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" Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost," — Acts 6:5.


" Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost," — Acts 6:5.


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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Oct 06, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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STEPHE.By C. J. BALDWI." Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost," — Acts 6:5.THIS IS the brief but glorious epitaph which commem-orates one of the heroes of the ew Testament.And where on the rolls of fame, on any of the proud tab-lets which keep alive the names of men upon the wallsof history, shall we find a nobler inscription than this — **aman full of faith and of the Holy Ghost ? '* Certainlychristian history shows nothing more illustrious. In somerespects the name of Stephen shines next to that of theHead of the Church, in the value of his services to theKingdom of Heaven, and in the glory of his reward. Thiswill appear from the story of his life and death.In the book of Acts Stephen is mentioned as one of the Grecians or Hellenists. This name was given tosome of the Jews of the Dispersion — Hebrews who livedoutside of Palestine, but who still retained their ancestralfaith. Of these the number was very great at that time.Jerusalem was not only the capital city of Judea, it was ametropolis of world-wide influence. Its children werescattered throughout the Roman Empire and had thus be-come the means of leavening the civilized world with divinetruth. For the same reason, all parts of the earth wererepresented in the great multitudes who came to the year-ly festivals of the Jewish church "out of every nation un-der heaven.*' Stephen was a Jew who had been bom38 Stephen.or reared in Greece. He had received his educationin the classic land of Hellas, where he had breathedthe air still musical with the poetry of Homer, the philos-
ophy of Plato and the wisdom of Socrates. The grandshadow of the Parthenon perhaps had fallen on his youth,and the noble inspirations of Athenian art had liberalizedhis thought. But he was a child of Abraham at heart,and had preserved his patrimony of religious zeal, with thefidelity which has characterized his race to the present day.The Jew is still a cosmopolite ; but never has he mergedhis racial traits in those of any other people, or lost hishold on the covenant blessing of Israel.We are not told how long Stephen had been a resi-dent of Jerusalem, or when he accepted the faith of Jesusof azareth. But evidently he was among those whomthe day of Pentecost developed as believers in the cruci-fied. The terms by which he is introduced to history — *'aman full of faith and of the Holy Ghost " — attach him atonce to that tremendous affusion of the spirit, when thewind and the fire made known his presence, and * * theywere all filled with the Holy Ghost." The shock andsplendor of that miraculous cataclysm ushered in a ewEra. Then was born the Dispensation foretold of old,with signs and great wonders. The disciples becameApostles — bold and ready — endowed with the gift of tongues and infallible knowledge. Then the preaching of the Gospel was ** in demonstration of the spirit and of pow-er." Peter, "filled with the Holy Ghost," tells the multitudeto repent and be baptized unto the remission of sins, andthey too shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Thiswas done ; and three thousand were added to the church,of whom it is written ** they were all filled with the HolyStephen. 39Ghost." This phrase was indeed the motto of the infantchurch. Again and again it occurs in the Book of Acts,describing not only the Apostles but the entire member-ship ; every believer was ** full of the Holy Ghost/' and"great grace was upon them all.'*
But soon practical difficulties began to appear, in thethe organization and conduct of the new enterprise; amongwhich was the care of its feebler members — the poor, sick and aged. This burden was one of the sacred trusts whichthe Redeemer had committed to his followers, and whichthe Apostles were prompt to assume. But in the dischargeof this duty it became evident that an equitable distribu-tion of the charitable fund required more attention thanthey were able to bestow on it. The foreign born Jewscomplained that their ** widows" — (a class characterizedby special needs, since by oriental custom women whosehusbands had died, might not support themselves or marryagain) did not receive as large an allotment as those amongthe natives. In order to provide for this emergency, theTwelve decided to appoint a committee outside their ownnumber, since it was not in their province to leave thepreaching of the Word and "serve tables" (preside atthe love-feast or sacrament, which was then administereddaily, and where the poor fund was distributed.) Where-fore they said to the congregation of believers, " Breth-ren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report,full of the Holy Ghost and of wisdom, whom we may ap-point over this business ; but we will give ourselves con-tinually to prayer and to the ministry of the Word."This order was obeyed. **The saying pleased the peo-ple and they chose Stephen, and Philip, and Prochorus, andicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and icolas, the pros-40 Stephen.elyte of Antioch ; whom they set before the Apostles, andwhen they had prayed, they laid their hands onthem.'' Thus appears for the first time in the church theoffice of '* Deacon*' — a name signifying originally a mes-senger, a servant ; hence one who served at the tables, andbecame under the Apostles a distributor of the alms, and

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