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People: Stephen

Stephen

The first Christian martyr. 

Background

Stephen was one of seven men chosen from the Hellenists-a Greek-speaking wing of the early church in Jerusalem-to see that no widows were neglected in the daily distribution of food. He quickly became known as a man "full of grace and power." False witnesses were brought against him, accusing him of speaking against the Jewish law and temple. After he gave a long speech before the Jewish council, his hearers stoned him to death. His martyrdom sparked persecution of the church in Jerusalem, the scattering of believers, and expanded missionary activity elsewhere. His story is told in Acts 6-7.

AUTHOR: Robert Brusic, Seminary Pastor Emeritus