Stephen was one of the “Seven” that were anointed for their labor in the word of God and the leadership of the Grecian Jewish believers who resettled in Jerusalem. Apparently he was a very outspoken believer, testifying and proving that Jesus was the Messiah (Acts 6:9-10). It should be noted that he got himself into trouble because those who opposed him couldn’t refute his testimony, just as was the case of Jesus during his ministry. It should also be understood that false witnesses were used to testify against Stephen, just as it was concerning Jesus when he was brought before the Sanhedrin. These similarities are not coincidences. This was the first time blood was shed among the believers since the crucifixion.
Stephen was accused of speaking blasphemy against the Temple and Moses (or the Law—God’s word). In Acts 7 when the high priest asked Stephen to give an account for himself, Stephen mentioned three of Israel’s important forefathers: Abraham, Joseph and Moses. God met with Abraham in Mesopotamia and called him away from his family and blessed him. God blessed Joseph in the land of Egypt, so that he was able to save his entire family. He met with Moses in Median, appearing to him in a bush, and commissioned him to lead Israel out of bondage in Egypt. In each case God blessed his people without the Temple. Stephen claimed God didn’t need a Temple to bless or to dwell with his people. This is essentially what Jesus told the woman at the well in the Gospel of John, saying that the time was coming when those who worship God will do so in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24).
Stephen concluded by saying when David wanted to build a Temple, God as much as took issue with his desire, asking what house could he possibly build for him, since he (God) created everything that exists (Acts 7:46-50), thus implying the universe is too small to contain him!
It was at this time his accusers rushed upon him and took him out of the city and stoned him to death. Stephen’s death was very significant in the early church. It represents a kind of dividing line for what occurred before and what occurred afterward. The Gospel was preached to the Jews alone before Stephen’s death, but afterward it went to the Samaritans, who were a mixed race and only partly Jewish, and then to the Gentiles. Why should this be so? Why is it that Stephen’s death should point to this? I mentioned in an earlier post that the 70 Weeks Prophecy was fulfilled during Jesus public life and the very beginning of the apostles’ ministry. At that time I showed that the 1335 days mentioned in Daniel 12:12 began on the Feast of Trumpets in 27 CE with Jesus offering himself as the Messiah in his home town of Nazareth (Luke 4:16-21) and ended on Pentecost 31 CE with the Holy Spirit coming upon the disciples. Stephen’s death represents the end of the 1290 days of Daniel 12:11. The 1290 days began on Resurrection Sunday in 31 CE at the time of the Wave Sheaf Offering which offering represents Jesus’ sacrifice being accepted by our Father in heaven before any of his people could be “harvested” from mankind. The Wave Sheaf Offering took place on the first day of the Weeks, that is the first day counting toward Pentecost, and it always occurred on the Sunday between the two Holy Day Sabbaths of the eight day Passover season.
While it is clear that from Pentecost 31 CE to Stephen’s death about three years, it cannot be conclusively proved to have occurred exactly on the 1290th day after the Resurrection. However, counting 1290 days from the Resurrection brings us to the Day of Atonement 34 CE. There are several things that occurred at Stephen’s trial and death that point to Jesus’ crucifixion. Stephen’s death also seems to have occurred when Jewish men of the Diaspora came to worship at Jerusalem (Acts 6:9) which they did around the annual Jewish festivals in obedience to the Law. I don’t believe such things occur in God’s word as a matter of coincidence. It is a matter of design. Moreover, in Revelation 12 we are given a picture of the spiritual warfare during Jesus’ ministry which lasted 1260 days (Revelation 12:6), and after this the disciples were given safety for another 3 ½ years, or a time, times and half a time (Revelation 12:14). This is the 1290 days of safety that ended in bloodshed—the stoning of Stephen. The key to knowing when the 70th week of the 70 Weeks Prophecy occurred is knowing the 1260 days, the 1290 days and the 1335 days of Daniel 12 (which comprise the 7 year period) begin and end either on an annual Holy Day in the Jewish calendar or a significant day having to do with those Holy Days. May God open the eyes of his people to see and understand his word.