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Who is Stephen?
        (crown), usually known as the first martyr, was one of the seven men of honest report who were elected, at the suggestion of the twelve apostles, to relieve them of a particular class of their labors. Acts 6:5. He was a forerunner of the apostle Paul. He is described as a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost. Acts 6:8, 1 Kgs 16:10. He argued for the new faith with convincing power. It was to stop lips so eloquent that he was arrested and placed before the "council," the Sanhedrin. But as he realized his position the prospect of testifying in that assemblage of the chief of his people to the love and work of Jesus so wrought upon him that his spirit rose within him, and his face had such beauty and purity, such thoughtfulness and manliness, that he awed his judges, for on him, their victim, they beheld the angel-face. His defence was a calm historical proof of the two points: 1. God had not limited his favor to the Holy Land or to the temple; 2. The Jews had always opposed to this free spirit of their God a narrow, bigoted spirit. How long he would have spoken none can say, but the manner in which these quiet and truthful words were received caused him to break off" abruptly into fierce invective and reproach; but so direct was its appeal to the consciences of the populace that they were excited to madness, Acts 7:54, and fell upon Stephen like wild beasts, shouting and stopping their ears; and after they had forced him beyond the walls of the city, they stoned him to death, Saul being present and conspicuous in this tumultuous transaction. The last breath of the martyr was spent, like that of his divine Master, in prayer for the forgiveness of his murderers. It is worthy of remark that this prayer of Stephen is directed to the Lord Jesus, or rather it seems to be a continuation of the prayer respecting himself which was addressed immediately to Christ, as the word "God" in v. 59 of our translation is an interpolation. The date of Stephen's martyrdom was about a.d. 37. His blood was the seed of the Church, and was soon followed by the conversion of his bitterest persecutor.

Bibliography Information
Schaff, Philip, Dr. "Biblical Definition for 'stephen' in Schaffs Bible Dictionary". - Schaff's

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