“When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him 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. 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: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 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.” Acts 7:54-60 (KJV)
Stephen was one of the seven men chosen by the Jerusalem Church to serve the people (Acts 6:5). He was a man full of the Holy Spirit, loving the Lord Jesus and His Word with a passion to share the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with all.
This event in the life of Stephen begins in chapter six shortly after the Church ordains him as one of the seven. He begins telling the religious elite, the priests and all about their origin as a nation (vv. 1-8a); he reminds them of their envy and their bondage (vv. 8b-36); he told them of Jesus of whom Moses and the Prophets proclaimed (vv. 37-53); he told them of the crucified, buried, and resurrected Savior whom they had rejected, and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father; he taught them of the forgiveness of Christ upon the cross (vv. 57-60) by showing it himself as he died, saying, “Lay not this sin to their charge”.
Why did Stephen die? Why was he stoned to death by an angry mob? Because of his love for God, His Son Jesus, His faith in Him, and His love for the Word of God which is the Truth of God.
Love for God means loving His Word, His truth, and that comes through the faith of the death, burial and resurrection of His Son Jesus.
You do not know, nor trust, nor love God the Father or God the Son unless you love His truth. See what Jesus said in John 14:21.