Stephen’s Speech To The Sanhedrin (The Patriarchs)
7 Then the high priest asked Stephen, “Are these charges true?”
2 To this he replied: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Harran. 3 ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you.’
4 “So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Harran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living.5 He gave him no inheritance here, not even enough ground to set his foot on. But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child.6 God spoke to him in this way: ‘For four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated. 7 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves,’ God said, ‘and afterward they will come out of that country and worship me in this place.’ 8 Then he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. And Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him eight days after his birth. Later Isaac became the father of Jacob,and Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs.
9 “Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him 10 and rescued him from all his troubles. He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh king of Egypt. So Pharaoh made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace.
Comments and Reflections
Stephen’s speech is a familiar rhetorical tool that was often used by the prophets. They would recount all the deeds that the Lord has done in the past regarding the Israelites and then provide a vision of the present. This day, Stephen is planning on doing the same thing. If the mind of the early Christian, the story of God and His chosen people fits right in with this savior we call Jesus. The only question is whether or not people could see the connection.
Also notice that when Stephen is asked whether the charges against him are true, he does not respond with a yes or a no. Instead, he uses the opportunity to defend the gospel, not himself. He could have easily refuted the accusations and even lied in order to preserve his life. However, he chose to take the road that would likely end in suffering. This is the same road that went before him and the same road that many Christians since then have gone.
No one is promised a life without persecution. Jesus told his disciples that they would be hated. We should expect also that we too will eventually draw the ire of many.