6Now during those days, when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. 2And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait at tables.* 3Therefore, friends,* select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, 4while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word. 5What they said pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. 6They had these men stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
7 The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.
8 Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. 9Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and others of those from Cilicia and Asia, stood up and argued with Stephen. 10But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit* with which he spoke. 11Then they secretly instigated some men to say, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God. 12They stirred up the people as well as the elders and the scribes; then they suddenly confronted him, seized him, and brought him before the council. 13They set up false witnesses who said, This man never stops saying things against this holy place and the law; 14for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth* will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses handed on to us. 15And all who sat in the council looked intently at him, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
7Then the high priest asked him, Are these things so? 2And Stephen replied:
Brothers* and fathers, listen to me. The God of glory appeared to our ancestor Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, 3and said to him, Leave your country and your relatives and go to the land that I will show you. 4Then he left the country of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After his father died, God had him move from there to this country in which you are now living. 5He did not give him any of it as a heritage, not even a foots length, but promised to give it to him as his possession and to his descendants after him, even though he had no child. 6And God spoke in these terms, that his descendants would be resident aliens in a country belonging to others, who would enslave them and maltreat them for four hundred years. 7But I will judge the nation that they serve, said God, and after that they shall come out and worship me in this place. 8Then he gave him the covenant of circumcision. And so Abraham* became the father of Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.
9 The patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him, 10and rescued him from all his afflictions, and enabled him to win favour and to show wisdom when he stood before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who appointed him ruler over Egypt and over all his household. 11Now there came a famine throughout Egypt and Canaan, and great suffering, and our ancestors could find no food. 12But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our ancestors there on their first visit. 13On the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Josephs family became known to Pharaoh. 14Then Joseph sent and invited his father Jacob and all his relatives to come to him, seventy-five in all; 15so Jacob went down to Egypt. He himself died there as well as our ancestors, 16and their bodies* were brought back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.
17 But as the time drew near for the fulfilment of the promise that God had made to Abraham, our people in Egypt increased and multiplied 18until another king who had not known Joseph ruled over Egypt. 19He dealt craftily with our race and forced our ancestors to abandon their infants so that they would die. 20At this time Moses was born, and he was beautiful before God. For three months he was brought up in his fathers house; 21and when he was abandoned, Pharaohs daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. 22So Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in his words and deeds.
23 When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his relatives, the Israelites.* 24When he saw one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. 25He supposed that his kinsfolk would understand that God through him was rescuing them, but they did not understand. 26The next day he came to some of them as they were quarrelling and tried to reconcile them, saying, Men, you are brothers; why do you wrong each other? 27But the man who was wronging his neighbour pushed Moses* aside, saying, Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? 28Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday? 29When he heard this, Moses fled and became a resident alien in the land of Midian. There he became the father of two sons.
30 Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning bush. 31When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight; and as he approached to look, there came the voice of the Lord: 32I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Moses began to tremble and did not dare to look. 33Then the Lord said to him, Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34I have surely seen the mistreatment of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to rescue them. Come now, I will send you to Egypt.
35 It was this Moses whom they rejected when they said, Who made you a ruler and a judge? and whom God now sent as both ruler and liberator through the angel who appeared to him in the bush.
36He led them out, having performed wonders and signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness for forty years.
37This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, God will raise up a prophet for you from your own people* as he raised me up.
38He is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors; and he received living oracles to give to us.
39Our ancestors were unwilling to obey him; instead, they pushed him aside, and in their hearts they turned back to Egypt,
40saying to Aaron, Make gods for us who will lead the way for us; as for this Moses who led us out from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him.
41At that time they made a calf, offered a sacrifice to the idol, and revelled in the works of their hands.
42But God turned away from them and handed them over to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets:
Did you offer to me slain victims and sacrifices
for forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel?
43 No; you took along the tent of Moloch,
and the star of your god Rephan,
the images that you made to worship;
so I will remove you beyond Babylon.
44 Our ancestors had the tent of testimony in the wilderness, as God* directed when he spoke to Moses, ordering him to make it according to the pattern he had seen.
45Our ancestors in turn brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our ancestors. And it was there until the time of David,
46who found favour with God and asked that he might find a dwelling-place for the house of Jacob.*
47But it was Solomon who built a house for him.
48Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands;* as the prophet says,
49 Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord,
or what is the place of my rest?
50 Did not my hand make all these things?
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org
10 February 2011