Stephen was one of the “Seven” (Acts 6:3, 5) 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 of 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 their having a Temple, and each one of them were outside the Promised Land. 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 (cf. 1Kings 8:27; 2Chronicles 2:6)!
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 first half of the 70 Weeks Prophecy was fulfilled during Jesus public life. It would seem logical for the second half of that prophecy to be fulfilled immediately. However, this isn’t quite so. It **should** have been completed immediately, because that would have meant the Jewish nation repented and received Jesus as the Messiah. However, that didn’t occur. Therefore, the second half of the week would be fulfilled in judgment upon the nation (70 AD), instead of its vindication had the days been fulfilled immediately (34 AD).
Notice that the 1260 days according to my previous study, had been fulfilled at the cross on Passover day. Jesus lay in the tomb for three days and three nights. Salvation is pictured as a time of harvest, and the Wave Sheaf offering took place during the eight-day Passover season. It occurred on the first day of the week following the weekly Sabbath that fell between the two Holy Day Sabbaths (the 15th and the 21st days of the first month) that occurred during this Festival. This offering represented the blessing of the harvest season. Nothing could be harvested until this offering was made. It represents the resurrected Jesus appearing before God, being accepted for the rest of the harvest that would come after him.
Why is this important to Stephen’s death? Well, if we would count 1290 days from the time of the Wave Sheaf offering (on Resurrection Sunday) in 31 AD they would end on the Day of Atonement, 3 ½ hears later. This was the day of national repentance. If the 1290 days immediately followed the 1260 days, it would have meant the Jews, as a nation, repented and received Jesus as their Messiah. They didn’t and, instead, killed Stephen. Stephen represents their unrepentance and their rejection of Jesus. Jesus said in Revelation 2:20-21 that he gave the Jewish nation (Jezebel) a season to repent but they didn’t. These days were that season. They didn’t end in repentance, so the second half of the week was delayed due to unbelief, just as it was with ancient Israel when Moses took them out of Egypt. Instead of immediately going into the Promised Land, they spent 40 years in the wilderness, because of unbelief. Stephen’s death exposes the unbelief and the rebellion of the Jewish nation, and also points to the extent of the grace of God, looking for a wicked nation to repent.
 This study has been revised to point to a different ending of the 1290 days, which is the completion of Daniel’s 70 Weeks Prophecy. Originally, I had those days ending at Stephen’s death, but I’ve found that Stephens’ death proves they could not have ended on that date – the Day of Atonement 34 AD. That was a day of national repentance, and the death of Stephen proves the nation didn’t repent.