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Christ Church—Radford

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Radford, VA 24141

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Recounting Resistance and Rejection (Acts 7)

Recounting Resistance and Rejection (Acts 7)
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Abraham (verses 1-8)

Beginning with the greatness and transcendence of God (v1), Stephen traces the self-revelation of God throughout history. He shows that He is a living God, on the move with His people. God has repeatedly raised up deliverers for them, but time after time they have been rejected in disobedience. As a wise evangelist, Stephen points to the commonality between himself and the Jews—a common character, Abraham (v2). And from there, he follows the history forward showing where his audience has veered off the path from God, while at the same time showing them the way back to Him.

Joseph (verses 9-16)

Stephen goes on to explain the account of Joseph, and how he was rejected by his brothers while he was still a youth (v9-16). They first threw him into a pit to die before selling him into slavery. But another transaction lands him in Egypt where he was “granted favor and wisdom” by God (v10), and eventually Joseph was able to save his family (and the nation). The brothers who had rejected him eventually recognized him as their savior, repented of their wrong doing, and were reconciled to him.

Moses (verses 17-45)

Giving another hint of hope, Stephen shows how Moses also “tried to reconcile in peace” his brothers (v26), quite clearly pointing to Christ who would be raised up after him (v37). But Moses, and ultimately God, was rejected by the people he came to rescue (v25-26, 39-43), just as Jesus “came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11). In the same way, these leaders, who are accusing Stephen, have rejected God’s Law and refused to worship God truly, just as has been their pattern all throughout the history of the nation!

David/Solomon (verses 46-50)

Because the Jews had completely missed the temporary nature of the temple, as well as its typology and foreshadowing of Christ, they continued to idolize it even after the true Temple (i.e. Christ) had come to dwell among them. Ultimately, they misunderstood the immensity of God, thinking that he could be confined to a building made with hands, when in reality, He dwells in all places at all times, as His presence in all places in the history of Israel makes clear! 

Stephen (verses 51-60)

Stephen masterfully accuses his hearers of their shared guilt in rejecting God by resisting the deliverers that He has provided over the course of history: Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David/Solomon. His argument culminates in verse 51, by saying that they are “always resisting the Holy Spirit.” As Stephen beheld Jesus, his opponents were enraged to the point of yelling, plugging their ears, rushing at him, driving him out of the city, and stoning him to death. With this, Stephen is added to the list of deliverers rejected by them. His final words, much like Christ’s last words, are a prayer both for himself and for the forgiveness of his murderers. 

Questions for Application:

- What does the history of Israel as told here by Stephen reveal about the patience and mercy of God? What does it reveal about the nature of human hearts?

- Why were the Jewish leaders so enraged by Stephen’s words? Why were they rejecting his message?

- What does it mean to resist the Holy Spirit? Are you resisting Him or submitting to Him? Are you rejecting Christ or coming to Him? 

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