Why, brothers, look you out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom…
I. THE SPIRITUAL ENDOWMENTS BY WHICH HE WAS DISTINGUISHED. "Full of faith and of the Holy Ghost."
1. The high and honourable office to which he was elected would demand the continual exercise of a simple affiance in the power, the faithfulness, the love of Jesus Christ — in the stability of that religion to which he was self-devoted — in the fulfilment of that promise (Matthew 28:20).
2. Stephen was also full of the Holy Ghost. As the Shekinah, the bright emblem of the Divine presence, descended from heaven and filled the holy of holies, so did a sacred influence from above fill the heart of Stephen, and make his body the temple of the Holy Ghost.
II. THE EARNESTNESS OF HIS LABOUR IN THE CAUSE OF CHRIST. He who is full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, proves the power of religion as a practical principle by abounding in every good word and work. His obligations to the Fountain of Mercy are so great, his deliverance so gracious, his hope so animating, his responsibilities so awful, that one master-feeling will occupy his mind — a desire to walk worthy of God, who hath called him to His kingdom and glory.
III. To these qualifications of St. Stephen must be added HIS BOLDNESS IN CONFESSING CHRIST. A. Christian should indeed charge it upon his conscience to abstain, as much as in him lieth, from religious controversy. Unnecessary disputes, and oppositions of theological science, are most unfriendly to the love and power of Divine truth in his heart. But when his faith is assailed; when the foundation of every hope on which the soul rests is attacked by the daring impiety of the blasphemer, or the more covert insinuation of the secret infidel, let him remember that silence and indifference are treason against the Saviour who bought him with His blood.
IV. Considering the closing events of St. Stephen's life in the order of the sacred narrative, we next remark HIS SUPPORT IN THE HOUR OF TRIAL. He had such a view of his risen Redeemer's power and glory as strengthened him to abide unshrinkingly the fate before him; and such a foretaste of the bliss which awaited him as made him desirous to depart, and to be with Christ.
V. THE CHARITY WITH WHICH ST. STEPHEN PRAYED FOR HIS MURDERERS: "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." In this spirit of charity we must live and die if we hope for heaven. Never let us address God with a prayer for our own pardon, if we cannot unfeignedly pardon others their wrongs against us.
VI. THE CONFIDENCE WITH WHICH ST. STEPHEN RESIGNED HIS SOUL INTO THE HAND OF CHRIST.
(R. P. Buddicom, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.