Stephen’s Face

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“At this point everyone in the high council stared at Stephen, because his face became as bright as an angel’s.” Acts 6:15

In Acts 6, Luke is recording “Problem Solving 101″ for church leaders (as seven men are chosen to serve the people’s needs so that the apostles can continue the work of prayer and the teaching of the Word of God. As the chapter draws to a close though, the internal problem (which they resolved) turns to an external problem that will be prevalent in the life of the church just as Jesus had said (“men will hate you”).

The hatred against Stephen builds up. Men are tasked with spreading lies about him. People are roused, Stephen is arrested and brought before the high council.

While the lying witness is throwing false accusations at Stephen before the court, everyone’s attention moves to a bright light in the room. Stephen’s face. Stephen’s face is radiant.

A few different translations capture the moment…

ESV And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

NASB95 And fixing their gaze on him, all who were sitting in the Council saw his face like the face of an angel.

HCSB And all who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at him and saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

The Message As all those who sat on the High Council looked at Stephen, they found they couldn’t take their eyes off him—his face was like the face of an angel!

This is a literary device often used by Luke. It denotes uninterrupted attention (he uses this often, Luke 4:20; 22:56; Acts 1:10; 3:4, 12; 6:15; 7:55; 10:4; 11:6; 13:9; 14:9; 23:1).

I’m not sure that my face would be as bright as the face of an angel if I was in his shoes. Oh, it might have been bright, bright red with anger or fear.

So far, I’ve been spared to be in such a situation. Though last summer was close, but God had other plans and, by mercy, didn’t allow that day to come.

I did sit before a “high council” so to speak. It wasn’t pleasant. The accusations were coming at me faster than I could wrap my head around them. They were coming from every side of the table. They were cutting. They were harsh. They were full of lies.

But was my face shining bright? I hope so, but honestly, I don’t really remember. It all happened so quickly, it was hard to think, hard to process. I know that the Holy Spirit was present in that room. God was with me, otherwise I never would have (1) walked into that room with the accusers waiting at the door, and (2) I might not have walked back out of that room.

I’m sure though that my face was not shining like Stephen’s. I wish I could say it was. But Lord, you know the truth. And you know how I wish I could have that moment back, a re-do. Not so that there would have been a different outcome, you are sovereign. But so that in that room, my heart would have been like Stephen’s. So that my face would have been like Stephen’s.

I know Lord, I’m carrying around guilt that I don’t need to carry. But, how did Stephen did it? He too was caught off guard. He had no clue that I can see, that everyone was about to turn on him. This was all abrupt for him, like it was for us.

Luke’s comments about Stephen’s character don’t help me (Lord, you know how honest I am bring right now).

“Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit” (6:5)

“Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power” (6:8)

Stephen, the Bible Knowledge Commentary points out for me, “was “full of” or controlled by five factors: the Spirit, wisdom, faith, grace, power.”

How was my witness before these men? Only you know Lord.

This morning though, my mind is starting to go down the wrong path. My heart is spiraling downward: guilt, regret, comparing myself (and my face) to Stephen, Moses, or Jesus (ludicrous!). Forgive me for making that “day” about me.

It’s not about me, it wasn’t about me, and it isn’t about me. You were present with me, clearly you were. Whether my faced blinded them or not, this is not about me so that I can come and show you how well I did before the accusers. That’s what my heart and mind are trying to do right now as I think about Stephen.

Lord, you are changing me and convicting (with great love) in so many ways. I keep saying that you are no doubt doing 10,000 things through these events, through the suffering that has come from it, through the grief that continues, through the loss of so many things, through the unknown that lies before us….yet more and more, I am realizing that your number one task is to chip away my heart, to remove the blinders from my eyes, so that I can know you, trust you, and love you.

Thank you for your mercy. Thank you for showing me that sin (not just mine) is a bigger disaster than I think it is and your grace is more amazing than I seem to be able to grasp that it is.


    • It sure is a process, learning to accept the grace that God pours out on us! It is good to be on the path of learning, but that path is often not as smooth as I’d like it. His will is best, my will is one that I need to die to daily. Grace needed….good word for the year!

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