“The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the foremost.” (1 Timothy 1:15 NRSV)
“When they heard these things, they became enraged and ground their teeth at Stephen. But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!’ But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he died.” (Acts 8:54-30 NRSV)
Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, told the Jews about his vision of Jesus in heaven. The Jews covered their ears because they believed the words of the Holy Spirit spoken by Stephen were blasphemy. The Jews laid down their coats at the feet of their ringleader Saul. Then the hardened Jews stoned Stephen to death. And Stephen prayed, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”
The Jews believed the Holy Spirit inspired words of Jesus were blasphemy. And these Jews with hearts hardened to the words of the Holy Spirit stoned the Holy Spirit anointed prophet Stephen. And Stephen’s used his last breath to ask for the forgiveness of these hardened sinners who blasphemed the Holy Spirit started to murder Holy Spirit anointed prophet. And Saul/Paul later referred to himself as the foremost of sinners before the Lord saved him.
Could Paul have used hyperbole when he referred to himself as the foremost of sinners or was 1 Timothy 1:15 a literal statement?
second question added by editing the original post
Why did Stephen ask the Lord to forgive the respective murderous blasphemers of the Holy Spirit?