Over at Christian Crier, at the Patheos Evangelical Channel, writer Jack Wellman has some thoughts that may be of interest to deacons:
Stephen’s name is derived from the Greek name “Stéfanos” and means “honor,” “wreath” or “crown” and Stephen may have been the first Christian martyr in the church. Stephen was a deacon in the 1st century church who was stoned to death for preaching the gospel. He also gave one of the greatest historical and apologetic sermons ever given in the Bible when he stood before the council. This man left a great mark in the church and in church history… …When Stephen was stoned, those who were stoning him “laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul” so I have often wondered; was Saul, who later became Paul after his own conversion on the Damascus Road, a convert of Stephen? Did the stoning trouble Saul’s conscience? Did this plant the seed that what he was doing was wrong? Paul must have been an eye witness to Stephen’s testimony at the council and Saul must have heard those heart-piercing words “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” which were very similar to Jesus’ statement on the cross “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). We’ll only know the answer to that question when we see Paul in the kingdom. In the meantime, Stephen’s heroic defense of the faith is truly one of the most remarkable and bravest witnesses in the history of the church.