The Berean Expositor
Volume 46 - Page 99 of 249
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undreamed and unrevealed until made known for the first time to "Paul, the prisoner of
Jesus Christ for you Gentiles". Paul must have visited that synagogue many times, and it
was on one of those visits that he heard Stephen, disputing with the Jews, a dispute that
crowned Stephen as the first Christian martyr and changed Saul of Tarsus into the
Apostle of the Gentiles. If we compare Stephen's speech with that of Paul's, as recorded
in  Acts 13:,  we shall not be able to resist the feeling that Paul was, perhaps
unconsciously following the same pattern. Stephen made three points:
(1) Joseph.
"The second time" (Acts 7: 13).
(2) Moses.
"The second time" (7: 35).
(3) Israel.
"As your fathers did, so do ye" (7: 51).
"And Saul was consenting unto his death" (Acts 8: 1). None could resist the
wisdom and the spirit in which Stephen spoke. Paul saw Stephen's face as it had been
the face of an angel. He heard Stephen declare that he saw the glory of God, and Jesus
standing on the right hand of God. He heard him use the title "The Son of Man" and
"The Lord Jesus", and he heard Stephen pray for his murderers "Lord lay not this sin to
their charge", and yet, he consented unto his death! Nevertheless, it must have burdened
the conscience of Saul of Tarsus, a self-righteous Pharisee, that he was obliged to side
with such brutality, and stand against such lovely grace, and he found, himself "kicking
against the pricks", and so to stifle his conscience, and to `prove' to all that he had no
sympathy with this heresy, he desired letters to Damascus to stamp out this superstition;
letters however that led straight to that spot "near Damascus" where Saul the Pharisee
died and Paul the Apostle was born.  In Acts 22: Paul rehearsed this dreadful
experience, saying:
"Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on
Thee, and when the blood of Thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and
consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him" (Acts 22: 18-20).
When in that speech the Apostle reached the words "I will send thee far off to the
Gentiles", the storm broke, and he lived again in his own person the martyrdom of
Stephen. When Paul saw them "cast off their clothes", he must have remembered that
earlier he once had the clothes of those who stoned Stephen laid at his feet. The
reference in Acts 9: 5 to "kicking against the pricks" is to the ox-goad, against which a
rebellious or back-sliding animal at the plough would be brought up suddenly. We must
however remember that our present theme is "Liberty" and attractive as the early days of
Paul ever must be, we must move from the synagogue of the Libertines, to become
acquainted with a richer liberty than any "freed man" of the time ever knew.
The words used in the Original.
There are two forms of the Greek eleutheroo "to set free" found in the N.T., namely
eleutheria, and eleutheros.