Acts 7

Stephen Delivers His Prophetic Speech and is Stoned
Minor translation corrections at verse 45.
Text Comments
 1 ¶ Then said the high priest, Are these things so?
.2  And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran,
 3  And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee.
.4  Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell.
 5  And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child.
   1 - These things Blasphemy against Moses and God, and stirring up the people ac0611. As you read through Stephen's speech, you will see that he didn't really defend himself but became the accuser.
   2 - Men, brethren, and fathers An appropriate term of respect.
   4 - His father Terah died after they left Ur but not in the the promised land ge1131.
 6  And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years.
 7  And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place.
.8 And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs.
   7 - I will judge the oppressor A number of points in the history Stephen outlined carried lessons for the Jewish leaders. Here God will punish those who oppress His people.
  8 - Covenant Circumcision was not the covenant but the sign of it ge1710.
  8 - Isaac The birth was a miracle from God and circumcision was a sign that the child was dedicated to faithfulness.
 9  And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him,
 10  And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.
 11  Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance.
   9 - Patriarchs sold Joseph The leaders of the 12 tribes of Israel were the ones who sold Joseph. These were like patron saints to the current Jews. They had killed the one who came to save them just as Joseph's brothers had sold the one who later saved them from famine.
 12  But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first.
 13  And at the second time Joseph was made known to his brethren; and Joseph's kindred was made known unto Pharaoh.
 14  Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls.
.15  So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers,
 16  And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem.
  12 - Corn From sitia meaning "food," or "provisions." Not necessarily the "corn" known in North America.
  16 - Carried The OT record tells only of the bones of Joseph being carried and burried in Shechem ge5025, ex1319, jos2432. Also ge1206. See Canaan map, and grid C4 on the tribes map.
 17 ¶ But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt,
 18  Till another king arose, which knew not Joseph.
 19  The same dealt subtilly with our kindred, and evil entreated our fathers, so that they cast out their young children, to the end they might not live.
.20  In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father's house three months: ex02.
 21  And when he was cast out, Pharaoh's daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son.
.22  And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.
 23  And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel.
  17 - The Israelites multiplied There's a parallel here, as in verse 7. The promised time (70th week in Jesus' time). A hostile government. One who rescued God's true people.
  19 - Cast out their young - ex0122. This is again a comparison to the contemporary situation. The Jews were persecuting those of their own people who believed in Jesus.
  22 - Learned Rather, "trained."
  22 - Wisdom of the Egyptians See on ex0211, 1ki0430.
  23 - Full forty years Literally When a time of forty years was being fulfilled for him." Meaning when he was 40 years old. According to ancient Jewish literature, the life of Moses was divided into three 40-year periods.
 24  And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian:
 25  For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.
 26  And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?
 27  But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?
 28  Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday?
 29  Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons.
  24 - Suffer wrong By being struck with blows. Compare ex0211.
  24 - Avenged him It is the Lord's responsibility to avenge. Human vengeance is always selfish. Remember the human Jesus ac0832.
   24 - Smote the Egyptian That is, "killed him.
 24 - Seeing one of them wrongfully treated he took his part, and secured justice for the ill-treated man by striking down the Egyptian.
 25 He supposed his brethren to be aware that by him God was sending them deliverance; this, however, they did not understand. (Weymouth).
  26 - As they strove The two Hebrew men ex0213.
  27 - Who made thee a ruler? The man in the wrong resented Moses' interference. "As shown in verse 35, Stephen stresses this early challence of Moses' authority to show tha the whole history  of Israel had been marked by the rejection of God's messeners, who had been sent for the good of the nation. The rejectino of Jesus was the climatic rejection." (SDA BC).
  29 - Then fled Moses "when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses ex0215. "Stephen omitted this detail."
.30 ¶ And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush.
 31  When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him,
.32  Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold.
 33  Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground.
   30 - Angel This was the I AM of Ex. 3:3, 14 ex0314.
 34  I have seen, I have [or "have certainly"] seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt.
.35  This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush.
 36  He brought them out, after that he had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years.
 37  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.
   35 - This Moses Again Stephen was drawing a parallel lu1914.
   35 - By the hand of the angel More accurately, "with the hand of the angel." Moses worked in cooperation with the angel from the bush (verse 30).
   36 - Brought them out The new sect of Christianity was about to be brought out.
   37 - That Moses Perhaps a reference to the previous verse playing on the meaning of Moses' name ex0210.
.38  This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:
 39  To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt,
 40  Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
 41  And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.
   38 - Church The Greek word is ekklesia. It means "assembly." Jesus used it in reference to his people built on Himself, the rock mt1618. Stephen is speaking of the assembly of the Israelites at Sinai. In Revelation 12, John describes a woman who fled into the wilderness, perhaps drawing on this wording of Stephen re1214a.
   38 - Lively oracles Or "living oracles." The LXX (translation from Hebrew to Greek) uses the term in speaking of the words of God.
   40 - This Moses The Jewish people had taken the same course again.
  42 ¶ Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness?
 43  Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.
 44  Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen.
.45  Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David;
 46  Who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob.
 47  But Solomon built him an house.
   45 - That came after Better translated, "having received it [the tabernacle] in turn" (NKVJ).
   45 - Jesus The text should read "Joshua" (same Hebrew word).
   46 - David wanted to build the temple 2sa07.
.48  Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands [literally "in handmade things"]; as saith the prophet,
 49  Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?
 50  Hath not my hand made all these things?
    48 - But the Most High ... This transition in thought from temple to heaven and earth was a rebuke to Stephen's listeners who honored the temple above the God who had inhabited it. The new religion of Christ was a threat of independence from the temple they controlled. See note for v48., Quoting from is6601.
.51 ¶ Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.
.52  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:
.53  Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.
   51 - Ye stiffnecked ... uncircumcised These are accusations which the OT had used for rebellious Israel and for the heathen. This sudden change from history to direct rebuke indicates that Stephen realized his fate and the brief time he had to deliver the message the Lord had impressed him to give.
   They had resisted the conviction of the Spirit that Jesus was the Messiah.
   53 - Who received the law The law declares the character of God. It shows us how we can come into harmony with His way of peace and happiness. It described the covenant in the sense of establishing the reason for bearing the light of truth to the whole world ge1201-5. The Jewish nation had done the opposite in killing Christ and in presuming to stand as gate keepers of worship rather than directing them to personal relationships with their Creator. They had broken the covenant and were here rejecting the final appeal of mercy. This was the end of their role as those chosen as channels of light to the world.
   The same thing happened during the middle ages and will happen now at the end of time. In each case, including that of the Jews, a remnant is faithful and will receive the promised blessing.
 54 ¶ When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.
.55  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,
.56  And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
 57  Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,
.58  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.
 59  And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
.60  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.
 8:1 ¶ 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 Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
 2  And devout men carried Stephen to his burial. . . .
   54 - When they heard People who reject the influence of God become worse than wild animals.
   55 - Full of the Holy Spirit His face may still have been glowing ac0615.
   56 - Jesus standing After investigating a case the judge or king stands to carry out the sentence. The throne (a judgment seat) generally implies judgment ps0907, so standing may mark the end of investigation da1201.
   Stephen was given a vision by the Holy Spirit, and he prophesied the end of the 70 weeks of probationary time for Israel as a nation. Thus he fulfilled the requirement for the end of the period da0924. His was the last voice of appeal.
  57 - With one accord We need unity in the body of Christ jn1721.
  58 - Stoned He was the last of a long line of prophets v52. Scholars propose dates between AD 32 and 36. AD 34 would end the 70 weeks and is when I believe Stephen was martyred.
   58 - Saul Later the apostle Paul who was sent to the gentiles.
   59 - My spirit His breath, following Jesus' statement lu2346 and ec1207. Notice in verse 60, that he "fell asleep." He didn't go anywhere.
  60 - Fell asleep Confirming that the word "sleep" describes those who will be brought back to life in resurrection jn1124.


Note 48 - an end of the prophet
  Stephen filled the role for marking the close of the prophetic office (as evidence of the end of the 70 weeks). This was the final prophetic witness to the Jews as a nation. Of course there were more prophets who appealed to Jews as individuals.
    Stephen was a Hellenist, a Jew who was born abroad and whose native language was Greek ac0601. Paul identified himself as from Tarsus ac2139. This with other evidence shows him as a Hellenist. His ministry to the Gentiles implies the end of the time for the Jews as a nation. He took up the torch that Stephen laid down. The scattered ones were generally Hellenist Jews who "went everywhere preaching the word." (Acts. 8:4). Being less bound by traditional thought, they more readily accepted the end of the divine recognition of the temple services. In fact, Stephen had been accused of blasphemy against "this holy place and the law" ac0611. Although not guilty of wrong, he may well have preached the end of the old system. His remarks about God not dwelling in temples made with hands implies this. He certainly got a reaction from his audience (ac0748 above).
    The Aramaic-speaking Jews, on the other hand, had difficulty leaving off their habitual beliefs. Witness Peter's reluctant ministry to Cornelius ac1028 and the whole book addressed to the "Hebrews." he0807, he1001f, etc. They were less the target of hatred and tended to stay in Jerusalem.

    The picture is of St. Stephen's Gate. "This gate is so named because of the tradition that the first Christian martyr was stoned outside this gate. However an earlier tradition locates this execution north of the city. Lions' Gate is another name for this eastern entrance into the Old City because of the four animals that decorate the gate's facade and reportedly placed there because of a dream of the builder Suleiman." Used by permission of Todd Bolen, Producer, Pictorial Library of Bible Lands, Asst. Professor, The Master's College.

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