27 December 2007

St. Stephen the Protomartyr
St. Stephen the Protomartyr

Today is the feast of St. Stephen the Protomartyr in the eastern church. The western churches celebrated his feast day yesterday. His story is told in Acts 6-8:1. One element of this episode has always puzzled me. Verses 2-4 of Acts 7 tells us:

And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, "It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty."

However, there is no further mention of Stephen "serving tables." In fact, "Stephen, full of grace and power, [performed] great wonders and signs among the people" and spoke to the people with wisdom through the Holy Spirit (7:8,10). It is highly unlikely that Stephen would have been stoned to death if he had stuck to his original job description. The Spirit seems to have had other plans for him.

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