The Blood of the Martyrs – Acts 6:8 – 7:60

And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” (Acts 7:59 ESV)

A common theme we’ve encountered time and again in our studies in the Book of Acts thus far is summarized by the word “continue.” Despite all the hardships in the world, the church continues. This is because the word of Christ continues through the Holy Spirit’s empowering of the church. But while the church continues to grow, persecution continues alongside it. So far, we’ve seen opposition lead to a mandate, a mandate lead to an arrest, and an arrest lead to death threats. The first 6 chapters of Acts highlight this growing persecution. But in this Sunday’s text, real martyrdom takes center stage. Death is no longer a threat, it’s a reality.

Acts 6:8-7:60 records the death of the first Christian martyr. He was not an Apostle, but one of the seven men chosen to serve the church. He was also full of the Spirit and a powerful preacher. Many people – both leaders and common folks – opposed his message, falsely claiming that he was blaspheming and threatening the temple. Luke records Stephen’s final sermon, after which he is stoned to death.

This Sunday, we’ll face the grim reality of persecution. Indeed, Christian history is filled with the blood of the martyrs. This is our heritage. The church was born out of this blood.

The passage is longer than most of the passages that we consider. Therefore, to be prepared for Sunday, please take time to read Acts 6:8-7:60 and come ready to have your faith both challenged and strengthened by the witness of those who gave everything for our glorious Savior.