Stephen’s Amazing Sermon - The Warrior's Journey®

Stephen’s Amazing Sermon

Author: Chaplain, COL Scott McChrystal, USA (Ret.)

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“You stiff-necked people!  …You are just like your ancestors: Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute.  They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered Him.” (Acts 7:51-52) 

The seventh chapter of Acts is one of the most significant in the Bible. In Stephen’s sermon we find a critical defense of Christianity. This sermon is particularly pertinent against those to those who argued, “If Jesus’ own people didn’t accept Him as the Messiah, they why should non-Jews accept him?” 

Stephen’s answer, of course, is that none of God’s appointed leaders ever found acceptance with their own people. “Was Jesus largely rejected by the Jewish people? Then He’s just the latest in a long string of God-appointed deliverers who were disowned, persecuted, and murdered by God’s people.”   

Look at the biblical characters whom Stephen cites. Abraham was the head of the Jewish Nation, yet he lived as a stranger and alien in his own land (Acts 7:2-5; compare to John 1:10-11; 7:5). Joseph was God’s appointed savior of the Middle East. Yet he was rejected and sold by his own brothers (Acts 7:9-13). Moses was God’s appointed deliverer of Israel from their slavery to the Egyptians. Yet they pushed him aside and said, “Who made you a ruler and judge over us?”  God did. Yet ever after Moses led them out of bondage, they still repudiated him and turned back to Egypt in their hearts (Acts 7:20-40). Even David, Israel’s greatest king who yearned to build God’s temple, experienced betrayal and rejection from God’s people (Acts 7:44-46; 2 Samuel 15-20).   

Stephen concludes his message by asking his countrymen, “Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute?  They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered Him.”  The truth was painful to them.  But instead of humbling themselves and pleading for God’s forgiveness, they became enraged and added to their sins by again killing God’s messenger. For this first martyr of the church, Christ – who is usually pictured as seated beside the Father – stood up to honor and receive Stephen (Acts 7:55). 

No one who serves Jesus Christ should expect this world to accept and love them. This world, though loved by God (John 3:16), is God’s enemy. “Friendship with the world is hostility toward God” (James 4:14). Let’s take our place with Jesus and suffer with Him. 


  • What was Stephen’s dying prayer as the angry crowds stoned him? 
  • Though the world may be hostile to our Christian faith, should we reciprocate that hostility – or, should we follow Stephen’s example (and Christ’s – Luke 23:34) by sharing the Gospel with it and praying for its redemption? 
  • We are in a spiritual battle. We cannot defeat evil with evil, but with the Gospel. 

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