Chapter seven is primarily the record of Stephen’s defense statement to the Sanhedrin. The charge against him was speaking against the Temple and changing what Moses had given Israel (Acts 6:13-14), essentially going against God and his revelation. In his statement, Stephen recounted the history of God’s dealings with Israel, reminding them of three key truths.
First, he reminded them that the Mosaic Law was not the totality of God’s revelation (Acts 7:2-16). In fact, God spoke to Abraham long before he gave the Law, while Abraham was still a pagan serving idols. God made several promises to Abraham about his descendants, even though he did not yet have even one child. As he began to fulfill those promises, God protected the family for multiple generations, even in Egypt.
Second, he reminded them that Moses was not the flawless hero they made him out to be (Acts 7:17-29). Although God certainly used him, it was in spite of Moses’ early actions and attitude, not because of them. He required some time in the desert to grow his humility.
Third, he reminded them that when God finally did give the Law through Moses, the people rejected and disobeyed it (Acts 7:30-50). They immediately built an altar with Aaron and turned toward other gods throughout their history. When Solomon finally built that beautiful Temple they were so proud of, God himself reminded them that he “DOES NOT LIVE IN HOUSES MADE BY HUMAN HANDS.”
Finally, after reminding them of all of these things, Stephen turned their accusation back on them (Acts 7:51-53). “YOU ARE ALWAYS RESISTING THE HOLY SPIRIT, LIKE YOUR ANCESTORS DID!” At this, they immediately and unanimously moved to kill him (Acts 7:54-60). Seeing Jesus himself looking on, Stephen died with forgiveness on his lips, just as the Savior did.