And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. (v. 58)

We usually refer to him as Paul, but that was not his name originally. His given Hebrew name was Saul. He was Saul of Tarsus, a well-educated Judaic Pharisee. He was steeped in the teaching of the Old Testament Law and had as his aim to make sure others also followed every jot and tittle of it.

We are introduced to this man here in today’s passage that describes the stoning of Stephen. One of the original deacons of the early church in Jerusalem, Stephen quickly emerged as a leader who was unafraid to speak out publicly about his faith in Jesus. His direct approach raised the ire of the tradition-bound Jewish leaders and set him on a path that would lead to his execution as a martyr.

There we see Saul, not actually throwing any stones, but consenting to Stephen’s death. He let it happen. He didn’t try to stop the proceedings by waving his hands and calling for a fair trial. But his presence there betrayed his approval.

Perhaps you have had a similar experience. You didn’t actually participate in a wrongful act, but you didn’t try to stop it, either. Obviously Saul agreed with what was done to Stephen. He had not yet met Jesus. But when we truly meet Jesus, we find the courage to stand up for what we believe.  —John Koedyker

As you pray, ask God for the courage to remain faithful to the end.