by Henry Bultema

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Stephen was a full man. He was full of faith, full of grace, full of the Spirit and full of power, we read. He was the forerunner of Paul. Before the Apostle of the Gentiles, no one had such a clear vision on Israel as this deacon. After his great message he suffered martyrdom of those whom he had told the truth. He was also filled with courage and called the leaders “stiffnecked and uncircumcised whilst he gave a searching indictment of his own Nation. He gave a bird’s eye view of Israel’s history from Abraham to Solomon.

He was a man of vision, for he “looked up steadfastly into heaven” while they piled the rocks on top of him. He did not look at his own gory body, but at the glory of God. He did not see earth, but heaven, and there he saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God. Why did Jesus stand? We always read that he sits and here he stands. Why? Twice we are told emphatically that he was standing and this must be important. Stephen saw here prophetically Jesus as the Son of Man, standing and waiting for Israel’s conversion, and at the same time ready to receive the faithful remnant represented by Stephen. The word “behold” points also to Israel, for this attention-arresting word is never used of the members of the Body. “Behold, He that keepeth Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” The opened heavens also always points to Israel.

Stephen was also a Christ-like man, for like our Lord, he interceded for his enemies and said also: “Receive my Spirit.”