Jehovah`s Witness/clarification


hi Brent

Acts 7:55

Stephen is praying here really? If not, then why and how?

Thank you

Greetings again, and that you for your question.  I appreciate sensible and honest questions.
I am not sure as to which Bible version you are using so I will quote from the Authorised King James Version(AKJV or AV) of this account stating from verse 55 and going to verse 60
55  But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56  And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. 57  Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 58  And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. 59  And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God , and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60  And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” (italics original)
end quote

I would like to  compare  verse 59 it with the Revised Standard Version (RSV)

59  And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God , and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.  (italics original)  (AV)

59  And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." (RSV)

The AKJV inserts the word God . In a printed version of that text you should notice that God is in italics.  This Bible does so when words are inserted into the text.  So here the impression is that Stephen is “ calling upon ”  God,  and calling God Jesus.  

In the RSV the word God is missing (as it should be) and instead of “ calling upon ” we read that “he prayed to Jesus.

That raises your question  Was Stephen praying to Jesus?.  First of all we can rule out that he was calling Jesus God.  So he wasn't praying to God.

Can we get some background information

First what pattern did Jesus set in the manner of prayer. The model prayer recorded at Matt 6: 9-13. The first words here are what I am focusing on “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father..” ( AV)  In praying Jesus taught his followers to pray to “Our Father”  Would you agree that refers to God?.

Before choosing his disciple what did Jesus do. Luke answers that for us. Luke 6:12 “And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.”  (AKJV)  When he was feeding a multitude with a few fishes and loaves he prayed (Matt 14:19.20) Jesus spent all night ,praying to God  On the night Jesus was arrested he prayed to his Father (Matt 26:39) and just before he died he called out to God (Matt 27:46)

Jesus set the pattern of praying to God.  Using that reasoning Stephen would not be praying to Jesus, but to the God of Jesus (Matt 27:46;  John 20:17 “.. I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.”)

But The RSV says Stephen prayed to Jesus.

A close  examination makes it questionable whether Stephen was praying at all.  The word used at Acts 7:59 for “calling” is epikaleo, meaning “to appeal.”  It’s the same word Paul used at Acts 25:11,12 in regard to Caesar, and we certainly would not associate Paul’s “appealing” to Caesar as Paul “praying” to Caesar.

My New American Standard Greek Lexicon tells me that the word epikaleo is rendered in that Bible in the following ways (The numbers show how many times it is rendered as such)

address (1), appeal (2), appealed (4), call (7), called (14), calling (1), calls (1).

Do Stephen’s actions imply he was praying?  I do not think so, not any more than we see Moses, Elijah, Daniel, Ezekiel and others having had communication with God or to another heavenly being in vision without actually being in prayer.  In this verse Stephen had a vision where he saw Jesus directly.  This seems to be similarly to what the apostle John experienced throughout the book of Revelation.  Neither John nor Stephen are praying, even though they are communicating with a heavenly being.  They are speaking to Jesus because they have a direct vision of him.  At Acts 7, Stephen was appealing to Jesus the same as the thief that was hung  next to him  in Luke 23:42 when he said, “Jesus, remember me when you get into your kingdom.”  Are we to understand  that the thief was praying to Jesus? Or was he making an appeal to Jesus.

If we examine the context of Acts 7, we see that Stephen is granted a heavenly vision in which he “caught sight of God’s glory and of Jesus standing at God’s right hand, and he said:  “Look! I behold the heavens opened up and the Son of man standing at God’s right hand.” (Acts. 7:56 NWT).  The Pharisees then dragged him outside and began stoning him.  Stephen then made his appeal to Jesus and died.  We don’t know how long this vision of Stephen’s lasted.  It could have remained in Stephen’s mind up to the very moment of death.

I hope I have been able to answer your question

Jehovah`s Witness

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Brenton Hepburn


I AM one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I am always learning. I am NOT an expert in the full sense of the word but I can answer questions on the reliability of the NWT - the so called mind control problems-so called prophecies - how being a JW affects the individual and relatives and general practices and history of Jehovah’s Witnesses. >>WARNING<< Please be aware that there are people here who ARE NOT practicing JWs. By all means ask these ones questions. Depending on the question you will get an honest answer, but, generally the answer you get, will mislead you as to what we believe, often because, they do not give ALL the relevant details. These ones will, have an agenda against JWs., and will at times give answers that are not correct in regard to JW teachings and practices. If you are after a answer from one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, please read some of the answers that the various experts have published before choosing someone. If you want to ask one of the NON JWs a question, that is fine, BUT if you want a balancing view after asking one of the NON JWs, ask a JW the same question. PLEASE ALSO NOTE: There(have been)and are, some "experts" here who are NOT always the most courteous and polite, at times are actually quite rude, that applies to both JW's and non JW's and their answers may offend, especially when they get personal and attack the character of the person and not the message. Unfortunately some here that have done that. So it IS IMPORTANT to chose an "expert" that YOU feel will best suit YOU by reading some of their past answers . . . . .


I have been a publisher since 1964. When I first went on the internet I found a lot of negative information dealing with Jehovah’s Witnesses covering prophecy, mind control and what many said was a very bad translation of the Bible known as the NWT. It shook my faith. After may hours researching these topics I could see why some felt that way, but, I was also able to explain why there were these misleading views. I can now set matters straight for anyone that has negative information about Jehovah’s Witness to show them that such information is at best misleading and at worst dangerous lies.

I have been a student of the Bible for many years, am trying to teach myself Biblical Greek. Was a public tax accountant for many years untill SEP 2009 when I gave it up due to health problems.

©2017 All rights reserved.