Filled & Empowered by the Spirit


I struggle to understand the causes of the growth and escalation of violence in our age. The evidence, such as genocidal acts, sectarian wars, and protests that turn into street battles, seems to say that peaceful means of settling disagreements have been replaced by mob rule. It is noteworthy to consider that during the infancy of the church, peaceful periods were shattered by such mobs with intense anger and hatred; yet, God’s church grew and spread.

  • Have you ever been part of or near a group of people that placed you in a potentially dangerous situation? How did you respond?


And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen. 10 But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. 11 Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12 And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, 13 and they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.” 15 And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. Make a list of the things you learn about Stephen in this passage (vss. 8, 10, 15).
  2. Why did the people oppose Stephen, and how did they respond when they realized they could not win their argument with him (vss. 11-13)?
  3. What accusations were made against Stephen when they brought him before the Jewish elders, and why did they attribute his blasphemous words to “this Jesus of Nazareth” (vs. 14)?
  4. Notwithstanding the seriousness of the charges against him, how was Stephen’s appearance and composure described in verse 15? What can you infer from this?
  5. How do you respond and to whom do you turn during times of trouble, fear, and opposition?


New opposition to the spreading of the Word arose when Stephen, one of the men “full of the Spirit and wisdom” selected to care for widows, preached to members of a Jewish synagogue that included former slaves. They objected to his message (that Jesus came not to destroy God’s temple and Word but to replace and fulfill it) because of their focus on the physical (the temple and customs). When they found they could not overcome Stephen’s Spirit-filled wisdom, they used unscrupulous means to stir up the people, seize him, and take him before the same Jewish council that had condemned Jesus. Despite this maelstrom, as Stephen prepared with confidence to make his defense, his face was reported to be like an angel’s, like one who has seen, heard, and been favored by God.

  • Thank the Lord that he has favored you, a believer in his son, Jesus, with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
  • Ask his Spirit to help you today with your most significant challenge and need.