Acts 7:51-53 :
“You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit! As your fathers did, so you do. Which of the prophets didn’t your fathers persecute? They killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One, of whom you have now become betrayers and murderers. You received the law as it was ordained by angels, and didn’t keep it!”
Now for the final argument, Stephen tells the court that they are out of order and guilty of murder themselves. Once again, we hear the message of guilt that the apostles continue to preach. We have seen how thousands of people heard the message of guilt and sin and turned from their wicked ways and obeyed the truth of Christ. Is it going to work on this court?
Some might argue that Stephen was out-of-line to be so “divisive” and “antagonistic.” These are the kind of arguments that I hear from some, possibly well-meaning, Christians today. I also hear arguments from Christians who say that actions like these are “disrespectful to authority.” The text appears to indicate that Stephen was yelling at them, calling them “betrayers and murders” and hypocrites. Was this disrespect to authority that the Bible speaks against in other areas?
I believe that it is clear that Stephen, being filled with the Holy Spirit and power, risked his life to accuse the court and uphold the truth of God and the message of salvation through Jesus Christ alone. I believe that anyone who argues with this has a problem with the message and is deciding to “deal” with the messenger rather than the message. It could be that they are so afraid to stand up for the message themselves that they are acting more like Peter when he betrayed the Lord, siding with the accusers rather than the victim.
Since the Bible speaks well of Stephen, the Bible must teach a limit to the respect of authority. The word of God is to be respected above all else and anyone who speaks against “the Righteous One” is clearly not worthy of our respect in God’s eyes. We should fear God rather than mankind. We should also remember that we will come into God’s courtroom someday and our lives will be reviewed in a place where Jesus is highly exalted as God’s only Son and the savior of all of mankind.