Stephen was a leader in the early Church. He had a good reputation and was full of the Holy Spirit and of wisdom. Stephen did many miracles and argued strongly that people should believe in Jesus.
One day, Stephen was arguing with some Jews about Jesus. They became very angry and lied about Stephen, saying, “We heard him speak evil things about Moses and God!” So they arrested Stephen and brought him before the high priest and leaders of the Jews.
The high priest asked Stephen, “Are these things true?” Stephen replied, “You stubborn and rebellious people always reject the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors always rejected God and killed His prophets. You have even killed the Messiah whom God sent!”
When the people heard this, they covered their ears and yelled loudly. They threw Stephen out of the city and stoned him to death.
As he was dying Stephen cried out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell to his knees and cried out again, “Lord, do not count this sin against them.” Then he died.
A man named Saul approved of Stephen’s execution and guarded the belongings of those who stoned Stephen. That day many people attacked the Christians, and they were scattered through that region.
Saul continued to attack the Christians going from house to house, arresting men and women, and putting them in prison. Saul received permission from the high priest to go to the city of Damascus to arrest Christians there and bring them back to Jerusalem.
As Saul was on his way to Damascus, Jesus appeared to him in a bright light and said, “Saul! Why do you persecute me?” He said, “Who are you, Master?” Jesus replied, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.
When Saul got up, he could not see and had to be led into Damascus. Saul ate and drank nothing for three days.
This experience on this road to Damascus was to change Saul forever. He had met with the Glorified Christ. Anointed and touched by God this led to him having a deeper revelation and understanding of who Jesus is, when he did receive his eyesight.
Then God appeared to a Christian named Ananias and said, “Go to the house where Saul is staying. Lay your hands on him so that he can see again. I have chosen him to declare My name to the unsaved. I will show him how much he must suffer for My sake.” So Ananias prayed for Saul, and he regained his sight.
Immediately, Saul was baptized and began preaching to the Jews, saying, “Jesus is the Son of God!” The Jews were amazed that the man who had tried to destroy the Christians was now a Christian. Saul argued with the Jews, proving that Jesus was the Messiah. Saul became known as Paul.
After many days, the Jews made a plan to kill Paul. They placed people at the city gates to kill him. But Paul heard about the plan, and his friends helped him escape. One night they lowered him over the city wall in a basket. Paul ran away and continued preaching about Jesus.