Chapter seven records Stephen’s martyrdom but first it recounts his speech to the high priest and the Sanhedrin. In it he walks them through the history of the Jewish people from Abraham through Isaac, the twelve patriarchs, their captivity in Egypt and Moses’ leadership. He then reminds them of the sin of the people in the wilderness and quotes from Amos about their sin with idols. He then switches to the subject of where God dwells. He then quickly turns to equating his audience with this sordid history: “Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him” (7:52). Obviously this does not sit well with the leaders and they quickly move to prove his point by stoning him to death. This may remind us of contemporary group of religious people who when accused of violence defend their honour by acting violently, thus proving their guilt. In a bit of foreshadowing Luke tells us that “Saul approved of their killing him” (8:1). 7:58 was the first mention of a young man named Saul and he was looking after the coats. This Saul will soon become a major figure in the early Church thanks to Jesus’ intervention.
In Acts, the receipt of the Spirit is the sign of a Christian and Simon the (ex?)-sorcerer asks if he can buy the gift of laying on of hands for the giving of the Spirit (8:18f). Of course Peter rebukes him and he may or may not have repented although the general tone towards him is negative. The need for godly men to be in leadership in definitely seen here. Chapter nine recounts the famous story of Paul’s conversion. It is the first of three accounts so we will soon learn more. Luke emphasises the work of God in bringing Paul to repentance and allowing him to be accepted by the Church he was so recently intent on destroying. The chapter ends with Peter raising Tabitha/Dorcas from the dead. He thus accomplishes the most spectacular of Jesus’ miracles and shows that the Spirit of God has truly come upon the apostles in the same degree as upon Jesus.