Acts 7; Acts 8

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Acts 7

1 The high priest said to Stephen, "Are these things true?"
2 Stephen answered, "Brothers and fathers, listen to me. Our glorious God appeared to Abraham, our ancestor, in Mesopotamia before he lived in Haran.
3 God said to Abraham, 'Leave your country and your relatives, and go to the land I will show you.'
4 So Abraham left the country of Chaldea and went to live in Haran. After Abraham's father died, God sent him to this place where you now live.
5 God did not give Abraham any of this land, not even a foot of it. But God promised that he would give this land to him and his descendants, even before Abraham had a child.
6 This is what God said to him: 'Your descendants will be strangers in a land they don't own. The people there will make them slaves and will mistreat them for four hundred years.
7 But I will punish the nation where they are slaves. Then your descendants will leave that land and will worship me in this place.'
8 God made an agreement with Abraham, the sign of which was circumcision. And so when Abraham had his son Isaac, Abraham circumcised him when he was eight days old. Isaac also circumcised his son Jacob, and Jacob did the same for his sons, the twelve ancestorsn of our people.
9 "Jacob's sons became jealous of Joseph and sold him to be a slave in Egypt. But God was with him
10 and saved him from all his troubles. The king of Egypt liked Joseph and respected him because of the wisdom God gave him. The king made him governor of Egypt and put him in charge of all the people in his palace.
11 "Then all the land of Egypt and Canaan became so dry that nothing would grow, and the people suffered very much. Jacob's sons, our ancestors, could not find anything to eat.
12 But when Jacob heard there was grain in Egypt, he sent his sons there. This was their first trip to Egypt.
13 When they went there a second time, Joseph told his brothers who he was, and the king learned about Joseph's family.
14 Then Joseph sent messengers to invite Jacob, his father, to come to Egypt along with all his relatives (seventy-five persons altogether).
15 So Jacob went down to Egypt, where he and his sons died.
16 Later their bodies were moved to Shechem and put in a grave there. (It was the same grave Abraham had bought for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.)
17 "The promise God made to Abraham was soon to come true, and the number of people in Egypt grew large.
18 Then a new king, who did not know who Joseph was, began to rule Egypt.
19 This king tricked our people and was cruel to our ancestors, forcing them to leave their babies outside to die.
20 At this time Moses was born, and he was very beautiful. For three months Moses was cared for in his father's house.
21 When they put Moses outside, the king's daughter adopted him and raised him as if he were her own son.
22 The Egyptians taught Moses everything they knew, and he was a powerful man in what he said and did.
23 "When Moses was about forty years old, he thought it would be good to visit his own people, the people of Israel.
24 Moses saw an Egyptian mistreating an Israelite, so he defended the Israelite and punished the Egyptian by killing him.
25 Moses thought his own people would understand that God was using him to save them, but they did not.
26 The next day when Moses saw two men of Israel fighting, he tried to make peace between them. He said, 'Men, you are brothers. Why are you hurting each other?'
27 The man who was hurting the other pushed Moses away and said, 'Who made you our ruler and judge?
28 Are you going to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?'
29 When Moses heard him say this, he left Egypt and went to live in the land of Midian where he was a stranger. While Moses lived in Midian, he had two sons.
30 "Forty years later an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush as he was in the desert near Mount Sinai.
31 When Moses saw this, he was amazed and went near to look closer. Moses heard the Lord's voice say,
32 'I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.' Moses began to shake with fear and was afraid to look.
33 The Lord said to him, 'Take off your sandals, because you are standing on holy ground.
34 I have seen the troubles my people have suffered in Egypt. I have heard their cries and have come down to save them. And now, Moses, I am sending you back to Egypt.'
35 "This Moses was the same man the two men of Israel rejected, saying, 'Who made you a ruler and judge?' Moses is the same man God sent to be a ruler and savior, with the help of the angel that Moses saw in the burning bush.
36 So Moses led the people out of Egypt. He worked miracles and signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and then in the desert for forty years.
37 This is the same Moses that said to the people of Israel, 'God will give you a prophet like me, who is one of your own people.'
38 This is the Moses who was with the gathering of the Israelites in the desert. He was with the angel that spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and he was with our ancestors. He received commands from God that give life, and he gave those commands to us.
39 "But our ancestors did not want to obey Moses. They rejected him and wanted to go back to Egypt.
40 They said to Aaron, 'Make us gods who will lead us. Moses led us out of Egypt, but we don't know what has happened to him.'
41 So the people made an idol that looked like a calf. Then they brought sacrifices to it and were proud of what they had made with their own hands.
42 But God turned against them and did not try to stop them from worshiping the sun, moon, and stars. This is what is written in the book of the prophets: God says, 'People of Israel, you did not bring me sacrifices and offerings while you traveled in the desert for forty years.
43 You have carried with you the tent to worship Molech and the idols of the star god Rephan that you made to worship. So I will send you away beyond Babylon.'
44 "The Holy Tent where God spoke to our ancestors was with them in the desert. God told Moses how to make this Tent, and he made it like the plan God showed him.
45 Later, Joshua led our ancestors to capture the lands of the other nations. Our people went in, and God forced the other people out. When our people went into this new land, they took with them this same Tent they had received from their ancestors. They kept it until the time of David,
46 who pleased God and asked God to let him build a house for him, the God of Jacob.
47 But Solomon was the one who built the Temple.
48 "But the Most High does not live in houses that people build with their hands. As the prophet says:
49 'Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. So do you think you can build a house for me? says the Lord. Do I need a place to rest?
50 Remember, my hand made all these things!'"
51 Stephen continued speaking: "You stubborn people! You have not given your hearts to God, nor will you listen to him! You are always against what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell you, just as your ancestors were.
52 Your ancestors tried to hurt every prophet who ever lived. Those prophets said long ago that the One who is good would come, but your ancestors killed them. And now you have turned against and killed the One who is good.
53 You received the law of Moses, which God gave you through his angels, but you haven't obeyed it."
54 When the leaders heard this, they became furious. They were so mad they were grinding their teeth at Stephen.
55 But Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit. He looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at God's right side.
56 He said, "Look! I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at God's right side."
57 Then they shouted loudly and covered their ears and all ran at Stephen.
58 They took him out of the city and began to throw stones at him to kill him. And those who told lies against Stephen left their coats with a young man named Saul.
59 While they were throwing stones, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
60 He fell on his knees and cried in a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." After Stephen said this, he died.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Acts 8

1 Saul agreed that the killing of Stephen was good. On that day the church of Jerusalem began to be persecuted, and all the believers, except the apostles, were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.
2 And some religious people buried Stephen and cried loudly for him.
3 Saul was also trying to destroy the church, going from house to house, dragging out men and women and putting them in jail.
4 And wherever they were scattered, they told people the Good News.
5 Philip went to the city of Samaria and preached about the Christ.
6 When the people there heard Philip and saw the miracles he was doing, they all listened carefully to what he said.
7 Many of these people had evil spirits in them, but Philip made the evil spirits leave. The spirits made a loud noise when they came out. Philip also healed many weak and crippled people there.
8 So the people in that city were very happy.
9 But there was a man named Simon in that city. Before Philip came there, Simon had practiced magic and amazed all the people of Samaria. He bragged and called himself a great man.
10 All the people -- the least important and the most important -- paid attention to Simon, saying, "This man has the power of God, called 'the Great Power'!"
11 Simon had amazed them with his magic so long that the people became his followers.
12 But when Philip told them the Good News about the kingdom of God and the power of Jesus Christ, men and women believed Philip and were baptized.
13 Simon himself believed, and after he was baptized, he stayed very close to Philip. When he saw the miracles and the powerful things Philip did, Simon was amazed.
14 When the apostles who were still in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them.
15 When Peter and John arrived, they prayed that the Samaritan believers might receive the Holy Spirit.
16 These people had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, but the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them.
17 Then, when the two apostles began laying their hands on the people, they received the Holy Spirit.
18 Simon saw that the Spirit was given to people when the apostles laid their hands on them. So he offered the apostles money,
19 saying, "Give me also this power so that anyone on whom I lay my hands will receive the Holy Spirit."
20 Peter said to him, "You and your money should both be destroyed, because you thought you could buy God's gift with money.
21 You cannot share with us in this work since your heart is not right before God.
22 Change your heart! Turn away from this evil thing you have done, and pray to the Lord. Maybe he will forgive you for thinking this.
23 I see that you are full of bitter jealousy and ruled by sin."
24 Simon answered, "Both of you pray for me to the Lord so the things you have said will not happen to me."
25 After Peter and John told the people what they had seen Jesus do and after they had spoken the message of the Lord, they went back to Jerusalem. On the way, they went through many Samaritan towns and preached the Good News to the people.
26 An angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Get ready and go south to the road that leads down to Gaza from Jerusalem -- the desert road."
27 So Philip got ready and went. On the road he saw a man from Ethiopia, a eunuch. He was an important officer in the service of Candace, the queen of the Ethiopians; he was responsible for taking care of all her money. He had gone to Jerusalem to worship.
28 Now, as he was on his way home, he was sitting in his chariot reading from the Book of Isaiah, the prophet.
29 The Spirit said to Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it."
30 So when Philip ran toward the chariot, he heard the man reading from Isaiah the prophet. Philip asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?"
31 He answered, "How can I understand unless someone explains it to me?" Then he invited Philip to climb in and sit with him.
32 The portion of Scripture he was reading was this: "He was like a sheep being led to be killed. He was quiet, as a lamb is quiet while its wool is being cut; he never opened his mouth.
33 He was shamed and was treated unfairly. He died without children to continue his family. His life on earth has ended."
34 The officer said to Philip, "Please tell me, who is the prophet talking about -- himself or someone else?"
35 Philip began to speak, and starting with this same Scripture, he told the man the Good News about Jesus.
36 While they were traveling down the road, they came to some water. The officer said, "Look, here is water. What is stopping me from being baptized?"
38 Then the officer commanded the chariot to stop. Both Philip and the officer went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.
39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord took Philip away; the officer never saw him again. And the officer continued on his way home, full of joy.
40 But Philip appeared in a city called Azotus and preached the Good News in all the towns on the way from Azotus to Caesarea.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.