks of the people who were stoning Stephen). During the stoning, Stephen prayed to Jesus, asking that his adversaries not be charged with the sin of killing him.
He then died (Acts 7:59-60). Stephen became one of the first Christian martyrs. His death marked the onset of an era during which the early Christians fled Jerusalem for fear of persecution. The story of Stephen is found in the New Testament book called Acts, chapters 6 and 7.
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