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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies

Acts 7

Verse 1

Then said the high - priest. "The glorified countenance of Stephen has caused a pause of surprise and admiration, which the high - priest interrupts by calling upon the accused for his defense" (Gloag).

Verse 2

Brethren. Addressing the audience generally.

Fathers. Addressing the members of the Sanhedrim.

Of glory. Outward, visible glory, as in the shekinah and the pillar of fire.

Appeared [ωφθη] . See on Luke 22:43.

Verse 5

Inheritance [κληρονομιαν] . See on 1 Peter 1:4.

Not so much as to set his foot on [ουδε βημα ποδος] . Lit., not even the stepping of a foot. From the original meaning, a pace or step, which occurs only here in the New Testament, comes the sense of a step considered as a raised place or seat, and hence a tribune or judgment - seat, which is its meaning in every other passage of the New Testament.

Possession [κατασχεσιν] . Only here and ver. 45. See on keep, Luke 8:15. It denotes a permanent possession.

Verse 8

The covenant of circumcision. There is no article, and it is better omitted in rendering. He gave him a covenant, the peculiar character of which is defined by the next word - of circumcision; i e., of which circumcision was the completion and seal.

Verse 9

Moved with envy [ζηλωσαντες] . Compare James 4:1; and see on envying, James 3:14.

Verse 10

Afflictions [θλιψεων] See on Matthew 13:21.

Verse 11

Sustenance [χορτασματα] . For their cattle : fodder. See on shall be filled, Matthew 5:6.

Verse 12

In Egypt [εν αιγυπτω] . But the best texts read eijv Aigupton, into Egypt, and construe with sent forth : "he sent forth our fathers into Egypt."

Verse 13

Joseph 's race. Note the repetition of the name. "A certain sense of patriotic pride is implied in it."

Verse 14

Threescore and fifteen. Lit., "in [εν] threescore and fifteen;" the idiom expressing the sum in which all the individuals were included.

Verse 17

When [καθως] . Rev., more correctly, as; the word being not a particle of time, but meaning in proportion as.

Verse 18

Another [ετερος] . Not merely a successor, but a monarch of a different character.

Knew not. As sixty years had elapsed since Joseph 's death, and a new dynasty was coming to the throne, this may be taken literally : did not know his history and services. Some explain, did not recognize his merits.

Verse 19

Dealt subtilely [κατασοφισαμενος] . Only here in New Testament. Lit., to employ cunning against. See on sofov, wise, James 3:13.

So that they cast out [του ποιειν εκθετα] . Lit., make exposed. The verb ejktiqhmi, to set out, or place outside, is not uncommon in classical Greek for the exposure of a new - born child. Thus Herodotus, of Cyrus, exposed in infancy : "The herdsman's wife entreated him not to expose [εκθειναι] the babe" (1, 112). The rendering of the A. V., "so that they cast out," is correct, expressing the result, and not Pharaoh 's design.

Young children [βρεφη] . Incorrect. See on 1 Peter 2:2. Rev., rightly babes.

Live [ζωογονεισθαι] Or, be preserved alive. See on Luke 17:33.

Verse 20

Time [καιρω] . Better, season or juncture. "Sad, seasonable" (Bengel). See on Acts 1:7.

Exceeding air [αστειος τω θεω] . Lit., fair unto God : a Hebrew superlative. Compare Jonah 3:3 : great unto God; A. V., exceeding great. Genesis 10:9, of Nimrod : a mighty hunter before the Lord. 2 Corinthians 10:4 : mighty unto God; i e., in God 's sight. 'Asteiov, fair (only here and Hebrews 11:23), is from astu, a town, and means originally town - bred; hence refined, elegant, comely. The word is used in the Septuagint of Moses (Exodus 2:2), and rendered goodly. The Jewish traditions extol Moses ' beauty. Josephus says that those who met him, as he was carried along the streets, forgot their business and stood still to gaze at him.

Verse 21

Took up [ανειλετο] . Used among Greek writers of taking up exposed children; also of owning new - born children. So Aristophanes : "I exposed (the child) and some other woman, having taken it, adopted [ανειλετο] it" (" Clouds, " 531). There is no reason why the meaning should be limited to took him up from the water (as Gloag).

Verse 23

It came into his heart [ανεβη επι την καρδιαν] . Lit., "it arose into his heart." " There may be something in the depth of the soul which afterward emerges and ascends from that sea into the heart as into an island "(Bengel). The expression is imitated from the Hebrew, and occurs in the Septuagint :" The ark shall not come to mind; " lit., go up into the heart (Jeremiah 3:16). See, also, Jeremiah 32:35; Isaiah 65:17.

Verse 24

Defended [ημυνατο] . Only here in New Testament. The word means originally to ward off from one's self, with a collateral notion of requital or revenge.

Verse 25

Understood [συνιεναι] See on understanding, Mark 12:33.

Verse 26

Appeared [ωφθη] . With the suggestion of a sudden appearance as in a vision; possibly with the underlying notion of a messenger of God. See on Luke 22:43.

Would have set them at one [συνηλασεν αυτους εις ειρηνην] . Lit., drove them together to peace; urged them.

Verse 31

The sight [το οραμα] . Always in the New Testament of a vision. See on Matthew 17:9.

To behold [κατανοησαι] . See on Matthew 7:3. Compare Luke 12:24, Luke 12:27.

Verse 32

Trembled [εντρομος γενομενος] . Lit., having become trembling; having fallen into a tremor.

Verse 34

I have seen, I have seen [ιδων ειδον] . Lit., having seen I saw. A Hebraism. See Exodus 3:7 (Sept.). Compare Jude 1:28 : utterly drive them out; lit., removing did not utterly remove. Jude 1:4:9 : going I will go; i e., I will surely go. Genesis 37:8 : reigning shalt thou reign; i e., shalt thou indeed reign. So Rev. here, "I have surely seen."

Verse 35

Deliverer [λυτρωτη, ν] . Strictly, a ransomer or redeemer. Only here in New Testament, See on ransom, Matthew 20:28; and redeemed, 1 Peter 1:18.

By the hand [εν χειρι] The best texts read sun ceiri, "with the hand;" i e., in association with the protecting and helping power of the angel.

Verse 38

Lively. Better, living, as Rev. Compare 1 Peter 2:4, 1 Peter 2:5.

Verse 39

Turned back in their hearts. Not desiring to go back, but longing for the idolatries of Egypt.

Verse 40

Shall go before us. As symbols to be born before them on the march. Compare Nehemiah 9:18.

Verse 41

They made a calf [εμοσχοποιησαν] . Only here in New Testament, and not in Septuagint. Bengel says, "A very notorious crime is denoted by an extraordinary and newly - coined word." This was in imitation of the Egyptian bull - worship. Several of these animals were worshipped at different places in Egypt. Apis was worshipped at Memphis. Herodotus says : "Now this Apis, or Epaphus, is the calf of a cow which is never afterward able to bear young. The Egyptians say that fire comes down from heaven upon the cow, which thereupon conceives Apis. The calf which is so called has the following marks : He is black, with a square spot of white upon his forehead, and on his back the figure of an eagle. The hairs in his tail are double, and there is a beetle upon his tongue" (3, 28). He was regarded by the Egyptians, not merely as an emblem, but as a God. He was lodged in a magnificent court, ornamented with figures twelve cubits high, which he never quitted except on fixed days, when he was led in procession through the streets. His festival lasted seven days, and all came forward from their houses to welcome him as he passed. He was not allowed to reach the natural term of his life. If a natural death did not remove him earlier, he was drowned when he reached the age of twenty - five, and was then embalmed and entombed in one of the sepulchral chambers of the Serapeum, a temple devoted expressly to the burial of these animals.

Another sacred bull was maintained at Heliopolis, in the great Temple of the Sun, under the name of Mnevis, and was honored with a reverence next to Apis. Wilkinson thinks that it was from this, and not from Apis, that the Israelites borrowed their notions of the golden calf. "The offerings, dancing, and rejoicings practiced on the occasion, were doubtless in imitation of a ceremony they had witnessed in honor of Mnevis during their sojourn in Egypt" (" Ancient Egyptians, " 2 ser., vol 2 p. 197). A third sacred bull, called Bacis, was maintained at Hermonthis, near Thebes. It was a huge, black animal, and its hairs were said to grow the wrong way. Other bulls and cows did not hold the rank of gods, but were only sacred. Offered [αγνηγαγον] . Lit., led up. See on James 2:21.

Verse 42

To worship [λατρευειν] . Rev., more correctly, serve. See on Luke 1:74.

The host of heaven. Star - worship, or Sabaeanism, the remnant of the ancient heathenism of Western Asia, which consisted in the worship of the stars, and spread into Syria, though the Chaldaean religion was far from being the simple worship of the host of heaven; the heavenly bodies being regarded as real persons, and not mere metaphorical representations of astronomical phenomena. It is to the Sabaean worship that Job alludes when, in asserting the purity of his life (xxxi. 26, 27), he says : "If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness, and my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hands : this also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge : for I should have denied the God that is above." Though not a part of the religion of the Egyptians, Rawlinson thinks it may have been connected with their earlier belief, since prayer is represented in hieroglyphics by a man holding up his hands, accompanied by a star (Herodotus, vol 2 p. 291).

Verse 43

Tabernacle of Moloch. The portable tent - temple of the God, to be carried in procession. Moloch was an Ammonite idol to whom children were sacrificed. According to Rabbinical tradition, his image was hollow, heated from below, with the head of an ox and outstretched arms, into which children were laid, their cries being stifled by the beating of drums. Remphan. The texts vary between Remphan, Rephan, and Romphan. It is supposed to be the Coptic name for Saturn, to which the Arabs, Egyptians, and Phoenicians paid divine honors.

Verse 45

That came after [διαδεξαμενοι] . Only here in New Testament. The verb originally means to receive from one another, in succession; and that appears to be the more simple and natural rendering here : having received it (from Moses). Rev., very neatly, in their turn.

Jesus. Joshua. The names are the same, both signifying Savior. See on Matthew 1:21.

Into the possession [εν τη κατασχεσει] . Rev., when they entered on the possession. 15 Before the face [απο προσωπου] . More strictly, "away from the face." The same expression occurs in the Septuagint, Deuteronomy 11:23.

Verse 46

Desired [ητησατο] . More correctly, asked : through Nathan. See 2 Samuel 7:2.

Tabernacle [σκηνωμα] . It was not a tabernacle or tent which David proposed to build, but a house. See 2 Samuel 7:2. Rev., rightly, habitation. Compare oikon, a house, ver. 47 and 2 Chronicles 6:18.

Verse 48

The Most High. In contrast with heathen gods, who were confined to their temples.

Temples made with hands [χειροποιητοις ναοις] . The best texts omit naoiv, temples. The meaning is more general : in things made with hands. The expression is, however, used of a sanctuary in Isaiah 16:12 : "Moab shall come to his sanctuary [τα χειροποιητα] ." The phrase work, or works of men's hands, is common in the Old Testament of idols. See Deuteronomy 4:28; 2 Kings 19:18; 2 Chronicles 32:19; Psalms 115:4. Compare Mark 14:58; Ephesians 2:11; Hebrews 9:11, Hebrews 9:24; 2 Corinthians 5:1.

Verse 49

What house. Rev., more correctly, "what manner of house" [ποιον] .

Verse 51

Stiff - necked and uncircumcised [σκληροτραχηλοι και απεριτμητοι] . Both only here in New Testament.

Resist [αντιπιπτετε] . It is a very strong expression, implying active resistance. Lit., to fall against or upon. Used of falling upon an enemy. Only here in New Testament.

Ye have been [γεγενησθε] . More correctly, as Rev., ye have become.

Verse 53

Who [οιτινες] . Stronger than the simple relative who, and emphasizing their sin by contrast with their privileges : inasmuch as ye were those who received, etc.

By the disposition of angels [εις διαταγας αγγελων] . Lit., unto ordinances of angels. Eijv means with reference to. Disposition [διαταγη] is used by A. V. in the sense of arrangement, as we say a general disposed his troops. The word occurs only here and Romans 13:2, where it is rendered ordinance. The kindred verb diatassw occurs often, mostly in the sense of command or appoint. See Matthew 11:1; Luke 3:13. In 1 Corinthians 11:34, it is translated set in order. The reference is most probably to the Jewish tradition that the law was given through the agency of angels. See Deuteronomy 32:2. Compare Psalms 68:17. Paul expressly says that the law was administered by the medium of angels (Galatians 3:19). Compare the word spoken by angels (Hebrews 2:2). Render, therefore, as Rev., as it was ordained by angels.

Verse 54

They were cut. See on ch. Acts 5:33. In both instances, of anger. A different word is used to express remorse, ch. 2 37.

Gnashed [εβρυχον] . Originally to eat greedily, with a noise, as wild beasts : hence to gnash or grind the teeth.

Verse 55

Being [υπαρχων] . See on James 2:15.

Looked up steadfastly. Compare ch. 1 10; Acts 3:4, Acts 3:12; Acts 6:15; and see on Luke 4:20.

Standing. Rising from the throne to protect and receive his servant. Usually Jesus is represented in the New Testament as seated at the Father 's right hand. See Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3.

Verse 56

I see [θεωρω] . See on Luke 10:18.

The Son of man. A title never applied to Christ by any of the apostles or evangelists, except here by Stephen. See on Luke 6:22.

Verse 57

Stopped [συνεσχον] . Lit., held together.

Verse 58

Stoned. According to the Rabbis, the scaffold to which the criminal was to be led, with his hands bound, was to be twice the size of a man. One of the witnesses was to smite him with a stone upon the breast, so as to throw him down. If he were not killed, the second witness was to throw another stone at him. Then, if he were yet alive, all the people were to stone him until he was dead. The body was then to be suspended till sunset.

A young man [νεανιου] . Which, however, gives no indication of his age, since it is applied up to the age of forty - five. Thirty years after Stephen 's martyrdom, Paul speaks of himself as the aged (Philippians 1:9).

Saul. The first mention of the apostle to the Gentiles.

Verse 59

Calling upon God. God is not in the Greek. From the vision just described, and from the prayer which follows, it is evident that Jesus is meant. So Rev., the Lord.

Jesus. An unquestionable prayer to Christ.

Verse 60

Lay not this sin to their charge [μη στησης αυτοις την αμαρτιαν ταυτην] . Lit., fix not this sin upon them.

He fell asleep [εκοιμηθη] . Marking his calm and peaceful death. Though the pagan authors sometimes used sleep to signify death, it was only as a poetic figure. When Christ, on the other hand, said, "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth [κεκοιμηται] ," he used the word, not as a figure, but as the expression of a fact. In that mystery of death, in which the pagan saw only nothingness, Jesus saw continued life, rest, waking - the elements which enter into sleep. And thus, in Christian speech and thought, as the doctrine of the resurrection struck its roots deeper, the word dead, with its hopeless finality, gave place to the more gracious and hopeful word sleep. The pagan burying place carried in its name no suggestion of hope or comfort. It was a burying - place, a hiding - place, a monumentum, a mere memorial of something gone; a columbarium, or dove - cot, with its little pigeon - holes for cinerary urns; but the Christian thought of death as sleep, brought with it into Christian speech the kindred thought of a chamber of rest, and embodied it in the word cemetery [κοιμητηριον] - the place to lie down to sleep.

Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Acts 7". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/vnt/acts-7.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.