Lesson 1 – Stephen and the Sanhedrin



Jesus Christ

Holy Spirit



Grecian Jews

Hebrew Jews

Seven men

Full of Spirit


the martyr.

High Priest



of law,

A young

man named


Synagogue of Freedmen,

Acts 6:7 “So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly and a large number of priests became 

obedient to the faith.” With this statement, Luke closes out the Jerusalem evangelism. Jesus’ next move was in the other regions of Israel and this will be our next lesson. The encounter of Stephen with the Jewish leaders serves as a connecting link in Luke’s narrative.

NOTE: Luke used the foregoing statement and other similar summary statements to indicate a change in the direction of God’s evangelism program in this document entitled Acts, or “The Acts of The Apostles.” In this case the evangelism program was carried from Jerusalem into Judea and Samaria. See Acts 8:1. The territory changed, and to some degree, the culture of the people. This will happen along the guidelines of Jesus’ commission (1:8). For other similar summary statements see 9:31; 12:24; 16:5; 19:10, 20; 28:30, 31.

Scene # 1. 6:1-7: The numerical growth of the church was increasing and so was the need for the daily distribution of food for those who could not support themselves, namely, the widows. Note the response to the preaching: 3,000, 2:41; 5,000, 4:4; Men and women added, 5:14. The number was increasing, 6:1. A large number of priests became obedient to the faith, 6:7.

  1. The disciples could be divided into two groups according to their heritage. They were Jews but some were identified as Grecian Jews. They spoke the common Greek language of the Roman Empire in Asia. Those who lived in the Jerusalem area would be known as Hebraic Jews. They would have spoken the Hebrew or more likely the Aramaic language. 6:1.
  2. The sharing of food and other domestic needs started when the first three thousand were added to the saved (2:44, 47). Many of these people had come to Jerusalem from foreign nations (2:5-11). They wanted to stay on to learn more about Jesus Christ and to share in the fellowship of evangelism (2:42; 4:31). The “all things common” program was supported, in part, by contributors like Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus (Barnabas), and people like Ananias and Sapphira (4:36; 5:1, 2).
  3. The twelve apostles were the overseers of the church in the beginning. Elders would be appointed later (11:30). They were

all instructed by Jesus, the king, via the Holy Spirit. See John 14:26; 15:26, 27; 16:12-15.

  1. The Twelve’s main concern was prayer (keeping in step with the Lord’s wishes) and the “ministry of the word” to both the saved

and the “corrupt generation” of Jews (2:40-42). The Twelve laid their hands on seven men who were full of the Spirit and wisdom. They took the responsibility for this communal living program of the church. They would all be scattered shortly; therefore, the communal living aspect would cease. 8:1. Of course, in times of severe famine believers would show the sincerity of their love by practicing the “you eat, I eat” communal principle. See Acts 11:28-30; II Cor. 8:14. The fact that most of these seven men had Greek names may suggest they were Grecian Jews. One, Nicolas, a proselyte, had been converted from paganism to the Jewish faith.

Scene # 2. 6:8-7:60. Jews from out of town, the Synagogue of the Freedmen, moved the Sanhedrin court with their lies to kill Stephen.

  1. Stephen was one of a new group of preachers who had the power of the Holy Spirit (10). The Sanhedrin listened to Stephen’s summary of Jewish history until he charged them with “always resisting the Holy Spirit.” He also charged them with betraying and murdering the Righteous One. “When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.” 7:54.
  2. However, what moved them to stone Stephen to death was when he proclaimed; “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 7:56. Jesus is standing there yet as the church’s Prince and Savior. 5:31.
  3. “Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.” 7:58.
  4. Stephen’s last prayer was for the Jews. A lesson on forgiveness for believers: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” 7:59.

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