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.
81And Saul approved of his murder.
That very day the church in Jerusalem began to suffer cruel persecution. All the believers, except the apostles, were scattered throughout the provinces of Judea and Samaria. 2Some devout men buried Stephen, mourning for him with loud cries.
But Saul tried to destroy the church; going from house to house, he dragged out the believers, both men and women, and threw them into jail.
4The believers who were scattered went everywhere, preaching the message. 5Philip went to the principal city8.5 the principal city; some manuscripts have a city. in Samaria and preached the Messiah to the people there. 6The crowds paid close attention to what Philip said, as they listened to him and saw the miracles that he performed. 7Evil spirits came out from many people with a loud cry, and many paralysed and lame people were healed. 8So there was great joy in that city.
9A man named Simon lived there, who for some time had astounded the Samaritans with his magic. He claimed that he was someone great, 10and everyone in the city, from all classes of society, paid close attention to him. “He is that power of God known as ‘The Great Power’,” they said. 11They paid this attention to him because for such a long time he had astonished them with his magic. 12But when they believed Philip's message about the good news of the Kingdom of God and about Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13Simon himself also believed; and after being baptized, he stayed close to Philip and was astounded when he saw the great wonders and miracles that were being performed.
14The apostles in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had received the word of God, so they sent Peter and John to them. 15When they arrived, they prayed for the believers that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16For the Holy Spirit had not yet come down on any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
18Simon saw that the Spirit had been given to the believers when the apostles placed their hands on them. So he offered money to Peter and John, 19and said, “Give this power to me too, so that anyone I place my hands on will receive the Holy Spirit.”
20But Peter answered him, “May you and your money go to hell, for thinking that you can buy God's gift with money! 21You have no part or share in our work, because your heart is not right in God's sight. 22Repent, then, of this evil plan of yours, and pray to the Lord that he will forgive you for thinking such a thing as this. 23For I see that you are full of bitter envy and are a prisoner of sin.”
24Simon said to Peter and John, “Please pray to the Lord for me, so that none of these things you spoke of will happen to me.”
25After they had given their testimony and proclaimed the Lord's message, Peter and John went back to Jerusalem. On their way they preached the Good News in many villages of Samaria.
26An angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get ready and go south8.26 south; or at midday. to the road that goes from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This road is not used nowadays.)8.26 This road is not used nowadays; or This is the desert road. 27-28So Philip got ready and went. Now an Ethiopian eunuch, who was an important official in charge of the treasury of the queen of Ethiopia, was on his way home. He had been to Jerusalem to worship God and was going back home in his carriage. As he rode along, he was reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah. 29The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to that carriage and stay close to it.” 30Philip ran over and heard him reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah. He asked him, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
31The official replied, “How can I understand unless someone explains it to me?” And he invited Philip to climb up and sit in the carriage with him. 32
The passage of scripture which he was reading was this:
“Like a sheep that is taken to be slaughtered,
like a lamb that makes no sound when its wool is cut off,
he did not say a word.
33He was humiliated, and justice was denied him.
No one will be able to tell about his descendants,
because his life on earth has come to an end.”
34The official asked Philip, “Tell me, of whom is the prophet saying this? Of himself or of someone else?” 35Then Philip began to speak; starting from this passage of scripture, he told him the Good News about Jesus. 36As they travelled down the road, they came to a place where there was some water, and the official said, “Here is some water. What is to keep me from being baptized?”8.36 Some manuscripts add verse 37: Philip said to him, “You may be baptized if you believe with all your heart.” “I do,” he answered; “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
38The official ordered the carriage to stop, and both Philip and the official went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. 39When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord took Philip away. The official did not see him again, but continued on his way, full of joy. 40Philip found himself in Azotus; he went on to Caesarea, and on the way he preached the Good News in every town.