The slings and arrows of outrageous Temple Worshippers came at Stephen from every side. The point of Acts 6:9 is not which of this or that kind of fellow hated Stephen and his message. These were men of various synagogues from various points of the compass. The point is simply put. All of them hated the message.
All of them hated the messenger. Stephen is especially dangerous to them. He is not Jesus. He is not an apostle, one of those chosen by Jesus personally. Stephen is extra dangerous. He is a second generation of Christian, won by the ones who were won, apparently. If Christianity cannot be stopped by the public execution of Jesus the Christ, if threats against the apostles will not silence them, then the violence against the new movement must escalate.
This is not an anti-semitic message. Judaism is so evolved in our day it does not proselyte. Judaism recognizes wisdom and good in all faiths. In many rabbinical schools, willing converts to Judaism are discouraged in every way from leaving their own faith.
Christianity is not so accepting. We chase a perfect faith, conceived in the blood of our Lord. We do not blame anyone for His death; not as a race or part of a race. It is not Judaism, or Roman tyranny or any combination of the two that put Jesus to death. It is the sin of first man/woman and every man/woman since the first. We are not born into the faith but born again into the faith. It is a decision one makes, a choice to respond to a divine calling.
Stephen is dangerous because he chooses the choice. He makes a decision for Jesus Christ. He gets a really heavy dose of the Savior.
Stephen is a raw, primitive believer. In his ministry the church starts to grow. He is full of the Holy Spirit and so of spiritual wisdom. His testimony confounds the Temple Worshippers who hear him.
Stephen is a relic of the early church. Greater than any place we might mention as great in our memory, Stephen’s example, simple, raw, primitive, powerful, converted and so converting is the great hall of our remembered faith.
- Acts in wonders among the people, Acts 6:8-10 The power within him is undeniable. In fact, the power he has is so evident he cannot be overcome with valid argument. Is his power of speech so great men have to believe? If the remainder of the story of Stephen is any indication, he is one who simply tells the story of the Savior in relation to the people from which He came.
- We should say that only a foolish man announces he does not care about his heritage. In fact, one of the proverbial facets of foolishness is raging unconcern about matters of personal and familial import (Proverbs 10:9). At no point does Stephen denounce his national or religious heritage. He simply says Jesus comes to finish the promised state.
- Attracts the lies of persons who cannot accuse him truthfully, Acts 6:11. A lie may not be in detail but in application. Assigned motives impugn the character. These assigned motives may not have anything to do with actual intent. Stephen does not intend to destroy the Temple or to denounce Moses. His motivation is to preach Jesus and so convert hearers. In many generations across the ages, this is unacceptable to men who need conversion.
- Amazes his accusers, Acts 6:12-15. For all those who hate the message and the messenger there is still an apparent difference to the man. He looks like an angel, which may mean not more than he seems a steadfast messenger. He is able to stand up to the disapproval of the forces arrayed against him, however, quite because this is a man able to see what awaits him, Acts 7:52-55. Stephen can keep his eyes on the prize.
Now, really, am I going to get up and tell a church, in sermon form, it should be an atavistic reliquary? No. It is more likely I am going to study up, pray up, think up about five times what I have time to give and let the Holy Spirit call out what God wants for that day. In terms of vocabulary, it is possible I am learning a word or words and so use them in a title or a sentence or just that I like the way two words sound together.
What would be good, atavistically speaking, is for the church to recapture the primitive power of its ancestors. Stephen gets to speak in the synagogue. He is not silly. He knows the coming result of his message but he is convinced about God’s truth and man’s need.