Saint Stephen the Protomartyr
Seven Chosen to Serve - Stephen Accused of Blasphemy - Stephen’s Address, The Call of Abraham - The Patriarchs in Egypt - God Delivers Israel by Moses - Israel Rebels Against God - God’s True Tabernacle - Israel Resists the Holy Spirit - Stephen the Martyr
Now in those days when the number of the disciples was multiplying there arose a complaint by the Hellenists against the Hebrews, because they were neglected in the daily distribution their widows. When summoned the twelve in multitude of the disciples they said; it is not desirable to us that we should leave the word of God in order to serve tables. Seek out therefore, our brethren, men from among you seven of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this necessity; we however to prayer and to the ministry of the word we shall give ourselves. And the saying was pleasing to the whole multitude; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip and Prochorus and Nicanor and Timon and Parmenas and Nicolas a proselyte from Antioch, whom they set before the apostles, and while praying they laid on them the hands. Then the word of God spread, and multiplied the number of the disciples in Jerusalem greatly, and a great many of the Jews were obedient to the faith. And Stephen full of faith and power did wonders and signs great many among the people. Then there arose some from the Synagogue that is called of the Freedmen and Cyrenians and Alexandrians and those from Cilicia and Asia disputing with Stephen, And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. Then they secretly induced men to say that we have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God; And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and caming upon they seized him and brought him to the council, They also set up false witnesses who said; this man does not cease blasphemous words to speak against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us. And looking steadfastly at him all who sat in the council saw his face as the face of an angel. Then he said the high priest; are then these things so? And he said; Brethren and fathers, listen. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, and said to him; Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you. Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there after the death of his father He moved him to this land in which you now dwell; And (God) did not gave him inheritance in it not even of foot size, and He promised to give to him for a possession (the land) and to his descendants after him, although Abraham had no child. But He spoke thus God, thay they would his descendants be dwelling in a foreign land, and they would be slaves and oppressed four hundred years; And the nation to whom they will be in bondage I will judge, said God; and after that they shall come out and serve Me in this place. And He gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so (Abraham) begot Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day, and Isaac (begot) Jacob, and Jacob (begot) the twelve patriarchs. And the patriarchs becoming envious of Joseph they sold (him) into Egypt. And God was with him, and delivered him out of all his troubles, and gave him favor and wisdom in the presence of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house. Now a famine came over all the land of Egypt and Canaan and great trouble, and could not find no sustenance the fathers of ours. But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt he sent out our fathers first; and the second time Joseph was recognized by his brothers, and became known to the Pharaoh the family of Joseph. Sending then Joseph (messengers) he invited his father Jacob and all his relatives to him seventy-five souls. So Jacob went down to Egypt and he lived the rest of his life there and our fathers as well, And they were carried back to Shechem and were laid in the tomb that Abraham bought for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem. But when it drew near the time of the promise which He had sworn God to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, till arose another king, who did not know Joseph. This man dealt treacherously with our people and oppressed our forefathers making them expose their babies, so that they might not live; At this time Moses was born, and was well pleasing to God; who was brought up for three months in the house of his father. But when he was set out she took him away the daughter of Pharaoh and brought him up herself as her own son. And Moses was educated in every wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. Now when he completed forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. And seeing one of them suffer injustice he defended (him), and made avenge for who was oppressed strucking down the Egyptian. He supposed however to be understood by his brethren that God through his hand would deliver them salvation; but they did not understand. And the next day he saw (two of) them fighting, and tried to bring them to peace by saying; men, you are brethren; for what reason are you doing wrong one another? But he who did his neighbor wrong pushed him away saying; who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Killing me maybe you want the way you killed yesterday the Egyptian? Then Moses fled at this saying and became a dweller in the land of Midian, where he had two sons. And when had passed forty years appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai an Angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush. When Moses saw it he marveled at the sight; and as he drew near to better observe came the voice of the Lord to him; I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. And Moses started trembling and dared not look. Then He said to him the Lord; untie the sandals off your feet. For the place where you stand is holy ground. I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt and their groaning I have heard, and have come down to deliver them; and now come I will send you to Egypt. This Moses whom they rejected saying; who made you a ruler and a judge? This one God as a ruler and deliverer has sent by the hand of the Angel who appeared to him in the bush. He brought them out performing wonders and signs in the land of Egypt and in the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years. This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel; a Prophet for you will raise up The Lord your God from among your brethren like me; him you shall hear. This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai and with our fathers, who received the living words to give to us. Whom they would not want to become his followers our fathers, but rejected and turned their hearts (back) to Egypt saying to Aaron; Make us gods to go before us; as for this Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him. And they made a calf in those days and offered sacrifices to the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. Then God turned and gave them up to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets; maybe slaughtered animals and sacrifices did you offer Me during forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? You also took up the tabernacle of Moloch and the star of your god Remphan, the images which you made to worship; and I will carry you away beyond Babylon. The tabernacle of witness that our fathers had in the wilderness, as He appointed instructing Moses to make it according to the pattern that he had seen; which also brought having in turn received it our fathers with Joshua into the land possessed by the Gentiles whom God drove out before the face of our fathers, until the days of David; who found favor before God and asked to find a dwelling for the God of Jacob. Solomon then built Him a house. But neither the Most High in hand made temples dwells, as the prophet says; Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool; what house will you build for Me, says the Lord, or what is the place of My rest? Has My hand not made these things all? You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in the heart and your ears, you always the Holy Spirit resist, as your fathers (did) so you (do). Which of the prophets did they not persecute your fathers? And they killed those who foretold about the coming of the Just One, of whom you now the betrayers and murderers have become; who have received the law by the direction of angels, and have not kept it. When they heard these things they were cut to the heart and they gnashed (with) their teeth at him. But he being full of the Holy Spirit, gazing into heaven saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said; Look I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man at the right hand of God standing. Then they cried out with a loud voice stopped their ears and ran with one accord at him, and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And a the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul, and they stoned Stephen, as he was calling (on God) and saying; Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Then him kneeling down he cried out with a loud voice; Lord, do not charge them with this sin. And having said this he fell asleep. Now Saul was consenting to his death.