Stephen has the face of an Angel?
While reading through the book of Acts I came across something that grabbed my attention. So much so that it was hard to concentrate throughout the rest of the book mostly because instantly after reading the last verse of Acts chapter 6 which says “And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.” The song by Billy Fury called Angel Face kept playing in my head. Silly I know, but more importantly, why did the author of Acts describe Stephens face with that of an angel? If you were just reading through Acts and didn’t pay much attention to detail you’d think that the author was describing Stephens’s physical appearance, but I think there are more elements to the story. During his speech, Stephen says something interesting “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” (Acts 7:51-53)To me Stephen is almost referring to himself as an angel in a way because he is also giving and preaching the law to the people, and not only that but referring to all the others who have given the law before him as angels. This source uses the other speeches that Stephen gives as further reference as well, “However, I think there is some indication that Luke was talking about something else. Where is that indication? In the speech that Stephen gives to the council (Sanhedrin). Remember that when Luke wrote the book of Acts, there was no chapter division between Acts 6:15 and Acts 7:1. Instead, immediately after Luke says that Stephen had a face like that of an angel, the high priest asked Stephen to defend himself against the accusations that he was speaking against the law and the temple.” Stephen was a powerful figure in the book of Acts, without a doubt, but was he an angel? Unfortunately, I don’t think that Stephen was a literal angel. “Stephen was as close to God as a person can be. Angels exist in the presence of God and they are messengers of God. Stephen also was a messenger of God when he preached Jesus. Stephen and six other men ministered to the people of the church and saw to their needs. Angels are also ministering spirits for the Lord. Those are the reasons why Stephen’s face appeared as an angel’s face.” This source suggests that Stephen, being “full of spirit,” was able to “glow” so to speak with the Holy Spirit, giving him an angel like appearance. The question to me was intriguing and made me realize the true source of where we got the awesome saying, “face of an angel.” Without this verse how else would we describe gorgeous people?
The Literary Study Bible. General Editors: Leland Ryken & Philip Graham Ryken. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Bibles.2007
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