Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran on him with one accord,…
It is a glorious thing to be the first t achieve some great work — the first mariner to sail into an unknown sea, or the first soldier to mount the breach, and enter the beleaguered city — but nobler still to be the first to bear witness to a great truth, and to seal the testimony with one's blood. This honour was enjoyed by Stephen. In the story of his martyrdom we see —
I. A VICTIM CONQUERING. Stephen's murderers seemed to get the victory, yet in reality they were vanquished. No wonder that their victim triumphed, for persecution is always a sign of weakness. Persecution is always an attempt to accomplish the impossible. It is an endeavour to effect spiritual ends by physical means. Not all the Acts of Parliament, decrees of magistrates, rage of princes in the world can crush the soul that is strengthened by the grace of God. The martyr triumphs over his foes.
II. A WITNESS TESTIFYING. Stephen's martyrdom was an argument for Christianity.
1. He bore testimony to the facts of the gospel story. What a convincing proof of the reality of these events!
2. He bore testimony to the power of the living Saviour. Nothing can inspire such enthusiasm and devotion as a person can excite.
III. A HERO CROWNED.
1. A radiant vision. "I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man," etc. The spirit-world is nearer than we often think. If our powers were developed, what spiritual glories would flash upon us!
2. A celestial spirit. "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge" — the martyr's prayer for his murderers. How unlike the world's spirit of revenge!
3. A profound peace. "And when he had said this, he fell asleep." How striking the contrast between Stephen's calmness and the fierce excitement of his persecutors!
(T. W. Mays, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,