Full of the Holy Ghost - See the notes on Acts 2:4.
Looked up stedfastly - Fixed his eyes intently on heaven. Foreseeing his danger, and the effect his speech had produced; seeing that there was no safety in the Great Council of the nation, and no prospect of justice at their hands, he cast his eyes to heaven and sought protection there. When dangers threaten us, our hope of safety lies in heaven. When people threaten our persons, reputation, or lives, it becomes us to fix our eyes on the heavenly world; and we shall not look in vain.
And saw the glory of God - This phrase is commonly used to denote the visible symbols of God. It means some magnificent representation; a splendor, or light, that is the appropriate exhibition of the presence of God, Matthew 16:27; Matthew 24:30. See the notes on Luke 2:9. In the case of Stephen there is every indication of a vision or supernatural representation of the heavenly objects; something in advance of mere “faith” such as dying Christians now have. What was its precise nature we have no means of ascertaining. Objects were often represented to prophets by “visions”; and probably something similar is intended here. It was such an elevation of view - such a representation of truth and of the glory of God, as to be denoted by the word “see”; though it is not to be maintained that Stephen really saw the Saviour with the bodily eye.
Saw the glory of God - The Shekinah, the splendor or manifestation of the Divine Majesty.
And Jesus standing on the right hand of God - In his official character, as Mediator between God and man. Stephen had this revelation while in the Sanhedrin; for as yet he had not been forced out of the city. See Acts 7:58.
By faith look upon the crowns laid up for those who shall overcome; listen to the exultant song of the redeemed, Worthy, worthy is the Lamb that was slain and hast redeemed us to God! Endeavor to regard these scenes as real. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, in his terrible conflict with principalities and powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places, exclaimed, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” The Saviour of the world was revealed to him as looking down from heaven upon him with the deepest interest; and the glorious light of Christ's countenance shone upon Stephen with such brightness that even his enemies saw his face shine like the face of an angel. MYP 113.1
If we would permit our minds to dwell more upon Christ and the heavenly world, we should find a powerful stimulus and support in fighting the battles of the Lord. Pride and love of the world will lose their power as we contemplate the glories of that better land so soon to be our home. Beside the loveliness of Christ, all earthly attractions will seem of little worth. MYP 113.2Read in context »
I was shown the work of Satan in first blinding the eyes of the Jews so that they would not receive Jesus as their Saviour; and next in leading them, through envy because of His mighty works, to desire His life. Satan entered one of Christ's own followers and led him on to betray Him into the hands of His enemies, that they might crucify the Lord of life and glory. EW 208.1
After Jesus arose from the dead, the Jews added sin to sin as they sought to hide the fact of His resurrection by hiring the Roman guard to testify to a falsehood. But the resurrection of Jesus was made doubly sure by the resurrection of a multitude of witnesses at the same time. After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples, and to above five hundred at once, while those whom He brought up with Him appeared unto many, declaring that Jesus had risen. EW 208.2
Satan had caused the Jews to rebel against God by refusing to receive His Son, and by staining their hands with His most precious blood. No matter how powerful the evidence now produced that Jesus was the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world, they had murdered Him, and would not receive any evidence in His favor. Their only hope and consolation, like that of Satan after his fall, was in trying to prevail against the Son of God. They therefore continued their rebellion by persecuting the disciples of Christ, and putting them to death. Nothing fell so harshly on their ears as the name of Jesus whom they had crucified; and they were determined not to listen to any evidence in His favor. As when the Holy Spirit through Stephen declared the mighty evidence of Jesus’ being the Son of God, they stopped their ears lest they should be convinced. Satan had the murderers of Jesus fast in his grasp. By wicked works they had yielded themselves his willing subjects, and through them he was at work to trouble and annoy the believers in Christ. He worked through the Jews to stir up the Gentiles against Jesus and against those who followed Him. But God sent His angels to strengthen the disciples for their work, that they might testify of the things they had seen and heard, and at last by their steadfastness, seal their testimony with their blood. EW 208.3Read in context »
Jesus, Only Hope of Sinners—The bewitching power of Satan has been upon you. But make no delay; Jesus is at the right hand of God and mercy still lingers. “Come now,” says the Lord, “and let us reason together; ... though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” [Isaiah 1:18]. Yes, Jesus is the sinner's only hope. “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money (no goodness, no righteousness, nothing to recommend him to God); come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price” [Isaiah 55:1]. TSB 142.3Read in context »
What a revelation was all this to the persecutor of the believers. Clear but terrible light had broken in upon his soul. Christ was revealed to him as having come to earth in fulfillment of His mission, being rejected, abused, condemned, and crucified by those whom He came to save, and as having risen from the dead and ascended into the heavens. In that terrible moment he remembered that the holy Stephen had been sacrificed by his consent, and that through his instrumentality many worthy saints had met their death by cruel persecution. SR 270.1
“And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” No doubt entered the mind of Saul that this was the veritable Jesus of Nazareth who spoke to him, and that He was indeed the long-looked-for Messiah, the Consolation and Redeemer of Israel. SR 270.2
When the effulgent glory was withdrawn, and Saul arose from the earth, he found himself totally deprived of sight. The brightness of Christ's glory had been too intense for his mortal sight, and when it was removed, the blackness of night settled upon his vision. He believed that his blindness was the punishment of God for his cruel persecution of the followers of Jesus. He groped about in terrible darkness, and his companions, in fear and amazement, led him by the hand into Damascus. SR 271.1Read in context »