Sixth Sunday of Easter

 Sermon Text: Acts 6:1-9, 7:2a, 51-60

 Other Readings: 1 John 5:1-6 and John 17:11b-19


  1. Who are “the Twelve” (v. 2)? What are some good leadership principles that they show here?
  2. Stephen accused the Sanhedrin (the high court of Jewish religious affairs) of being “stiff-necked” and of having hearts and ears that were “still uncircumcised” (v. 51). Why did he preach the law to them in those terms? Consult Exodus 32:1-10 and Deuteronomy 10:12-17.
  3. We often confess that we believe that Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God. But Stephen says he saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God. What significance might there be in the fact that Jesus was seen “standing at the right hand of God” (v. 56)?
  4. In our Gospel Reading, Jesus prayed to the Father, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17 NIV). What does it mean to be sanctified by God? Where do we see God’s sanctification in Stephen?
  5. What are the three different names / titles that Stephen uses for Jesus? What comfort does each one give us?


  1. “The Twelve” refers to the Apostles, despite the fact that Judas had killed himself. As for leadership, we might note: 1) They acknowledge there is a problem. 2) They offered a solution that addressed the problem. 3) They did not unilaterally enforce or pressure the congregation to accept it; they left it in their hands. 4) They cared about the widows. 5) They kept their focus on the thing they were primarily called to do—pray, lead worship, and share the word.
  2. These were loaded Old Testament words. At the golden calf incident, God described Israel as “stiff-necked” because even though they had recently been redeemed out of Egypt and seen his glory on Sinai, they stubbornly refused to live in faith. Physical circumcision was a source of pride for the Jews, but God was primarily concerned that their hearts and ears were like Abraham’s heart of faith and ears which gladly received his word.
  3. Three options have been posited. 1) There is no significance; this is just stylistic variance. 2) Just as Jesus will “get up” and come down on the Last Day, so he was getting up from his throne to greet Stephen since he knows Stephen is about to die. 3) Jesus is standing up to acknowledge Stephen before the angels in heaven since Stephen has acknowledged Jesus before others (Luke 12:8). We can’t say for sure what the significance is, but the fact that this is the only place in Scripture where Jesus is seen as standing at the right hand of God, it seems like options 2 and 3 are probable.
  4. To be sanctified means to be made holy. In Scriptural terms, to be made holy means that people have been “set apart” and made different than the world (John 17:16). Scripture often attributes this work to God the Holy Spirit. We see Stephen’s sanctification in the fact that he was “full of the Spirit and wisdom” (6:3), “full of faith” (6:5), “performed great wonders and signs” (6:8), expertly testified before the Sanhedrin and preached the law, and his prayer at the end of his life.
  5. Stephen called Jesus “the Righteous One,” and that comforts us to know that Jesus is the righteousness and perfection before God that sinners need. Stephen called Jesus “the Son of Man” which comforts us that Jesus is the fulfillment of Daniel’s vision in his book and that he is a true human like us. Stephen also called him “Lord,” which comforts us that Jesus is true God and in control, even when the world seems to be having its way with us.