Jesus Stands for Stephen

Jesus Stands for Stephen
Acts 7:55

But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, (Acts 7:55, World English Bible)

In the Book of Acts the disciples continue to suffer opposition, incarceration, and even violent death after the resurrection of Lord Jesus. In what is likely an illegal action by the Sanhedrin supported by their mob, Stephen is put to death by throwing him from a high place and stoning.

But when Peter “goes to sleep” and ascends to the throne room of God in heaven, we observe that Jesus is standing. Jesus is standing at the right hand of God.

This is unusual, as Jesus is usually seen sitting on his own throne, next to God (who is seated on his own throne. Per ancient Near East custom, Jesus sits at his father’s immediate right, in the position of most social respect. A number of passages make note of this:

Matthew 22:44 ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Until I put Your enemies beneath Your feet”’? (NASB)

Matthew 26:64 Jesus *said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (NASB)

Mark 12:36 David himself said in the Holy Spirit, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Until I put Your enemies beneath Your feet.”’ (NASB)

Mark 14:62 And Jesus said, “I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” (NASB)

Mark 16:19 So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. (NASB)

Luke 20:42 For David himself says in the book of Psalms, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, (NASB)

Luke 22:69 But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” (NASB)

Ephesians 1:20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, (NASB)

Ephesians 2:6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, (NASB)

Colossians 3:1 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (NASB)

Acts 2:25 For David says of Him, ‘I saw the Lord always in my presence; For He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken. (NASB)

Acts 2:33 Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. (NASB)

Acts 2:34 For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, (NASB)

Acts 3:7 And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. (NASB)

The previous verse doesn’t fall into the category of Christ-sitting-at-God’s-right, but we included it nevertheless as we find the mention of one hand or the other curious.

We continue:

Acts 5:31 He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. (NASB)

Acts 7:55 But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; (NASB)

Acts 7:56 and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” (NASB)

Romans 8:34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. (NASB)

2 Corinthians 6:7 in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, (NASB)

Galatians 2:9 and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. (NASB)

Ephesians 1:20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, (NASB)

Colossians 3:1 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (NASB)

Heb 1:3 Who being the brightness of [his] glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; (KJV)

Heb 8:1 Now of the things which we have spoken [this is] the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; (KJV)

Heb 10:11-12 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; (KJV)

Heb 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (KJV)

Here is a bit more context, from the Berean translation:

Acts 7:54-60 On hearing this, the members of the Sanhedrin were enraged, and they gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked intently into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 At this they covered their ears, cried out in a loud voice, and rushed together at him. 58 They dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 While they were stoning him, Stephen appealed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Falling on his knees, he cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Berean Study Bible).

Several commentaries note that Jesus stands in anticipation of greeting Stephen. We find brief remarks in Bengel, Expositor’s, Cambridge, the NET Study Bible, Vincent, Jamieson-Fausset-Brown, Reformation S.B., Kistemaker, and Bruce. The Pulpit Commentary adds that Jesus stands so that, perhaps, he can place on Stephen’s head the crown of life of Revelation 2:10. Poole affirms that Jesus stands not merely for Stephen, but for all who come to him and comfort those who suffer for his sake. MacGregor in Interpreters (1954) wonders if Stephen, like the thief on the cross next to Jesus and the beggar Lazarus character in the story of the rich man and Lazarus, goes directly to the throne room without waiting for the general resurrection.

Perhaps Jesus stands in order to place the crown of life on Steven:

Revelation 2:8-11 To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of the First and the Last, who died and returned to life. 9 I know your affliction and your poverty—though you are rich! And I am aware of the slander of those who falsely claim to be Jews, but are in fact a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Look, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison to test you, and you will suffer tribulation for ten days. Be faithful even unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who overcomes will not be harmed by the second death. (Berean)

For what it is worth, here is King Solomon’s respectful rise to his feet to greet his mother, David’s wife Bathsheba. And she receives her seat in the position of most respect:

1 Kings 2:19 So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah. And the king arose to meet her, bowed before her, and sat on his throne; then he had a throne set for the king’s mother, and she sat on his right. (NASB)

One final thing — and this is off our topic — we cannot help but point out Stephen’s emulation of the forgiving Christ on the cross. Stephen forgives his attackers. Bible Bits is humbled at our own unwillingness and frequent inability to follow this example:

Acts 7:59-60 and they were stoning Stephen, calling and saying, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit;’ 60 and having bowed the knees, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lord, mayest thou not lay to them this sin;’ and this having said, he fell asleep. (Young’s Literal Translation)

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

If you choose to respond to our post, please cite scripture and good commentary. 🙂

As always, we encourage you to read the actual Bible for yourself. Do not merely read about the Bible, but read the actual Bible.

We pray in the name of Lord Jesus Christ for God to bless you! Blessings!

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