Remember this conversation? Well TC opined as well here. On his site is the majority of the discussion, by the way, so read some of his comments. Further, another blogger has shared his opinions as well.
But I wanted to address something that Peter Kirk brought up on TC’s blog. Mention was made of Stephen’s prayer in Acts 7 in regards to praying for others:
As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died. (Act 7:59-60 NLT)
Was this prayer important to the salvation of those people stoning Stephen? Plainly, Stephen asks the Lord not to hold the persecutors of murdering him. If so, then do we have two witnesses to the idea of praying for the dead – a practice shared by Catholics, Orthodox, and maybe even Anglicans?
But, what if Stephen was merely mimicking the words of Christ on the cross in Luke 23:
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. (Luk 23:34 NLT)
Or, what if Stephen, the first martyr, was following the commands of Christ in Matthew?
But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Mat 5:44-48 NLT)
This is my take – Stephen wasn’t just putting on a show, but was obeying the commands of Christ to show that he was indeed a child of the Father.
What do you think?