Thursday in the Fourth Week of Ordinary Time

Acts 6:8-15

Like the Face of an Angel

Stephen was one of the seven chosen by the Hellenistic Jews (Jews who had lived in parts of the empire other than Palestine) and commissioned by the apostles to see to the needs of widows and, we may assume, various other groups.  These men are sometimes referred to as the first deacons, though that office seems to have developed later in the Church.  Still, it certainly is an accurate description for their assigned duties.  But what is obvious in this passage is that, though they took care of widows in the daily distribution, they were also men of the word who could preach and even work miracles, or at least Stephen could (and Philip, Acts 8).  I have noted elsewhere that only the apostles could be the apostles based upon the qualifications for being so (having witnessed the resurrected Christ, ministered with Jesus during his earthly visitation, and, of course, specifically called of God); however, this does not mean that the gifts which went with specific offices in the New Testament were exclusive to those offices.

And so we have this man, Stephen, preaching as well as any before him and working miracles.  He was obviously bold since some were riled up against him.  These are the first Jews we read of, besides the members of the Sanhedrin, who persecuted Christians, indicating matters were getting worse.  He especially angered some because “they could not withstand his wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.”  I take this to refer to his new understanding of the Old Testament in the light of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit in those words.  Well, when people lose an argument that was debated sincerely, they can do one of two things: 1) Admit defeat and convert to the right opinion, or 2) Do something mean to the person who defeated them (I leave out “walk away” as that seemed not to be an option).  They chose option two, falsely accusing him of speaking against “this holy place [temple] and the law [of Moses],” and even that Jesus of Nazareth would “destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.”  Serious charges, indeed!

No doubt, Stephen said something about the temple and the law and matters under the old covenant which were fulfilled in Christ and which were now giving way to the new covenant he instituted; but certainly not under the terms they described.  But the important point is that even the Sanhedrin could not help but notice that Stephen had the face of an angel.  Christians should be passionate about their faith but always in the spirit of love.  This is how Stephen spoke, and his angelic appearance they could not help but see.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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