First Martyr for Christ
The Prophet Stephen.. Honest?? I had NEVER heard of him before a few months ago - & have been studying him every since.. This dude was ON FIRE for Jesus! The 'sheer amount' of fire he had, was unbelievable - & is a fire that I, myself, long for! He didn't give a shhaatt what anyone thought.. If he could do it for the Glory of Christ - at ALL and ANY cost - he did it. As long as breath was in his nostrils - if Christ needed it done.. He did it! We should all strive to be 'THAT' on fire for Christ. Even HALF of that kinda 'can-do' for Christ would be absolutely WONDERFUL! Can you IMAGINE the ripple wave of 'THAT' impact?? Even if Christians had 1/2 of what he had - we could CHANGE THE WORLD... Not just for the better - but for Christ.. Which is BETTER than BETTER! As mentioned - I have only been studying him for a few months.. But think I have enough for a story worthy of him. The story will prolly grow with time! So without further ado - The Prophet Stephen's story...
The Prophet Stephen was a 'yella dog' Christian - from every angle. Not much is known about his early life.. Mmbut like us all.. I am sure he was empty in life, and trying to find meaning in it.. And like us all.. He found it in Christ.. It has been stated from early account, that Stephen was born Jewish, but nothing more is known about his previous life. Even that 'really' can't be verifiable.. Not to my satisfaction, anyway.. But it IS the consensus of most scholars, & historians. The Prophet Stephen is first mentioned in Acts of the Apostles as one of seven deacons appointed by THE Apostles to distribute food and charitable aid to poorer members of the community in the early church. According to Orthodox belief, he was the eldest and is therefore called "archdeacon." From that? We can establish that he was advanced in years somewhat, but not 'old' by any means.
According to Wiki - The reason for the appointment of the deacons is stated to have been dissatisfaction among Hellenistic (that is, Greek-influenced and Greek-speaking) Jews that their widows were being slighted in preference to Hebraic ones in distribution of alms from the community funds. Since the name "Stephanos" is Greek, it has been assumed that he was one of these Hellenistic Jews. Stephen is stated to have been full of faith and the Holy Spirit and to have performed miracles among the people. That REALLY doesn't surprise me at all - considering the way he lived. Stephen caused opposition from groups of Jews from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia, and Asia. They were verbally hostile toward Stephen. Wanting to be rid of him, they accused him before the local elders and leaders of speaking blasphemy against God and Moses. This caused a great deal of turmoil and lead to a mob seizing Stephen. When Stephen was brought before the Sanhedrin - he began to tell stories from the history of Judaism.
At the end of his speech, Stephen nailed his fate solidly shut as he reprimanded the council for being closed-minded and blind. He stated that the Jews have been persecuting prophets throughout their history and are responsible for crucifying Christ. He finished by accusing them of not following the very laws they enforce. Then Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit and said he saw the glory of God, with Jesus standing at his right hand. The Sanhedrin were enraged, dragged Stephen out of Jerusalem, and stoned him to death, here. His body was then buried by Godly men. For MANYY years - Saint Stephen's tomb rested undiscovered. Now, however, scientist and Biblical Scholars believe they have found his grave on these grounds.. Amidst these ruins, here, where an inscription likely made by the men who buried him.. The inscription along testing on the rock (which the tests found to be put there in the time in which Stephen would have died) - is what ultimately broke this mystery wide open.
The story of Saint Stephen should be one we ALL aspire to live.. In every way - with every breath - ALL in ALL - to be like Stephen in that we should live our lives (each & EVERY breath) - for CHRIST!! ..
Stephen's death marks a turning point (so-to-speak), Introducing us to Paul (aka Saul of Tarsus):
Stephen’s death was witnessed by Saul of Tarsus. Saul, a Pharisee, approved of Stephen’s death and began to persecute the church directly following the event. His severe persecution of the church led him to search for Christians in Damascus. While on the road there, he was visited by Christ in a vision and dramatically changed his opinion, accepting that Jesus was the Messiah.