As Satan tried to crush and destroy the early church neither he nor the Christians who were being persecuted and fleeing Jerusalem realized at the time that the fleeing Christians were actually winning to conflict because they were converting more to Christianity by spreading the Gospel. In Samaria Philip made converts, then two apostles were dispatched to validate or negate the movement. They authenticated and joined the work but also rebuked a man name Simon for tying to buy God’s power.
Satan’s attempt to silence the voice of the truth from Christians now spreads from the murder of Stephen to attacks on Christians living in Jerusalem. This persecution will be used by God to spread the gospel beyond the borders of Jerusalem and to other peoples also. Philip, who we met in chapter six, becomes an evangelist, spreading the gospel to Samaritans, a people in religious and cultural conflict with the Jewish people and Judaism.
To Satan, the ministry of Stephen was toxic. He demonstrated that not only was Jesus the Messiah according to the Hebrew Scripture, but also that they as a people routinely killed those whom God sent to them. Their zeal for God collapsed under the weight of a fanaticism that refused to be God led. Satan got them to kill Stephen but it was a blunder because it served to spread the gospel and stir a man named Saul to the point where God would reach him, converting him from persecutor into the great apostle Paul.
Arrested on false charges, Stephen takes the opportunity to preach Christ. At no time does he defend himself, instead he instantly goes on the offensive by pointing out from Scripture that the Jewish people have a long history of rejecting God sent deliverers the first time but submitting to them the second time. This was especially true with Joseph and Moses and now Jesus Messiah. His sermon is a masterpiece.
Stephen, one of the new leaders appointed by the apostles, was full of faith and the Holy Spirit, so much so that those who disputed with him about the identity of Jesus Christ were so thoroughly defeated that they resorted to dishonesty and the courts in attempt to silence him. As he sat before them his face was angelic, that is, innocently aglow, having a clear understanding of God.