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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Acts 7

Verses 1-60

    1. ABRAHAM! (7:1-8)
    2. Are these things true – in our present day court system, “How do you plead guilty, or not guilty?”
    3. This trial provided a forum for Stephen to speak with passion & persuasion in the triumph of the Spirit.
      1. Stephen’s speech is important in understanding the way in which the gospel moved from its Jewish beginnings to a Gentile world.
      2. God is not “tied down to a land”(i.e. Israel) though He gave that as a blessing to the Jews.
        1. God worked in their lives much more outside the Promised Land than within.
        2. Think of the “landless” Abraham(in Mesopotamia); Moses in the wilderness; the Joseph down in Egypt; Esther in Persia; Daniel, Jeremiah & Ezekiel in Babylon.
    4. The Jews tended to think that God is a tribal God, “the God of Israel, His chosen people.”
      1. From this Jewish Nationalistic point of view, access to God could only be attained through the priests in Jerusalem & the sacrifices in the Jewish Temple. [Multiple synagogues were not substitutes for the Temple, only reflections of it]
      2. From Stephen’s Biblical view point, he realized God was not a tribal God, but was Sovereign over the whole universe.
        1. He was not only God of Israel, but of every nation on earth!
    5. Stephen knew the Temple & Law were valid, yet not the exclusive means of finding God. (a person doesn’t need to become a Jew in order to get to God!)
      1. He is paving the way here for the Samaritans & the Gentiles.
    6. Note 2 indirect references to Samaria:
      1. (16) Shechem [which is in Samaria]
      2. (37) A prophet like me [only Messianic prophecy that the Samaritans had accepted]
    7. He knew the Samaritans would never accept worship at the Jewish Temple as a precondition for salvation through Jesus as Messiah.
      1. Here Stephen contextualizes the gospel for the Samaritans!
      2. There was nothing wrong with the Temple(he himself worshiped there) – but cross-culturally it was excess baggage if loaded onto the simple gospel of repentance for sin, & faith in Jesus Christ.
    8. JOSEPH! (9-16)
    9. God protected Joseph the prisoner in Egypt (9): God was always with him.
    10. God promoted Joseph to prime minister over Egypt (10–16): God gave him favor with Pharaoh.
    11. MOSES! (17-36)
    12. (34) Now come – Now? (after 40 years…now?)
    13. 1st 40 years he was down in Egypt (vs. 20-22). God promoted him.
    14. 2nd 40 years Fled to Midian (vs. 23-29). God prepared him.
    15. Final 40 years led the children of Israel in the wilderness (30-36). God empowered him.
    16. 40 yrs is a long time to wait for a mission! Yet when God delays, He is not inactive!
      1. This is when He prepares His instruments & matures our strength.
    17. God is never in a hurry. He spends years preparing those He plans to greatly use.
      1. Sometimes he uses the fires of prolonged pain (like Josephs long trial)
      2. There is a reason behind every lesson!
    18. God is in the process of educating us for future service & greater blessings.
      1. And if we have gained the qualities that make us ready for a throne, nothing will keep us from it, once His timing is right.
      2. He is never late…learn to wait!
      3. The second, minute, & hour hand must all point to the precise moment for action!
    19. Never refuse God’s incubator to form you in His image!
      1. Broiled Steaks – took them out too soon (too red in center).
        1. Don’t come out of His incubator too soon!
          1. S.T.F.(?); Griffith Thomas; Luke; pg.135
          2. Warren Wiersbe; With The Word; pg.712
    20. ISRAELS REBELS! (37-43)
    21. Esp. vs.39.
    22. TABERNACLE! (44-50)
    23. The portable tabernacle in the wilderness, which also was outside the Holy Land, could be used any place to bring people into contact with God!
    24. (50) The main thrust of Stephen’s message is that Israel always resisted the truth & rejected the deliverers God sent to them.
      1. They opposed Moses & repeatedly wanted to return to Egypt.
      2. They opposed Joseph & he later became their redeemer.
      3. They rejected the many prophets God sent to warn them & call them back to His way.
      4. Finally, the rejected their own Messiah, & crucified Him. (Warren Wiersbe; With The Word; pg.711)
    25. Israel’s history reveals the patience of God, & the hardness of man’s heart.
      1. But it also reveals a ray of hope: Israel rejected their deliverers the 1st time, but accepted them the 2nd time.
      2. That was true of Moses & Joseph & it will be true of Jesus when He returns.
    26. PERSONAL INDICTMENT! (51-53)
    27. His speech climaxed by accusing them of denying God’s prophets, Spirit, & Messiah.
      1. They are heathens at heart and deaf to the truth (51).
      2. They betrayed and murdered their own Messiah (52).
      3. They are deliberately disobeying God’s laws (53).
    28. PROTO-MARTYR! (54-60) [Proto-martyr = 1st in long line of “martyrs of Jesus”]
    29. (54) No time for an altar call…as he’s abruptly cut off.
      1. Before the Roman soldiers could be alerted, they drag him off, & throw him into a stoning pit, & quickly bludgeon him to death.
      2. His enemies couldn’t silence him intellectually, so they decided to take their only viable recourse & silence him physically.
        1. Can’t beat em…then beat em!
    30. (55) He gazed into heaven – He looked up, not back to the cross.
      1. We fellowship with a living, exalted, reigning, coming Lord!
      2. Poem: It is not looking back down the list of years, To see failures, sins, temptations, follies, fears,…and tears; Nor is it looking on, with hope all bright & fair,To meet, so often, bitter disappointment there,…and care. No, it is looking up, a living Christ to see,And leaning calmly, Lord, and, oh, so trustingly on Thee. (S.T.F.(?); Griffith Thomas; Luke; pg.135)
    31. (57) What was the trigger for violence? That he called them stiff-necked & uncircumcised in heart & ears? Nope!
      1. It was when he said vs.56 – “If Jesus was standing on the right hand of God, this would show the Christians right in the sight of God”…this was just too much for them!
    32. (58) Maybe this victorious death, was the human agency God used in Saul’s life that conquered Saul’s heart, to become the worlds greatest Christian missionary.
    33. (56,59) Both quotes are from Jesus during His ministry.
    34. (60) Stephen’s death was the 3rd murder in Israel’s history that became a turning point in God’s dealings w/the nation:
      1. They had rejected the Father when they allowed John the Baptist to be slain.
      2. They had rejected the Son when they asked for Jesus to be crucified.
      3. And now they had rejected the H.S. here wit Stephen’s death. (Warren Wiersbe; With The Word; pg.712)
    35. He fell asleep – because death for all believers is only the sleep of body & the awakening of the soul with Christ in glory!
    36. The name Stephen {stephanos} “a crown”.
      1. Be faithful, even to the point of death, & I will give you the crown of life. Rev.2:10
    37. Stephen serving, shining, sharing, suffering,…shining!
      1. Full of faith(6:5); full of Grace(6:8); full of Power(6:8); full of Light(6:15); full of Scripture(ch.7); full of Wisdom(6:3,10); full of courage(7:51-56); full of Love(7:60).
    38. Stephen’s death was not the end! - His death was another phase in the beginning of a new community that God was bringing into existence.
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Acts 7". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/acts-7.html. 2017.