Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran on him with one accord,…
On reviewing the whole narrative we cannot fail to be struck with three things —
1. The professed patrons of religion engaged in banishing it from the world. The peculiar enormity of the crime is that it was done in the name of religion.
2. The most eminent future apostle accessory to the death of the most eminent disciple. This teaches us —
(1) How the conscience may be perverted. An action is not necessarily right because the author believes it to be so.
(2) How concealed the spirituality of the law may be from its most diligent student. Some knew its letter, but had not learned the alphabet of its spirit. "The letter killeth."(3) How sovereign and .almighty is the grace of God. Christ selected Saul to become His apostle, and the martyrdom of Stephen was one of the causes of His conversion. "He is able of stones to raise up children to Abraham."
3. The most useful man of his time allowed to be stoned out of the world as a blasphemer. Stephen appears in two opposite lights — as a victim and as a victor. Though crushed he yet conquered-illustrating the dark and bright sides of piety.
I. THE DARK SIDE. Stephen dying under a shower of stones. The world has ever hated vital Christianity. Two causes led to this result —
1. He held convictions which clashed with the prejudices and worldly interests of his contemporaries.
2. He faithfully declared those convictions. Had he kept them to himself, compromised them, or toned them down to the corrupt spirit of his age, he would have avoided such an end as this.
II. The bright side. Piety looked upon from the world's side is rather a miserable object — but not so when viewed from the spiritual side.
1. Stephen was in vital connection with God. He was "filled with the Holy Ghost."
2. He had a glorious vision of heaven. Having God within him, everything was full of divinity.
3. His spirit was inspired with the sublimest magnanimity.
4. He had a delightful departure from the world.
(1) He commended his spirit to Christ. This prayer implies —
(a) Consciousness that he had a spirit.
(b) Belief that that spirit would survive his expiring body.
(c) Unbounded faith in Christ to take care of his spirit.
(2) He fell asleep. Implying —
(a) A welcome rest.
(b) An anticipated rising.
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,