Friday

Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. (v. 58)

Acts 7:54-60 Friday 8 July 2022

Psalm 1

Background

As we discovered in yesterday's Bible notes, Stephen was a member of the Early Church, appointed to look after impoverished widows (Acts 6:1-5). As well as his domestic duties, Stephen “full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people” (Acts 6:8). This got him arrested and there is an account of his wisdom and eloquence in the face of false witnesses and in front of the Council (Acts 7:1-53). It is a bold speech in which he connects the history of the people of Israel with Jesus as the Messiah and in doing so becomes the focus of the opposition to the followers of Jesus. They decide to make an example of him. He is stoned for his successful preaching and for sharing the good news about Jesus. But it is at this stoning that we are introduced to Saul who later changes his name to Paul when he converts to Christianity. Paul goes on to be the main apostle in Acts.

 Let's focus on verse 58, where Stephen is about to be stoned: “Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him, and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.” 

Why would the witnesses lay their coats at the feet of Saul?  Why is this detail important? It is thought that laying the coats at Saul’s feet was a a gesture of respect, indicating that Saul would become an apostle.

Reflecting on the stoning of Stephen, we think of those who have been persecuted for their faith. To reflect on this you may want to read the psalm for today (Psalm 1) which includes the lines: "Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish."

To Ponder:

  • Today, what would be the equivalent of ‘laying down your coat’ for someone who was thought to be the next most successful evangelist? Would such a gesture be needed today? Is this gesture still relevant?
  • How can we support those who are persecuted for their faith?

PrayerAlmighty God, we hold before you all our concerns, all our fears. We hold before you those who are persecuted for their faith. We ask for your continued blessing in our lives and the lives of those we love. We ask in your Holy Trinity name. Amen. 

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