Observation: Stephen gives one of the shortest and best summaries of the vast majority of the Old Testament in this reading.
Question: Is God in control when bad things happen? The persecution that begins in this reading is actually used by God to accomplish what He told the disciples to do. He told them to go and make disciples of all nations, but things were going so well in Jerusalem they seemed to have no desire. Persecution begins and suddenly the gospel spreads just as God had commanded.
Application: I have this tendency to defend myself to others. I notice that Stephen doesn’t do that. Instead, I am sure, he says what God would have him to say in this encounter. I want to seek to say what God wants me to say instead of saying what defends me or causes me to appear right in a situation.
Prayer: Father, I want to be available for You to use today like You used Philip. Use me to point others to You today.
There are 16 references in the New Testament to Jesus being seated at the right hand of God. Stephen’s seeing Jesus standing is unique, What is special about this situation? Perhaps Jesus is giving Stephen a “standing ovation” for his bold speech. Maybe he is making ready to personally receive Stephen into glory. Do we live our lives as Christians in a usual humdrum routine, or do we strive to stand out and be noticed?
Acts 8:16 is a little confusing. Did the samaritans not understand what baptism meant?
You’ll find this happen a couple of times in Acts. There are two issues. We are to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They didn’t fully understand this. They simply hadn’t been taught. Later, there will be a group that was only baptized in John’s baptism. The larger issue at play here is that the Jews would naturally think that they were the only ones being saved. Samaritans were considered half-breeds and would be excluded as would all non-Jews (Gentiles). When God causes the Holy Spirit to inhabit these other groups, it makes it clear that anyone can be saved.