It strikes me as odd that the first martyr for preaching about Jesus was not one of the 12 apostles. Instead it was Stephen who is not even mentioned in Acts until 6:5. He is one of the men chosen to handle the daily distribution of food for widows, orphans and any others who had been cut off from their families.
Stephen is full of faith, God's grace, the Holy Spirit and power. He did "great wonders and miraculous signs among the people" (6:8), and the Spirit gave him the words he needed when he spoke and debated with Jews and their leaders.
In this short story (Acts 6:8 - 8:1) we see the fulfillment of promises made by Jesus. Jesus said, "When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say" (Luke 12:11). And at his ascension, Jesus said, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Stephen experienced the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit enabling him to preach, debate and witness in addition to working wonders and miraculous signs. Also, the stoning of Stephen led to the followers of Jesus being scattered from Jerusalem into Judea and Samaria. The promises had not been made just to the 12, but to all those who would come after them. Stephen's tongue had been stilled, but 100 more tongues set afire.
For reflection: The promises have been made to me as much as to the original 12 apostles. How have I experienced them in my life?
Let us pray. Come, Holy Spirit, fill me as you filled Stephen.
I started this website and blog on May 1, 2012. I am a Catholic who has been in ministry for many years. I first developed what I would call a close relationship with Jesus in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have been praying with people for healing and other needs. It is because I have seen so many of these prayers answered that I am so bold as to offer to pray for you individually through this website and phone line.