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Then the high priest asked him, “Are these things so?” And Stephen replied:
“Brothers and fathers, listen to me. The God of glory
appeared to our ancestor Abraham when he was in
Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘Leave your country and your relatives and go to the land that I will show you.’ Then he left the country of the
Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After his father died, God had him move from there to this country in which you are now living. He did not give him any of it as a heritage, not even a foot’s length, but promised to give it to him as his possession and to his descendants after him, even though he had no child. And God spoke in these terms, that his
descendants would be resident aliens in a country belonging to others, who would enslave them and mistreat them during four hundred years. ‘But I will judge the nation that they serve,’ said God, ‘and after that they shall come out and worship me in this place.’ Then he gave him the
covenant of circumcision. And so Abraham became the
father of Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.
“The patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him, and rescued him from all his afflictions, and enabled him to win favor and to show wisdom when he stood before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who appointed him ruler over Egypt and over all his household. Now there came a famine throughout Egypt and Canaan, and great suffering, and our ancestors could find no food. But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our
ancestors there on their first visit. On the second visit
Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to Pharaoh. Then Joseph sent and invited his father Jacob and all his relatives to come to him, seventy-five in all; so Jacob went down to Egypt. He himself died there as well as our ancestors, and their bodies were brought back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.
Want to dig deeper? Additional Scripture Suggestions:
Genesis 37-50, The Story of Joseph
1. What connections do you see to the overarching theme of taking the Gospel message to the ends of the earth?
2. What connections did you see within the additional scripture references? How did this enhance your understanding of today’s passage?
3. What similarities did you hear between the First Century church and the American church today?
4. Why do you think that Stephen chose to retell portions of the history of the Jewish people as his answer to the charges against h iim by the Jewish elders, scribes and high priests?