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Bible Commentaries

The Expositor's Greek Testament
Acts 7

 

 

Verse 1

Acts 7:1. The question of the high priest breaks in upon the silence (Holtzmann). St. Chrysostom, Hom., xv., thought that the mildness of the inquiry showed that the assembly was overawed by St. Stephen’s presence, but the question was probably a usual interrogation on such occasions (Felten, Farrar).—On εἰ see Acts 1:6, and Blass, Grammatik, p. 254.


Verse 2

Acts 7:2. ἄνδρες ἀδελφοὶ καὶ πατέρες, cf. St. Paul’s address, Acts 22:1, and also note on Acts 23:1. On St. Stephen’s speech see additional note at the end of chapter.— θεὸς τῆς δόξης: lit(199), “the God of the glory,” i.e., the glory peculiar to Him, not simply ἔνδοξος, a reference to the Shechinah, Exodus 24:16-17, Psalms 29:3, Isaiah 6:3, and in the N.T. cf. 1 Corinthians 2:8, and James 2:1 (John 1:14). The appearances to Abraham and Moses were similar to those later ones to which the term Shechinah was applied. Such words were in themselves an answer to the charge of blasphemy; but Stephen proceeds to show that this same God who dwelt in the Tabernacle was not confined to it, but that He appeared to Abraham in a distant heathen land. ὤφθη: there was therefore no need of a Temple that God might appear to His own (Chrys., Hom., xv.; see Blass, in loco).— τῷ πατρὶ ἡμῶν: emphatic, cf. Acts 7:19; Acts 7:38-39; Acts 7:44-45; St. Stephen thus closely associates himself with his hearers. Wetstein comments: “Stephanus ergo non fuit proselytus, sed Judæus natus,” but it would seem from Wetstein himself that a proselyte might call Abraham father; cf. his comment on Luke 1:73, and cf. Sirach 44:21; Speaker’s Commentary, “Apocrypha,” vol. ii.; see also Lumby’s note, in loco, and cf. Schürer, Jewish People, div. ii., vol. ii., p. 326, note, E.T.— ΄εσοποταμίᾳ: a difficulty at once arises in comparing this statement with the Book of Genesis. Here the call of Abraham is said to have come to him before he dwelt in Haran, but in Genesis 12:1, after he removed thither. But, at the same time Genesis 15:7, cf. Joshua 24:3, Nehemiah 9:7, distinctly intimates that Abraham left “Ur of the Chaldees” (see “Abraham,” Hastings’ B.D., p. 14, and Sayce, Patriarchal Palestine, pp. 166–169, as to its site) in accordance with the choice and guidance of God. St. Stephen applies the language of what we may describe as the second to the first call, and in so doing he was really following on the lines of Jewish literature, e.g., Philo, De Abrah., ii., 11, 16, Mang., paraphrases the divine counsel, and then adds διὰ τοῦτο τὴν πρώτην ἀποικίαν ἀπὸ τῆς χαλδαίων γῆς εἰς τὴν χαῤῥαίων λέγεται ποιεῖσθαι. Moreover the manner of St. Stephen’s quotation seems to mark the difference between the call in Ur and the call in Haran (R.V., not Charran, Greek form, as in A.V.). In Genesis 12:1 we have the call to Abraham in Haran given as follows: ἔξελθε ἐκ τῆς γῆς σου καὶ ἐκ τῆς συγγενείας σου καὶ ἐκ τοῦ οἴκου τοῦ πατρός σου. But the call in Ur, according to St. Stephen’s wording, is one which did not involve the sacrifice of his family, for Abraham was accompanied by them to Haran, and so the clause ἐκ τοῦ οἴκου κ. τ. λ. is omitted because inappropriate. Of course if we omit ἐκ before τῆς συγγενείας (see critical notes), St. Stephen’s words become more suitable still to the position of Abraham in Ur, for we should then translate the words, “from thy land and the land of thy kindred” (Rendall, cf. Lightfoot, Hor. Heb.). St. Stephen may naturally have referred back to Abraham’s first migration from Ur to Haran, as desiring to emphasise more plainly the fact that since the call of God came to him before he had taken even the first step towards the Holy Land by settling in Haran, that divine revelation was evidently not bound up with any one spot, however holy.— χαῤῥὰν, Genesis 11:31; Genesis 12:5; Genesis 27:43, LXX, in the old language of Chaldea = road (see Sayce, u. s., pp. 166, 167, and “Haran” Hastings’ B.D., and B.D.2, i. (Pinches)), in Mesopotamia; little doubt that it should be identified with the Carrœ of the Greeks and Romans, near the scene of the defeat of Crassus by the Parthians, B.C. 53, and of his death, Lucan, i., 104; Pliny, N.H., v., 24; Strabo, xvi., p. 747. In the fourth century Carrœ was the seat of a Christian bishopric, with a magnificent cathedral. It is remarkable that the people of the place retained until a late date the Chaldean language and the worship of the Chaldean deities, B.D.2, “Haran,” and see Hamburger, Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums, i., 4, p. 499, and references cited by him for identification with Carrœ (cf. Winer-Schmiedel, p. 57).


Verse 4

Acts 7:4. μετὰ τὸ ἀποθανεῖν: St. Stephen apparently falls into the same chronological mistake as is made in the Pentateuch and by Philo (De Migr. Abrah., i., 463, Mang.). According to Genesis 11:26 Terah lived seventy years and begat Abraham, Nahor, Haran; in Genesis 11:32 it is said that Terah’s age was 205 years when he died in Haran; in Genesis 12:4 it is said that Abraham was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. But since 70 + 75 = 145, it would seem that Terah must have lived some sixty years after Abraham’s departure. Perhaps the circumstance that Terah’s death was mentioned, in Genesis 11:32, before the command to Abraham to leave Haran, Acts 12:1, may be the cause of the mistake, as it was not observed that the mention of Terah’s death was anticipatory (so Alford). Blass seems to adopt a somewhat similar view, as he commends the reading in Gigas: “priusquam mortuus est pater ejus,” for the obedience of the patriarch, who did not hesitate to leave even his father, is opposed to the obstinacy of the Jewish people (see Blass, in loco). Other attempts at explanation are that reference is made to spiritual death of Terah, who is supposed to have relapsed into idolatry at Haran, a view which appears to have originated with the Rabbis, probably to get rid of the chronological difficulty (Lightfoot, Hor. Heb.; Meyer-Wendt, in loco), but for which there is absolutely no justification in the context; or that Abraham need not have been the eldest son of Terah, but that he was mentioned first because he was the most famous, a view adopted with more or less variation by Wordsworth, Hackett, and recently by Felten (see too B.D.2, p. 16, note), but apparently in opposition to the authority of Hamburger, who states that Terah was seventy years old when Abraham was born, that he was alive when Abraham departed at the age of seventy-five, being released from the duty of caring for his father by the more imperative command to obey the call of God. Lumby quotes from Midrash Rabbah, on Genesis, cap. 39, that God absolved Abraham from the care of his father, and yet, lest Abraham’s departure from Terah should lead others to claim the same relaxation of a commandment for themselves, Terah’s death is mentioned in holy Holy Scripture before Abraham’s departure, cf. Genesis 11:32; Genesis 12:1. One other solution has been attempted by maintaining that μετῴκισεν does not refer to the removal, but only to the quiet and abiding settlement which Abraham gained after his father’s death, but this view, although supported by Augustine and Bengel, amongst others, is justly condemned by Alford and Wendt. The Samaritan Pentateuch reads in Genesis 11:32, 145 instead of 205, probably an alteration to meet the apparent contradiction. But it is quite possible that here, as elsewhere in the speech, Stephen followed some special tradition (so Zöckler).— μετά with infinitive as a temporal proposition frequent in Luke (analogous construction in Hebrew), cf. Luke 12:5; Luke 22:20, etc., cf. LXX, Baruch 1:9; Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., p. 165 (1893).— μετῴκισεν, subject θεός: cf. for a similar quick change of subject Acts 6:6. Weiss sees in this the hand of a reviser, but the fact that Stephen was speaking under such circumstances would easily account for a rapid change of subject, which would easily be supplied by his hearers; verb only in Acts 7:43 elsewhere, in a quotation—found several times in LXX, and also in use in classical Greek.


Verse 5

Acts 7:5. κληρονομίαν: the field which Abraham bought, Genesis 23:9-17, could not come under this title—the field was Abraham’s purchase, not God’s gift as κληρονομία (see Meyer-Wendt, and Westcott, Hebrews 6:12, additional note, also Bengel, in loco); Acts 7:16 sufficiently shows that Stephen was fully acquainted with Abraham’s purchase of the field.— οὐδὲ βῆμα ποδός, cf. Deuteronomy 2:5; Deuteronomy 11:24, same Hebrew (cf. Hebrews 11:9), “spatium quod planta pedis calcatur” (Grimm); cf. also its use in Xen. It may have been a kind of proverbial expression, cf. Genesis 8:9 (Schöttgen).— καὶ ἐπηγγείλατο, cf. Genesis 12:7 (Genesis 17:8, Genesis 48:4), so that here again God appeared unto Abraham in what was a strange and heathen land. See also for verb, James 1:12; James 2:5. On the force of the word see p. 54.— εἰς κατάσχεσιν: “in possession,” R.V., the A.V. renders the word in its secondary or derivative sense, which is found in Acts 7:45.— οὐκ ὄντος αὐτῷ τέκνου: the faith of Abraham “tecte significatur” (Blass), first because nothing was given—there was only a promise—and secondly because the promise was made while yet he had no child.


Verse 6

Acts 7:6. δέ: not in contrast to the fact just mentioned that Abraham had no child, but introducing a fuller account of God’s promise. The quotation is from LXX, Genesis 15:13, with a few alterations; in LXX and Heb., the second person, not the third, is used; instead of οὐκ ἰδίᾳ in LXX, ἀλλοτρίᾳ, cf. Hebrews 11:9; and instead of αὐτούς, αὐτό corresponding to σπέρμα. Wendt takes ὅτι as “recitantis,” and not with Meyer as a constituent part of the quotation itself, LXX: γιγνώσκων γνώσῃ ὅτι κ. τ. λ.— πάροικον in LXX as a stranger or so journer in a country not one’s own, several times in combination with ἐν γῇ ἀλλοτρίᾳ, cf. Genesis 21:23; Genesis 21:34; Genesis 26:3, and in N.T. cf. this passage and Acts 7:29. In Ephesians 2:19, 1 Peter 2:11, the word is also used, but metaphorically, although the usage may be said to be based on that of the LXX cf. Epist. ad Diognet. v., 5, and Polycarp, Phil., inscript. See Kennedy, Sources of N. T. Greek, p. 102.— ἔτη τετρακόσια: so too Genesis 15:13. The period named belongs not only to κακώσουσιν but also to ἔσται, as Meyer rightly observes. But in Exodus 12:40 four hundred and thirty years are mentioned as the sojourning which Israel sojourned in Egypt, and in both passages the whole space of time is so occupied; or, at all events it may be fairly said that this is implied in the Hebrew text in both Genesis 15:13 and Exodus 12:40 : cf. also for the same mode of reckoning Philo, Quis rer. div. her., 54, p. 511, Mang. But neither here nor in Galatians 3:17 is the argument in the least degree affected by the precise period, or by the adoption of one of the two chronological systems in preference to the other, and in a speech round numbers would be quite sufficient to mark the progressive stages in the history of the nation and of God’s dealings with them. For an explanation of the point see Lightfoot, Galatians 3:17, who regards the number in Genesis as given in round numbers, but in Exodus with historical exactness (to the same effect Wendt, Felten, Zöckler). But in the LXX version, Exodus 12:40, the four hundred and thirty years cover the sojourn both in Egypt and in Canaan, thus including the sojourn of the Patriarchs in Canaan before the migration, and reducing the actual residence in Egypt to about half this period, the Vatican MS. reading four hundred and thirty-five years after adding καὶ ἐν γῇ χαναὰν (the word five, however, πέντε, being erased), and the Alexandrian MS. reading after ἐν χαναὰν the words αὐτοὶ καὶ οἱ πατέρες αὐτῶν, making the revision in the chronology more decisive. This is the chronology adopted in Galatians 3:17, and by Josephus, Ant., ii., 15, 2; but the latter writer in other passages, Ant., ii., 9, 1, and B.J., v., 9, 4, adopts the same reckoning as we find here in Acts. But see also Charles, Assumption of Moses, pp. 3, 4 (1897).


Verse 7

Acts 7:7. The oratio recta is introduced by the words εἶπεν θεόςκρινῶ ἐγώ emphatic, cf. Romans 12:19. In this verse the quotation is a free rendering of Genesis 15:14, the words ὧδε μετὰ ἀποσκευῆς πολλῆς being omitted after and the latter part of the verse being apparently introduced from Exodus 3:12. And so at length, after so long a time, God appointed for Himself a “holy place,” cf. Acts 6:13 (Blass).— ἐὰν δουλεύσωσι, cf. LXX, Genesis 15:14, and see critical note above, cf. also Burton, N. T. Moods and Tenses, p. 123.


Verse 8

Acts 7:8. διαθήκην, fœdus (Grimm, Blass), the same word is used in LXX, Genesis 17:10, and with two or three exceptions uniformly in LXX for “covenant,” so too in the Apocrypha with apparently two exceptions. The ordinary word for “covenant,” συνθήκη, is very rare in LXX (though used by the later translators, Aquila, Sym., Theod., for בְּרִית, but see also Ramsay, Expositor, ii., pp. 322, 323 (1898)). But the word διαθ. would be suitably employed to express a divine covenant, because it could not be said that in such a case the contractors are in any degree of equal standing ( συνθήκη). In the N.T. the sense of “covenant” is correct (except in Galatians 3:15 and Hebrews 9:16). But in classical writers from the time of Plato διαθήκη generally has the meaning of a will, a testament, a disposition of property, and in the Latin renderings of the word in the N.T. we find uniformly testamentum in cases where the sense of “covenant” is beyond dispute (Luke 1:72, Acts 3:25 d. dispositionis; and here d. has dispositionem, also in Romans 11:27), cf., e.g., in this verse, Vulgate and Par. No doubt the early translators would render διαθήκη by its ordinary equivalent, although in the common language it is quite possible that testamentum had a wider meaning than the classical sense of will, see Westcott, Hebrews, additional note on Acts 9:16; Lightfoot on Galatians 3:15; A. B. Davidson, Hebrews, p. 161; and “Covenant” in Hastings’ B.D. and Grimm-Thayer, sub v.; Hatch, Essays in Biblical Greek, pp. 47, 48; and more recently Ramsay, Expositor, ii., pp. 300 and 321 ff. (1898).


Verse 9

Acts 7:9. ζηλώσαντες, cf. Genesis 37:11, and so in Genesis 26:14; Genesis 30:1, Isaiah 11:13, Sirach 37:10; used also in a bad sense in Acts 17:5, 1 Corinthians 13:4, James 4:2, and so in classical writers. It may be used here absolutely, as in A.V. (see Grimm, Nösgen), or governing ἰωσήφ, as in R.V.— ἀπέδ. εἰς, cf. for construction Genesis 45:4.


Verse 10

Acts 7:10. ἧν θεὸς μετʼ αὐτοῦ, cf. Genesis 39:2; Genesis 39:21; Genesis 39:23 (cf. Luke 1:28; Luke 1:66).— ἐξείλετοἐκ: the same construction in Genesis 32:11, Exodus 3:8, and in N.T., Acts 12:11; Acts 26:17, Galatians 1:4; so in classical Greek. The middle force of the verb in the sense of causing to be saved is lost.— χάρις, cf. Acts 2:41. The word means primarily, as the context shows, favour with man, cf. Genesis 39:21; but this χάρις was also a divine gift: ἔδωκεν. It is significant also that Pharaoh speaks of Joseph, Genesis 41:38, as a man in whom the spirit of God is, although no doubt the expression refers primarily to Joseph’s skill in foretelling and providing against the famine.— σοφίαν: in interpreting the king’s decree, Genesis 41:25 ff.— ἐναντίον, so in Genesis 39:21.— βασ. αἰγ.: without the article as in Hebrew (Blass), cf. Genesis 41:46; see also Winer-Schmiedel, p. 185.— καὶ κατέστησεν, sc., Pharaoh, cf. change of subject as in Acts 7:4, in which Weiss also sees the hand of a reviser, but see above. The same word is used in Genesis 41:43, and cf. for ἡγούμενον the same chap., Acts 7:41, where the sense of the title is shown—the exact word is used of Joseph in Sirach 49:15 ( ἡγούμενος ἀδελφῶν); in N.T. four times in Luke, see Luke 22:26, Acts 7:10; Acts 14:12; Acts 15:22; elsewhere only in Hebrews, cf. Hebrews 13:7; Hebrews 13:17; Hebrews 13:24.


Verse 11

Acts 7:11. λιμὸς, cf. Luke 4:25, where ἐπί follows.— χορτάσματα: sustenance, R.V., fodder, provender for their cattle, cf. Genesis 24:25; Genesis 24:32; Genesis 42:27, Judges 19:19; only here in N.T., cf. Polyb., ix., 43. The want of it would be a most pressing need for large owners of flocks. Blass takes it as meaning frumentum, corn, food for man as well as for beasts, since χορτάζειν, both in LXX and N.T. (Mark 8:4; cf. Mark 7:27-28), is used of the food of man, cf. Kennedy, Sources of N. T. Greek, pp. 82, 156.


Verse 12

Acts 7:12. σῖτα, but σιτία in R.V. (Blass follows T.R.), cf. LXX, Proverbs 30:22 = properly food made of corn opposed to χόρτος ( σῖτα not elsewhere in N.T., but in LXX τὰ σῖτα, corn, frumenta). In Genesis 42:2 we have σῖτος. But as Wendt points out, in the words which follow: πρίασθε ἡμῖν μικρὰ βρώματα we have what may well correspond to σιτία.— ὄντα: on the participle after verbs of sense, e.g., ὁρῶ, ἀκούω, οἶδα, in classical Greek, construction same as here—especially in Luke and Paul in N.T., cf. Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., p. 196 (1893).— πρῶτον = “the first time,” R.V. = τὸ πρότερον to opposed to ἐν τῷ δευτέρῳ, Acts 7:13, which is only found here in N.T.: generally δεύτερον (cf. ἐκ δευτέρου, 1 Maccabees 9:1 and Daniel 2:7 (LXX)).


Verse 13

Acts 7:13. ἀνεγνωρίσθη: the compound verb apparently from LXX, Genesis 45:1.— φανερὸν ἐγέν., cf. Luke 8:17; Luke 4:36; Luke 1:65; Luke 6:49, etc.; on Luke’s fondness for periphrasis with γίνομαι, see Plummer on Luke 4:36.— τὸ γένος τοῦ .: R.V. “race,” so Acts 7:19, cf. Acts 4:36, because wider than συγγένειαν, “kindred,” in Acts 7:14. R.V. “became manifest” strictly; the captain of the guard, Genesis 41:12, had previously mentioned that Joseph was a Hebrew, but the fact which had been only mentioned incidentally “became manifest” when Joseph’s brethren came, and he revealed himself to them, so that Pharaoh and his household were aware of it, Acts 7:16. It was not until later that five of Joseph’s brethren were actually presented to Pharaoh, Genesis 47:1 ff. (Hackett).


Verse 14

Acts 7:14. μετεκαλέσατο: four times in Acts, and nowhere else in N.T., cf. Acts 10:32, Acts 20:17, Acts 24:25, only once in LXX, H. and R., cf. Hosea 11:2, A so εἰσκαλέομαι, only once in N.T., cf. Acts 10:23; not in LXX or Apocrypha. Both compounds are peculiar to St. Luke in N.T., and are frequent in medical writers, to “send for” or to “call in” (although Polyb. in middle voice, Acts 22:5; Acts 22:2, in same sense) a physician, Hobart, Medical Language, etc., p. 219. In Attic Greek we should have μεταπέμπεσθαι.— ἐν ψυχαῖς ἑβδομήκοντα πέντε: ἐν = Hebrew בְּ, cf. Deuteronomy 10:22, in (consisting in) so many souls, cf. Luke 16:31. Here in Deut., LXX, as also in Hebrew, we have the number given as seventy (although in A, seventy-five, which seems to have been introduced to make the passage similar to the two others quoted below) who went down into Egypt. But in Genesis 46:27, and in Exodus 1:5, LXX, the number is given as seventy-five (the Hebrew in both passages however giving seventy as the number, although in Genesis 46:26 giving sixty-six, making up the seventy by adding Jacob, Joseph, and his two sons). For the curious Rabbinical traditions current on the subject, see Lumby, Acts, p. 163. In Genesis 46:27 the LXX make up the number to seventy-five by adding nine sons as born to Joseph while in Egypt, so that from this interpolation it seems that they did not obtain their number by simply adding the sons and grandsons, five in all, of Ephraim and Manasseh from Genesis 46:20 (LXX) to the seventy mentioned in the Hebrew text, as Wetstein and others have maintained. But there is nothing strange in the fact that Stephen, as a Hellenist, should follow the tradition which he found in the LXX. Josephus in Ant., ii., 7, 4; vi., 5, 6, follows the Hebrew seventy, and Philo gives the two numbers, and allegorises about them. See Meyer-Wendt, p. 174, note, Hackett, Lumby, in loco, and Wetstein. Nothing in the argument is touched by these variations in the numbers.


Verse 15

Acts 7:15. The frequent mention of Egypt may perhaps indicate that Stephen meant to emphasise the fact that there, far away from the land of promise, God’s Presence was with the chosen race (who were now all in a strange land) and His worship was observed.— μετετέθησαν: only here in this sense in N.T. Some have supposed that only οἱ πατέρες and not αὐτός is the subject; this would no doubt avoid the first difficulty of the verse, viz., that Jacob was buried in Shechem, whereas according to Genesis 50:13 he was laid to rest in the cave of Machpelah. But a further difficulty must be met. Joseph is the only son of the Patriarch who is expressly stated to have been buried in Shechem, Joshua 24:32, and of the removal of the bodies from Egypt nothing is said. But the silence as to the latter fact need not trouble us, as whether we accept the tradition mentioned by Josephus or by St. Jerome, they both presuppose the removal of the bodies of the Patriarchs to the promised land, cf. the discussion on Exodus 13:19. Mechilta (Lumby, p. 164), Wetstein, in loco, and see also the tradition in the Book of Jubilees, chap. xlvi., that the children carried up the bones of the sons of Jacob, and buried them in Machpelah, except those of Joseph. But another tradition is implied in Sot. 7 b. According to Josephus, who probably repeats a local tradition, Ant., ii., 8, 2, they were buried at Hebron. But according to St. Jerome their tombs were shown at Shechem, and the Rabbinical tradition mentioned by Wetstein and Lightfoot places their burial there, a statement supported by a Samaritan tradition existing to this day (Palestine Exploration Fund, December, 1877, see Felten and Plumptre, in loco). When we consider the prominent position of Shechem as compared with Hebron in the time of Joshua, there is nothing strange in the fact that the former place rather than Machpelah should have been chosen as the resting-place not only of Joseph but also of his brethren. Plumptre has ingeniously contended that St. Stephen might have followed the Samaritan tradition, cf. Acts 6:5, and see Expositor, vol. vii., first series: “The Samaritan element in the Gospels and Acts,” p. 21 ff., although we need not suppose that in this reference to the hated Samaritans Stephen proposed to show that not even they had been rejected by God. There is certainly no difficulty in supposing that here and elsewhere Stephen might easily have adopted some popular tradition, and at all events the fact that the mistake, if it is one, is left unnoticed by the historian is a plain proof of the truthfulness of the record. But a further difficulty. Abraham purchases the cave of Machpelah, but from Ephron the Hittite, Genesis 23:16. The sons of Hamor sell a field, but to Jacob—a field at Shechem, Genesis 33:19, Joshua 24:32. How can we explain this with reference to the statement in the text? Shechem was the earliest settlement of Abraham when he entered Canaan, and there he built an altar, Genesis 12:6-7. But no devout Hebrew worshipper, with all his reverence for holy places, would be content to see the altar so consecrated belonging to others, and so exposed to desecration; the purchase of the ground on which an altar stood would therefore seem to follow as a kind of corollary from the erection of an altar on that ground. This is at all events a more satisfactory solution than omitting the word ἀβραάμ or exchanging it for ἰακώβ (see Hackett). Of course the reading of R.V., W.H(200) (as above), prevents a further difficulty as to the rendering of τοῦ συχέμ if the reading τοῦ συχέμ is retained, cf. Wendt, critical note, p. 157 (edition 1899), who follows A.V. in supporting “the father of Sichem,” so Hackett, but see on the other hand Plumptre, Acts, in loco, and Felten, in loco. For the way in which the two purchases and the two burials may have been confused in popular tradition, see Zöckler, Apostelgeschichte, p. 302, 2nd edit. (cf. Bengel, Stier, Nösgen).


Verse 17

Acts 7:17. καθὼς: not “when” as in A.V., but “as” R.V., prout, quemadmodum, cf. Mark 4:33 : “in the degree that”: Felten thinks that it is temporal, as in 2 Maccabees 1:31.— τῆς ἐπαγγελίας, cf. Acts 2:33.— ἧς: Attic attraction.— ὤμοσεν: but if we read with R.V., etc., ὡμολόγησεν “vouchsafed,” so in classical Greek, cf. Jeremiah 51:25 (LXX), Matthew 14:7 ( ὤμοσεν, a gloss from the LXX according to Wendt).— ηὔξησεν λ. καὶ ἐπληθύνθη, cf. Exodus 1:7, so in a strange land the blessing was continued (Weiss).


Verse 18

Acts 7:18. Cf. Exodus 1:8, and Jos., Ant., ii., 9, 1. After ἕτερος add ἐπʼ αἰγ., see above. ἕτερος not ἄλλος, probably meaning the native sovereign after the expulsion of the Shepherd Kings, “Joseph,” B.D.2; “Egypt,” B.D.2, pp. 886, 887; Hamburger, Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums, i., 5, pp. 759, 760; Sayce, Higher Criticism and the Monuments, p. 237.— ἄχρις οὗ: only in Luke amongst the Evangelists, Luke 21:24, Acts 7:18; Acts 27:33. Sayce, following Dr. Naville, argues in favour of Ramses II. as the Pharaoh of the Oppression, see u. s. and Expository Times, January and April, 1899, but see on the other hand the number of February, p. 210 (Prof. Hamond), and Expositor, March, 1897, Prof. Orr on the Exodus. Joseph settled under the Hyksos or Shepherd Kings, but the words “who knew not Joseph” should apparently refer, according to Dr. Sayce, not to the immediately succeeding dynasty, i.e., the eighteenth, in which a Canaanite might still have occupied a place of honour, but rather to the nineteenth, which led to the overthrow of the stranger, and to a day of reckoning against the Hebrews. But it becomes difficult to speak with absolute confidence in the present state of Egyptological research, see Expositor, u. s., p. 177. οὐκ ᾔδει: in Robinson’s Gesenius, p. 380, the word is taken literally, or it may mean “who does not know Joseph’s history or services”; others take it “who had no regard for his memory or services”. Hamburger understands by it that Joseph was quite forgotten under the new national dynasty, whilst Nösgen refers to the use of οἶδα in Matthew 25:12.


Verse 19

Acts 7:19. κατασοφισάμενος: in Exodus 1:10 we have the same verb “let us deal wisely with them” here translated “deal subtilly”; Vulgate, “circumveniens,” cf. Rhemish version: “circumventing our stock” ( γένος, as in Acts 4:36); cf. Judith 5:11; Judith 10:19, in both passages the same verb is used, translated (R.V.), Acts 5:11, “dealt subtilly”—the Syriac, probably nearest to the Hebrew, “dealt wisely with them,” i.e., the Egyptians dealt so with the Hebrews. In the second passage, R.V., word is rendered “might deceive”; same verb in Syriac as in Exodus 1:10, Heb.; Speaker’s Commentary, “Apocrypha,” i., p. 290. Josephus and Philo use verb in same sense as in text; see for the force and meaning of κατά here, Page and Rendall.— ἐκάκωσε, cf. Exodus 1:11, where the same word is used of task-masters afflicting the people with burdens. For other ways in which Pharaoh is said to have afflicted the people, see Jos., Ant., ii., 9, 1.— τοῦ ποιεῖν κ. τ. λ., “that they [or he, margin] should cast out their babes,” R.V. But a comparison with Exodus 1:22 (LXX) justifies us in taking these words, as in R.V. margin, as describing the tyranny of Pharaoh, not as declaring that the parents themselves exposed their children. For the construction see Blass, Grammatik, p. 231; cf. 1 Kings 17:20, etc., genitive of result, see Page on Acts 3:12, and in loco, and Burton, N. T. Moods and Tenses, p. 157.— ἔκθετα: only here in N.T. and not in LXX, but used with γόνος in Eur., Andr., 70.— εἰς τὸ: expressing the purpose, cf. Luke 5:17.— ζωογονεῖσθαι: in the active the verb is used three times, in Exodus 1, of the midwives saving the Hebrew children alive, Acts 7:17-18; Acts 7:22 (cf. Judges 8:19, etc.), vivum conservare. In the N.T. the word is only used by St. Luke here and in his Gospel, chap. Acts 17:33, and once by St. Paul, 1 Timothy 6:13 (see R.V. margin). St. Chrysostom comments on the thought that where man’s help was despaired of, and the child was cast forth, then God’s benefit did shine forth conspicuous, Hom., xvi.


Verse 20

Acts 7:20. ἐν καιρῷ, cf. Acts 1:7, Acts 3:19, characterising the time, comp. Bengel, tristi, opportuno: on the name ΄ωυσῆς see Blass, Grammatik. p. 10, and Hamburger, Real-Encyclopâdie des Judentums, i., 5, p. 768, and critical notes.— ἀστεῖος τῷ θεῷ: if we render the expression as in A. and R.V., “exceeding fair,” the dative τῷ θεῷ is used as an equivalent of the Hebrew expression employed almost in a superlative sense, לֵאלהִים, Jonah 3:3. πόλις μεγ. τῷ θεῷ. Or the expression may be rendered “fair to God,” i.e., in the judgment of God; cf. δυνατὰ τῷ θεῷ, 2 Corinthians 10:4 and James 2:5, τοὺς πτωχοὺς τῷ κόσμῳ. Page and Wendt compare Æsch., Agam., 352, and see also Simcox, Language of the N. T., p. 81. ἀστεῖος, lit(201), belonging to the city (opposite to ἄγροικος), witty, clever; then, elegant, pretty; Vulgate, elegans, used as a general word of praise: applied to Moses here, in Exodus 2:2, and Hebrews 11:23, and also by Philo, cf. also Jos., Ant., ii., 97, and see Hamburger, u. s., i., 5, p. 773; Jalkut Rubeni, f. 75, 4. For other instances of the use of the word see LXX, Numbers 22:32, Judges 3:17, and Judith 11:23, Susannah, ver 7; in the last two passages used of physical fairness, prettiness (cf. Arist., Eth. Nic., iv., 3, 5, and instances in Wetstein). In 2 Maccabees 6:23 it is also used, and ἀστείως in 2 Maccabees 12:43 in the general sense of right and good, honestly.— ἀνετράφη μῆνας τρεῖς, cf. Exodus 2:2, verb used only by St. Luke, twice in this chapter, and in Acts 20:3, once in Luke 4:16, but cf. margin, W.H(202)—not used in LXX, but in Wisdom of Solomon 7:4 (where A has ἀνεστρ.), and see also 4 Maccabees 10:2; 4 Maccabees 11:15 (but A.R., τραφ.). The word is used in classical Greek, as in Wisdom of Solomon 7:4 and here, of a child nourished to promote its growth (although sometimes with the idea of improving the mind, cf. Acts 20:3). In the N.T. it is peculiar to St. Luke, and it is just the word which a medical man would use, frequently found in medical writings, opposed to ἰσχναίνω; see L. and ., sub v., and Hobart, Medical Language, p. 207.


Verse 21

Acts 7:21. ἐκτεθ.: the regular word for exposure of children in classical Greek; see also Wisdom of Solomon 18:5, peculiar to Luke in N.T., and only here in this sense; cf. Exodus 2:3, and (203) critical note above.— ἀνείλετο—same word in Exodus 2:5. The verb, though very frequent in Luke in the sense of to kill, is only used here in the sense of A. and R.V., Vulgate, sustulit—but cf. Aristoph., Nub., 531; Epict., Diss., i. 23, 7. ἑαυτῇ: as in contrast to the child’s own mother. According to tradition, Pharaoh’s daughter designed him for the throne, as the king had no son, Jos., Ant., ii., 9, 7.— εἰς υἱόν, Exodus 2:10; cf. Acts 13:22; Acts 13:47; Simcox, Language of N. T., p. 80.


Verse 22

Acts 7:22. ἐπαιδεύθη, cf. Acts 22:3 here with instrumental dative, or, better, dative of respect or manner; not mentioned in Exodus, but see Philo, Vita Moys., ii., 83, Mang., and also Schürer, Jewish People, div. ii., vol. i., p. 343, E.T.; cf. the knowledge of magic ascribed to Pharaoh’s wise men in Exodus 7:11, and “Jannes and Jambres,” B.D.2, and also 1 Kings 4:30, and Isaiah 19:2; Isaiah 19:11-12; Hamburger, Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums “Zauberei,” i., 7, 1068, and references in Wetstein, in loco. παιδεύω, both in LXX and N.T., used in the sense of training; cf. Proverbs 5:13 (Jos., C. Apion, i., 4), 1 Timothy 1:20, Titus 2:12, and also in the sense of chastising, so often in LXX and in N.T., and also similarly used in classical Greek. The passage is also important because it helped to fix the attention of cultivated early Christian writers upon the wisdom of Greek poets and philosophers, and to give a kind of precedent for the right pursuit of such studies; cf. Clem. Alex., Strom., i., 5, 28; vi., 5, 42; Justin Martyr, Dial. c. Tryph., c., 1–4; see Dean Plumptre’s note, in loco.— ἦν δὲ δυνατὸς, cf. Acts 18:24, and especially Luke 24:19; see also Sirach 21:7, Judith 11:8. If αὐτοῦ is retained, the mode of expression is Hebraistic (Blass). There is no contradiction with Exodus 4:10, and no need to explain the expression of Moses’ writings, for Stephen has in his thoughts not so much, as we may believe, the oratorical form as the powerful contents of Moses’ words (e.g., his prophetical teaching, Hamburger, “Moses,” Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums, i., 5, 772). Josephus speaks of him as πλήθει ὁμιλεῖν πιθανώτατος, Ant., iii., 1, 4 (see also Jos., Ant., ii., 10, 1, for the traditional exploits of Moses, and Hamburger, u. s., p. 771).


Verse 23

Acts 7:23. ὡς, cf. Acts 1:10, Lucan. The exact age is not mentioned in O.T., but it was traditional (Weiss refers its mention to the reviser, perhaps introduced as a parallel to Acts 7:30). According to the tradition, which Stephen apparently followed, Moses lived forty years in Pharaoh’s palace, but some accounts give twenty years; his dwelling in Midian occupied forty years, and he governed Israel for the same period, Acts 13:18. See Midrash Tanchuma on Exodus 2:6 (Wetstein, with other references, so too Lumby).— ἐπληροῦτο, “but when he was well-nigh,” etc., R.V., lit(204) “when the age of forty years was being fulfilled to him” (imperf. tense), cf. Luke 21:24, Acts 2:1; Acts 9:23; Acts 24:27, and Acts 7:30 below; so repeatedly in LXX.— ἀνέβη ἐπὶ τὴν καρδίαν αὐτοῦ, cf. 1 Corinthians 2:9 for the expression, probably taken from LXX, Isaiah 65:17, cf. Jeremiah 3:16; Jeremiah 32:35, Ezekiel 38:10, and 2 Kings 12:4. The phrase is an imitation of the Hebrew. Gesenius compares the phrase before us with Heb., Ezekiel 14:3-4; see also Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., p. 66 (1896).— ἐπισκέψασθαι, cf. Luke 1:68; Luke 1:78; Luke 7:16, cf. Exodus 4:31, of God visiting His people by Moses and Aaron (Acts 15:14). In each of these passages the verb is used of a divine visitation, and it is so used by St. Luke only amongst N.T. writers, except Hebrews 2:6 = Psalms 8:5, LXX. It is used elsewhere in Matthew 25:36; Matthew 25:43, James 1:27, Acts 6:3; Acts 15:36 (cf. Judges 15:1). The word is used of visits paid to the sick, cf. Sirach 7:35, and so in classical Greek (see Mayor on James 1:27), often in medical writings and in Plutarch (Grimm, sub v., and Kennedy, Sources of N. T. Greek, p. 105); mostly in the LXX, as always in the N.T., in good sense (Genesis 21:1, Ps. 8:4, 79:14, Sirach 46:14, Judith 8:33, but also with reference to divine punishment, Ps. 88:31, 32, Jeremiah 9:9; Jeremiah 9:25; Jeremiah 11:22; Jeremiah 34:8, etc.), cf. its use in Psalms of Solomon, where it is generally employed with reference to divine visitation, either for purposes of punishment or deliverance. In modern Greek = to visit, same sense as in LXX and N.T.; Kennedy, u. s., p. 155. For its old English sense of visit, as looking upon with kindness, Lumby compares Shaks., Rich. II., i., 3, 275: “All places that the eye of heaven visits”.— τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς αὐτοῦ: though in a king’s palace, and far removed in one sense from his people, Moses remembers that he is an Israelite, and that he has brethren; while others forgot their brotherhood he reminded them of it: “motivum amoris quod Moses etiam aliis adhibuit Acts 7:26,” Bengel, cf. Exodus 2:10, and Hebrews 11:24-25.


Verse 24

Acts 7:24. ἀδικούμενον, “wronged,” i.e., by blows, Exodus 2:11.— ἠμύνατο: only here in N.T. (sc., τὸν ἀδικοῦντα); in active the verb means to defend, “debebat scribere ἤμυνε,” says Blass, but in the middle it means defence of oneself, or of a friend, with the collateral notion of requital or retaliation on an enemy (see Rendall). In the middle it has also the meaning of avenging, and therefore might mean here “he took vengeance on” or “he repulsed” (cf. Joshua 10:13, 2 Maccabees 10:17, Wisdom of Solomon 11:3, and Jos., Ant., ix., 1, 2), although this is expressed in the next words.— ἐποίησεν ἐκδίκησιν, cf. Luke 18:7-8; Luke 21:22; lit(205), “wrought an avenging,” Romans 12:19 (cf. Hebrews 10:30), 2 Corinthians 7:11, 2 Thessalonians 1:8, 1 Peter 2:14. This and similar expressions are common in LXX, Judges 11:36, Psalms 149:7, Ezekiel 25:17, 1 Maccabees 3:15; 1 Maccabees 7:9; 1 Maccabees 7:24; 1 Maccabees 7:38; ἐκδ. in Polybius with ποιεῖσθαι, Acts 3:8; Acts 3:10.— καταπονουμένῳ: only here and in 2 Peter 2:7; cf. 2 Maccabees 8:2 (R has καταπ α τ ούμ., of the Jews oppressed, trodden down, in the days of Judas Maccabæus), 3 Maccabees 2:2; 3 Maccabees 2:13; used in Polyb. and Josephus, etc. The exact word is found in Didache 1, v., 2.— πατάξας: lit(206), to strike, hence to kill, in Biblical language only, cf. Exodus 2:12; Exodus 2:14, and Acts 7:28 below: so also in Matthew 26:31, Mark 14:27 (Zechariah 13:7, LXX). The verb is very frequent in LXX. “Smiting the Egyptian,” R.V.— τὸν αἰγ.: not previously mentioned, but implied in ἀδικ., which involves an oppressor; as in Acts 7:26 the facts are regarded by St. Stephen as known to his audience.


Verse 25

Acts 7:25. ἐνόμιζε δὲ: a comment by St. Stephen, but we are not told upon what grounds Moses based his expectation (see however Lumby’s note, in loco). The verb is found in Luke 2:44; Luke 3:23, and seven times in Acts, but elsewhere in the Gospels only three times in St. Matthew; it is used three times by St. Paul. It is frequently found in ii. and iv. Macc., twice in Wisdom and once in Ecclesiasticus.— διὰ χειρὸς αὐτοῦ, Acts 2:23. δίδωσι, “was giving them,” R.V. (not “would give,” A.V.), as if the first step in their deliverance was already taken by this act, so συνιέναι, “understood,” R.V. (not “would understand,” A.V.). In Jos., Ant., ii., 9, 2, 3, reference is made to the intimation which was said to have been vouchsafed by God to Amram the father of Moses that his son should be the divine agent who was expected to arise for the deliverance of the Hebrews, and whose glory should be remembered through all ages. It has been sometimes thought that St. Stephen had this tradition in mind.— οἱ δὲ οὐ συνῆκαν: Mr. Page notes the rhetorical power in these words, cf. Acts 7:53 καὶ οὐκ ἐφυλάξατε.


Verse 26

Acts 7:26. ὥφθη: Wendt commends Bengel, who sees in the word the thought that he appeared ultro, ex improviso, cf. Acts 2:3, Acts 7:2, Hebrews 9:28.— συνήλασεν: but if we read συνήλλασσεν, see critical note = imperfect, de conatu, cf. Matthew 3:14, Luke 1:59; Luke 15:14, Acts 26:11, see Burton, N. T. Moods and Tenses, p. 12, from συναλλάσσω, only found here in N.T., not in LXX or Apocrypha, but in classical Greek, cf. Thuc., i., 24.— ἱνατί = ἵνα τί γένηται; cf. Acts 4:25, and Luke 13:7 (Matthew 9:4; Matthew 27:46, 1 Corinthians 10:29), and with the words ἱνατί ἀδικεῖτε ἀλλήλους; Exodus 2:13 (Moulton and Geden); used several times in LXX, also by Aristoph, and Plato. Like the Latin ut quid? see Grimm, sub v., and for spelling; and comp. also Blass, Gram., p. 14, and Winer-Schmiedel, p. 36.— ἄνδρες, ἀδελφοί ἐστε: the fact of their brotherhood aggravated their offence; it was no longer a matter between an Egyptian and a Hebrew as on the previous day, but between brother and brother—community of suffering should have cemented and not destroyed their sense of brotherhood. Hackett and Alford take ἄνδρες as belonging to ἀδελφοί (not as = κύριοι, ‘Sirs’ in A. and R.V.), men related as brethren are ye, cf. Genesis 13:8.


Verse 27

Acts 7:27. ἀπώσατο for Attic ἀπεώσατο (see also Acts 7:45), not found in the O.T. parallel, but added by Stephen, cf. Acts 7:38, compare LXX, Jeremiah 4:30. The word may be introduced to emphasize the contumaciousness of the people, which in Stephen’s narrative is the motive of the flight of Moses; in Exodus, Moses flees from fear of Pharaoh, and the answer of the Hebrew demonstrates to him that his deed of yesterday was known—but there is no contradiction in the two narratives. The matter would become known to Pharaoh, as the words of the Hebrew intimated; it could not be hidden; and in spite of the attempt at concealment on the part of Moses by hiding the body in the sand, his life was no longer safe, and so he fled because he had nothing to hope for from his people. Stephen’s words would be quite consistent with the narrative in Exodus (Nösgen, Apostelgeschichte, p. 163, as against Overbeck).


Verse 28

Acts 7:28. Cf. Exodus 2:14.


Verse 29

Acts 7:29. ἐν τῷ λόγῳ τούτῳ· Weiss points out that Moses fled on account of this word, because he saw that his people would not protect him against the vengeance of Pharaoh. Jos., Ant., ii., 11, 1, makes the cause of the flight of Moses not the words which told him that his deed was known, but the jealousy of the Egyptians, who represented to the king that he would prove a seditious person.— ΄αδιάμ: generally taken to mean or to include the peninsula of Sinai (Exodus 2:15; Exodus 3:1), and thus agrees with the natural supposition that his flight did not carry Moses far beyond the territory of Egypt (cf. Exodus 18:1-27). The name Midianites would be applied to the descendants of Abraham’s fourth son by Keturah, who in various clans, some nomadic, some mercantile (e.g., those to whom Joseph was sold), may be described as Northern Arabs. (Dr. Sayce, u. s., p. 270, maintains that Moses to get beyond Egyptian territory must have travelled further than to the . peninsula of our modern maps, and places Sinai in the region of Seir, with Midian in its close neighbourhood.) Amongst one of these tribes Moses found a home in his flight, Hamburger, “Midian,” Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums, i., 5, 755. Hackett, Acts, p. 104, “Midian,” B.D.1.— οὗ ἐγένν., cf. Exodus 2:22; Exodus 4:20; Exodus 18:3. Weiss thinks the notice due to a reviser, who wished to show that Moses had given up his people, and made himself a home in a strange land.


Verse 30

Acts 7:30. πληρωθέντων, see Acts 7:23, cf. Exodus 7:7, “fulfilled,” R.V. ὤφθη, Acts 7:2, so the second fundamental revelation of God to Israel took place in the wilderness far away from the Promised Land (Weiss), see also Acts 7:33.— τεσσαράκοντα, cf. Acts 1:3.— σινᾶ: there is no contradiction between this and Exodus 3:1, where the appearance is said to take place in Horeb, for whilst in the N.T. and Josephus Sinai only is named for the place of the law-giving, in the O.T. the two names are interchanged, cf. also Sirach 48:7. According to Hamburger the two names are identical, signifying in a narrower sense only one mountain, the historical mountain of the giving of the law, but in a wider sense given to a whole group of mountains. Thus Hamburger declines to accept the view that Horeb was the name of the whole ridge of mountain-cluster, whilst Sinai specially denotes the mountain of the law-giving, since Horeb is also used for the same event (cf. Exodus 3:1; Exodus 17:6; Exodus 33:6), Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums, i., 7, 940. See also B.D.1, “Sinai,” Wendt, edition (1899), in loco; Schaff-Herzog, Encyclopœdia, iv., “Sinai” (also for literature); and Grimm-Thayer, sub v. According to Sayce, Higher Criticism and the Monuments, p. 263 ff., Sinai is a mountain of Seir, rather than of the Sinaitic peninsula so called. The same writer lays stress upon the fact that Sinai is associated with Seir and Edom, Deuteronomy 33:2, Judges 5:4-5, and maintains that it is nowhere in the O.T. transported to the Sinaitic peninsula of our modern maps. The word σινᾶ is an indeclinable noun τό (sc., ὄρος); Josephus τὸ σιναῖον and τὸ σιναῖον ὄρος; Grimm-Thayer, Winer-Schmiedel, p. 91, Blass, Gram., 8, 32; and see also Sayce, u. s., p. 268, 269, and Patriarchal Palestine, p. 259, who renders as adjective “(the mountain) which belongs to Sin,” i.e., like desert which it overlooked, to the worship of the Babylonian Moon-God Sin in that region.— ἄγγελος: in Exodus 3:2 “the angel of the Lord,” but in Acts 7:7 “the Lord said,” so here in Acts 7:31 “the voice of the Lord said,” cf. Acts 7:33. For the same mode of expression cf. Acts 27:23 with Acts 23:11. In this Angel, the Angel of the Lord, cf. Exodus 3:2 with Acts 7:6; Acts 7:14 and Genesis 22:11 with Acts 7:12; the Angel of the Presence, Exodus 33:11, cf. Isaiah 63:9 (Acts 7:38 below), although Jewish interpreters varied, the Fathers saw the Logos, the Eternal Word of the Father. See references in Felten, in loco, and Liddon, Bampton Lectures, Lect. ii., and “Angel,” B.D.2. Otherwise we can only say that Jehovah Himself speaks through the Angel (Weiss, Blass, in loco).— ἐν φλογὶ πυρὸς βάτου: words interchanged as in LXX A, Exodus 3:2; according to Hebrew πυρὸς ἐκ τοῦ βάτουπυρός here = an adjective, rubus incensus (Blass, Weiss); cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:8, ἐν πυρὶ φλογός. For gender of βάτος see Acts 7:35.


Verse 31

Acts 7:31. κατανοῆσαι: this careful observation is implied in the narrative of Exodus though the word is not employed. It is a favourite word with St. Luke, and is used by him four times in his Gospel and four times in Acts, elsewhere in Gospels only in Matthew 7:3 (five times in Epistles). On its force see Westcott on Hebrews 3:1 : “oculos vel mentem defigere in aliquo” Grimm; properly = to take notice of, so in classical Greek; it is used also in the sense of observing, looking at, cf. James 1:27; and in a general sense, to see, cf. LXX, Ps. 93:9, cf. Psalms 90:8; and also, to consider, Hebrews 10:24 (Mayor, note on James 1:27). In the LXX, where it is frequent, it is used with both shades of meaning.


Verse 32

Acts 7:32. ἔντρομος γεν. (cf. Acts 10:4, ἔμφοβος γεν.), Acts 16:29, cf. Exodus 3:6, expression used only in Acts in these two passages (Hebrews 12:21, quotation from LXX). ἔμφοβος is found five times in Luke, Luke 24:5; Luke 24:37, in Acts 10:4; Acts 24:25 (only once elsewhere, in Revelation 11:13. with ἐγένοντο), and in each passage with γενόμενος. ἔντρομος, Dan. (Theod.) Acts 10:11, Wisdom of Solomon 17:10, 1 Maccabees 13:2, and in Psalms 17:7 (Psalms 18:7), psa 76:18 (Psalms 77:18), ἔντρομος ἐγενήθη γῆ—the word is also used by Plutarch.


Verse 33

Acts 7:33. λῦσον, cf. Joshua 5:15, λῦσον A., cf. Exodus 3:5; in classical Greek, λῦσαι, omitting σου. On the custom of worshipping bare-footed, as the priests when actually engaged in the Temple, or as the Arabs enter their mosques with bare feet, or the Samaritan the holiest place on Gerizim, see instances, both classical, Juvenal, Sat., vi., 158, and from Josephus and others, Wetstein and Wendt, in loco. The latter refers to an Egyptian custom the order of Pythagoras ἀνυπόδητος θῦε καὶ προσκύνει, Jamblich., Vit. Pyth., 23, and cf. 18 in Wetstein.— τὸ ὑπόδημα, cf. Acts 13:25, and John 1:27, where in each passage the singular is used. Both Weiss and Wendt note the significance of the verse—a strange land is consecrated (cf. Acts 6:13, τόπος ἅγιος) by the presence of God—the Jews thought that the Temple was the only holy place, cf. add. note for significance in connection with the aim of St. Stephen’s speech, and St. Chrysostom’s comment in loco.


Verse 34

Acts 7:34. ἰδὼν εἶδον: Hebraism, so LXX, Exodus 3:7, and so frequently, e.g., Psalms 40:1, cf. Matthew 13:14, Hebrews 6:14 (Genesis 22:17), the participle with the verb emphasising the assurance. But similar collocations are not wanting in classical Greek, see Page, in loco, and Wendt, who compares 1 Corinthians 2:1. The phrase ἰδὼν εἶδον occurs in Lucian, Dial. Mar., iv., 3 (Wetstein). “I have surely seen,” R.V., so in A. and R.V., Exodus 3:7, see Simcox, Language of N. T., p. 130, and Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., p. 217 (1896).— καὶ νῦν δεῦρο ἀποστελῶ, but cf. Exodus 3:10; ἀποστείλω; see critical notes. On the hortatory subj. in first person singular with δεῦρο or ἄφες prefixed, see Burton, N. T. Moods and Tenses, p. 74, cf. Matthew 7:4, Luke 6:42, but translated by the revisers, “I will send,” with an imperative force as of a divine command (see Rendall’s note, in loco). For classical instances cf. Wendt, in loco.


Verse 35

Acts 7:35. τοῦτον: followed by the triple οὗτος, a significant and oratorical repetition—anaphora or repetition of the pronoun, cf. Acts 2:23, Acts 5:31 (so Bengel, Blass, Viteau, see also Simcox, Language of the N. T., pp. 65, 66). It plainly appears to be one of the purposes, although we cannot positively say the chief purpose, of the speech to place Moses in typical comparison to Jesus and the behaviour of the Jews towards Him, Acts 7:25.—( καὶ) ἄρχοντα καὶ λυτρωτὴν: Moses was made by God a ruler and even more than a judge—not δικαστής but λυτρωτής. But just as the denial of the Christ is compared with the denial of Moses, cf. ἠρνήσαντο and ἠρνήσασθε in Acts 3:13, so in the same way the λὑτρωσις wrought by Christ is compared with that wrought by Moses, cf. Luke 1:68; Luke 2:38, Hebrews 9:12, Titus 2:14 (so Wendt, in loco) “omnia quæ negaverant Judæi Deus attribuit Moysi” (Blass). λυτρωτής in LXX and in Philo, but not in classical Greek. In the Sept. the word is used of God Himself, Psalms 19:14; Psalms 78:35 (cf. Deuteronomy 13:5, and Psalms of Solomon, Acts 9:1).— ἐν χειρὶ, cf. Acts 11:21, but σύν is closer to the classical σὺν θεοῖς with the helping and protecting hand, ἐν χειρὶ = בְּיָד, cf. Galatians 3:19.— τῇ βάτῳ: Attic, Hellenistic, but in N.T. it varies, in Luke 20:37 feminine, in Mark 12:26 (and in LXX) masculine (W.H(207)); Blass, Gram., p. 26; Grimm-Thayer, sub v.


Verse 36

Acts 7:36. On οὗτος see Acts 7:35.— ἐξήγαγεν, Exodus 3:10, καὶ ἐξάξεις τὸν λαόν μου.— ἐρυθρᾷ θαλάσσῃ in LXX frequent, יָם סוּף sometimes with, sometimes without the article, here as in the Heb. without: cf. the parallel in Assumption of Moses, iii., 11 (ed. Charles), and see below on Acts 7:38.


Verse 37

Acts 7:37. οὗτός, cf. Acts 7:35, cf. Deuteronomy 18:15; Deuteronomy 3:22, above. The introduction of the prophecy may mean that St. Stephen wished in this as in the preceding and following verse to emphasise the position and the work of Moses, and to mark more strongly the disobedience of the people. Blass regards οὗτός ἐστιν ΄. κ. τ. λ. as intended to show that Moses, whom the Jews accused. Stephen of injuring, was himself by his own words a supporter of the claims of Christ: “hic est ille . qui dixit”.


Verse 38

Acts 7:38. οὗτός: again emphatic use.— ἐκκλησίᾳ: “in the congregation,” R.V. margin: held in the wilderness for the giving of the law, although the word does not occur in Exodus 19, but cf. Deuteronomy 31:30, Joshua 8:35 (Acts 9:2). By Wycliffe the word was translated “Church” here, but afterwards “congregation,” so in Tynd., Cranm., Gen., until A.V. again rendered “Church,” cf. Hebrews 2:12, and on the word see above on Acts 5:11, Hort, Ecclesia, p. 3 ff., and B.D.2 “Church”. In Hebrews 2:12, R.V. reads “congregation” in text (but “Church” in margin), following Tynd. and Cranm., and Psalms 22:22 from which the quotation is made (where both A. and R.V. have “congregation”). Schmiedel would dismiss the word as a later gloss, which has been inserted here in a wrong place, see Wendt (edit. 1899), p. 160, note.— γενόμ.… μετὰ, cf. Acts 9:19, Acts 20:18 (Mark 16:10); no Hebraism, cf. σύν in Luke 2:13.— τοῦ ἀγγέλου τοῦ λαλ., but in Exodus Moses is said to speak with God, cf. Acts 7:30 above, and see also Acts 7:53, “who was with the angel … and with our fathers,” i.e., who acted as the mediator between the two parties, who had relations with them both, cf. Galatians 3:19, and Philo, Vit. Moys., iii., 19, where Moses is called μεσίτης καὶ διαλλακτής, cf. also Hebrews 2:2, and Jos., Ant., xv., 5, 3; the latter passage represents Herod as saying that the Jews learned all that was most holy in their law διʼ ἀγγέλων παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ (see Westcott Hebrews, and Wetstein on Galatians 3:19). On the title μεσίτης as given to Moses, see further Assumption of Moses, i., 14, and Charles’ note and introd. lxiii., but it does not follow that the inference is justified that the Apocryphal Book in question was known to the writer of St. Stephen’s speech. Dr. Charles maintains this on the ground of three passages, but of (1) it may be said that the term μεσίτης evidently could have been known from other sources than Acts, (2) the parallel between Acts 7:36 and Assumption of Moses, iii., 11, is, as Dr. Charles admits, an agreement verbally “for the most part,” but the words “Egypt, the Red Sea, and the wilderness for forty years” might often be used as a summary of the history of Israel at a particular period, whilst the context with which the words are here associated is quite different from that in Assumption of Moses, l.c., and (3) there is no close resemblance between the prophecy from Amos quoted in Acts 7:43 below and the prophecy in Assumption of Moses, ii., 1–3; in both the phraseology is quite general. Perhaps the omission of the word μετά before τῶν πατέρων gives emphasis to the privilege of “our fathers,” when one can speak of being with the angel and with them, Simcox, Language of the N. T., p. 159. Thus Moses prefigures the Mediator of the new coventant, cf. Hebrews 8:5; Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 12:24, and the mention of this honour bestowed upon Moses emphasises still more fully the indignity which he received from his countrymen, cf. St. Chrysostom on the force of οὗτος in this verse.— λόγια, cf. Romans 3:2, as in LXX of the words of God, cf. Numbers 24:4; Numbers 24:16, and chiefly for any utterance of God whether precept or promise, only once of human words (Psalms 18(19):14); so Philo speaks of the decalogue as τὰ δέκα λόγια, and Jos., B. J., vi., 5, 4, of the prophecies of God in the O.T., and Philo writes τὸ λόγιον τοῦ προφήτου (i.e., Moses), Vit. Moys., iii., 35, see Grimm-Thayer, sub v., λόγιον, lit(208), a little word, from the brevity of oracular responses.— ζῶντα: “vim vitalem habentia,” Blass, cf. Hebrews 4:12, 1 Peter 1:23, cf. Deuteronomy 32:47. The words again show how far St. Stephen was from despising the Law of Moses, cf. Hebrews 4:12, “living,” R.V. (“quick,” A.V.); 1 Peter 1:3; 1 Peter 2:5, where R.V. has “living” instead of “lively”; in Psalms 38:19 “lively” is retained in R.V. (see also in Exodus 1:19, in contrast to feeble, languid), cf. Spenser, Faërie Queene, iii., 8, 5. Here the word has the sense of living, i.e., enduring, abiding, cf. “thy true and lively [living] word” in prayer for the Church Militant, cf. 1 Peter 1:23, R.V.


Verse 39

Acts 7:39. ἐστράφησαν, i.e., in their desires after the Egyptian gods, cf. Acts 7:40, not “turned back again,” but simply “turned” (Rendall, in loco). The words cannot be taken literally (as Corn. à Lap. and others), or we should have to render “who may go before us in our return to Egypt,” which not only is unsupported by the Greek, but cf. Exodus 32:4, 1 Kings 12:28; see also on this verse, Exodus 16:3, Numbers 11:4-5, but the desires there expressed marked a later date.


Verse 40

Acts 7:40. προπορεύσονται (Exodus 16:3, Numbers 11:4-5), only elsewhere in N.T., in Luke 1:76, with which cf. Deuteronomy 31:3. The words in Acts are taken from Exodus 32:1; Exodus 32:23; frequent in LXX, 1 Maccabees 9:11 (but see H. and R.), and also in Xen. and Polyb.— οὗτος, iste, cf. Acts 6:14, the same anacoluthon as in LXX, Exodus 32:23, so in the Heb., “who brought us up”: no mention of God—they ascribed all to Moses (Chrysostom); see Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., p. 135 (1896).


Verse 41

Acts 7:41. ἐμοσχοποίησαν: not in LXX or in classical Greek; in Exodus 32:2, ἐποίησαν μόσχον.— ἀνήγαγον θυσίαν, cf. 1 Kings 3:15 (and 2 Samuel 6:17, A.), for similar use of the word, “quia victima in aram tollitur,” Grimm.— εὐφραίνοντο, cf. Exodus 32:6; Exodus 32:18; the word is very frequent in LXX, and several times with ἐν, cf., e.g., 2 Chronicles 6:41, Sirach 14:5, 1 Maccabees 3:7; χαίρειν ἐν, Luke 10:20; used only by St. Luke amongst the Evangelists, six times in his Gospel, twice in Acts (but Acts 2:26 is a quotation). Bengel points out that God rejoices in the works of His own hands, and men in the work of God’s hands, but not as here—half irony in the words.


Verse 42

Acts 7:42. ἔστρεψε: properly intransitive. Weiss takes it transitively: God turned them from one idol worship to another; but here probably means that God turned away from them, in the sense that He cared no longer for them as before; so Grimm, sub v.; or that He actually changed so as to be opposed to them; cf. Joshua 24:20, Heb., so Wetstein “Deus se ab iis avertit,” and cf. LXX, Isaiah 63:10.— παρέδωκεν, cf. Romans 1:24, and εἴασε in Acts 14:16; Ephesians 4:19, “gave themselves up”. ἑαυτοὺς παρέδωκαν, from the side of man.— λατρεύειν τῇ στρατιᾷ τοῦ οὐρ., cf. Deuteronomy 17:3, 2 Kings 17:16; 2 Kings 21:3, 2 Chronicles 33:3; 2 Chronicles 33:5, Jeremiah 8:2; Jeremiah 19:13, a still grosser idolatry: “antiquissima idolatria, ceteris speciosior” Bengel. The created host was worshipped in place of Jehovah Sabaoth, “the Lord of Hosts”. The word, though used always in the N.T. of religious service, is sometimes applied to the worship of idols, as well as of the One God; cf. Romans 1:25 (LXX, Exodus 20:5; Exodus 23:24, Ezekiel 20:32), so λατρεία is used of the worship of idols in 1 Maccabees 1:43; see Trench, Synonyms, i., p. 142 ff.— ἐν βίβλῳ τῶν προφ.: here part of the Hebrew Scriptures which the Jews summed up under the title of “the Prophets,” as a separate part, the other two parts being the Law and the Hagiographa (the Psalms, Luke 24:44); or Twelve Minor Prophets which probably formed one book.— ΄ὴ σφάγια κ. τ. λ.: a quotation from Amos 5:25-27, with little variation—the quotation in Acts 7:42 is really answered by the following verse. The question does not mean literally that no sacrifices were ever offered in the wilderness, which would be directly contrary to such passages as Exodus 24:4, Numbers 7:9. The sacrifices no doubt were offered, but how could they have been real and effectual and acceptable to God while in their hearts the people’s affections were far from Him, and were given to idol deities? μή, expecting a negative answer = num (see Zöckler’s note, in loco).— οἶκος: nominative for vocative, as often, as if in apposition to the ὑμεῖς contained in προσηνέγκατε (Blass). Some emphasise μοι = mihi soli, or suppose with Nösgen that the question is ironical.


Verse 43

Acts 7:43. The answer of God to His own question: καί should be explained “ye actually took up” (“yea,” R.V., in Amos 5:26); ἀνελάβετε, “ye took up,” i.e., to carry in procession from one halting place to another. τὴν σκηνὴν, properly σκηνή = סִכּוּת, which has sometimes been explained as the tent or tabernacle made by the idolatrous Israelites in honour of an idol, like the tabernacle of the covenant in honour of Jehovah, but R.V. renders “Siccuth your king” (margin, “the tabernacle of your king”), Amos 5:26, see below.— τοῦ ΄ολόχ: s in LXX, but in Hebrew, מַלְכְּכֶם, i.e., your king (as A.V. in margin, Amos 5:26). The LXX, either as explanatory, or perhaps through another reading מִלְכֹּם, 2 Kings 23:13, here render by the name of the idol. Sayce also (Patriarchal Palestine, p. 258) renders “Sikkuth your Malik,” i.e., the Babylonian god Sikkuth also represents “Malik,” the king, another Babylonian deity (= Moloch of the O.T.). Most commentators maintain that Acts 7:26 (Amos 5) is not in the original connected with Acts 7:25 as the LXX render, referring the latter verse back to Mosaic times. The LXX may have followed some tradition, but not only does the fact that the worship of Moloch was forbidden in the wilderness seem to indicate that its practice was a possibility, but there is also evidence that long before the Exodus Babylonian influence had made itself felt in the West, and the statement of Amos may therefore mean that the Babylonian god was actually worshipped by the Israelites in the wilderness (Sayce, u. s., p. 259). In margin of R.V. we have “shall take up,” i.e., carry away with you into exile (as a threat), while others take the verb not in a future but in a perfect sense, as referring to the practice of the contemporaries of the prophet: “de suo tempore hæc dicit Amos” (Blass). Siccuth or rather Saccuth is probably a proper name (a name given to Nin-ip, the warlike sun-god of Babylonia (Sayce)), and both it and Kewan (Kaivan), כִּיּוּן, represent Babylono-Assyrian deities (or a deity), see Schrader, Cun. Inscript. and the O. T., ii., 141, 142, E.T.; Sayce, u. s., Art(209) “Chiun” in Hastings’ B.D., and Felten and Wendt, in loco. For the thought expressed here that their gods should go into captivity with the people, cf. Isaiah 46:2.— καὶ τὸ ἄστρονῥεμφάν, T.R.—but R.V. ῥεφάν, on the reading see critical notes, and Wendt, p. 177. For the Hebrew (Amos 5:26) כִּיּוּן Chiun, the LXX has ῥαιφάν. How can we account for this? Probably LXX read the word not Chiun but Kewan כֵּיוָן (so in Syr. Pesh., Kewan = Saturn your idol), of which ῥαιφάν is a corruption through καιφάν (cf. similar change of כ into ר in Nahum 1:6, כאש in LXX ἀρχάς as if ראש, Robinson’s Gesenius, p. 463). Kewan = Ka-ai-va-nu, an Assyrian name for the planet Saturn, called by the same name in Arabic and Persian (Hamburger, Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums, i., 2, 216, and Art(210) “Chiun,” u. s.); and this falls in perfectly with the Hebrew, “the star of your god” (your star-god)— אֱלֹהֵיכֶם כּוֹכַב, the previous word, צַלְמֵיכֶם, “your images,” being placed after the two Hebrew words just quoted, cf. LXX (but see also Sayce, u. s., who renders “Chiun, your Zelem,” Zelem denoting another Babylonian deity = the image or disc of the sun). It seems plain at all events that both in the Hebrew and in the LXX reference is made to the divine honours paid to the god Saturn. In the words “ye took up the star,” etc., the meaning is that they took up the star or image which represented the god Saturn—your god with some authorities (so in LXX, see Blass, in loco). ὑμῶν, i.e., the deity whom these Israelites thus placed on a level with Jehovah. If we take כִּיּוּן Chiun = the litter, or pedestal, of your gods, i.e., on which they were carried in procession, as if from כּוּן (a meaning advocated by Dr. Robertson Smith), and not as a proper name at all: “the shrines of your images, the star of your God,” R.V. margin, Amos 5:26, we may still infer from the mention of a star that the reference is to the debasement of planet worship (so Jerome conjectured Venus or Lucifer). It is to be noted that the vocalisation of Siccuth and Chiun is the same, and it has been recently suggested that for the form of these two names in our present text we are indebted to the misplaced zeal of the Massoretes, by the familiar trick of fitting the pointing of one word to the consonant skeleton of another—here the pointing is taken from the word שִׁקּוּצ, “abomination,” see Art(211), “Chiun,” u. s.τοὺς τύπους, simulacra: in LXX, in opposition to σκηνή and ἄστρον. If the σκηνή is to be taken as meaning the tent or tabernacle containing the image of the god, it might be so described. τύποι is used, Jos., Ant., i., 19, 11; xv. 9, 5, of the images of Laban stolen by Rachel.— προσκυνεῖν αὐτοῖς: not in LXX, where we read τοὺς τύπους αὐτῶν οὓς ἐποιήσατε ἑαυτοῖς.— ἐπέκεινα βαβυλῶνος: in LXX and Hebrew “Damascus” ἐπέκ. only here in N.T., but in classical authors, and in LXX, Genesis 35:16 (21), Jeremiah 22:19 (and Aquila on passage in Genesis). “Babylon” may have been due to a slip, but more probably spoken designedly: “interpretatur vaticinium Stephanus ex eventu” (as the Rabbis often interpreted passages), see Wendt, in loco, and Light-foot. It may be that St. Stephen thus closes one part of his speech, that which shows how Israel, all through their history, had been rebellious, and how punishment had followed. If this conjecture is correct, we pass now to the way in which Stephen deals with the charge of blasphemy against the temple.


Verse 44

Acts 7:44. Here again we notice that the first sanctuary of the fathers was not the temple, nor was it erected on holy ground, but ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ according to God’s direct command.— σκηνὴ τοῦ μαρτ.: it is possible that there was in the speaker’s mind a contrast to the σκηνή in Acts 7:43, but the connection is not clearly drawn out, ἀσυνδέτως, “ut in oratione concitatiore” (Blass).— σ. τοῦ μαρτυρίου, “the tabernacle of the testimony”. The same phrase in LXX is used (incorrectly as Meyer noted) to translate the Hebrew tabernacle of the congregation or tabernacle of meeting, i.e., of God with His people, cf. Exodus 27:21. But the tabernacle was justly called μαρτυρίου, because it contained “the ark of the testimony,” LXX, Exodus 25:9 (Exodus 25:10), κιβωτὸς μαρτυρίου and so frequently in the rest of the book, and Exodus 31:18, τὰς δύο πλάκας τοῦ μαρτυρίου. The tabernacle might properly be so called as a witness of God’s presence, and a testimony to the covenant between God and His people. See also Westcott on Hebrews 8:5, additional note.— διετάξατο, cf. Acts 20:13, Acts 24:23; only in St. Luke and St. Paul in N.T., except once in Matthew 11:1; in Gospel four times, in Acts four or five times, and frequent in LXX. Grimm compares disponere (verordnen).— καθὼς δ. λαλῶν: “even as he appointed who spake,” R.V.; “per reverentiam appellatio siletur” Blass; cf. Exodus 25:40, Hebrews 8:5.— κατὰ τὸν τύπον, cf. Wisdom of Solomon 9:8, where the command is given to Solomon.— μίμημα σκηνῆς ἁγίας ἢν προητοίμασας: “according to the figure,” L.V., i.e., pattern, likeness, cf. Acts 7:43 and Romans 5:14. Again we see how far Stephen was from denying the divine sanction given to Moses for the tabernacle. In the thought thus implied lies the germ of Hooker’s great argument, Eccles. Pol., iii., 11 (Plumptre).


Verse 45

Acts 7:45. διαδεξάμενοι: having received in their turn, i.e., from Moses, only here in N.T., cf. 4 Maccabees 4:15; so also in classical Greek, in Dem. and in Polyb., cf. διαδοχῆς, “in their turn,” Herod., viii., 142: (on the technical meaning of διάδοχος, to which in the LXX διαδεχόμενος is akin to the term of a deputy, or of one next to the king, see Deissmann, Bibelstudien, pp. 111, 112).— μετὰ ἰησοῦ, cf. Hebrews 4:8, where Syr. Pesh. has “Jesus the son of Nun” (but not here).— ἐν τῇ κατασχέσει τῶν ἐθνῶν: “when they entered on the possession of the nations,” R.V., lit(212), in the taking possession of the nations, i.e., of the land inhabited by the nations (Wendt). A.V. follows Vulgate; frequent in LXX, cf. Jos., Ant., ix., 1, 2, and Test. xii. Patr., x., used by Philo in the sense of a portion given to keep (Grimm-Thayer).— ὧν: Attic attraction, cf. Acts 1:1.— ἀπὸ προσώπου: for a similar phrase cf. Deuteronomy 11:23; Deuteronomy 12:29-30, etc., and frequently in LXX, Hebrew מִפְּנֵי.— ἕως τῶν ἡμ. δ.: to be connected with the first part of the verse, “which also our fathers brought in … unto the days of David” (inclusively), see Wendt, in loco, i.e., “et mansit tabernaculum usque ad tempora Davidis” (Blass). Rendall takes the words as closely joined to ὧν ἐξῶσεν, but the clause ὧν ἐξῶσενἡμῶν is rather subordinate.


Verse 46

Acts 7:46. ὃς εὗρε χάριν, cf. Luke 1:30, Hebraistic, cf. Genesis 6:8; it may be tacitly implied that had the temple been so important as the Jew maintained, God would have allowed the man who found favour before him to build it; on the phrase ἐνώπ. κ. or θεοῦ see above on Acts 4:10.— ἠτήσατο εὗρειν, i.e., σκήνωμα, cf. Acts 3:3; ἠρώτα λαβεῖν, and instances in Wetstein, “asked to find,” not only “desired,” LXX, 2 Samuel 7:2 ff., 1 Chronicles 22:7, Psalms 81:5.— σκήνωμα: perhaps used by David (as in the Psalm quoted) in his humility (Meyer); used of the temple in 1 Esdras 1:50. David of course desired to build not a σκηνή, which already existed.— τῷ θεῷ ἰακώβ, see critical notes.


Verse 47

Acts 7:47. σολομῶν, see above on Acts 3:11.— δὲ: “But” or “And”— δὲ, adversative as in A. and R.V., cf. 2 Chronicles 6:7-9, where Solomon is represented as claiming God’s promise that he should build the house—afavour denied to his father David.


Verse 48

Acts 7:48. ἀλλʼ οὐχ: But the presence of the Most High (in contrast to the smallness of any building made by hands) was not so confined—the previous words must not be misunderstood by Stephen’s hearers. Solomon’s οἶκος might have given the idea of greater permanency, but still Isaiah had taught, Isaiah 66:1-2, and even the builder of the temple, Solomon himself, had acknowledged that God was not confined to any single place of worship, 1 King Acts 8:27, 2 Chronicles 6:18 (Hackett), cf. also David’s prayer, 1 Chronicles 29:10-19.— ἐν χειροποιήτοις ναοῖς κατοικεῖ—omit ναοῖς, probably an exegetical addition, cf. Acts 17:24, where the word is found. The omission makes the contrast with οἶκος still more emphatic. “But Solomon … a house, howbeit the Most High dwelleth not in houses made with hands” (R.V.). For χειροποίητος and ἀχειρ. see Westcott on Hebrews 9:11; Hebrews 9:24. Both words occur in Mark 14:58, in the charge of the false witness against our Lord. In the LXX χειροποίητος is used several times of idols made with hands, and occasion ally found in classical Greek. Weiss compares as a parallel with its use here Isaiah 16:12 (see R.V.), but the meaning is doubtful.— ὕψιστος, emphatic—Solomon’s building a house must not be misunderstood—see too Acts 7:49. ὕψ., Acts 16:17, used here absolutely (cf. Luke 1:32; Luke 1:35; Luke 1:76; Luke 6:35, without the article), so often in LXX, 2 Samuel 22:14, Psalms 17:13, and often in Psalms, Isaiah 14:14, Sirach 12:6, etc. R.V. writes “Most High,” instead of A.V. “most High,” thus making the proper name of God more emphatic, cf. Winer-Schmiedel, p. 172—so in classical Greek ζεὺς ὕψιστος; ὕψιστος θεός in Greek inscriptions of Asia Minor; for the Hebrew equivalents, see Grimm-Thayer, sub v. St. Stephen’s words apparently impressed at least one of his hearers, for the same thought is reproduced in the words of St. Paul at Athens, where he asserts the same truth, and makes St. Stephen’s words as it were his text to emphasise the real power and worship of God: “atque similiter hic Judæi atque illic Græci castigantur” (Blass), cf. the teaching of our Lord in John 4:21 (and see Flumptre’s note on this passage in Acts).— καθὼς προφ., Isaiah 66:1-2 (LXX). The quotation is almost identical with few slight changes, as e.g.,


Verse 49

Acts 7:49. τίς τόπος for ποῖος, and οὐχὶ introducing the conclusion instead of γάρ-Although Solomon had expressed this same truth in the dedicatory prayer of his temple, St. Stephen appeals to the great Messianic prophet. It is not, as some have thought, the worthlessness of the temple, but rather its relative value upon which Stephen insists. Those who take the former view of the words must suppose that St. Stephen had forgotten that Solomon had given utterance to the same thought at the moment when he was consecrating the temple (so Wendt, Felten, McGiffert, in loco). Weiss sees in the question another proof of the thought running through the whole address, that God’s presence, with the blessings which He confers and the revelations which He imparts, is not confined to the temple: cf. the use of the same quotation as here against the Jews, Epist. Barn., xvi., 2, after the destruction of the temple.


Verse 51

Acts 7:51. σκληροτράχηλοι καὶ ἀπερίτμητοι τῇ καρδίᾳ, cf. Exodus 33:3; Exodus 33:5; Exodus 34:9, Deuteronomy 9:6, Baruch 2:30, etc., Sirach 16:11 (cf. Cicero, Verr., iii., 95, “tantis cervicibus est”). Both adjectives had been used to describe the sins of Israel in former days. On this reading see above and Wendt, critical note, p. 190, cf. Kennedy, Sources of N. T. Greek, p. 116. For the expression ἀπερ., cf. Deuteronomy 10:16, Jeremiah 4:4, and ἀπερ. τὰ ὦτα, Jeremiah 6:10. In the N.T. cf. Romans 2:25; Romans 2:29 (which sounds like another echo of St. Stephen’s teaching), cf. also Epist. Baru., ix. (Jeremiah 4:4). Similar expressions occur in Philo and the Rabbis, and also 1 Maccabees 1:48; 1 Maccabees 2:46, and see further Deissmann, Bibelstudien, pp. 150, 151. Many writers have maintained that St. Stephen’s sharp and abrupt declaration marks the increasing impatience of his hearers at this point, as if the speaker felt that the murmurs of his audience would not allow him much more speech. But on the other hand St. Stephen’s whole speech led up to this point, and his words were not so much an interruption, but a continuance and a summary of what had gone before. No doubt the speech was left unfinished: “cujus cursus ad Iesum tendebat” (Blass); since in His rejection the obstinacy of the people which had marked and marred their history had reached its climax; and the indignant words of St. Stephen bring to mind the indignation of a greater than he against the hyprocrisy and wilfulness of the nation—“the wrath of the Lamb” against the Pharisees and the oppressors (Briggs, Messiah of the Apostles, p. 68).— ἀεὶ: “summa tractationis—semper quotiescumque vocamini” Bengel.— ἀντιπίπτετε, cf. Numbers 27:14, of Israel striving against God, and also in Polyb. and Plut.


Verse 52

Acts 7:52. τίνα τῶν προφ.— ἀσυνδέτως, to mark the vehemence of the speech, as above, Acts 7:51 : cf. 2 Chronicles 36:16 for the general statement, and for individual cases, Jeremiah, Amos, and probably Isaiah, the prophet just quoted. We may compare the words of our Lord, Matthew 5:12, Luke 13:34, and also Luke 11:49, Matthew 23:29-37 where the same words ἐδίωξαν and ἀπέκτειναν are used of the treatment of the prophets.— καὶ ἀπέκ.: “they even slew”—perhaps the force of καί (Wendt), “they slew them also” (Rendall).— ἐλεύσεως: only here in the N.T., not in LXX or Apocrypha, or in classical writers, but found in Acta Thomæ 28, and in Iren., i., 10, in plural, of the first and second advent of Christ (see also Dion. Hal., iii., 59).— τοῦ δικαίου, see Acts 3:14 and note. It has been suggested that it is used here and elsewhere of our Lord from His own employment of the same word in Matthew 23:29, where He speaks of the tombs τῶν δικαίων whom the fathers had slain whilst the children adorned their sepulchres. But it is more probable that the word was applied to our Lord from the LXX use of it, cf. Isaiah 53:11. Even those Jews who rejected the idea of an atoning Messiah acknowledged that His personal righteousness was His real claim to the Messianic dignity, Weber, Jüdische Theologie, p. 362; Taylor, Sayings of the Jewish Fathers, p. 185, second edition. We cannot forget that one of those present who heard St. Stephen’s burning words was himself to see the Just One and to carry on the martyr’s work, cf. Acts 22:14, ἰδεῖν τὸν δίκαιον κ. τ. λ.— νῦν ἐγένεσθε: “of whom ye have now become,” R.V., the spirit of their fathers was still alive, and they had acted as their fathers had done; ὑμεῖς again emphatic.


Verse 53

Acts 7:53. οἴτινες, quippe qui (“ye who,” R.V.), as often in Acts and Epistles not simply for identification, but when as here the conduct of the persons already mentioned is further enlarged upon (Alford), cf. Acts 8:15, Acts 9:35, Acts 10:41; Acts 10:47, and Winer-Schmiedel, p. 235, but see also Blass, Grammatik, p. 169.— εἰς διαταγὰς ἀγγέλων: “as it was ordained by angels,” R.V. εἰς: at the appointment of, cf. its use in Matthew 12:41, or better εἰς as in Acts 7:21 = received the law as ordinances of angels ( νόμον being regarded as an aggregate of single acts and so with plural “ordinances”), so Rendall, who takes εἰς = ὡς, and Page, cf. Hebrews 11:8, i.e., it was no human ordinance. But see on the other hand Wendt’s note, p. 192, where he points out that the law was not received as commands given by angels but by God. This was undoubtedly the case, but St. Stephen was here probably referring to the current tradition in Philo and Josephus, and LXX, Deuteronomy 33:2. ἐκ δεξιῶν αὐτοῦ ἄγγελοι μετʼ αὐτοῦ, cf. Ps. 67:17; Philo, De Somn., p. 642 Mang., so Jos., Ant., xv., 5, 3, and also Book of Jubilees, chap. i. (see Wetstein and Lightfoot (J. B.) on Galatians 3:19). Others again take εἰς = ἐν, “accepistis legem ab angelis promulgatam” = διατασσόντων ἀγγέλων, so Blass. Certainly it does not seem possible to take διαταγή = διάταξις = agmen dispositium (cf. Judith 1:4; Judith 8:36), and to render “præsentibus angelorum ordinibus,” so that here also εἰς = ἐν (Meyer and others). Lightfoot (J.) takes the “angels” as = Moses and the Prophets; Surenhusius as = the elders of the people, whilst St. Chrysostom sees a reference to the angel of the burning bush. It must not be thought that St. Stephen is here depreciating the Law. From a Christian standpoint it might of course be urged that as Christ was superior to the angels, so the introduction of angels showed the inferiority of the Law to the Gospel (cf. Hebrews 2:2, Galatians 3:19), but St. Stephen’s point is that although the Law had been given with such notable sanctions, yet his hearers had not kept it, and that therefore they, not he, were the real law-breakers.— οὐκ ἐφύλαξατε: “cum omnibus phylacteriis vestris,” Bengel. Note the rhetorical power of the words cf. Acts 7:25 (Page).


Verse 54

Acts 7:54. No charge could have been more hateful to such an audience, cf. our Lord’s words, John 7:19; see Schürer, Jewish People, vol ii., div. ii., p. 90 ff., E.T. Schürer twice quotes St. Paul’s words, pp. 96, 124, ζῆλον θεοῦ ἔχουσιν ἀλλʼ οὐ κατʼ ἐπίγνωσιν: no words could better characterise the entire tendency of the Judaism of the period.— διεπρίοντο, cf. Acts 5:33.— ἔβρυχον: not elsewhere in N.T., in LXX, Job 16:10 (9), Psalms 34(5):16, 36(7):12, cf. 111(12):10; Lamentations 2:16, cf. Plutarch, Pericles, 33 (without ὀδόντας, intransitive). The noun βρύχη is found in the same sense, Ap. Rh., ii., 83, of brute passion, not the despair so often associated with the cognate noun; cf. Matthew 8:12; Matthew 13:42, etc.


Verse 55

Acts 7:55. ἀτενίσας, cf. Acts 1:10, εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν, cf. John 17:1, “ubi enim est oculus, ibi est cor et amor”. In the power of the Holy Ghost, with which Stephen is represented as being full, as in life so in death, he saw δόξαν θεοῦ, in which He had appeared to Abraham, cf. Acts 7:2, πλήρης, “crescente furore hostium, in Stephano crescit robur spiritus, omnisque fructus Spiritus,” Bengel.— ἰησοῦν ἑστῶτα: elsewhere He is represented as sitting, Acts 2:34. If St. Luke had placed this saying in the mouth of St. Stephen in imitation of the words of Jesus, 21:64, Mark 16:19, Luke 22:69, he would, without doubt, have described Him as sitting, cf. also the expression “Son of Man,” only here outside the Gospels, and never in the Epistles (Revelation 1:13, a doubtful instance), a noteworthy indication of the primitive date and truthfulness of the expression and the report. See especially Wendt’s note on p. 194 (1888). Standing, as if to succour and to receive His servant, ἵνα δείξῃ τὴν ἀντίληψιν τὴν εἰς αὐτόν (Oecum., and so Chrys.); “quasi obvium Stephano,” Bengel, so Zöckler, and see Alford’s note and Collect for St. Stephen’s day. St. Augustine represents Christ as standing: “ut Stephano stanti, patienti, et reo, ipse quoque stans, quasi patiens et reus compatiatur”. Alford supposes reference in the vision to that of Zechariah 3:1.— ἐκ δεξιῶν: as the place of honour, cf. 1 Kings 2:19, Matthew 20:21. The Sanhedrin would recall the words “the Son of Man,” as they had been spoken by One Who was Himself the Son of Man, and in Whom, as in His follower, they had seen only a blasphemer. On the expression “Son of Man” cf. Charles, Book of Enoch, Appendix B, p. 312 ff., and Witness of the Epistles, p. 286 1892).


Verse 57

Acts 7:57. κράξαντες: so as to silence him.— συνέσχον τὰ ὦτα αὐτῶν: in order that the words which they regarded as so impious should not be heard, cf. Matthew 26:65. Blass compares the phrase LXX, Isaiah 52:15, καὶ συνέξουσι βασιλεῖς τὸ στόμα αὐτῶν.— ὥρμησανἐπʼ αὐτόν, cf. 2 Maccabees 10:16, and in several places in 2 Macc. the verb is found with the same construction (although not quite in the same sense).


Verse 58

Acts 7:58. ἔξω τῆς πόλεως: according to the law, Leviticus 24:14, so in Luke 4:29, our Lord is cast out of Nazareth to be stoned.— ἐλιθοβόλουν: as guilty of blasphemy. St. Stephen’s closing remarks were in the eyes of his judges a justification of the charge; imperf. as in Acts 7:59, see note below. The judicial forms were evidently observed, at least to some extent (Weiss attributes the introduction of the witnesses to a reviser), and whilst the scene was a tumultuous one, it was quite possible that it was not wholly bereft of judicial appearances.— μάρτυρες: whose part it was to throw the first stone, cf. Deuteronomy 17:7 (John 8:7).— ἀπέθεντο τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτῶν: to perform their cruel task with greater ease and freedom, cf. Acts 22:20.— νεανίου: only used in Acts, where it occurs three or four times, Acts 20:9, Acts 23:17 (18), several times in LXX. It has been thought (Wendt) that the term could not have been used of Saul if he had been married, or if he was at this time a widower, but if νεανίας might be used to denote any man of an age between twenty-four and forty, like Latin adulescens and the Hebrew נַעַר, Genesis 41:12 (Grimm-Thayer), Saul might be so described. Josephus applies the term to Agrippa I. when he was at least forty. Jos., Ant., xviii., 6, 7. See further on Acts 26:10.— σαύλου: “If the Acts are the composition of a second-century writer to whom Paul was only a name, then the introduction of this silent figure in such a scene is a masterpiece of dramatic invention” (Page, Acts, Introd., xxxi.); for the name see below on Acts 13:9, and also on its genuineness, Zahn, Einleitung in das N. T., ii., 49, as against Krenkel. Of Saul’s earlier life we gather something from his own personal notices, see notes on Acts 22:3, Acts 23:6, Acts 24:14, Acts 26:4, and cf. Acts 9:13. He was a Hebrew sprung from Hebrews, Philippians 3:5; he was a Roman citizen, and not only so, but a Tarsian, a citizen of no mean city; cf. for the two citizenships, Acts 21:39 (Acts 9:11) and Acts 22:27, “Citizenship,” Hastings’ B.D.; Zahn, u. s., p. 48; Ramsay, St. Paul, p. 30. Zahn, u. s., pp. 35, 49, maintains that Saul’s family had only recently settled in Tarsus (but see Ramsay, u. s.), and defends the tradition that his parents had come there from Gischala, their son being born to them in Tarsus. On Saul’s family and means see notes on Acts 23:16 and Acts 24:26. But whatever his Roman and Tarsian citizenship may have contributed to his mental development, St. Paul’s own words clearly lead us to attach the highest and most significant influence to the Jewish side of his nature and character. Paul’s Pharisaism was the result not only of his training under Gamaliel, but also of the inheritance which he claimed from his father and his ancestors (Acts 23:6, φαρισαίων not φαρισαίου, cf. Galatians 1:14). His early years were passed away from Jerusalem, Acts 26:4 (the force of τε (R.V.) and the expression ἐν τῷ ἔθνει μου, Zahn, u. s., p. 48), but his home-training could not have been neglected (cf. 2 Timothy 1:3), and when he went up to the Holy City at an early stage to study under Gamaliel (Acts 22:3, ἀνατεθραμμένος, on its force see Sabatier L’Apôtre Paul, p. 30) he “lived a Pharisee,” and nothing else than his well-known zeal is needed to account for his selection to his dreadful and solemn office at St. Stephen’s martyrdom. As a Pharisee he had been “a separated one,” and had borne the name with pride, not suspecting that a day was at hand when he would speak of himself as ἀφωρισμένος in a far higher and fuller sense, Romans 1:1, Galatians 1:15 (Zahn, u. s., p. 48); as a Pharisee he was “separated from all filthiness of heathenism” around (Nivdal), but he was to learn that the Christian life was that of the true “Chasid,” and that in contrast to all Pharisaic legalism and externalism there was a cleansing ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, a perfecting holiness in the fear of God—God Who chooseth before all temples the upright heart and pure-(Edersheim, Jewish Social Life, p. 231). On the question whether St. Paul ever saw our Lord in the flesh, see Keim, Geschichte Jesu, i., 35, 36, and references, and for the views of more recent writers, Witness of the Epistles (Longmans), chaps. i. and ii.


Verse 59

Acts 7:59. καὶ ἐλιθ. τὸν σ. ἐπικ.: imperf., as in Acts 7:58, “quia res morte demum (60) perficitur,” Blass. ἐπικ., present participle, denoting, it would seem, the continuous appeal of the martyr to his Lord. Zeller, Overbeck and Baur throw doubt upon the historical truth of the narrative on account of the manner in which the Sanhedrists’ action is divided between an utter absence of formal proceedings and a punctilious observance of correct formalities; but on the other hand Wendt, note, p. 195 (1888), points out with much force that an excited and tumultuous crowd, even in the midst of a high-handed and illegal act, might observe some legal forms, and the description given by St. Luke, so far from proceeding from one who through ignorance was unable to distinguish between a legal execution and a massacre, impresses us rather with a sense of truthfulness from the very fact that no attempt is made to draw such a distinction of nicely balanced justice, less or more. The real difficulty lies in the relations which the scene presupposes between the Roman Government and the Sanhedrim. No doubt at this period the latter did not possess the power to inflict capital punishment (Schürer, Jewish People, div. ii., vol. i., p. 187, E.T.), as is evident from the trial of our Lord. But it may well be that at the time of Stephen’s murder Roman authority was somewhat relaxed in Judæa. Pilate had just been suspended from his functions, or was on the point of being so, and he may well have been tired of refusing the madness and violence of the Jews, as Renan supposes, or at all events he may well have refrained, owing to his bad odour with them, from calling them to account for their illegal action in the case before us (see McGiffert, Apostolic Age, p. 91). It is of course possible that the stoning took place with the connivance of the Jewish authorities, as Weizsâcker allows, or that there was an interval longer than Acts supposes between the trial of Stephen and his actual execution, during which the sanction of the Romans was obtained. In the absence of exact dates it is difficult to see why the events before us should not have been transacted during the interregnum between the departure of Pontius Pilate, to answer before Tiberius for his misgovernment, and the arrival of Marcellus, the next Procurator. If this was so, we have an exact historical parallel in the illegal murder of James the Just, who was tried before the high priest, and stoned to death, since Ananias thought that he had a good opportunity for his violence when Festus was dead, and Albinus was still upon his road (Jos., Ant., xx., 9, 1). But if this suggestion of an interregnum is not free from difficulties, we may further take into consideration the fact that the same Roman officer, Vitellius, prefect of Syria, who had caused Pilate to be sent to Rome in disgrace, was anxious at the same time to receive Jewish support, and determined to effect his object by every means in his power. Josephus, Ant., xviii., 4, 2–5, tells us that Vitellius sent a friend of his own, Marcellus, to manage the affairs of Judæa, and that, not content with this, he went up to Jerusalem himself to conciliate the Jews by open regard for their religion, as well as by the remission of taxation. It is therefore not difficult to conceive that both the murder of Stephen and the persecution which followed were connived at by the Roman government; see, in addition to the above references, Rendall’s Acts, Introd., p. 19 ff.; Farrar, St. Paul, i., p. 648 ff., and note, p. 649. But this solution of the difficulty places the date of Saul’s conversion somewhat late—A.D. 37—and is entirely at variance with the earlier chronology adopted not only by Harnack (so too by McGiffert), but here by Ramsay, St. Paul, 376, 377, who places St. Stephen’s martyrdom in A.D. 33 at the latest. In the account of the death of Stephen, Wendt, following Weiss, Sorof, Clemen, Hilgenfeld, regards Acts 7:58 b, Acts 8:1 a, 3, as evidently additions of the redactor, although he declines to follow Weiss and Hilgenfeld in passing the same judgment on Acts 7:55 (and 56, according to H.), and on the last words of Stephen in Acts 7:59 b. The second ἐλιθοβόλουν in 59b, which Hilgenfeld assigns to his redactor, and Wendt now refers to the action of the witnesses, as distinct from that of the whole crowd, is repeated with dramatic effect, heightened by the present participle, ἐπικ., “ruthless violence on the one side, answered by continuous appeals to heaven on the other”; see Rendall’s note, in loco.ἐπικ.: “calling upon the Lord,” R.V. (“calling upon God,” A.V.), the former seems undoubtedly to be rightly suggested by the words of the prayer which follow—on the force of the word see above, Acts 2:21.— κύριε ἰησοῦ, δέξαι τὸ πνεῦμά μου: a direct prayer to our Lord, cf. for its significance and reality, Zahn, “Die Anbetung Jesu” (Skizzen aus dem Leben der alten Kirche, pp. 9, 288), Liddon, Our Lord’s Divinity, lect. vii.; cf. Luke 23:46. (Weiss can only see an imitation of Luke, and an interpolation here, because the kneeling, and also another word follow before the surrender of the spirit; but see on the other hand the remarks of Wendt, note, p. 196.)


Verse 60

Acts 7:60. θεὶς δὲ τὰ γόνατα: a phrase not used in classical writers, but Blass compares Ovid, Fasti, ii., 438; five times in St. Luke’s writings, Luke 22:41, Acts 9:40; Acts 20:36; Acts 21:5; only once elsewhere in N.T., Mark 15:19. The attitude of kneeling in prayer would no doubt commend itself to the early believers from the example of their Lord. Standing would seem to have been the more common attitude among the Jews, but cf. instances in the O.T. of kneeling in prayer, LXX, 1 Kings 8:54, Ezra 9:5, Daniel 6:10, and also the expression used twice by St. Paul, κάμπτειν τὰ γόνατα, 1 Chronicles 29:20, 1 Esdras 8:73, Isaiah 45:23, etc., Ephesians 3:14, and Philippians 2:10 (Romans 11:4; Romans 14:11). See Friedrich, Das Lucasevangelium, p. 42.— φωνῇ μεγάλῃ, cf. Luke 23:46. The last final effort of the strong love which showed itself also in the martyr’s bended knees (see Wendt, in loco), Eusebius, H. E., v., 2, tells us how the martyrs of Vienne and Lyons took up St. Stephen’s words in their own prayer for their persecutors (cf. the famous instance of the last words of Sir Thomas More before his judges, and Dante, Purgatorio, xv., 106 ff., on the dying Stephen): μὴ στήσῃς αὐτοῖς τὴν ἁμαρτίαν ταύτην: the negative expression best corresponds to the positive ἀφιέναι τὴν ἁμαρτίαν (Wendt), cf. 1 Maccabees 13:38-39; 1 Maccabees 15:5; 1 Maccabees 15:8, where the contrast marked between ἱστάναι and ἀφιέναι seems to favour this explanation. Blass takes it as marking a contrast like that between ἱστάναι and ἀναιρεῖν, cf. Hebrews 10:9. Weiss lays stress upon ταύτην, and regards the prayer as asking that their present sin might not be weighed out to them in an equivalent punishment, cf. Grotius on the Hebrew שָׁקַל, 1 Kings 20:39, whilst De Wette (so Felten) takes it as simply “reckon it not,” i.e., “weigh it not,” cf. Zechariah 11:12. Schöttgen sees a reference to the Rabbinical notion “si quis bonum aut malum opus facit, hoc sequitur eum, et stat juxta eum in mundo futuro,” Revelation 14:13, and cf. a similar view quoted by Farrar, St. Paul, i., 167. Rendall regards it as a judicial term, as if Stephen appealed to Christ as Judge not to impute their sin to the murderers in condemnation (Romans 10:3). The words of St. Stephen again recall the words of his Master, Luke 23:34, words which (Eusebius, H. E., cf. ii., 20) also formed the dying prayer of James, “the Lord’s brother”. In James as in Stephen we may see how the true Christian character, whilst expressing itself in righteous indignation against hypocrisy and wrong, never failed to exhibit as its counterpart the meekness and gentleness of Christ.— ἐκοιμήθη (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:18), a picture-word of rest and calmness which stands in dramatic contrast to the rage and violence of the scene. The word is used of death both in LXX and in classical Greek, cf., e.g., Isaiah 14:8; Isaiah 14:18; Isaiah 43:17, 1 Kings 11:43, 2 Maccabees 12:45, etc.; Homer, Il., xi., 241; Soph., Elect., 509. Blass well says of this word, “sed nullo loco æque mirandum,” and describes the reference in Homer, κοιμήσατο χάλκεον ὕπνον, as “et simile et dissimile”: Christians sleep in death, but no “brazen sleep”; they sleep ἐν χριστῷ; simple words which formed the epitaph on many a Christian grave—in Him, Who is Himself “the Resurrection and the Life”. Page notes the cadence of the word expressing rest and repose, cf. Farrar, St. Paul, i., 167, note, and ἀκωλύτως, Acts 28:31.

St. Stephen’s Speech.—Many and varied explanations have been given of the drift and purpose of St. Stephen’s address. But the various explanations need not be mutually exclusive, and St. Stephen, like a wise scribe instructed unto the kingdom, might well bring out of his treasury things new and old. It is often said, e.g., that the address is no reply to the charges alleged, that it would be more intelligible how the charges were framed from a perversion of the speech, than how the speech could be framed out of the charges; whilst, on the other hand, it is possible to see from the opening to the closing words an implicit repudiation of the charges of blasphemy against God and contempt of the law. The speech opens with a declaration of the divine majesty of Jehovah; it closes with a reference to the divine sanction of the law, and with the condemnation of those who had not kept it. This implicit repudiation by Stephen of the charges brought against him is also contained in St. Chrysostom’s view of the purpose of the martyr, viz., that he designed to show that the covenant and promises were before the law, and sacrifice and the law before the temple. This view, which was adopted by Grotius and Calvin, is in some degree retained by Wendt (so also Felten), who sums up the chief aim of the speech as a demonstration that the presence of God is not confined to the holy place, the temple, but that long before the temple was built, and before the people had settled in the promised land, God had given to the fathers a share in the proofs of this revelation, and that too in strange countries (although there is no reason to suppose that Stephen went so far as to contend that Jew and Gentile were on a precisely equal footing). But Wendt is conscious that this view does not account for the whole of the speech, and that it does not explain the prominence given in it to the obstinacy of Israel against the revelation of God vouchsafed to Moses, with which the counter accusation against Stephen is so closely connected (see Spitta’s severe criticism, Apostelgeschichte, pp. 111, 112, and Weizsäcker’s evident failure to maintain the position that the climax of the whole address is to be found in the declaration about Solomon’s temple, which he is obliged to explain as a later thought belonging to a later time, Apostolic Age, i., pp. 68–71, E.T.). Thus in his last edition, p. 151 (1899), he points out that in section Acts 7:35-43, as also in Acts 7:25; Acts 7:27, the obstinacy of the people against Moses, sent to be their deliverer, is evidently compared with their obstinacy in rejecting Jesus as the Messiah, and in Acts 7:51-53 the murder of Jesus is condemned as a fresh proof of the opposition of the people to God’s revelation to them: here is a point of view which in Wendt’s judgment evidently had a share in the composition of the address. Wendt urges his view against the older one of Meyer and to some extent at all events that of Baur, Zeller and Overbeck, that the central point of the speech is to be found in Acts 7:51, to which the whole preceding sketch of the history of the people led up: however great had been the benefits bestowed by God upon His people, on their part there had been from the beginning nothing in return but a corresponding thanklessness and resistance to this purpose. McGiffert, Apostolic Age, pp. 87, 88, also recognises that the theme of the address is to be found in Acts 7:51-53, but he also admits the double purpose of St. Stephen, viz., not only to show (as Meyer and others) that at all stages of their history Israel had been stiffnecked and disobedient, but also (as Wendt) to draw a parallel between their conduct and the treatment of Jesus by those whom he is addressing.

This leads us to a consideration of the view of Spitta as to the main purpose of St. Stephen’s speech. Whatever may be thought of its merits, it gives a unity to the speech which is wanting in many earlier and more recent expositions of it, as Hilgenfeld recognises, although he himself holds a different view, and one essentially similar to that of Baur. According to Spitta, in Acts 7:2-16 we have an introduction to the chief section of the address which begins with Acts 7:17, καθὼς δὲ ἤγγιζεν χρόνος τῆς ἐπαγ. Moses, Acts 7:20, was the person through whom God would save His people, and lead them to His true service in the promised land, Acts 7:7; Acts 7:35; Acts 7:38; Acts 7:44. If we ask why Moses occupies this important place in the speech, the answer is found in Acts 7:37, which forms the central point of the description of Moses, and divides it into two parts (a verse in which Clemen and Hilgenfeld can only see an interpolation of a redactor, and in which Weiss finds something suspicious, see Zöckler’s note, in loco). In the first part, 17–36, we are told how Moses by divine and miraculous guidance grows up to be the deliverer of Israel. But when he would commence his work of deliverance his brethren will not understand his aim and reject him, 23–28. In the wilderness he receives a fresh commission from God to undertake the delivery of the people, 29–34. But this Moses ( οὗτος) who was thus repulsed God had sent to be a ruler and deliverer—this man was he who led these people forth—and it was this Moses who said to the children: “A prophet” etc., Acts 7:37. Why is this prophecy introduced except to support the inference that as Moses, a type of the Messiah, was thus repulsed, and afterwards raised to be a ruler and deliverer, so must, according to Moses’ own words, the Messiah of Israel be first rejected by His people? In the next division, Acts 7:38-50, the same parallel is again instituted between Moses and the Messiah. The former had delivered a law which consisted of “living oracles,” but instead of receiving it, Israel had given themselves up to the worship of idols, 35–43; instead of establishing a worship well-pleasing to God, those who came after Moses, not content with the tabernacle, which was not confined to one place, and which represented the heavenly archetype, had built a temple which called forth the cutting words of the prophet, 47–50. In his explanation of these last verses there lies at least one weakness of Spitta’s explanation, for he does not seem in his disapproval of the temple to allow that it had even a relative value, and that Solomon was well aware that God did not dwell only in temples made with hands. But Spitta’s main point is to trace again a connection with the verse which forms his centre, Acts 7:37 (Deuteronomy 18:15). As Moses in vain communicated a spiritual law and a corresponding worship to a people whose heart turned after idols and the service of a temple, so the Messiah must also experience that the carnal mind of the people would oppose His revelation of the divine will in relation to a rightful service. Thus the whole speech becomes a proof of the Messiahship of Jesus as against those who appealed to the authority of Moses, and saw in Jesus a twofold cause of offence: (1) that He was rejected by His people and crucified; (2) that He had treated with impiety that which they held most sacred—the law and the temple.

In all this Spitta sees no direct answer to the false witnesses; but the speech, he maintains, is much rather an answer to the two causes of offence which must have been discussed in every synagogue, and which the infant Church must have been obliged to face from the first, especially as it took its stand upon the proof that Jesus was the Christ. Stephen in his disputations, Acts 6:9, must have often faced opponents who thus sought to invalidate the Messianic claims of Jesus; what more natural than that he should now repeat before the whole assembly the proofs which he had before given in the synagogue, where no one could resist the spirit and the wisdom with which he spake? In this way Spitta maintains that the charges in Acts 7:52-53 occupy their proper place; the Jews had rejected the prophets—Moses and his successors—finally they rejected the Messiah, whom the prophets had foretold (Apostelgeschichte, p. 105 ff.). Whatever strictures we may be inclined to pass upon Spitta (see, e.g., Wendt in new edition, 1899, pp. 150, 151), it is not unlikely that he has at all events grasped what others have failed to see, viz., that in the nature of the case, Stephen in his ἀπολογία, or counter-accusation—whichever it was—could not have been unmindful of the Prophet like unto Moses, whom Moses had foretold: his dying prayer revealed the Name, not uttered in the speech, which was enshrined in his inmost heart; Jesus was the Christ—He came οὐ καταλῦσαι ἀλλὰ πληρῶσαι, whether that fulfilment was made by a spiritual temple or a spiritual law. In thus keeping the thought of Jesus of Nazareth prominent throughout the speech, whilst not actually uttering His Name, in thus comparing Moses and Christ, Stephen was answering the charges made against him. “This Nazarene” (so it was said in the charge made against Stephen) “would destroy this place and change the customs,” etc.—the prophet Moses had given the people living oracles, not a law which should stifle the spirit in the letter; the prophet Isaiah had spoken of a presence of God far transcending that which filled any earthly temple; and if these prophets had pointed on to the Messiah, and if the Nazarene were indeed the Christ thus foretold, what wonder that He should reveal a commandment unto life, and a worship of the Father in spirit and in truth? Nor must it be forgotten that if Stephen was interrupted before his speech was concluded, he may well have intended to drive home more closely the manifest fulfilment in Christ of the deliverance dimly foreshadowed in the work of Moses and in the freedom from Egyptian bondage. This was the true parallel between Moses and the Messiah on which the Rabbis were wont to dwell. Thus the Messiah, in comparison with Moses, was the second, but in comparison with all others the great, deliverer; as Moses led Israel out of Egypt, so would the Messiah accomplish the final deliverance, and restore Israel to their own land (Weber, Jüdische Theologie, pp. 359, 364 (1897)). It is to be observed that Spitta warmly supports the historical character of the speech, which he ascribes without interpolations to his source A, although in Acts 7:55-60 he refers some “insertions” to B. His criticism as against the tendency critics, especially Overbeck, is well worth consulting (pp. 110–123), and he quotes with approval the judgment of Gfrörer—“I consider this speech unreservedly as the oldest monument of Gospel history”. So too Clemen, pp. 97, 288, allows that the speech is essentially derived, with the exception of Acts 7:37, as also the whole chapter with the exception of Acts 7:60, from an old written source, H.H., Historia Hellenistarum; and amongst more recent writers, McGiffert holds that whilst many maintain that the author of the Acts composed the speech and put it into the mouth of Stephen, its contents are against such a supposition, and that Luke undoubtedly got the substance of the discourse from an early source, and reproduced it with approximate accuracy (p. 89 and note). So Weiss refers the speech to his Jewish-Christian source, and refuses to admit that with its profound knowledge of the O.T. it could have been composed by the author of the book. The attempt of Feine (so also Holtzmann and Jüngst) to split up the speech into two distinct parts is based upon the idea that in one part an answer is made to the charge that Stephen had spoken against God, and that the other part contains an answer to the charge that he had spoken against the temple. The first part is contained in Acts 7:2-21; Acts 7:29-34; Acts 7:44-50, and the second part in Acts 7:22-28; Acts 7:35-43; Acts 7:51-53. The latter sections are taken from Feine’s Jerusalem source; they are then added to those which belong to a new source, and finally combined by the canonical Luke. Hilgenfeld may well ask how it is possible to break up in this manner the narrative part of the speech relating to Moses, so as to regard Acts 7:22-28 as a section atien from what precedes and what follows! (see especially Hilgenfeld’s criticism on Feine, Zeitschrift für wissenschaft. Theol., p. 396 (1895) and Knabenbauer, p. 120); on the truthful record of the speech see Lightfoot’s striking remarks “Acts,” B.D.2, i., p. 33. Whatever may be said as to the various difficulties which the speech contains, two things are apparent: (1) that these difficulties do not touch the main drift of the argument; (2) that the fact of their presence, where their removal was easy, bears witness to the accuracy of the report.

 


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Bibliography Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Acts 7:4". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/acts-7.html. 1897-1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, August 24th, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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