1 Then the chief priest asked Stephen, "Is this true?" 2 Stephen answered, "Brothers and fathers, listen to me. The God who reveals his glory appeared to our ancestor Abraham in Mesopotamia. This happened before Abraham lived in Haran. 3 God told him, 'Leave your land and your relatives. Go to the land that I will show you.' 4 "Then Abraham left the country of Chaldea and lived in the city of Haran. After his father died, God made him move from there to this land where we now live. 5 "Yet, God didn't give Abraham anything in this land to call his own, not even a place to rest his feet. But God promised to give this land to him and to his descendants, even though Abraham didn't have a child. 6 God told Abraham that his descendants would be foreigners living in another country and that the people there would make them slaves and mistreat them for 400 years. 7 God also told him, 'I will punish the people whom they will serve. After that, they will leave that country and worship me here.' 8 "God gave Abraham circumcision to confirm his promise. So when Abraham's son Isaac was born, Abraham circumcised him on the eighth day. Isaac did the same to his son Jacob, and Jacob did the same to his twelve sons (the ancestors of our tribes). 9 "Jacob's sons were jealous of their brother Joseph. They sold him into slavery, and he was taken to Egypt. But God was with Joseph 10 and rescued him from all his suffering. When Joseph stood in the presence of Pharaoh (the king of Egypt), God gave Joseph divine favor and wisdom so that he became ruler of Egypt and of Pharaoh's whole palace. 11 Then a famine throughout Egypt and Canaan brought a lot of suffering. Our ancestors couldn't find any food. 12 When Jacob heard that Egypt had food, he sent our ancestors there. That was their first trip. 13 On the second trip, Joseph told his brothers who he was, and Pharaoh learned about Joseph's family. 14 Joseph sent for his father Jacob and his relatives, 75 people in all. 15 So Jacob went to Egypt, and he and our ancestors died there. 16 They were taken to Shechem for burial in the tomb that Abraham purchased in Shechem from Hamor's sons. 17 "When the time that God had promised to Abraham had almost come, the number of our people in Egypt had grown very large. 18 Then a different king, who knew nothing about Joseph, began to rule in Egypt. 19 This king was shrewd in the way he took advantage of our people. He mistreated our ancestors. He made them abandon their newborn babies outdoors, where they would die. 20 "At that time Moses was born, and he was a very beautiful child. His parents took care of him for three months. 21 When Moses was abandoned outdoors, Pharaoh's daughter adopted him and raised him as her son. 22 So Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and became a great man in what he said and did. 23 When he was 40 years old, he decided to visit his own people, the Israelites. 24 When he saw an Israelite man being treated unfairly by an Egyptian, he defended the Israelite. He took revenge by killing the Egyptian. 25 Moses thought his own people would understand that God was going to use him to give them freedom. But they didn't understand. 26 The next day Moses saw two Israelites fighting, and he tried to make peace between them. He said to them, 'Men, you are brothers. Why are you treating each other unfairly?' 27 "But one of the men pushed Moses aside. He asked Moses, 'Who made you our ruler and judge? 28 Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?' 29 After he said that, Moses quickly left Egypt and lived in Midian as a foreigner. In Midian he fathered two sons. 30 "Forty years later, a messenger appeared to him in the flames of a burning bush in the desert of Mount Sinai. 31 Moses was surprised when he saw this. As he went closer to look at the bush, the voice of the Lord said to him, 32 'I am the God of your ancestors--the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.' Moses began to tremble and didn't dare to look at the bush. 33 The Lord told him, 'Take off your sandals. The place where you're standing is holy ground. 34 I've seen how my people are mistreated in Egypt. I've heard their groaning and have come to rescue them. So now I'm sending you to Egypt.' 35 "This is the Moses whom the Israelites rejected by saying, 'Who made you our ruler and judge?' This is the one God sent to free them and to rule them with the help of the messenger who appeared to him in the bush. 36 This is the man who led our ancestors out of Egypt. He is the person who did amazing things and worked miracles in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the desert for 40 years. 37 This is the same Moses who told the Israelites, 'God will send you a prophet, an Israelite like me.' 38 This is the Moses who was in the assembly in the desert. Our ancestors and the messenger who spoke to him on Mount Sinai were there with him. Moses received life-giving messages to give to us, 39 but our ancestors were not willing to obey him. Instead, they pushed him aside, and in their hearts they turned back to Egypt. 40 They told Aaron, 'We don't know what has happened to this Moses, who led us out of Egypt. So make gods who will lead us.' 41 That was the time they made a calf. They offered a sacrifice to that false god and delighted in what they had made. 42 "So God turned away from them and let them worship the sun, moon, and stars. This is written in the book of the prophets: 'Did you bring me sacrifices and grain offerings in the desert for 40 years, nation of Israel? 43 You carried along the shrine of Moloch, the star of the god Rephan, and the statues you made for yourselves to worship. I will send you into exile beyond the city of Babylon.' 44 "In the desert our ancestors had the tent of God's promise. Moses built this tent exactly as God had told him. He used the model he had seen. 45 After our ancestors received the tent, they brought it into this land. They did this with Joshua's help when they took possession of the land from the nations that God forced out of our ancestors' way. This tent remained here until the time of David, 46 who won God's favor. David asked that he might provide a permanent place for the family of Jacob. 47 But Solomon was the one who built a house for God. 48 "However, the Most High doesn't live in a house built by humans, as the prophet says: 49 'The Lord says, "Heaven is my throne. The earth is my footstool. What kind of house are you going to build for me? Where will I rest? 50 Didn't I make all these things?"' 51 "How stubborn can you be? How can you be so heartless and disobedient? You're just like your ancestors. They always opposed the Holy Spirit, and so do you! 52 Was there ever a prophet your ancestors didn't persecute? They killed those who predicted that a man with God's approval would come. You have now become the people who betrayed and murdered that man. 53 You are the people who received Moses' Teachings, which were put into effect by angels. But you haven't obeyed those teachings." 54 As council members listened to Stephen, they became noticeably furious. 55 But Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit. He looked into heaven, saw God's glory, and Jesus in the position of authority that God gives. 56 So Stephen said, "Look, I see heaven opened and the Son of Man in the position of authority that God has given him!" 57 But the council members shouted and refused to listen. Then they rushed at Stephen with one purpose in mind, 58 and after they had thrown him out of the city, they began to stone him to death. The witnesses left their coats with a young man named Saul. 59 While council members were executing Stephen, he called out, "Lord Jesus, welcome my spirit." 60 Then he knelt down and shouted, "Lord, don't hold this sin against them." After he had said this, he died.
1 Saul approved of putting Stephen to death. On that day widespread persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem. Most believers, except the apostles, were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Devout men buried Stephen as they mourned loudly for him. 3 Saul tried to destroy the church. He dragged men and women out of one home after another and threw them into prison. 4 The believers who were scattered went from place to place, where they spread the word. 5 Philip went to the city of Samaria and told people about the Messiah. 6 The crowds paid close attention to what Philip said. They listened to him and saw the miracles that he performed. 7 Evil spirits screamed as they came out of the many people they had possessed. Many paralyzed and lame people were cured. 8 As a result, that city was extremely happy. 9 A man named Simon lived in that city. He amazed the people of Samaria with his practice of magic. He claimed that he was great. 10 Everyone from children to adults paid attention to him. They said, "This man is the power of God, and that power is called great." 11 They paid attention to Simon because he had amazed them for a long time with his practice of magic. 12 However, when Philip spread the Good News about the kingdom of God and the one named Jesus Christ, men and women believed him and were baptized. 13 Even Simon believed, and after he was baptized, he became devoted to Philip. Simon was amazed to see the miracles and impressive things that were happening. 14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the Samaritans had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 Peter and John went to Samaria and prayed that the Samaritans would receive the Holy Spirit. 16 (Before this the Holy Spirit had not come to any of the Samaritans. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and the Samaritans received the Holy Spirit. 18 Simon saw that the Spirit was given to the Samaritans when the apostles placed their hands on them. So he offered Peter and John money 19 and said, "Give me this power so that anyone I place my hands on will receive the Holy Spirit." 20 Peter told Simon, "May your money be destroyed with you because you thought you could buy God's gift. 21 You won't have any share in this because God can see how twisted your thinking is. 22 So change your wicked thoughts, and ask the Lord if he will forgive you for thinking like this. 23 I can see that you are bitter with jealousy and wrapped up in your evil ways." 24 Simon answered, "Pray to the Lord for me that none of the things you said will happen to me." 25 After they had boldly spoken about the message of the Lord, they spread the Good News in many Samaritan villages on their way back to Jerusalem. 26 An angel from the Lord said to Philip, "Get up, and take the desert road that goes south from Jerusalem to Gaza." 27 So Philip went. An Ethiopian man who had come to Jerusalem to worship was on his way home. The man was a eunuch, a high-ranking official in charge of all the treasures of Queen Candace of Ethiopia. 28 As the official rode along in his carriage, he was reading the prophet Isaiah out loud. 29 The Spirit said to Philip, "Go to that carriage, and stay close to it." 30 Philip ran to the carriage and could hear the official reading the prophet Isaiah out loud. Philip asked him, "Do you understand what you're reading?" 31 The official answered, "How can I understand unless someone guides me?" So he invited Philip to sit with him in his carriage. 32 This was the part of the Scriptures that the official was reading: "He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. He was like a sheep that is silent when its wool is cut off. He didn't open his mouth. 33 When he humbled himself, he was not judged fairly. Who from his generation will talk about his life on earth being cut short?" 34 The official said to Philip, "I would like to know who the prophet is talking about. Is he talking about himself or someone else?" 35 Then Philip spoke. Starting with that passage, Philip told the official the Good News about Jesus. 36 As they were going along the road, they came to some water. The official said to Philip, "Look, there's some water. What can keep me from being baptized?" 37 38 The official ordered the carriage to stop. He and Philip stepped into the water, and Philip baptized him. 39 When they had stepped out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away. The official joyfully continued on his way and didn't see Philip again. 40 Philip found himself in the city of Azotus. He traveled through all the cities and spread the Good News until he came to the city of Caesarea.