Chapter Seven — Part Eight: The Book of ActsBy: Pastors Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne
Publish date: 08/29/2021Foundation Scriptures:
a. Acts 7:51a AMPC — You stubborn and stiff-necked people…
b. Exodus 33:3b KJV — …for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way.
c. Exodus 33:5
d. Stiff-necked (Greek-sklērotrachēlos) — stubborn; headstrong; obstinate.
e. They would have understood the term “stiff-necked” in the context of a stubborn ox with a strong neck, that refuses to submit to the yoke, making it almost impossible to steer him to the left or right.
f. To be stiff-necked is to be stubborn and willful, obstinate and hardhearted; refusing to bow, obey, or humble oneself before God.
g. Acts 7:51b AMPC — …still heathen and uncircumcised in heart and ears…
h. Uncircumcised (Greek-aperitmētos) metaphorically, those whose heart and ears are covered, i.e., whose soul and senses are closed to divine admonition.
i. Jeremiah 6:10 AMPC — To whom shall I [Jeremiah] speak and give warning, that they may hear? Behold, their ears are uncircumcised [never brought into covenant with God or consecrated to His service], and they cannot hear or obey. Behold, the word of the Lord has become to them a reproach and the object of their scorn; they have no delight in it.
j. Jeremiah 9:26
k. Leviticus 26:41 AMPC — I also walked contrary to them and brought them into the land of their enemies — if then their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they then accept the punishment for their iniquity.
l. Colossians 2:11-12 NKJV — In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
m. Under the New Covenant, circumcision of the flesh is no longer required.
n. God requires a circumcision of the heart and mind—a work of the Holy Spirit—not one of the flesh or made with hands.
o. In every age and dispensation, God has required a circumcision of the heart, mind, and ears—representing submission to His authority.
2. Resisting the Holy Spirit.
a. Acts 7:51c AMPC — …you are always actively resisting the Holy Spirit. As your forefathers [were], so you [are and so you do]!
b. They were actively rebellious—resisting and grieving the Holy Spirit.
c. Numbers 27:14a KJV — For ye rebelled against my commandment in the desert of Zin…
d. Isaiah 63:9-10 KJV — In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old. 10 But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them.
e. If you submit to God, you place yourself on His side, and He will fight for you; but if you rebel against Him, He will be against you.
f. Acts 7:52 AMPC — Which of the prophets did your forefathers not persecute? And they slew those who proclaimed beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, Whom you now have betrayed and murdered.
g. Throughout the generations they resisted, persecuted, and murdered God’s messengers—including Jesus, the Righteous and Just One.
h. Acts 7:53 AMPC — You who received the Law as it was ordained and set in order and delivered by angels, and [yet] you did not obey it!
i. They refused to obey Divine Law.
j. You cannot claim something you do not adhere to—if you claim the Law, you must fully obey the Law.
3. Cut to the Heart.
a. Acts 7:54 AMPC — Now upon hearing these things, they [the Jews] were cut to the heart and infuriated, and they ground their teeth against [Stephen].
b. Cut (Greek-diapriō) — to saw asunder or in two, to divide by a saw; to be sawn through mentally, i.e. to be rent with vexation.
c. They were cut to the heart with rage, rather than repentance.
4. First Martyr.
a. Acts 7:55-56 AMPC — But he, full of the Holy Spirit and controlled by Him, gazed into heaven and saw the glory (the splendor and majesty) of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand; 56 And he said, Look! I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at God’s right hand!
b. Stephen saw an open vision of Heaven.
c. Many times, when God’s people are close to death, they begin to get glimpses of Heaven.
d. Acts 7:57 AMPC — But they raised a great shout and put their hands over their ears and rushed together upon him.
e. They had no legal right to stone Stephen, but they shut their ears and yielded to a demonic spirit of murder and hate.
f. It is the devil who blinds men’s eyes, causing them to be filled with evil, and to commit despicable acts.
g. Acts 7:58 AMPC — Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him, and the witnesses placed their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul.
h. Saul was impacted by Stephen’s death, whether he realized it or not.
i. Acts 22:20 AMPC — And when the blood of Your witness (martyr) Stephen was shed, I also was personally standing by and consenting and approving and guarding the garments of those who slew him.
j. Acts 7:59 AMPC — And while they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, Lord Jesus, receive and accept and welcome my spirit!
k. In life and death, Stephen was yielded to the will of God.
l. The grace of God was on him, and it is possible that he felt nothing but God’s presence, even as he was being stoned to death.
m. Acts 7:60a AMPC — And falling on his knees, he cried out loudly, Lord, fix not this sin upon them [lay it not to their charge]!
n. He showed godly character to the end—like Jesus, asking the Father to forgive his murderers.
o. Acts 7:60b AMPC — And when he had said this, he fell asleep [in death].
p. At death, only the body dies; the spirit lives on, to be raised up at the resurrection.