“As the time drew near for God to fulfill his promise to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt had greatly increased.” — Acts 7:17
Many members of the Sanhedrin (the Jewish ruling council) saw Stephen as an outsider. He was from a Greek background. They charged him with speaking against the temple, Moses, and the law of Moses.
In his defense, Stephen summarized the people’s history. Stephen stated that Abraham, the patriarch of the Jews, was their father in the faith. Stephen used phrases like “our people” to place his faith and his story within the story of all that God had done and promised for the descendants of Abraham.
Stephen showed how God kept his promises to Abraham. A couple with no children was promised descendants. One who did not even own a patch of ground was promised land. Over time, his family grew throughout many generations but were eventually enslaved in Egypt.
Stephen’s retelling of those stories shows that he had respect for all who had gone before him. The history of Abraham’s descendants focuses on what God accomplished; God’s work was the most important part of the story. God worked in the lives of Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and all the others to fulfill his promises.
In Stephen’s description of Joseph we find a theme that summarizes the whole story: “God was with him and rescued him from all his troubles.”