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1Then the high priest asked him, “Is this true?”

2He replied, “My brothers, fathers of this nation, listen to me. The God of glory appeared to Abraham our ancestor while he was in Mesopotamia, before he had settled in Harran,

3and said: ‘Leave your country and your kinsfolk, and come away to a land that I will show you.’

4Thereupon he left the land of the Chaldaeans and settled in Harran. From there, after his father's death, God led him to migrate to this land where you now live.

5He gave him no foothold in it, nothing to call his own, but promised to give it as a possession for ever to him and to his descendants after him, though he was then childless.

6This is what God said: ‘Abraham's descendants shall live as aliens in a foreign land, held in slavery and oppression for four hundred years.

7And I will pass judgement’, he said, ‘on the nation whose slaves they are; and after that they shall escape and worship me in this place.’

8God gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision, and so, when his son Isaac was born, he circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac was the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.

9“The patriarchs out of jealousy sold Joseph into slavery in Egypt, but God was with him

10and rescued him from all his troubles. He gave him wisdom which so commended him to Pharaoh king of Egypt that he appointed him governor of Egypt and of the whole royal household.

11“When famine struck all Egypt and Canaan, causing great distress, and our ancestors could find nothing to eat,

12Jacob heard that there was food in Egypt and sent our fathers there. This was their first visit.

13On the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and his ancestry was disclosed to Pharaoh.

14Joseph sent for his father Jacob and the whole family, seventy-five persons in all;

15and Jacob went down into Egypt. There he and our fathers ended their days.

16Their remains were later removed to Shechem and buried in the tomb for which Abraham paid a sum of money to the sons of Hamor at Shechem.

17“Now as the time approached for God to fulfil the promise he had made to Abraham, our people in Egypt grew and increased in numbers.

18At length another king, who knew nothing of Joseph, ascended the throne of Egypt.

19He employed cunning to harm our race, and forced our ancestors to expose their children so that they should not survive.

20It was at this time that Moses was born. He was a fine child, and pleasing to God. For three months he was nursed in his father's house;

21then when he was exposed, Pharaoh's daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son.

22So Moses was trained in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, a powerful speaker and a man of action.

23“He was approaching the age of forty, when it occurred to him to visit his fellow-countrymen the Israelites.

24Seeing one of them being ill-treated, he went to his aid, and avenged the victim by striking down the Egyptian.

25He thought his countrymen would understand that God was offering them deliverance through him, but they did not understand.

26The next day he came upon two of them fighting, and tried to persuade them to make up their quarrel. ‘Men, you are brothers!’ he said. ‘Why are you ill-treating one another?’

27But the man who was at fault pushed him away. ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us?’ he said.

28‘Are you going to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’

29At this Moses fled the country and settled in Midianite territory. There two sons were born to him.

30“After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the flame of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai.

31Moses was amazed at the sight, and as he approached to look more closely, the voice of the Lord came to him:

32‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’ Moses was terrified and did not dare to look.

33Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off your sandals; the place where you are standing is holy ground.

34I have indeed seen how my people are oppressed in Egypt and have heard their groans; and I have come down to rescue them. Come now, I will send you to Egypt.’

35“This Moses, whom they had rejected with the words, ‘Who made you ruler and judge?’ -- this very man was commissioned as ruler and liberator by God himself, speaking through the angel who appeared to him in the bush.

36It was Moses who led them out, doing signs and wonders in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and for forty years in the desert.

37It was he who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you from among yourselves a prophet like me.’

38It was he again who, in the assembly in the desert, kept company with the angel, who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our forefathers, and received the living utterances of God to pass on to us.

39“Our forefathers would not accept his leadership but thrust him aside. They wished themselves back in Egypt,

40and said to Aaron, ‘Make us gods to go before us. As for this fellow Moses, who brought us out of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’

41That was when they made the bull-calf and offered sacrifice to the idol, and held festivities in honour of what their hands had made.

42So God turned away from them and gave them over to the worship of the host of heaven, as it stands written in the book of the prophets: ‘Did you bring me victims and offerings those forty years in the desert, you people of Israel?

43No, you carried aloft the shrine of Moloch and the star of the god Rephan, the images which you had made for your adoration. I will banish you beyond Babylon.’

44“Our forefathers had the Tent of the Testimony in the desert, as God commanded when he told Moses to make it after the pattern which he had seen.

45In the next generation, our fathers under Joshua brought it with them when they dispossessed the nations whom God drove out before them, and so it was until the time of David.

46David found favour with God and begged leave to provide a dwelling-place for the God of Jacob;

47but it was Solomon who built him a house.

48However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men; as the prophet says:

49‘Heaven is my throne and earth my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord; where shall my resting-place be?

50Are not all these things of my own making?’

51“How stubborn you are, heathen still at heart and deaf to the truth! You always resist the Holy Spirit. You are just like your fathers!

52Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They killed those who foretold the coming of the righteous one, and now you have betrayed him and murdered him.

53You received the law given by God's angels and yet you have not kept it.”

54This touched them on the raw, and they ground their teeth with fury.

55But Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, and gazing intently up to heaven, saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God's right hand.

56“Look!” he said. “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

57At this they gave a great shout, and stopped their ears; they made a concerted rush at him,

58threw him out of the city, and set about stoning him. The witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.

59As they stoned him Stephen called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

60He fell on his knees and cried aloud, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them,” and with that he died.


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