October 17, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for Acts 7-8
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Context: Following Stephen’s arrest at the end of chapter 6, he makes a speech to those who captured him. He recounts the history of Israel and their blessings from the Lord. At that time, the Jews had linked, or confined, God’s blessings to the land he promised them. Stephen’s speech shows that God’s blessing began long before they were in the Promised Land. Consider his examples of Abraham, Joseph, and Moses. All three were blessed by the Lord, before the Israelites entered the Promised Land! At the end of his speech, Stephen accuses the religious leaders of being the same as their forefathers who had rejected the Lord in desert. The people were incensed at Stephen’s accusation. They became a lynch mob - perhaps stoning mob would be a better phrase - and stoned Stephen to death. Saul was present at the death of Stephen, although scholars disagree as to what his role was in Stephen’s death. Following Stephen’s death, persecution against Christians broke out and leaders began going out to tell others of salvation through Christ. Philip could be considered one of the first missionaries. Through him, we can see the importance of listening to the Lord and doing what He tells us to do. We also meet Simon. Read about Simon carefully. He was a magician and was, naturally drawn to Philip’s acts, thinking they were just another trick. Simon’s baptism was not a sincere repentance, as he believed he could buy the ability to do what Philip, and later Peter and John, were doing.