During this time, as the disciples were increasing in numbers by leaps and bounds, hard feelings developed among the Greek-speaking believers - "Hellenists" - toward the Hebrew-speaking believers because their widows were being discriminated against in the daily food lines.
So the Twelve called a meeting of the disciples. They said, "It wouldn't be right for us to abandon our responsibilities for preaching and teaching the Word of God to help with the care of the poor.
So, friends, choose seven men from among you whom everyone trusts, men full of the Holy Spirit and good sense, and we'll assign them this task.
Meanwhile, we'll stick to our assigned tasks of prayer and speaking God's Word."
The congregation thought this was a great idea. They went ahead and chose - Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, Nicolas, a convert from Antioch.
Then they presented them to the apostles. Praying, the apostles laid on hands and commissioned them for their task.
The Word of God prospered. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased dramatically. Not least, a great many priests submitted themselves to the faith.
Stephen, brimming with God's grace and energy, was doing wonderful things among the people, unmistakable signs that God was among them.
But then some men from the meeting place whose membership was made up of freed slaves, Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and some others from Cilicia and Asia, went up against him trying to argue him down.
But they were no match for his wisdom and spirit when he spoke.
So in secret they bribed men to lie: "We heard him cursing Moses and God."
That stirred up the people, the religious leaders, and religion scholars. They grabbed Stephen and took him before the High Council
They put forward their bribed witnesses to testify: "This man talks nonstop against this Holy Place and God's Law.
We even heard him say that Jesus of Nazareth would tear this place down and throw out all the customs Moses gave us."
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!
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)