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Stephen is Killed & the Believers are Scattered, Acts 6 –11

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Scripture Summary from The Bible Journey

The Believers are Scattered

Acts 8:1: Following Stephen’s death in 35AD, the more radical members of the young church in Jerusalem are persecuted by the staunchly traditional Jewish hierarchy. Most of the Greek-speaking believers are scattered throughout Judaea and Samaria, while the twelve apostles, who are more traditional Hebrew and  Aramaic-speaking Jews, are able to remain in Jerusalem.

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Background

Acts 6:8-15  Stephen performs great signs and wonders but he is opposed by members of the ‘Synagogue of the Freedmen’ – Jews from Cyrene (the capital of the Roman province of Cyrenaica in modern day Libya), Alexandria (Egypt), and from the Roman provinces of Cilicia and Asia. Stephen is hauled before the Sanhedrin on charges of blasphemy.

Acts 7:1-60  Stephen (a more radical Greek-speaking Jew) defends himself admirably. He explains how Jesus’s coming was foretold by Moses and the prophets (Deuteronomy 18:15) and how he was rejected by the more traditional Hebrew-speaking Jews. When he glances up and says “Look! I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at God’s right side” (Acts 7:56), they are furious. They drag him outside and stone him to death on the grounds of ‘blasphemy’ (severe disrespect for God).

As with Jesus, the Jews have no legal authority to carry out a death sentence. But Stephen is executed illegally during a power vacuum that has occurred between the departure of Pontius Pilate as Roman governor and the arrival of his successor.

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