The First Martyr: Stephen

Acts 6‑8  •  1 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Christian warfare is unlike all other warfare—part of its resistance is to suffer. Our weapons too are not carnal, but spiritual; for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places (Eph. 6). A Christian using carnal weapons is an anomaly, a contradiction, and cannot know what manner of spirit he is of. He can never have traced, with true spiritual intelligence, the wondrous pathway of his Lord, or have understood the meaning of those words, "My kingdom is not of this world: if My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight." The Church militant is the Church suffering, and directly carnal weapons are taken up she has really ceased to fight.
We have the prototype of the true warrior in the brave and holy Stephen. He was the first Christian martyr; and what a victory did he gain for the cause, when he died praying for his murderers! David, centuries before, had said, "The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked"; but Stephen, who belonged to another order of things, prayed, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." This was true Christian warfare.