The final verses of Acts 7 provide us with the only inspired record of the final words of a Christian martyr. The uniqueness of this revelation is interesting because Scripture informs us that other believers were also martyred (James [Acts 12:2]; Peter [John 21:18-19]), but God for some reason did not choose to give us any information about their final words.
Luke records the two prayers that Stephen prayed before he died:
And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep (7:59-60).
Both prayers address someone as Lord. Both prayers parallel prayers by Jesus on the Cross (Luke 23:34, 46).
The first prayer was to Jesus as Lord and concerned Stephen himself. The second prayer concerned Stephen’s persecutors.
When I wrote my dissertation, I argued that Stephen prayed both prayers to Jesus. I was challenged by a committee member who held that Stephen prayed his second prayer not to Jesus, but to the Father.
Whom do you think that he prayed to (Jesus or the Father) and why do you think that way?
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