A complaint is brought to the apostles by the Hellenist Jews that their Widows were being neglected in the custom of the daily distribution. This ‘daily support’ refers to distributing food or money or both, whatever way the widows needed help. This was an injustice and the apostles quickly enacted a plan to address it. The plan was to commission 7 men to oversee the daily distribution to ensure that no widows were left out of the daily distribution any longer.
The Apostles gathered all the disciples together and gave specific criteria for the selection of these men. According to Acts 6:3 the apostles said these men must be, men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. The disciples came back with 7 men including a man named Stephen who was called out specifically as being full of faith and of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 6:6 The apostles laid their hands on the 7 men including Stephen and commissioned them for this work.
The next section of Acts tells us more about Stephens character.
Acts 6:8–15 (ESV) — 8 And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. 9 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.
Stephen Characteristics: full of Grace, faith, good repute, spirit, wisdom, power, worker of miracles, inspired speech.
I. Stephen was described as being “full of grace and power” just like the Apostles who were described as having “great grace upon them all”
Acts 4:33 (ESV) — 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.
II. Jesus as a young boy was recognized as being filled with wisdom and having the favor of God upon him.
Luke 2:40 (ESV) — 40 And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.
Acts 1:8 (ESV) — 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
10 But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he (Stephen) was speaking. (Acts 6:10)
Jesus promised to his disciples that the Holy Spirit would give them the words they need in the very moment they needed it and to give them wisdom which none of their adversaries would be able to withstand or contradict.
Luke 12:12 (ESV) — 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
Luke 21:15 (ESV) — 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict.
Therefore when Stephen walks in this kind of authority with His words we are not surprised because we know that He is operating in the Spirits power to carry out the very promises Jesus gave to His disciples.
Stephen’s face was like the face of an angel. Sound familiar? Here are three examples of this phenomenon. Moses face shined like an angel and Jesus did on the mount of transfiguration as well as in Johns vision of Jesus in Revelation. What do all these have in common? They all spent time gazing at God and as a result reflected His brilliance to the point where everyone recognized them as one’s who had spent time with God
Exodus 33:12–23 (ESV) — 12 Moses said to the Lord, “See, you say to me, ‘Bring up this people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ 13 Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” 14 And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15 And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. 16 For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?” 17 And the Lord said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” 18 Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” 19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” 21 And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, 22 and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.”
Exodus 34:29–35 (ESV) — 29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. 30 Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses talked with them. 32 Afterward all the people of Israel came near, and he commanded them all that the Lord had spoken with him in Mount Sinai. 33 And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. 34 Whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he would remove the veil, until he came out. And when he came out and told the people of Israel what he was commanded, 35 the people of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face was shining. And Moses would put the veil over his face again, until he went in to speak with him.
Mt. Of Transfiguration
Luke 9:28–36 (ESV) — 28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. 34 As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.
Revelation 1:10–18 (ESV) — 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” 12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
Pray for grace to get time alone with Jesus. Goal: to be full of the Spirit: grace, power, wisdom