The Case Study of Stephen: Acts 6:8-10
“8) And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people. 9) But some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen, including both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and argued with Stephen. 10) But they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.” Acts‬ ‭6‬:‭8‬-‭10‬ ‭
Though Stephen was not an apostle, the Holy Spirit worked through him in extraordinary ways. Some teach that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit were restricted only to the twelve apostles. Stephen, Philip, Paul and Barnabas more than invalidate that foolish notion. Supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit were rooted in the third person of the Trinity, and were not restricted to the human agents. (See 1 Corinthians 12:4-11). He has not changed.
Paul taught that the power of the Holy Spirit should accompany the preaching of the gospel, so that faith should not be anchored in the power of God. Carefully study 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. I am also captured by Galatians 3:2-5. The Holy Spirit was very active as the gospel spread among the Gentiles far beyond the reach of the apostles. Do not limit, quench or muzzle the Spirit of God!
I value solid biblical doctrine, Hebrew and Greek word studies, sound expository preaching, hermeneutical eloquence, good reason, rational discussions and even bullet proof apologetics; but they do not replace the power, presence and anointing of the Holy Spirit as essential for good preaching and teaching. I have heard many good and rational sermons over the years that were absent of anointing from the Holy Spirit. I have even preached a share of them myself. I repent! There is no excuse for fleshly or powerless preaching or teaching. This has become the curse of the modern western church.
As was the case with Stephen, anointed preaching and teaching will face opposition. Preaching against sin and calling people to repentance and faith in God is not popular. When you study the messages preached in the early church, they resembled the words of the Old Testament prophets. They had substance! They called people to get right with God! They did not mince words. They were anointed by the Holy Spirit.
Stephen faced stiff opposition in Acts 6:9-10; “and yet they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.” He laid his life on the line rather than compromising the message. This courage and boldness planted seeds in Saul who was active in the background of this story. (Acts 8:1) . I suspect he may have been a leader in the group mentioned in Acts 6:9. After his conversion, he became the Apostle Paul… who in turn laid down his life to defend the gospel
Never mistake the filling and anointing of the Holy Spirit with shallow emotionalism. It is more measured by boldness, courage and the grace to suffer for the sake of Jesus and the gospel. Stephen became the first case study of what it meant to be an ordinary disciple of Jesus Christ who was filled with the Holy Spirit!
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global