Stephen – Obedient to the Holy Ghost.
Stephen may have remembered to obey is better than sacrifice, therefore he was obedient to the Holy Ghost.
The religious “people of the synagogue” arrested Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin Council. The “people of the synagogue” accused him of speaking blasphemy against the synagogue and the law. The High Priest asked him, “are these things so?” which made anything Stephen said in response to that question a defense. Therefore, these disciples of Jesus Christ, Stephen in particular, “obey God rather than man.” Instead of defending himself, Stephen was obedient to the Holy Ghost; He ignored the charges and spoke to the people what the Lord laid on his heart. He totally disregard is life and was bold and fearless in obedience.
Instead of defending himself, Stephen showed Israel how they have erred. Stephen pointed out to the Council and to the spectators, how Israel erred in the past and they are fighting against God now. Stephen show the Council how Israel disobeyed God.
After a long dissertation he concluded, “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 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 53 you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.” Acts 7: 51 – 53, NIV.
Stephen Obedient to Jesus – Boldness, Fearlessness
What brave and bold statements, Stephen made knowing the Council is capable of hurting him. However there is a certain intensity of boldness and fearlessness which, accompany being obedient to Jesus. Stephen had no fear no thoughts for his life.
Stephen’s charges against Israel:
- Stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, Acts 7:51, NIV.
- Always resisting the Holy Ghost, Acts 7:51, NIV.
- Your ancestors killed all of God’s servants, Acts 7:52, NIV.
- They killed all prophets who foretold of Christ, Acts 7:52, NIV.
- Israel betrayed Christ, Acts 7:52, NIV.
- Israel murdered Christ, Acts 7:52, NIV.
- Israel received the law from angels but despised it, Acts 7:53, NIV.
Similar to the the happenings at the convening of the Council at Peter’s defense, “when they heard these things, they were cut to the heart,” Acts 7:54. If the Council members were “pricked in their hearts”, that would have been a good thing. Having been pricked in their hearts by the Word of God, then they would obey the Word and repent. A person cannot “be cut to the heart” and be obedient. Instead of repenting at Stephen’s discourse, they were angry. In Stephen’s words, they were stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears. The Jews were stiff-necked; they were stubborn and disobedient. The Jews were uncircumcised in heart; they were heard-hearted or strong willed. They were uncircumcised in ears; they were skeptical and unbelieving. There is no repenting given these circumstances, being obedient is necessary.
Stephen was Obedient to the Lord’s Command unto Death
Stephen spared no thoughts for his life. His concern was to obey the Holy Ghost by speaking His Word and that is what he did. Similar to praying, speaking the Word of God in obedience to the Lord’s command comes with a confirmation. The High Priest wanted Stephen to defend himself of the charges but that would be in disobedience to the Lord. Stephen obeyed the Lord’s command and he was obedient unto death.
In closing, Stephen was obedient to the Lord for he reproved Israel at the expense of defending himself against distortion, lies and false witnesses. That is the greatest reward in life, confidence in your obedience to the Lord’s command. Frankly, Stephen was unconcerned what the Jews could do to him. He couldn’t care a fig because he pleased the Lord Jesus by being obedient to him and that’s what matters most.
Obey the Lord, follow His command and you will be happy, and receive eternal life. There is great peace when you are obedient to the lord, great peace.