Who was Stephen? Why was he a whole chapter and a half in the Bible dedicated to this man? Stephen was among the seven people chosen by the twelve disciples from the brethren, alongside Philip and five others, to help facilitate the fairly distribution of the daily rations amongst all the brethren. To enable the Twelve Apostles to fully dedicate themselves to preaching the Gospel of Jesus.
Acts chapter 6 and 7 introduces Stephen as a faithful man of God, a man full of faith, grace and the Holy Spirit.” who walked in the Dunamis power of God. Chapter 7 narrates the trial of Stephen, which led to his death. Stephen although he was gravely accused, this man when he was given the chance to defend himself, did nothing of that sort. Instead, he consciously chose to submit to the perfect will of God for His life, and he used his life to glorify God.
This man was one, who knew the Lord personally by the power of the Holy Spirit, through a fruitful and deep relationship with Jesus. Stephen was a man totally possessed by God through His Holy Spirit. He had a Christ-Like nature. He was an excellent, obedient and a loyal disciple of Jesus. A man that God would be proud to call his child. This man was indeed a great example of one in whose life Galatians 2:20 is fulfilled. He died completely to self, through his:
A. Faith- He trusted God with his life.
B. Sacrificial Love
D. Reverence of God and all things that pertains God.
Galatians 2:20, I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
21 Exemplary Qualities of Stephen that we should cultivate and draw inspiration from.
Stephen was a man who represented Jesus on the earth excellently because:
- He was full of Agape love
- Full of the Spirit of God.
- Full of forgiveness and he understood the power of mercy.
- He was selfless.
- The joy of the Lord was truly his strength.
- He was very courageous.
- He feared and obeyed God rather than man.
- He believed God completely and wholeheartedly.
- He was a man who spent quality time with God through worship and prayers. Hence when the people looked at his face, he looked like an angel because the glory of God shone upon brightly.
- He was man a who saw through the eyes of God, beyond the veil into the Heavenly realms.
- He loved the Lord immensely and completely.
- He delighted himself in the word of God. He really knew the word of God for himself.
- His focus was on the things of Heaven, rather than the things of the earth.
- He deeply understood the sole purpose of our lives on the earth. and that is to please God.
- He was a man who proudly and confidently identified himself with the birth, death, resurrection and glorification of Jesus.
- He was full of divine wisdom and power.
- He vividly understood that a life with quality, was of more value than a life of quantity, regardless of how brief it may be.
- He was a man moved by the Holy Spirit.
- He carried his cross for Christ with great pride, joy and humility.
- He died a glorious death, as a martyred.
- He was a true and faithful disciple of Jesus, who copied Jesus to the end. He boldly preached the word of God rather than defend himself like Jesus did, he willingly faced persecution like Jesus did, he sacrificed his life like Jesus did, and Just like Jesus, he too asked God to receive his spirit and forgive his persecutors for killing him.
I personally call Stephen “Jesus’ Copycat”. In Philippians 4:9, Jesus said: Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
The name Stephen means crowned. He was indeed crowned by Jesus for his exemplary life on the earth by Jesus.
Stephen’s life illustrates to us, that we must:
A. Not waiver in our faith.
B. Never deny Jesus at any cost.
C. How we honour God with our lives on the earth, is all that truly matters.
D. His life reminds us to always remember that it is extremely rewarding in Heaven, to suffer temporarily Jesus for on the earth.
E. To remind us that God expects to remain true and faithful disciples of Jesus to the end. In other words, we must become Jesus’ copycats just like Stephen.
Stephen was in every sense, a man who could stand boldly before Jesus in Heaven, and say: Lord, I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and now is set before me, a crown of righteousness as stated in 2 Timothy 4:7-8. In the long run, this is what God expects from every one of us His dearly beloved children on the earth.