Acts 7

1 The high priest was Caiaphas, the same one who condemned Jesus.
2 Stephan does not simply confirm or deny the charges. Instead, he preaches a sermon. The two main points of the sermon demonstrate that worshiping the Messiah supercedes the Temple and the Mosaic Law. First, Stephen shows that proper worship occurred without these things. Second, he shows that even with them, people were rebellious and displeasing to God.

The following speech demonstrated to the people that Stephen was a learned man. He was not blindly following a religion he did not understand as, ironically, the religious scholars of the day were.

Stephen begins at the beginning of the Hebrew people. Long before Abraham arrived in Canaan, where the Temple would one day be, God spoke with him.

3 God gave Abraham a difficult challenge: leave everything you know and love, and follow Me.
4 Abraham demonstrated his faith by obedience to God.
5 God promised Abraham the land of Canaan as an inheritance. However, at the time, he neither owned any of the land, nor had a son to inherit it.
6 Abraham's descendants would not inherit the land immediately. They would receive it after four hundred years of hardship.
54 The accusation rang true, but instead of repenting, the mob turned their offended pride into anger against Stephen.
55 God gave Stephen a vision in his final hour. Stephen was about to become the first martyr for the Faith. Jesus may have been standing as a sign of welcome and commendation for having a good witness and faith in Him.
56 The Son of Man is a term recognized by the Jews as referring to the Messiah (they did not believe it was Jesus).
57 To have the Messiah, God's "right hand" Man standing for Stephen was too much for the Jewish ear to bare. To them this was the apex of arrogance and blasphemy. They could not see that God would honor those who turned from sin and came to Him.
58 Saul did not participate in the actual stoning, but he was so offended and outraged by Stephen's defense that from that point on he took the lead in persecuting the Church.
59 Stephen knew that he would not receive mercy from his accusers. Instead, he turns to God, placing his spirit into His hands. Stephen so modeled Jesus that even his last sentences were similar to those spoken on the cross (Luke 23:46).
60 Even in this violent and painful death Stephen recognized that God could forgive this sin the executioners were inflicting on him. He did not ask for revenge. His final gracious prayer was that these violent and ungodly people would be saved.