And Saul was consenting to his death. And on that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the region of Judea and Sama'ria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen, and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, entering house after house, dragging off men and women and committing them to prison.
Saul, Luke tells us, was also consenting to Stephen's death. He was the Public Officer in that execution. It sounds like he had a supervisory role ensuring that God's law was not violated by the way in which the execution was carried out. I suppose it is possible that a person in this position can carry out the job without agreeing with the judgment that had been handed down. But Luke tells us that Saul, in his official capacity, was indeed in agreement. Very much so. Luke tells us explicitly that Saul wanted Stephen wiped out. And more - that the teaching for which Stephen had been condemned had to be laid to rest. Says Luke, this all happened a short while before the first big persecution took off. Saul was one of its principal architects.
Notice how Luke tells us this. We can see Gamaliel's ruse working its way to the surface. Remember how Luke told us about Gamaliel asking for the apostles to be put outside? Then he outlined his view to the Council. It is possible that what Luke told us about that event, was the explanation given by the Council to the apostles to explain their "leniency". Here it is revealed to us, the readers, that something else, something deeply sinister, was at work.
Luke tells the story to those who know something about the extraordinary career of this person named Saul. He continues this amazing narrative, by taking up where Stephen had left off at the conclusion of his trial. Luke now gives us a more recent example of God's intervention in the lives of people. There is now an extra entry in the list of special times when God's own people turned their backs on God's Own Choice. And there is more. Right in the midst of the evil that brought on the execution of Stephen - and a great persecution that meant many would flee from Jerusalem - we hear that God was busy, and an amazing new chapter was just about to begin. This story will continue with Saul the rampaging Pharisee becoming Paul the peaceable follower of Jesus of Nazareth. This is a tale of God's plans being worked out in the lives of men and women, boys and girls, despite the fact that they might be determined to go their own way. It is as if Luke is saying: And God said: Oh no you don't! Thank God He still says that!