1The high priest asked, 'Is this true?' 2He replied, 'My brothers, my fathers, listen to what I have to say. The God of glory appeared to ourancestor Abraham, while he was in Mesopotamia before settling in Haran, 3and said to him, "Leave your country, your kindred and your father's house for this country which I shalshow you." 4So he left Chaldaea and settled in Haran; and after his father died God made him leave that place andcome to this land where you are living today. 5God did not give him any property in this land or even a foothold, yet he promised to give it to him andafter him to his descendants, childless though he was. 6The actual words God used when he spoke to him are that his descendants would be exiles in a landnot their own, where they would be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years. 7"But I wil bring judgement on the nation that enslaves them," God said, "and after this they wil leave, and worship me in this place." 8Then he made the covenant of circumcision with him: and so when his son Isaac was born Abrahamcircumcised him on the eighth day; similarly Isaac circumcised Jacob, and Jacob the twelve patriarchs. 9'The patriarchs were jealous of Joseph and sold him into slavery in Egypt. But God was with him, 10and rescued him from al his miseries by making him so wise that he won the favour of Pharaoh king ofEgypt, who made him governor of Egypt and put him in charge of his household. 11Then a famine set in that caused much suffering throughout Egypt and Canaan, and our ancestorscould find nothing to eat. 12When Jacob heard that there were supplies in Egypt, he sent our ancestors there on a first visit; 13and on the second Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Pharaoh came to know his origin. 14Joseph then sent for his father Jacob and his whole family, a total of seventy-five people. 15Jacob went down into Egypt and after he and our ancestors had died there, 16their bodies were brought back to Shechem and buried in the tomb that Abraham had bought formoney from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem. 17'As the time drew near for God to fulfil the promise he had solemnly made to Abraham, our nation inEgypt became very powerful and numerous, 18there came to power in Egypt a new king who had never heard of Joseph. 19He took precautions and wore down our race, forcing our ancestors to expose their babies rather thanletting them live. 20It was at this time that Moses was born, a fine child before God. He was looked after for three monthsin his father's house, 21and after he had been exposed, Pharaoh's daughter adopted him and brought him up like a son. 22So Moses was taught all the wisdom of the Egyptians and became a man with power both in hisspeech and in his actions. 23'At the age of forty he decided to visit his kinsmen, the Israelites. 24When he saw one of them being il -treated he went to his defence and rescued the man by kil ing theEgyptian. 25He thought his brothers would realise that through him God would liberate them, but they did not. 26The next day, when he came across some of them fighting, he tried to reconcile them, and said,"Friends, you are brothers; why are you hurting each other?" 27But the man who was attacking his kinsman pushed him aside, saying, "And who appointed you to beprince over us and judge? 28Do you intend to kill me as you kil ed the Egyptian yesterday?" 29Moses fled when he heard this and he went to dwel in the land of Midian, where he fathered two sons. 30'When forty years were fulfil ed, in the desert near Mount Sinai, an angel appeared to him in a flameblazing from a bush that was on fire. 31Moses was amazed by what he saw. As he went nearer to look at it, the voice of the Lord was heard, 32"I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." Moses trembled and wasafraid to look. 33The Lord said to him, "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34I have seen the misery of my people in Egypt, I have heard them crying for help, and I have comedown to rescue them. So come here; I am sending you into Egypt." 35'It was the same Moses that they had disowned when they said, "Who appointed you to be our leader and judge?" whom God sent to be both leader and redeemer through the angel who had appeared to him in thebush. 36It was this man who led them out, after performing miracles and signs in Egypt and at the Red Sea andin the desert for forty years. 37It was this Moses who told the sons of Israel, "From among your own brothers God wil raise up aprophet like me." 38When they held the assembly in the desert it was he who was with our ancestors and the angel whohad spoken to him on Mount Sinai; it was he who was entrusted with words of life to hand on to us. 39This is the man that our ancestors refused to listen to; they pushed him aside, went back to Egypt intheir thoughts, 40and said to Aaron, "Make us a god to go at our head; for that Moses, the man who brought us herefrom Egypt, we do not know what has become of him." 41It was then that they made the statue of a calf and offered sacrifice to the idol. They were perfectlyhappy with something they had made for themselves. 42God turned away from them and abandoned them to the worship of the army of heaven, as scripturesays in the book of the prophets: Did you bring me sacrifices and oblations those forty years in the desert, Houseof Israel? 43No, you carried the tent of Moloch on your shoulders and the star of the god Rephan, the idols youmade for yourselves to adore, and so now I am about to drive you into captivity beyond Babylon. 44'While they were in the desert our ancestors possessed the Tent of Testimony that had beenconstructed according to the instructions God gave Moses, tel ing him to work to the design he had been shown. 45It was handed down from one ancestor of ours to another until Joshua brought it into the country thathad belonged to the nations which were driven out by God before us. Here it stayed until the time of David. 46He won God's favour and asked permission to find a dwel ing for the House of Jacob, 47though it was Solomon who actual y built a house for God. 48Even so the Most High does not live in a house that human hands have built: for as the prophet says: 49With heaven my throne and earth my footstool, what house could you build me, says the Lord, whatplace for me to rest, 50when al these things were made by me? 51'You stubborn people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears. You are always resisting the Holy Spirit,just as your ancestors used to do. 52Can you name a single prophet your ancestors never persecuted? They kil ed those who foretold thecoming of the Upright One, and now you have become his betrayers, his murderers. 53In spite of being given the Law through angels, you have not kept it.' 54They were infuriated when they heard this, and ground their teeth at him. 55But Stephen, fil ed with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesusstanding at God's right hand. 56'Look! I can see heaven thrown open,' he said, 'and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.' 57Al the members of the council shouted out and stopped their ears with their hands; then they made aconcerted rush at him, 58thrust him out of the city and stoned him. The witnesses put down their clothes at the feet of a youngman cal ed Saul. 59As they were stoning him, Stephen said in invocation, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.' 60Then he knelt down and said aloud, 'Lord, do not hold this sin against them.' And with these words hefel asleep.
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