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Acts 6:1-8

They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit …

Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. (verses 5, 8)


Stephen was a man filled full. Three times over in the first half of the chapter this word, “full”, is used of him. The Apostles mandate that those chosen for this new role of service within the church must be “full of the Spirit and wisdom” (verse 3) – Stephen is one of those. He is then specifically described as “full of faith and the Holy Spirit” and “full of God’s grace and power.” He’s a man filled full.

What a compelling description. It conjures up images in my mind’s eye of a bucket poised under an antique manual water pump, overflowing at the brim as each successive pump brings forth a crystal clear gush of fresh water. The bracing coolness of the water, sparkling in its container, is more memorable than the bucket itself.

The word is used later in Acts to describe a person’s character or emotion. Elymas the Sorcerer is described by Paul as being “full of all deceit and villainy” (Acts 13:10) and the silver craftsmen in Ephesus, threatened by Paul’s preaching, are said to be “filled with rage”(Acts 19:28). Whether an ongoing trait or the intensity of a moment, to be described as “full” is a means of highlighting the controlling characteristic of a person’s being. Dorcas, on the other hand, is described as being “full of good works and acts of charity”(Acts 9:36) – these compassionate acts of service are the stand-out impressions left by her life.

Stephen is a man filled full. Topped up to the brim, his life sparkles with the Spirit, expressed in wisdom, faith, grace, and power. This refreshing, bracing outflow is what the world around him experiences from him. Again and again.

Indeed, in the final moment of his life, Luke uses the same word once again:

“But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55).

Interestingly, Paul (then known by his Hebrew name, Saul) was there. Interestingly, later, using the same root word, he would urge us to “be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).

The present-continuous tense of the verb yields the sense, keep on keeping on being filled with the Spirit.

Just like Stephen. I wonder if he had Stephen in mind?


Dear Lord, may I be so captured by your presence that my mind and heart and being are filled full, to the very brim, with your Spirit. May wisdom rise up. May faith abound. May your grace flow. May your power be known.

Fill me with more of yourself. Transform me more and more into your likeness. For the sake of your glory. Amen.


Pause: Several times today, pause and invite the Spirit of God to fill you afresh. Receive his grace and presence. Rejoice. Walk in his fullness.


Photo by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash

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