51But there was a man named Ananias, who with his wife Sapphira sold some property that belonged to them. 2But with his wife's agreement he kept part of the money for himself and handed the rest over to the apostles. 3Peter said to him, “Ananias, why did you let Satan take control of you and make you lie to the Holy Spirit by keeping part of the money you received for the property? 4Before you sold the property, it belonged to you; and after you sold it, the money was yours. Why, then, did you decide to do such a thing? You have not lied to human beings — you have lied to God!” 5As soon as Ananias heard this, he fell down dead; and all who heard about it were terrified. 6The young men came in, wrapped up his body, carried him out, and buried him.
7About three hours later his wife, not knowing what had happened, came in. 8Peter asked her, “Tell me, was this the full amount you and your husband received for your property?”
“Yes,” she answered, “the full amount.”
9So Peter said to her, “Why did you and your husband decide to put the Lord's Spirit to the test? The men who buried your husband are now at the door, and they will carry you out too!” 10At once she fell down at his feet and died. The young men came in and saw that she was dead, so they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11The whole church and all the others who heard of this were terrified.
12Many miracles and wonders were being performed among the people by the apostles. All the believers met together in Solomon's Porch. 13Nobody outside the group dared to join them, even though the people spoke highly of them. 14But more and more people were added to the group — a crowd of men and women who believed in the Lord. 15As a result of what the apostles were doing, sick people were carried out into the streets and placed on beds and mats so that at least Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16And crowds of people came in from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing those who were ill or who had evil spirits in them; and they were all healed.
17Then the High Priest and all his companions, members of the local party of the Sadducees, became extremely jealous of the apostles; so they decided to take action. 18They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19But that night an angel of the Lord opened the prison gates, led the apostles out, and said to them, 20“Go and stand in the Temple, and tell the people all about this new life.” 21The apostles obeyed, and at dawn they entered the Temple and started teaching.
The High Priest and his companions called together all the Jewish elders for a full meeting of the Council; then they sent orders to the prison to have the apostles brought before them. 22But when the officials arrived, they did not find the apostles in prison, so they returned to the Council and reported, 23“When we arrived at the jail, we found it locked up tight and all the guards on watch at the gates; but when we opened the gates, we found no one inside!” 24When the chief priests and the officer in charge of the temple guards heard this, they wondered what had happened to the apostles. 25Then a man came in and said to them, “Listen! The men you put in prison are in the Temple teaching the people!” 26So the officer went off with his men and brought the apostles back. They did not use force, however, because they were afraid that the people might stone them.
27They brought the apostles in, made them stand before the Council, and the High Priest questioned them. 28
“We gave you strict orders not to teach in the name of this man,” he said; “but see what you have done! You have spread your teaching all over Jerusalem, and you want to make us responsible for his death!”
29Peter and the other apostles replied, “We must obey God, not men. 30The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from death, after you had killed him by nailing him to a cross. 31God raised him to his right-hand side as Leader and Saviour, to give the people of Israel the opportunity to repent and have their sins forgiven. 32We are witnesses to these things — we and the Holy Spirit, who is God's gift to those who obey him.”
33When the members of the Council heard this, they were so furious that they wanted to have the apostles put to death. 34But one of them, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, who was a teacher of the Law and was highly respected by all the people, stood up in the Council. He ordered the apostles to be taken out for a while, 35and then he said to the Council, “Fellow-Israelites, be careful what you do to these men. 36You remember that Theudas appeared some time ago, claiming to be somebody great, and about 400 men joined him. But he was killed, all his followers were scattered, and his movement died out. 37After that, Judas the Galilean appeared during the time of the census; he drew a crowd after him, but he also was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38And so in this case, I tell you, do not take any action against these men. Leave them alone! If what they have planned and done is of human origin, it will disappear, 39but if it comes from God, you cannot possibly defeat them. You could find yourselves fighting against God!”
The Council followed Gamaliel's advice. 40They called the apostles in, had them whipped, and ordered them never again to speak in the name of Jesus; and then they set them free. 41As the apostles left the Council, they were happy, because God had considered them worthy to suffer disgrace for the sake of Jesus. 42And every day in the Temple and in people's homes they continued to teach and preach the Good News about Jesus the Messiah.
61Some time later, as the number of disciples kept growing, there was a quarrel between the Greek-speaking Jews and the native Jews. The Greek-speaking Jews claimed that their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of funds. 2So the twelve apostles called the whole group of believers together and said, “It is not right for us to neglect the preaching of God's word in order to handle finances. 3So then, brothers and sisters, choose seven men among you who are known to be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, and we will put them in charge of this matter. 4We ourselves, then, will give our full time to prayer and the work of preaching.”
5The whole group was pleased with the apostles' proposal, so they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a Gentile from Antioch who had earlier been converted to Judaism. 6The group presented them to the apostles, who prayed and placed their hands on them.
7And so the word of God continued to spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem grew larger and larger, and a great number of priests accepted the faith.
8Stephen, a man richly blessed by God and full of power, performed great miracles and wonders among the people. 9But he was opposed by some men who were members of the synagogue of the Freedmen6.9 freedmen: These were Jews who had been slaves, but had bought or been given their freedom. (as it was called), which included Jews from Cyrene and Alexandria. They and other Jews from the provinces of Cilicia and Asia started arguing with Stephen. 10But the Spirit gave Stephen such wisdom that when he spoke, they could not refute him. 11So they bribed some men to say, “We heard him speaking against Moses and against God!” 12In this way they stirred up the people, the elders, and the teachers of the Law. They seized Stephen and took him before the Council. 13Then they brought in some men to tell lies about him. “This man,” they said, “is always talking against our sacred Temple and the Law of Moses. 14We heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will tear down the Temple and change all the customs which have come down to us from Moses!” 15All those sitting in the Council fixed their eyes on Stephen and saw that his face looked like the face of an angel.
71The High Priest asked Stephen, “Is this true?”
Stephen answered, “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! Before our ancestor Abraham had gone to live in Haran, the God of glory appeared to him in Mesopotamia 3and said to him, ‘Leave your family and country and go to the land that I will show you.’ 4
And so he left his country and went to live in Haran. After Abraham's father died, God made him move to this land where you now live. 5
God did not then give Abraham any part of it as his own, not even a square metre of ground, but God promised to give it to him, and that it would belong to him and to his descendants. At the time God made this promise, Abraham had no children. 6
This is what God said to him: ‘Your descendants will live in a foreign country, where they will be slaves and will be badly treated for 400 years. 7
But I will pass judgement on the people that they will serve, and afterwards your descendants will come out of that country and will worship me in this place.’ 8
Then God gave Abraham the ceremony of circumcision as a sign of the covenant. So Abraham circumcised Isaac a week after he was born; Isaac circumcised his son Jacob, and Jacob circumcised his twelve sons, the famous ancestors of our race.
“Jacob's sons became jealous of their brother Joseph and sold him to be a slave in Egypt. But God was with him 10
and brought him safely through all his troubles. When Joseph appeared before the king of Egypt, God gave him a pleasing manner and wisdom, and the king made Joseph governor over the country and the royal household. 11
Then there was a famine all over Egypt and Canaan, which caused much suffering. Our ancestors could not find any food, 12and when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent his sons, our ancestors, on their first visit there. 13
On the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and the king of Egypt came to know about Joseph's family. 14
So Joseph sent a message to his father Jacob, telling him and the whole family, 75 people in all, to come to Egypt. 15
Then Jacob went to Egypt, where he and his sons died. 16
Their bodies were taken to Shechem, where they were buried in the grave which Abraham had bought from the clan of Hamor for a sum of money.
“When the time drew near for God to keep the promise he had made to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt had grown much larger. 18At last a king who did not know about Joseph began to rule in Egypt. 19
He tricked our ancestors and was cruel to them, forcing them to put their babies out of their homes, so that they would die. 20
It was at this time that Moses was born, a very beautiful child. He was cared for at home for three months, 21
and when he was put out of his home, the king's daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. 22He was taught all the wisdom of the Egyptians and became a great man in words and deeds.
“When Moses was forty years old, he decided to find out how his fellow-Israelites were being treated. 24He saw one of them being ill-treated by an Egyptian, so he went to his help and took revenge on the Egyptian by killing him. 25(He thought that his own people would understand that God was going to use him to set them free, but they did not understand.) 26The next day he saw two Israelites fighting, and he tried to make peace between them. ‘Listen, men,’ he said, ‘you are fellow-Israelites; why are you fighting like this?’ 27But the one who was ill-treating the other pushed Moses aside. ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us?’ he asked. 28‘Do you want to kill me, just as you killed that Egyptian yesterday?’ 29
When Moses heard this, he fled from Egypt and went to live in the land of Midian. There he had two sons.
“After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. 31Moses was amazed by what he saw, and went near the bush to get a better look. But he heard the Lord's voice: 32‘I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’ Moses trembled with fear and dared not look. 33The Lord said to him, ‘Take your sandals off, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34I have seen the cruel suffering of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groans, and I have come down to set them free. Come now; I will send you to Egypt.’
“Moses is the one who was rejected by the people of Israel. ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us?’ they asked. He is the one whom God sent to rule the people and set them free with the help of the angel who appeared to him in the burning bush. 36
He led the people out of Egypt, performing miracles and wonders in Egypt and at the Red Sea and for forty years in the desert. 37
Moses is the one who said to the people of Israel, ‘God will send you a prophet, just as he sent me,7.37 just as he sent me; or like me. and he will be one of your own people.’ 38
He is the one who was with the people of Israel assembled in the desert; he was there with our ancestors and with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and he received God's living messages to pass on to us.
39“But our ancestors refused to obey him; they pushed him aside and wished that they could go back to Egypt. 40
So they said to Aaron, ‘Make us some gods who will lead us. We do not know what has happened to that man Moses, who brought us out of Egypt.’ 41
It was then that they made an idol in the shape of a bull, offered sacrifice to it, and had a feast in honour of what they themselves had made. 42
So God turned away from them and gave them over to worship the stars of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets:
‘People of Israel! It was not to me
that you slaughtered and sacrificed animals
for forty years in the desert.
43It was the tent of the god Molech that you carried,
and the image of Rephan, your star god;
they were idols that you had made to worship.
And so I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.’
“Our ancestors had the Tent of God's presence with them in the desert. It had been made as God had told Moses to make it, according to the pattern that Moses had been shown. 45
Later on, our ancestors who received the tent from their fathers carried it with them when they went with Joshua and took over the land from the nations that God drove out as they advanced. And it stayed there until the time of David. 46
He won God's favour and asked God to allow him to provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.7.46 the God of Jacob; some manuscripts have the people of Israel. 47
But it was Solomon who built him a house.
48“But the Most High God does not live in houses built by human hands; as the prophet says:
‘Heaven is my throne, says the Lord,
and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house would you build for me?
Where is the place for me to live in?
50Did not I myself make all these things?’
“How stubborn you are!” Stephen went on to say. “How heathen your hearts, how deaf you are to God's message! You are just like your ancestors: you too have always resisted the Holy Spirit! 52Was there any prophet that your ancestors did not persecute? They killed God's messengers, who long ago announced the coming of his righteous Servant. And now you have betrayed and murdered him. 53You are the ones who received God's law, that was handed down by angels — yet you have not obeyed it!”
54As the members of the Council listened to Stephen, they became furious and ground their teeth at him in anger. 55But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw God's glory and Jesus standing at the right-hand side of God. 56“Look!” he said. “I see heaven opened and the Son of Man standing at the right-hand side of God!”
57With a loud cry the members of the Council covered their ears with their hands. Then they all rushed at him at once, 58threw him out of the city, and stoned him. The witnesses left their cloaks in the care of a young man named Saul. 59They kept on stoning Stephen as he called out to the Lord, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 60He knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord! Do not remember this sin against them!” He said this and died.