Acts 6:15 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Acts 6:15, NIV: All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

Acts 6:15, ESV: And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

Acts 6:15, KJV: And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.

Acts 6:15, NASB: And all who were sitting in the Council stared at him, and they saw his face, which was like the face of an angel.

Acts 6:15, NLT: At this point everyone in the high council stared at Stephen, because his face became as bright as an angel's.

Acts 6:15, CSB: And all who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at him and saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

What does Acts 6:15 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Contemporary culture sees angels as benevolent beings come to serve and protect us and fill us with peace. We tend to think someone with "a face like an angel" is sweet and innocent. This leads to an assumption that Stephen looked harmless, benevolent, or peaceful. That's not necessarily false, but the ancient concept of "angels" wasn't docile or quiet.

Angels in the Bible were more likely to send their witnesses to their knees in terror—virtually every person in Scripture who sees an angel immediately has to be told not to be afraid (Matthew 28:5; Luke 1:11–13; 2:10; Acts 10:3–4). After David took an ill-advised census, an angel killed 70,000 men (2 Samuel 24:15–16). Another being described using the term angel killed 185,000 members in Sennacherib's army (2 Kings 19:35). Daniel fell to his face in fear when an angel visited him (Daniel 8:17).

In short, angels are massively powerful warriors in God's army, not chubby infants with wings sitting on clouds and playing cute harps. To say Stephen's face reminded his audience of an angel speaks more to the evidence of God's power in his life than anything else.

Stephen is clearly not defenseless, either. He is filled with the Holy Spirit, boldly speaking words of truth that his adversaries are powerless to refute (Acts 6:10). The only reason he is before the council is because his opponents have resorted to lies and deceit (Acts 6:11) and the council is more than willing to condemn a Jesus-follower.

The Holy Spirit is surely with Stephen. He has given Stephen the power to perform miracles that identify him as God's ambassador (Acts 6:8). He has given Stephen the words to say. And as Stephen dies, He will give Stephen the ability to look into heaven and see Jesus standing at God's right hand (Acts 7:55–56). Despite Stephen's good reputation, wisdom, and submission to God, he will be killed: the first Christian martyr. And his death will give his enemies the courage to persecute the other Jesus-followers (Acts 8:1–3). But as the members of the early church flee Jerusalem, they will take Jesus' message with them. And two thousand years later, Jesus-followers, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, will still spread Jesus' message around the world, no matter the cost.