Portrait of a disciple: Stephen the sacrifice?

(Acts 6:8) And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people.

Stephen, means crown, or crowned. This Stephen, selected as a deacon was also selected to die as one of the church’s first martyrs. Along with the many other martyrs down through the ages it is his blood that is considered as a worthy sacrifice to the Father (cf. Lev 4:7, Rev 6:9) Certainly a fitting name for such a one as he. After all, Stephen will be one of a few chosen to wear a white robe (Rev 6:11) and await the judgment of those who chose to take the life of the Father’s selected messengers (Rev 6:10).

It is true that Stephen was a martyr, but he was also a deacon (Acts 6:1-5). We know that the word for deacon is diakonos. Which otherwise means servant or attendant. You can find it used some thirty-seven times in the New Testament to reference the work of ministry in various forms, not just to the modern “office” we are accustom to assigning it.

What are some of the things we know and what is yet left to learn of this Stephen?

Stephen was:

  • selected as a deacon (therefore not one of the twelve) (Acts 6:1-5)
  • a servant of tables and widows (Acts 6:2)
  • full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom (Acts 6:3)
  • full of faith and the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:5)
  • full of grace and power (Acts 6:8)
  • a performer of great wonders, signs, and miracles (Acts 6:8)
  • an instigator of wicked men and provoked their conscience (Acts 6:10, Acts 7:54-7)
  • accused of blasphemy (Acts 6:11)
  • seized by the people to be condemned by a council of conspirators (Acts 6:12-15)
  • seen as having the face of an angel (Acts 6:15)
  • a man with a vision ofglory and a witness to the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:56)
  • stoned by his accusers and of a man called Saul (Acts 7:58)
  • a man who chose not to resist evil men (Acts 7:60)
  • a catalyst of the church at Jerusalem’s dispersion (Acts 8:1)
  • a man who was greatly missed and revered by his brethren (Acts 8:2)

Truly a biography of an interesting man! While his ministry was short lived in the sense of our modern standards of “successful”, it is clear that Stephens actions were purposed! One of the most revealing condemnations of the Jewish rejection of Christ is also found in the message Stephen gave during his defense to the council who would soon put him to death. Certainly worthy of its own extrapolation we will settle for the conclusion that what Stephen stated was prophetic and enraged the hearts of these wicked men (cf. Acts 7:54).

So following the well accepted designation of martyr, let’s explore the duties discharged by this faithful servant, Stephen.

As a Deacon one should be:

Stephen was:

  • dignified (Acts 6:3)
  • reputable (Acts 6:3)
  • obviously innocent of his charges (Acts 7:58-60)

It is apparent that Stephen fulfilled the requirements of a Deacon, and did so magnificently. We should count it a guarantee that he heard the words, “well done!” (Mat 25:21).

And so, we see that the ministry of a deacon is not just waiting tables, serving widows, or collecting the offering plate at the ends of pew after pew. The demonstration of deacon is that of service to others, even if those whom we are serving are picking up stones to murder us. So Christian, are you serving your brethren and your enemies?


This post is part of a series:

  1. Portrait of a disciple: Philip, deacon or evangelist?
  2. Portrait of a disciple: Stephen the sacrifice?



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I love writing about books, theology, and the Kingdom of God. I also enjoy viewing my vocation through a biblical lens. It is here at Seeking A Kingdom that I aim to hash out my thoughts on all these things.

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