(sstih' fehn) Personal name meaning, “crown.” The first Christian martyr; foremost of those chosen to bring peace to the quarreling church (Acts 6:1-7) and so mighty in the Scriptures that his Jewish opponents in debate could not refute him (Acts 6:10) as he argued that Jesus was the Messiah. Saul of Tarsus heard Stephen's speech to the Jewish Sanhedrin accusing the Jewish leaders of rejecting God's way as their forefathers had (Acts 6:12-7:53). Saul held the clothes of those who stoned Stephen to death; he saw him die a victorious death. Stephen may well have been the human agency that God used to conquer him who would become the great Christian missionary.
Stephen was in the forefront of those who saw Christianity as much more than a Jewish sect. They took seriously the commission of Jesus to carry the gospel to the whole world and led to the founding of the world mission movement that took the gospel to the whole Roman Empire in the first century. The believers had to flee Jerusalem after Stephen's death while the apostles alone remained there (Acts 8:1).
Fred L. Fisher
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.
Butler, Trent C. Editor.. "Entry for 'STEPHEN'". "Holman Bible Dictionary".