Stephen The Evangelist,  Thieleman J. Van Braght, Martyrs Mirror

22. Stephen

Stephen stoned outside Jerusalem, A.D. 34.

Stephen, One of the Seven Deacons of the Church at Jerusalem, Stoned without the Gate of the City, by the Libertines, A.D. 34, Shortly after the Death of Christ.

Stephen, which in Greek signifies a crown, was one of the seven deacons of the church at Jerusalem, a man full of faith and the wisdom of God. Acts 6:5.

He was well versed in the holy Scriptures of the Old Testament, and very eloquent. It happened that there arose certain of the sect of the Libertines, Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, and disputed with Stephen; and they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spake. Then they suborned a few men to say: We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God. And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, and set up false witnesses, to say, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: for we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us. And all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw his face, as it had been the face of an angel. Acts 6:9-15.

Then said the high priest to him, Are these things so? Thereupon, this godfearing man explained himself and answered with many reasons; he, moreover, adduced, as if with a heavenly tongue, and with incontrovertible reasons, many scriptures of the Old Testament, to show that Christ is the true Messiah, and that the Gospel is true. Acts 7: 1-53.

But when he began to speak with great warmth, and to set before the eyes of his accusers their bloodthirstiness, their wrath was kindled the more against him, for these things cut them to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. Verse 54.

But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said: Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Verses 55 and 56.

But they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. Verses 57 and 58.

In the meantime he called and said, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. He kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. Verses 59 and 60.

Such was the end of this upright man Stephen, to whom the honor of Jesus Christ was dearer than his own life. It is stated to have taken place in the year thirty-four after the birth of Christ, in the nineteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, which was the thirty-eighth year of his age. It happened in the seventh year after the baptism of Christ. Nic. lib. 2. cap. 3.

This having occurred, some godfearing men attended to the body, and carried it to the grave, greatly lamenting this pious martyr.—The stones were to him as rivers of sweetness. August, cap. 22. Solil.

Thieleman J. Van Braght (1625-1664) was an Anabaptist who is best known for writing a history of the Christian witness throughout the centuries entitled “The Bloody Theater or Martyrs Mirror of the Defenseless Christians who baptized only upon confession of faith, and who suffered and died for the testimony of Jesus, their Saviour, from the time of Christ to the year A.D. 1660” (1660).

Thieleman J. Van Braght, Martyrs Mirror