WHY DID JESUS CHRIST STAND IN ACTS 7:55-56?
by Shawn Brasseaux
Is there any significance as to why Stephen saw Jesus Christ standing at the Father’s right hand in Acts chapter 7? Yes, there most certainly is a fascinating explanation, and you have to be a Bible student to notice it.
According to the marginal notes of one modern “bible” version, “‘Standing’ may mean that Jesus is welcoming Stephen (see verse 59).” Preachers usually offer this explanation when they do not know what to say about the verse—they know they have to say something so they say anything comes to mind, whether or not it makes sense. It is most unfortunate that the common church member will never bother to question that claim, or to investigate it for himself or herself.
Beloved, while it is normally believed that Jesus Christ was standing up to receive Stephen (who was about to be martyred, stoned to death), this simply is not Bible. It is good church tradition, good “preacher talk,” but it is not Bible and it will not be of faith. When we do not know what a verse means, rather than making up an explanation (such as, “Jesus wanted to welcome Stephen into heaven!”), we need to be mature students of Scripture and let God’s Word interpret itself. It is of utmost importance that we study the context of the verse in question, recall any other verses that read similarly, and consult them for enlightenment. Let us do just that here in order to learn some valuable insight.
In Acts chapter 7, the Prophet Stephen, filled with the Holy Ghost, stands before Israel’s Sanhedrin, her ruling religious body, in Jerusalem. Having a glowing face reminiscent of Moses’ (Acts 6:15; cf. Exodus 34:29-30), Stephen details Israel’s long history of unbelief toward JEHOVAH, right up to her rejection and crucifixion of her Messiah Jesus at Calvary a year prior. Stephen says in verses 51-53: “ Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.  Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:  Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.”
Doctor Luke continues, “ When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him [Stephen] with their teeth.  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,  And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:54-56).
Stephen claimed that he saw Jesus Christ standing on God the Father’s right hand, which infuriated the unbelieving Jews because they knew the prophetic significance. Notice verses 57-58: “ Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,  And cast him out of the city [Jerusalem], and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.”
To say that the Jews were mad because Jesus was standing to receive Stephen is utterly silly. The Jews were angry at Stephen’s words already, but the Bible says that they covered their ears once he said he saw Jesus Christ standing at God’s right hand. They knew that Jesus standing would affect them, not Stephen. Just as we would call to mind similar verses, so the Jewish religious leaders recalled the Old Testament prophecies. They knew what Jesus standing meant, and it was not a good thing.
Psalm 110:1 says: “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” We read in Psalm 68:1-2: “ Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him.  As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.” Finally, Isaiah 3:13: “The LORD standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people.”
When the Apostle Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost, 50 days after the death of Jesus Christ on Calvary, the Holy Ghost said through him to the nation Israel: “ For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,  Until I make thy foes thy footstool.  Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:34-36).
Peter, quoting Psalm 110:1, interpreted it for us. Jesus Christ was now glorified in heaven, and He was coming back to earth to judge unbelieving Jews. They were not merely God’s “enemies” (Psalm 110:1), but Peter said they were now His “foes” (Acts 2:35)—they had actively opposed and were still actively opposing God’s purpose and plan for them by rejecting Jesus Christ at Calvary’s cross and being ignorant of the message the Apostles were preaching to them in early Acts. The Bible says in Acts 2:37, “Now when they were heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Peter urged his convicted Jewish brethren, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38).
When Israel heard Stephen speak in Acts chapter 7, about a year after the events of Acts chapter 2, they were very mindful of what Peter had preached on Pentecost. They knew that the divine wrath that Peter was speaking of, was now even closer, a year closer, in Acts chapter 7! By the time of Acts chapter 7, Israel had exhausted God’s grace; the next event according to prophecy was God’s wrath (Psalm 2:4-5; Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:16-21). She had rejected God the Father (who sent John the Baptist; John 1:6), she had rejected God the Son (at Calvary; John 19:15), and she had rejected God the Holy Ghost (speaking through Israel’s 12 apostles and Stephen; Acts 7:51). Israel had blasphemed against the Holy Ghost, the sin that Jesus said could never be forgiven (Matthew 12:31-32).
Stephen affirmed Jesus Christ was preparing to come back to Earth, to pour out His wrath on unbelieving Israel and unleash His righteous fury on sinful mankind. And, Israel’s religious leaders were convicted. They had had enough of Stephen and his Jesus! Israel’s religious leaders proceeded to abuse God’s prophet Stephen, biting him and finally throwing him out of Jerusalem. Ultimately, the mob threw stones at him until he died. God’s wrath on mankind was literally moments away, but the greatest dispensational change to ever “grace” God’s dealings with man, occurred. Thank God Almighty, that wrath was postponed!
Saul of Tarsus—leader of Israel’s opposition to Christ and His little flock, holder of the clothes of Stephen’s murderers in Acts chapter 7—personally met the Lord Jesus Christ in Acts chapter 9. As Saul was traveling to Damascus to persecute more Messianic Jews, the risen, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Saul from heaven. There, Saul experienced God’s love, mercy, and grace; he trusted Jesus Christ alone as his personal Saviour, and became the first member of the Church the Body of Christ. Jesus Christ commissioned him as the Apostle Paul; thereafter, Paul had another extreme ministry—Jesus Christ crucified for our sins, buried, and resurrected (Acts 20:24; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Years later, Paul wrote of himself in 1 Timothy 1:13-16: “ Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.  And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.  This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief [first].  Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting” (1 Timothy 1:13-16).
In order to have mercy on Christ-rejecting Israel as well as on all of us unbelieving Gentiles (Romans 11:30-32), God had to suspend Israel’s prophetic program. To save Saul of Tarsus, God had to begin a new dispensation, a new set of instructions to mankind, a new program, one He had in mind from before creation but had kept secret—the mystery program, or “the Dispensation of the Grace of God” (Ephesians 3:1-11). God delayed His wrath yet again. Today, Jesus Christ once more “sits” at the Father’s right hand (Colossians 3:1).
For almost 2,000 years now, that wrath has been delayed. The day is coming when the last person who wants to trust Christ as personal Saviour does so, and our Dispensation of Grace will expire (see Romans 11:25). The Church the Body of Christ will be caught up into heaven, and the seven-year Tribulation, the last seven years of Satan’s reign on planet Earth, will run its course. At the end of those seven years, Jesus Christ will stand, arise from His seated position, at the Father’s right hand in the third heaven, to fulfill all the Old Testament and New Testament prophecies that describe His Second Advent, His return to Earth in great power and glory to finish Satan and his policy of evil. Psalm 2:4-5 says: “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.”