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Today is a sad day of readings as we read about the stoning of Stephen - the first Christian martyr. Verses 59 & 60 are incredible and reminiscent of Jesus on the cross: "And as they stoned him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." And he fell to his knees, shouting, "Lord, don't charge them with this sin!" And with that, he died." Below is Rembrandt's "The Stoning of Stephen" from the year 1625:
In verse 58 we are ominously introduced to who we now know as Paul, the author of many of the epistles in the Bible: "The official witnesses took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul." This laying of coats at Saul's feet may be signifying that Saul was the highest official at the stoning of Stephen and may be signifying that Saul gave permission for this stoning of Stephen to occur. Saul is Paul's Hebrew name. Paul is his Greek name. (which is a significant distinction, as Paul's ministry reaches out to the Gentiles, including the Greeks - hence going from the Hebrew name Saul to the Greek name Paul is significant) In a few chapters ahead we will learn about Saul's encounter with Jesus and how his persecution of Christians will soon take a dramatic U-turn... Take a look at the cloaked figure in the image below to the left - this looks to me to be Saul watching over the stoning of Stephen with coats laid at his feet. (and I think Saul is in Rembrant's painting above to the left on the horse) God has an amazing conversion for Saul coming up...
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Acts titled "The Stoning of Stephen" is at this link.
Worship Video: Today's readings remind me of the Build 429 song "Where I Belong:"
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