December 14, 2023 – Thursday
Acts 22:19-20 NKJV
19 So I said, ‘Lord, they know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believe on You. 20 And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’
Acts 22:19-20 NET
19 I replied, ‘Lord, they themselves know that I imprisoned and beat those in the various synagogues who believed in you. 20 And when the blood of your witness Stephen was shed, I myself was standing nearby, approving, and guarding the cloaks of those who were killing him.’
When we looked at Acts 6:8-10, we met Stephen for the first time in the Bible. Today we read the final mention of Stephen when Paul confesses to his role in Stephen’s death. It’s interesting that the New King James Version (NKJV) speaks of the blood of Your martyr Stephen while the New English Translation (NET) speaks of the blood of your witness Stephen.
If you look up the word translated most often as your witness, you will find it is found in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance as G3144, transliterated as martus, and defined as a witness (literally (judicially) or figuratively (genitive case)); by analogy, a “martyr” — martyr, record, witness. By its transliterated spelling and analogy, we can see where it can be used as martyr. Most often it is translated as a witness, at least until we get to the book of Revelation where the Tribulation Saints are often described as martyrs. You may read about Stephen’s death as a witness or martyr in Acts 7 where he is indeed stoned to death.
Back to our verses for today, prior to them Paul is praying, and Jesus appears to him in a vision. In the vision Jesus is saying to Paul (v18), Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me. And that is when Paul actually argues with Jesus, 19 So I said, ‘Lord, they know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believe on You. 20 And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’ Paul believed because of his past actions the Jews would be more receptive to his message about Christ. The discussion ended with Jesus telling Paul, 21 Then He said to me, ‘Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.’”’
Of course, Jesus was correct and there was a near riot over Paul’s testimony when he said he would be sent to the Gentiles with Jesus’ message of salvation. After he said that, this was the reaction, 22 And they listened to him until this word, and then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live!” And the word was gentiles for they were enraged at the idea that God’s salvation could be given freely to believing Gentiles.
There was incredible prejudice against gentiles and especially against the idea of Gentiles becoming Christians in the same way that Jews became Christians, because it implied that Jews and Gentiles were equal before God. Paul addresses this directly in 1 Corinthians 12:13, 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. Then again in Galatians 3:28, 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus and again in Colossians 3:11, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
Bottom Line: Don’t be prideful and argue with God – our Creator – instead of listening and doing His will. After all His will, will be done.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Help us to listen to You and do our best to see Your will done in our lives as we do our best to follow Your Son. – In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Riley D. Driver – Pastor
Still writing and working for the Glory of God