IT WAS shortly after Pentecost and the early church was in its formative stage. Full of the holy spirit bestowed in great abundance, the apostles and disciples preached Christ. We read: “The Lord added to the church daily, such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:47)
“Then there arose certain of the synagogue which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia, and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.” –Acts 6:9
Why did they dispute with Stephen? He was a deacon, not an apostle.
A short time before in the early church, there had been a complaint made to the twelve that service of material things was being neglected. This was important in those days because:
“The multitude of them that believed, were of one heart, and of one soul; neither said any of them, that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.”–Acts 4:32
With thousands added to the church, this posed quite a problem of administration. Impartial distribution of food, clothing, and other materials must be made. Wishing to use their time for the more important spiritual duties, the apostles directed that seven deacons be appointed for serving tables and other such service. The qualifications were that they should be, “Men of honest report [or reputation], full of the spirit of wisdom.” (Acts 6:3) Stephen was one of the seven selected to be a deacon.
Stephen did not limit his service to –material things. At every opportunity, he preached Christ. “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.”–Acts 6:8
This was far beyond the scope of a deacon’s duties. It would seem that the Lord recognized Stephen as an elder before the brethren discovered his ability. Like Jesus, he went into the synagogue to preach. According to the law of the synagogue, any Jew may express himself on the scriptures publicly. Those of the synagogue could not prevent this. That is why they attempted to nullify Stephen’s preachings by disputations. But “they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.” (Acts 6:10)
How could this young deacon speak with such authority and force of reasoning that the wise ones of the synagogue could not resist him? These were highly educated men who made a career of their religion. But these dignified men, robed and bearded, were not able to resist before their own congregation this young Christian upstart, a deacon! How humiliating! It must have infuriated them. Yet how encouraging to Stephen to realize he was a direct recipient of a promise by Christ: “For I will give you eloquence, and wisdom which all your opponents will not be able to gainsay or resist.” (Luke 21:15, Diaglott)
This was a testimony that he had been with Jesus and learned of him, that he had patterned himself after the Master. Just as the chief priests, elders, scribes and Pharisees, when they failed to gainsay or resist Jesus, sought to destroy him, these of the synagogue employed the same tactics toward Stephen. This identified them as being of “their father, the devil, who was a murderer from the beginning.” (John 8:44) Now we read:
“Then they suborned [or bribed] men, who said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words, against Moses, and against God. And they stirred up the people, and the elders and the scribes; and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council; and set up false witnesses, who said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.”–Acts 6:11-14
Stephen Preaches to the Sanhedrin
The council then arrested Stephen and set him in their midst. This was the famous [or infamous] Sanhedrin, the same court that had condemned Jesus. “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) What a s uperabundance of grace and power God had given Stephen; it literally shone from his face! Standing before that court, Stephen realized that the charges against him were the same as those against his Master. It gave him great joy to be accounted worthy of treading so closely in his footsteps. He was transported by this realization. It glowed within him and showed in his face. “Then said the high priest, Are these things so?” (Acts 7:1) This was an illegal question–a man need not testify against himself. But the question gave Stephen the opportunity he was waiting for. He knew this counsel had the power of life or death, yet he faced them boldly, and he spoke boldly. He did not dignify the false accusations made against him by answering them directly. He simply preached the gospel to the council.
He started with the call of Abraham out of his native country. He told them of Isaac and Jacob and Jacob’s sons. He told them the story of Joseph, how the children of –Israel came to reside in Egypt, and how they fell into bondage there. He related the raising up of Moses and the deliverance of Israel through his leadership, the great signs and wonders performed through him, and the weary wilderness journey of forty years under Moses. He showed them that Moses had pointed to Jesus:
“This is that Moses which said unto the children of Israel: A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you, of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.”–Acts 7:37
Next he reminded them of the fantastic and incredible history of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God. Here was a people who had frequent and mighty demonstrations of God’s powerful care over them; physical demonstrations they could see, hear, taste and feel. Faith was not needed. In spite of this they spurned God and turned to the most abominable idolatry–not once, not twice; they did it again and again and again, for decades!
As a surgeon probes deeply into a wound to cut out the rotten flesh, Stephen relentlessly reminded them of their national –disgrace, telling them of the golden calf erected as soon as Moses’ back was turned, of their idolatrous worship of the corrupt host of heaven (the fallen angels), of the sacrifice of their living children to the cruel and fierce Moloch, the “eternal torment” deity, and of their worship of the mocking god Remphan.
Every word was true and they knew it. But instead of bringing sorrow and repentance, this recital of their national sins stung and goaded them. Stephen looked around him, and saw not a single sign of remorse in their faces. He realized that further reasoning was not possible. So now, like his Master before him, he spoke words of condemnation. Jesus had called them a generation of vipers, killers of prophets. Now Stephen, facing his tormentors, said:
“Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart, and ears; ye do always resist the holy spirit. As your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them which showed before, of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers.”–Acts 7:51,52
The Council Turns Vicious
As he spoke these words, the air became charged with the horrible compelling power known as mob psychology. A viciousness, communicating itself unspoken from one man to another, turned them –almost instantly from human beings into bloodthirsty beasts. At that moment Stephen knew he was going to die. He could read it in their cruel, twisted faces, and bright staring eyes. They had become as ravening wolves! The record says: “When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart; and they gnashed on him with their teeth.” They were ravenous animals!
The Lord never fails his people. That does not mean he spares them every painful and distressing experience. Not at all. But he does give us the strength to bear them. At this point, the Lord showed his approval by graciously granting Stephen a wonderful heavenly vision:
“But he, being full of the holy spirit, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. And he said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.”–Acts 7:55,56
This was the last straw! The charge against this man was blasphemy because he preached that Jesus was the Son of God. Now he claimed he had looked into heaven itself and had actually seen this Jesus on God’s right hand! This was too much!
“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, and stoned him.”–Acts 7:57,58
“With one accord!” One dissenting voice would have raised a diversion. One dissenting voice might have broken the evil spell. But in all the council, there was not even one voice! Just as Satan had entered into Judas, he now dominated every one of these men!
Stephen Is Executed
As the stoning began, Stephen again demonstrated how very much like his Master he had become. Hanging on the cross just before his death, Jesus had cried: “Father, into thy hands, I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46) Stephen now said: “Lord Jesus, –receive my spirit.” Then Stephen kneeled down, giving his murderers a more compact target. As the heavy stones thudded against his body, he cried out: “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7:60) He just fell asleep. There is something so serene and comforting in this expression—a peacefulness and rest. It describes a child, tired at the end of the day, who falls asleep in its mother’s arms. I like to –believe that the Lord tempered Stephen’s suffering at the end, that he died peacefully and gently, not in agony. He just fell asleep!
The word “sleeping” indicates a future awakening. Stephen’s Christian career had been intense and brief; now it was complete. God gave him rest until the first resurrection when he would be awakened to the glorious divine nature.
The flame of mob violence went out as suddenly as it had been kindled. Sheep–ishly, and hardly looking at one another, the mob dispersed, stopping only to pick up their garments over which a young man, named Saul was watching. This Saul was a member of the Sanhedrin that condemned and killed Stephen and he was fully in sympathy with the acts of that council. We read:
“And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad, throughout the regions of Judea, and Samaria, except the apostles. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church; entering into every house, and, haling men and women, committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad, went everywhere, preaching the word.”–Acts 8:1,3,4
Here is another example of how God uses the wrath of men to praise him. The brutal stoning of Stephen and the persecutions of Saul caused many of the church to flee from Jerusalem. Wherever they went, they preached Christ and the gospel spread! Thus what first appeared to be a triumph of Satan was transformed into a victory for Christ. How often we see this principle illustrated in the Bible. It is so encouraging to see that our Lord is always the complete master of every situation.
Saul Becomes the Apostle Paul
“And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings, and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest; and desired of him letters to Damascus, to the synagogue, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.”–Acts 9:1,2
This Saul had fully consented to what we would today call a lynching. Stoning a man to death is a brutal and bloody affair. Not only did this stoning of Stephen leave Saul unmoved by pity, it appears to have actually encouraged him. Now he wanted authority to capture other Christians and bring them bound, like criminals, to Jerusalem, to be tried by the same kangaroo court that tried Stephen, and to probably meet the same fate as Stephen. He wanted it expressly understood that Christian women would be similarly treated.
What opinion would you form of a man like that? Human judgment would say:
“Here is a cruel sadist; a monster, without natural pity; delighting to inflict pain and suffering; even willing to see women publicly stoned. Here is a depraved character, thoroughly worthless, to be shunned like a mad dog.”
God Selects Saul
Would you select such a one for God’s service, to be a leader and foremost instructor to the Church, to become the great apostle Paul? Human wisdom would indignantly rebel at the thought. But see what happened:
“And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus; and suddenly there shined, round about him a light from heaven; and he fell to the earth; and’ heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest. Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee, what thou must do.”–Acts 9:3-6
In what sense did Saul persecute Jesus? Jesus was then glorified and quite safe from all his enemies. As far as we know, Saul had never harmed Jesus when Jesus was on earth. But Jesus considered every act against his followers, his little ones, his sheep, as a personal act against himself. Do you get the full implication of this? It means that he loves us as himself, his own body. He knows what we are going through from day to day, what we are up against every day. He watched Saul persecuting his church, and he cared. He watches over us, every one of us, individually. He cares, and, when necessary he intervenes.
In a vision the Lord instructed a disciple named Ananias to meet Saul and accept him into the brotherhood. But Ananias had misgivings: “Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard . . . of this man; how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem. And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on Thy name. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way; for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel; for I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.”–Acts 9:13-16
You and I would never have selected Saul for such a service, for a ministry of such scope. Here is a prime example of the fact that “The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) Also: “The Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts.” (1 Chronicles 28:9) The Lord looked into Paul’s heart and saw he could use this man. He has looked into every one of our hearts before he called us to his truth. What did he see in Paul’s heart? He must have seen a consuming dedication of purpose, that Saul was sincerely and conscientiously doing what he thought was right. \
But how could a man with such sincerity of purpose be so wrong? Consider Paul’s background. He said: “I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee.”–Acts 23:6
“My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most strictest sect of our religion, I lived a Pharisee.” –Acts 26:4,5
There’s the clue: “the strictest sect of our religion.” He was from childhood thoroughly imbued and saturated with the customs, traditions, and distorted doctrines of the Jewish religion of that time, what Jesus called “doctrines of men.” Because he was so conscientious, he hated with all his heart anything that seemed to threaten that religion. Remember, it was a Pharisee who asked Jesus: “Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?” (Matthew 15:2) This is what they resented.
Many today have had a strict religious upbringing, but their hearts are closed and sealed to the truth. These are those to whom the gospel is hid, whose minds the god of this world has blinded, lest the glorious gospel of Christ should shine unto them. (2 Corinthians 4:3,4)
In the case of Saul, it would take a light and a voice from heaven to convert him. Yet there are some today who think they can simply witness to such as these and, by so witnessing, fix their eternal destiny, that if they refuse to hear, they are doomed to the second death. This is obviously absurd. A blind man cannot see, it is not to be expected. But these blinded ones shall indeed have a light and a voice from heaven in due time:
“And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations shall walk in the light of it.”—Revelation 21:23,24
“And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them; and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.”–Revelation 21:3
In the kingdom, these presently blinded ones will have a real opportunity to accept God and they will know where the light and voice originate. They will accept or reject God and Christ with complete knowledge. Then, and only then, can they be completely responsible.
Jesus Saw Saul’s True Character
So Jesus saw in Saul a man willing to leave his home, suffer personal hardship, and travel about the country pursuing with great energy and determination what he thought was right. He also saw that after being converted and shown the true way, he would be just as energetic in following the right course. “I will show him, how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake,” he said.
And Paul did suffer! He said about himself:
“In stripes above measure; in prisons more frequent; in deaths oft. Of the Jews, five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods; once was I stoned. [Now he knew how Stephen had felt!] Thrice I suffered shipwreck; a night and a day have I been in the deep. In journeyings often; in perils of waters; in perils of robbers; in perils by mine own countrymen; in perils by the heathen; in perils in the city; in perils in the wilderness; in perils in the sea; in perils among false brethren. In weariness and painfulness; in watchings often; in hunger; and thirst; in fastings often; in cold and nakedness.”–2 Corinthians 11:23-27
He bore it all with great joy as he said: “I am exceedingly joyful, in all our tribulation.” (2 Corinthians 7:4) How glad we are that God reads our hearts, that he “seeth not as man seeth; but looketh on the heart.” Our fallen humanities are so imperfect. We cannot express ourselves as we would like, even to God in prayer! We must use imperfect language to express ourselves. We even think with imperfect language. How can we adequately express to God the longings of our innermost hearts, our –sorrows, our disappointments, our hungers and our thirsts? With our miserable human limitations, we cannot even adequately express to the Lord how much we love him! This would be most frustrating if we did not know that while we are expressing ourselves, haltingly, as best we can, he reads our hearts; he sees and understands what we would like to express but cannot. It is like a little hurt child who needs only to run to its mother with tears and without a word to be completely understood and comforted. What a wonderful manifestation of God’s power or spirit, this is!
“The spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for, as we ought, but the spirit itself maketh intercession, with groanings which cannot be uttered; and he that searcheth the hearts, knoweth what is in the mind of the spirit.”–Romans 8:26,27 What of the blood guilt Paul incurred when he became an accessory in the stoning to death of Stephen? Stephen’s last prayer was, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” This prayer was heard and granted in the case of Paul. As Paul himself said, “I am pure from the blood of all men.” (Acts 20:26) Yet this was not quite enough. He always remembered the bloody scene of the stoning to the end of his life. When the sword of Nero’s executioner flashed in an arc to cut his head from his body, his last earthly thought must have been one of satisfaction and joy to finally expiate by his own martyrdom the martyrdom of Stephen.
The instantaneous conversion of Paul “puts us on the spot” so to speak. How can we hate an enemy, no matter how evil he appears to be, when there is a possibility the Lord may almost instantly show him the light? How can we judge a man to be truly an enemy since we cannot read his heart? An enemy’s ugly exterior may, as in the case of Paul, hide a gem of rare and transcendent beauty and worth.
How humble, and tolerant of others, this should make us!
The Disciples Feared Paul
After his sudden conversion, the disciples were naturally, afraid of Paul. They were suspicious of the sincerity of his conversion.
Perhaps it was only a scheme to gain admittance to their meetings to complete a list of names which would be followed by wholesale arrests. But when Paul preached Christ in the synagogues and the Jewish leaders turned on him and tried to kill him, the disciples were convinced.
Paul had much to learn but the Lord –arranged that Luke should become associated with him. In his writings, Paul calls Luke “the beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14), and “fellow-worker” (Philemon 24). He wrote: “Luke alone is with me.” (2 Timothy 4:11) Those originally called by Jesus himself were a most favored group. For more than three years they were his constant companions. Let us remember that aside from his spiritual powers, Jesus was a perfect man with a vital and magnetic personality. He could and did impress his mind upon those so constantly under his influence–even before they received the holy spirit. Dr. Luke was one of these. As a physician, Luke was trained to be logical and methodical, and he had a retentive mind. In the prelude to the gospel which bears his name, Luke wrote:
“It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things, from the very first, to write unto thee.”–Luke 1:3 Though Paul lacked the personal association with Jesus, Luke supplied what Paul lacked. Under the guidance of the holy spirit, Paul absorbed the mind and spirit of Jesus to a remarkable degree. A striking similarity of thought runs throughout Paul’s writings. Here are a few examples:
Jesus: “Whosoever exalteth himself, shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted.”–Luke 14:11
Paul: “Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate.”- -Romans 12:16
Jesus: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”–Matthew 25:40
Paul: “Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not?”–2 Corinthians 11:29
Jesus: “Blessed are they, which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.”– Matthew 5:10
Paul: “I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake.”–2 Corinthians 12:10
Jesus: “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.”–Matthew 6:25
Paul: “Be not anxious about anything.” –Philippians 4:6, Diaglott
Jesus: “There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him, can defile him.”–Mark 7:15
Paul: “There is nothing unclean of itself.”–Romans 14:14
Jesus: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”–Matthew 7:1
Paul: “Let us not, therefore, judge one another any more.”—Romans 14:13
Jesus: “Love your enemies; and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”–Matthew 5:44
Paul: “Bless them which persecute you; bless and curse not. Recompense to no man, evil for evil.”–Romans 12:14,17
Jesus: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first commandment.”–Mark 12:30
Paul: “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” –Romans 13:10
Do you see the beautiful similarity and harmony between these two minds although they never met in the flesh? Some have said: “If only I could have lived while Jesus was on earth!–to sit and learn at his feet! To have through him, direct access to the fountainhead of all knowledge! To ask any questions, and receive exactly the right answer! To hear his encouragements, and precious promises, and expressions of love, while looking into his eyes!” Of course it would be wonderful! But Paul did not have such a personal contact with Jesus, and yet, in the Lord’s providence, he surpassed those who did. He wrote more than half the New Testament. He was used mightily by the Lord. He was able to develop the mind of Christ. As he wrote, “But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16) He also wrote, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ.” (Philippians 2:5)
The Bible Provides Everything
In the Bible the Lord has furnished to us everything we need, and he has given us helps to understand the Bible. As Paul himself said to Timothy:
“From a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture given by inspiration of God, is profitable: for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect [or complete], thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”–2 Timothy 3:15-17
Is your faith strong enough? If it is, you can, here and now, sit and learn at Jesus’ feet. You can, here and now, have access to the fountainhead of knowledge. You can, here and now, receive the answers to your questions. You can, here and now, feel his nearness, receive his encouragements, and claim his precious promises. Paul’s faith was so strong that he spoke of Jesus as an old familiar friend and Master. To him Jesus was a real and living presence. It can be the same with us, too if our faith is strong enough. Paul said: “I shall speak to you either by revelations, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine.” –1 Corinthians 14:6
Sometimes he spoke by his own knowledge. For example, on the subject of marriage relationships he wrote: “But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.” (1 Corinthians 7:6) Again he said: “But to the rest, speak I, not the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 7:12)
Again: “I have no commandment of the Lord, yet I give my judgment.” (1 Corinthians 7:25) He speaks of women’s conduct in the church and adds: “But, if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom; neither the churches of God.” (1 Corinthians 11:16) Some have concluded that they may or may not take Paul’s advice as they choose. But as for me, I’ll take Paul’s opinion any time. He had the mind of Christ to a superlative degree. Therefore the conclusions reached by that mind must be correct. He invited us to follow him as he followed Christ. Let us be willing to do that. Even though he gave some advice as his own personal opinion, I believe his entire –writings were under divine inspiration whether he himself realized it or not.
When one consecrates, he determines to do God’s will at all times with all his might. But very early in our Christian careers, we discover that there is an opposing force to contend with, and we sometimes lose to this opposing force. Our new, consecrated minds, do not always fully control our old, imperfect human bodies. This would be very discouraging to us if we did not realize that all the Lord’s people have had the same problem including the great apostle Paul who had the mind of Christ. We know because he wrote: “For the good that I would, I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now, if I do that I would not; it is no more I that do it, but the sin that dwelleth in me. I find, then a law; that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God, after the inward man; but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. Oh, wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”–Romans 7:19-24 What did he mean by “the body of this death,” or “this dead body”? He referred to an ancient and horrible Roman cruelty practiced on condemned prisoners. It was a method of execution worthy of Satan himself, a method of slowly tormenting a man to death. They bound a dead body to a living man, obliging him to carry it about until the contagion from the putrid mass took away his own life.
This is the thing to which Paul likens our fallen natures. “Who shall – -deliver me from this dead body?” he asks in seeming desperation. Then he answers his own question, reassuringly and confidently: “I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. . . . There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus; who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit. For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”– Romans 7:25; 8:1,2
In succeeding verses Paul gives us some of the most encouraging and heartwarming words, ever written:
“Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died; yea rather, that is risen again; who is even at the right hand of God; who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay! in all these things, we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come; nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”–Romans 8:33-39