And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.
The Holy Spirit records Stephen's martyrdom, but does not enter into details of his sufferings and death, as uninspired recorders would have been so apt to do. The object of the Holy Ghost is not to indulge curiosity nor to harrow the feelings, but to instruct and move to imitation. Note here —
I. A SUGGESTED CONTRAST. Stephen and Saul.
1. These were both highly earnest, fearless men, yet at this time they were wide as the poles asunder.
(1) Stephen spiritual; giving in his address great prominence to the spiritual nature of religion, and the comparative insignificance of its externals (vers. 48-50). Saul superstitious, worshipping form and ritual, full of reverence for the temple and the priests, and so forth.
(2) Stephen, a humble believer in the Lord Jesus, saved by faith alone. Saul, a self-righteous Pharisee, as proud as he could live.
(3) Stephen, defending and vindicating the gospel of Jesus. Saul, giving his countenance, his vote, his assistance in the persecution of the servant of the Lord Christ.
2. Inquire if a Saul is now present. Call him forth by name.
(1) Have you been a consenting party to the persecution of good men? You do not object to making Christian men the theme of ridicule. You smile when you hear such ridicule.
(2) By your indecision in religion you aid and abet the adversary. In these ways the witnesses lay down their clothes at your feet, and you are their accomplice.
II. A SINGULAR INTRODUCTION TO TRUE RELIGION. Many have been brought to God by means somewhat similar. The young man, whose name was Saul, met with the religion of Jesus in the person of Stephen, and thus he saw it with the following surroundings —
1. The vision of a shining face.
2. The hearing of a noble discourse.
3. The sight of a triumphant death.These did not convert Saul, but they made it harder for him to be unconverted, and were, no doubt, in after days thought of by him. Let us so introduce religion to men, that the memory of its introduction may be worth their retaining.
III. A REMARKABLE INSTANCE OF THE LORD'S CARE FOR HIS CHURCH. The apostolical succession was preserved in the Church,
1. Stephen's death was a terrible blow to the cause; but at that moment his successor was close at hand.
2. That successor was in the ranks of the enemy.
3. That successor was far greater than the martyr, Stephen, himself. There is no fear for the Church: her greatest champions, though as yet concealed among her enemies, will be called in due time. The death of her best advocates may assist in the conversion of others.
IV. A GRACIOUS MEMORIAL OF REPENTED SIN. Did not Paul give Luke this information concerning himself, and cause it to be recorded in the Acts of the Apostles? It was well for Paul to remember his sin before conversion. It will be well for us to remember ours.
1. To create and renew feelings of humility.
2. To inflame love and zeal.
3. To deepen our love to the doctrines of sovereign grace.
4. To make us hopeful and zealous for others.Let dying Stephen be cheered by the hope of young Saul's salvation. Let wicked young Saul repent of his wrong to Stephen.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.