Online Bible Commentary
The Face of an Angel
Acts 6:8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen. 10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. 11 Then they secretly induced men to say, "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God." 12 And they stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; and they came upon him, seized him, and brought him to the council. 13 They also set up false witnesses who said, "This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law; 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us." 15 And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel. (NKJV)
In the early days of the New Testament Church, in A.D. 30 or 31, seven deacons were named, including Stephen. It appears that within a short time Stephen answered the call to the gospel ministry. He began preaching in the synagogues, “full of faith and power” from the filling of the Holy Spirit (v. 8a). The Spirit worked through him producing miracles, “great wonders and signs” (v. 8b).
One of the synagogues he spoke at was that of the “Freedmen”, likely made up of Jewish slaves who had been freed by the Romans (v. 9a). These former slaves were from Cyrene, a city in Africa, Alexandria, a seaport in Egypt, and Cilicia and Asia, provinces of Asia Minor (v. 9b).
Upon hearing Stephen’s preaching these Jews began “disputing” his words (v. 9c). But they were no match for the “wisdom” and Spirit filled preaching of Stephen (v. 10).
Since they could not disprove Stephen’s preaching, the Jews convinced others to lie, claiming that Stephen was blaspheming “Moses and God” (v. 11). “They stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes” against Stephen so that he was brought up on charges before the religious leaders of the Sanhedrin Council (v. 12).
The Jewish Freedmen set up false witnesses who claimed that Stephen was blaspheming the temple and the “law” of Moses, the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible (v. 13). The Sadducees only believed in the Pentateuch. The false witnesses testified that Stephen had said that “Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us” (v. 14).
During this testimony, though, the Council was struck by “the face of an angel” of Stephen (v. 15). His demeanor was one that reflected the truth and the peace of the Holy Spirit. They were so impressed by him that they allowed him to deliver a lengthy sermon to them, which is written of in chapter seven.
Stephen was an example of one who was fully yielded to the Holy Spirit. The truth and peace of the Holy Spirit was upon him. His face did not reflect the worry and consternation of those who are not trusting God. Instead it reflected the peace that surpasses all understanding.
Stephen was totally sold out to God. He had yielded everything to God, and God, in turn, filled him with the Holy Spirit. He allowed the Holy Spirit to control him. When he let go and let God he found true, everlasting, peace.
Every Christian can have the peace that Stephen’s face reflected. It comes from not trying to do everything in our own power. It comes from yielding our life to God, who then fills us with the Holy Spirit.
In dealing with the challenges of life we should do all that we can, but then leave the results up to God. When we do this He gives us peace, the peace that surpasses all understanding.