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Stephen remembered and worshiped Jesus as his Creator (Acts 7:59-60)

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Acts 7:59-60

(59) And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 
(60) And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (ESV) 


  A. I'd like to point out right away that even the Jehovah's Witnesses once affirmed that Stephen prayed to the Lord Jesus as his Creator.

     1. The Watchtower: The prayer offered by Stephen when he was being martyred is recorded at Acts 7:59, 60 (Questions From Readers, February 1, 1959, page 96). 


     2. The Watchtower: Prayer is actually a form of worship of our Creator (How Important Is Prayer to You?, August 15, 1970, 5th paragraph). 



B. It is very clear that Stephen prayed to the Lord Jesus.
     1. To call on the name of the Lord in reference to the Lord Jesus means to worship Him as God.


     2. Frederick Danker: Just as Israel was to understand her role as one of obedience to the God who saved her, so the Christian is to see the moral and ethical implications of this recognition of Christ's claim to ownership expressed so often in such a phrase as "Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus." Out of such conviction the iron of steadfast confession was smelted. As the stones came flying at Stephen, he prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." (Acts 7:59) (Creeds in the Bible, page 45, c. 1966). 
     3. David Peterson: But he pointedly 'calls upon' the Lord Jesus in prayer instead of the Father, trusting him for salvation through death and beyond. Thus, he articulates his belief in the divinity of Christ. Then 'he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." Jesus prayed to the Father that those crucified him might be forgiven (Lk. 23:34), and Stephen prays for the forgiveness of those stoning him, once again addressing Jesus as Lord (The Acts of the Apostles, Pillar New Testament Commentary, page 269). 
     4. William Mounce: Jesus is the addressee when epikaleō is used in the sense of praying (Acts 7:59) (Mounce's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, Call, page 93). 
     5. J. Jeremias: Stephen prays: kurie Iesou dezai to pneuma mou (Ac.7:59) (TDNT 5:771, paradeisos). 
     6. W. E. Vine: Prayer is properly addressed to God the Father, Matt. 6:6; John 16:23; Eph. 1:17; 3:14, and the Son, Acts 7:59; 2 Cor. 12:8 (Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, Prayer, page 872). 
     7. Marvin Vincent: An unquestionable prayer to Christ. 


C. Arguments used in an attempt to show that Stephen did not pray to Jesus.

     1. Stephen was experiencing a vision of the Lord Jesus so it really doesn't constitute a prayer. However, the vision took place in the city while the prayer took place after he was "cast out of the city" (Acts 7:58).

     2. Paul appealed (epikaloumai) to Caesar (Acts 25:11) so it doesn't mean that when Stephen called (epikaloumenon) to the Lord Jesus prayer is involved. To this it is answered that in Acts 7:59 the Lord Jesus, being the Heart-Knower of all, knew what Stephen would say before he even expressed it. This is powerful proof of the Deity of Christ.[*1]. The same can not be said concerning Caesar's ability to hear what Paul spoke at that precise moment. One must consider how the Greek word is used in context. Indeed, concerning the Greek word deomai (Strong's #1189) we see that in Luke 9:40 a man “begged” (ἐδεήθην) Christ’s disciples. This doesn’t mean he prayed to them even though deomai is used in Luke 10:2 concerning praying (δεήθητε) to the Lord of the harvest. Notice as well that Paul's verbal appeal to Caesar differs significantly to what Stephen expressed in calling out to the Lord Jesus to receive his spirit. Stephen prayed to the Lord Jesus, but Paul did not pray to Caesar.

     3. Stephen may have prayed to the Lord Jesus in Acts 7:59, but the "Lord" to whom he addressed in prayer in Acts 7:60 is the Father. This assertion is really absurd. First, prayer is already given to Jesus in Acts 7:59. Second, while the rocks mercilessly pummeled Stephen there is no need for him to say, "Lord Jesus" when he already clearly did so in Acts 7:59.

D. Jesus as the Creator (the underlined below is mine)

Ecclesiastes 12:1 
Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no delight in them.” (NASB)

 One remembers their Creator in worship. 
Isaiah 12:4 

And in that day you will say, 
“Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name. 
Make known His deeds among the peoples; 
Make them remember that His name is exalted.” (NASB) 
Jonah 2:7 

While I was fainting away, 
I remembered the LORD, 
And my prayer came to You, 
Into Your holy temple. (NASB) 

  One remembers the Lord Jesus in worship.

     a. He is to be given thanks (1 Timothy 1:12).

     b. His name is to be called on (see "B-1" above).

     c. His name is exalted (Philippians 2:9; cf. Acts 4:12). 

 Returning to Ecclesiastes we see that remembering the Creator (12:1) connects to worshiping God at the chapter's conclusion. 
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 

 (13) The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 
 (14) For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. (NASB) 

  To fear the Lord encompasses worshiping the Lord.[*2] Thus to remember the Creator involves fearing/worshiping Him.


That the Lord Jesus is the Creator is shown in that:

     1. He is to be supremely feared in worship (Acts 9:31; 2 Corinthians 5:11; Ephesians 5:21; 6:5; Philippians 2:12; Colossians 3:22; 1 Peter 3:15).

     2. Just as the fear/worship of God relates to keeping His commandments (v. 13), so too we are to fear/worship the Lord Jesus in keeping His commandments (1 Corinthians 14:37; 1 Thessalonians 4:2; 2 Peter 3:2). 

     3. One must also remember that God will bring every hidden act into judgment (v. 14) because He fully knows the hearts of all people (cf. Ecclesiastes 11:9). 
          a. Adam Clarke: God, the infinitely wise, the heart-searching God, will be judge. (Found in notes of Ecclesiastes 12:14)

Since the Lord Jesus is "the infinitely wise, heart-searching God" He will bring every hidden thing into judgement (Isaiah 11:3-4; 1 Corinthians 4:5; Revelation 2:23; see footnote #1 below).


 Finally, in only just a few passages after the command to remember your Creator it speaks of the spirit returning unto God (the Creator) who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7). Interestingly, just moments before his death Stephen remembered His Creator in worship by committing his spirit unto Him. 

  "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" (Acts 7:59).


[*1] https://www.christforums.com/forums/topic/5196-kardiognōstēs-does-it-mean-omniscient/


[*2] The expression "fear the Lord" was used in the Old Testament in describing the worship of God.  

Deuteronomy 6:13  

You shall fear only the LORD your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name. (NASB)  

     1. The Jewish Encyclopedia (1901): Fear of God is identical with love and service. "And now, Israel, what doth Yhwh thy God require of thee but to fear Yhwh thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve Yhwh thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul?" (Deut. x. 12). "Thou shalt fear Yhwh thy God and Him shalt thou serve" (Deut. vi. 13, Hebr.) in acts of public devotion, the spontaneous outcome of sincere reverence (Ex. xxiii. 25; Deut. x. 12, xi. 13, xiii. 4; comp. Job xv. 4). (Fear of God, see the 2nd paragraph) 

Psalm 34:11  

Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. (NASB)  

     1. Watson's Biblical and Theological Dictionary: Fear is put for the whole worship of God: "I will teach you the fear of the Lord" Psalms 34:11; I will teach you the true way of worshipping and serving God. (Fear)  


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Lucian Hodoboc

So it wasn't God The Father The One Who created everything through Jesus?

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Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.


 I think it is very clear that Stephen is asking the Lord Jesus to receive His spirit.




Steven Tsoukalas: Though I fully adhere to the distinction of the three persons of the Trinity, I also adhere to their unity. Thus, when the Son is prayed to, the Spirit and the Father hear the prayer; and when the Son answers He does so in union with the Father and the Spirit (Knowing Christ in the Challenge of Heresy, page 112, footnote #100).

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From biblicalunitarian:


Acts 7:59
While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” (NIV)


This verse supports the idea of the Trinity only as it appears in some translations. The KJV has the phrase, “calling upon God,” but puts “God” in italics to show that the translators added the word and that it was not in the original text. The truth is that “God” does not appear in any Greek text of the verse. Thus, this verse does not support the Trinity.



 They totally avoid the fact that this still is a prayer that is properly rendered unto the Lord Jesus thereby proving that He is God.

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On 9/22/2018 at 3:04 AM, Faber said:

remember your Creator 

1 Peter 4:19

Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right. (NASB, the underlined is mine)


John Gill: and which is not only their duty, but their privilege: and the sense is, that when they are called to suffer for Christ, they should commit their cause to God, who, as he is the Creator, is the Governor of the universe, and will judge righteously; and when they are even called to lay down their lives for his sake, they shall not lose them; though their bodies are killed, they may and should commit their souls, when departing from their bodies, into the hands of God, as Stephen, the first martyr, committed his into the hands of Christ, in imitation of him; where he that made them, as he is able to keep them, will faithfully preserve them in happiness and glory, till the resurrection morn, when their bodies shall be raised and reunited to them: and this is to be performed, in "well doing"; for which they suffer, and in which they should continue to the last; not rendering evil for evil, but blessing; and in imitation of Christ, and his servant Stephen, pray for their worst enemies, and wish them all the good, and do them all the acts of kindness that lie in their power. (The underlined is mine)




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