Saint Stephen is one of our saints that we have not talked much about, yet his faith did much for spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. He is the patron Saint of deacons and stonemasons. His feast day is December 26th. The Acts of the Apostles tells how the first Christians were filled with the Holy Spirit according to Jesus’ promise. These witnesses went out to share the Good News of Jesus Christ in three distinct waves: first in Jerusalem, then in Judea and Samaria, and finally to the ends of the earth. Many thousands became believers due to their evangelism.
In response to the need of a growing Church, the apostles appointed seven deacons to oversee the distribution of food. You can read further about this in Acts chapter 6. One of the Chosen ones was Stephen. He is later stoned to death for arousing opposition with his powerful preaching. His defense of his faith before the court enraged the Jewish audience. He becomes our first martyr. Stephen was full of faith and of the Holy Spirit. Being full of grace and power, he did great wonders and signs among the people. This cause some to dispute with him but they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. As was done with Jesus some did to Stephen. Men who belonged to the synagogue instigated men to state that they heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and God. This stirred up the people and the scribes and they arrested him and took him before the council. There were false witnesses who spoke against him, but it is said that if you would have been there you would have seen that his face was like the face of an angel.
Stephen’s speech, answering the council’s question is in the Bible, Acts 7. Take time to read both Acts 6 and 7. See how Stephen answered the council.
His speech ended in this way, “You stiff-necked people uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so you do. ‘Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it” (Acts 7:51).
After the council heard these things they were enraged. Stephen being full of the Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56). The council covered their ears and shouted to stop from hearing him. They cast him out of the city and stoned him to death. As they were stoning him, he prayed up that Jesus would receive his spirit and he asked that Jesus not hold this sin against them. Then he died.
Did you notice the numerous parallels with that of Jesus? This is showing all of us that Christian life is a recapitalization of Christ’s life in us.