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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
Acts 6

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-6

Introduction: The Appointment of First Deacons - In Acts 6:1-6 we have the testimony of the appointment of the first deacons in the early Church. This passage of Scripture serves as an introduction to the section division of Acts as it prepares us for the spread of the Gospel beyond Jerusalem because of a great persecution. It is important to note that each of the three major divisions of the book of Acts has an introductory passage in which the disciples are commissioned: Acts 1:6-11 serves as an introduction to the Jerusalem ministry as Jesus commissions the apostles to take the Gospel to the world: Acts 6:1-6 serves as an introduction to the spread of the Gospel out of Jerusalem: Acts 13:1-3 serves as an introduction to Paul's missionary journeys. In addition, the introductory material in Acts 6:1-6 serves to prepare us for the stories of Stephen the Martyr ( Acts 6:6 to Acts 8:1 a) and Philip the Evangelist ( Acts 8:1 b-40). These two stories will testify of how the Gospel spread from Jerusalem because of persecutions.

The Ministry of the Helps in the Old and New Testaments- The story of the first election of deacons is an example of a need arising and being met in the New Testament Church. Note how the leaders dealt with the situation by working together. Why did they decide to structure the leadership of the church with the new office of a deacon; perhaps because this was not a new concept for leadership to the people of Israel?

Note how Joshua ministered unto Moses in Exodus 24:13, "And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God."

In the ministry of the Tabernacle and the Temple, the Levites were called to serve and minister to the priests. In 1 Kings 19:19-21, Elisha began to minister unto Elisha. In 2 Kings 4:8-11, we see that the Shunamite woman ministered unto Elisha, the man of God. Gehazi became the minister to Elisha. John Mark was chosen to minister unto Paul and Barnabas.

Acts 13:5, "And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister."

Paul had companions and fellow ministers who often took care of him and others. Thus, the office of a deacon was not an entirely new concept, but rather a modification of the office of an assistant to a leader or a man of God.

The selection of these deacons marks the next generation of Church leaders. Mike Murdock said that a champion is not made in the boxing ring; rather, he is simply recognized in the ring. 140] In other words, a champion is such because of the hard work and training that he has been through and not just because he fights in the ring. A mother does not become a mother because someone calls her a mother. She becomes so because she has gone through labor and travail and the pains of childbirth. In a similar way, new levels of church leadership are not simply imparted in a day, but are born in one's life through time and diligence. The laying on of hands may impart an anointing as a seed is planted in the ground, but promotion comes through nurturing that seed. For example, Paul the apostle was recognized as an apostle to the Gentiles many years after he had laboured and toiled in the field. In Acts 13, the church at Antioch laid hands upon Paul and Barnabas as an act of appointing and recognizing them as apostles. Paul had spent thirteen years previously labouring in Syria and Cilicia ( Galatians 1:21).

140] Mike Murdock, interviewed by Benny Hinn, This is Your Day (Irving, Texas), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

Acts 6:1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews , because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.

Acts 6:1Comments- Acts 6:1 reveals an early division in the Church at Jerusalem between the views of the Greeks and the Jews. This division is seen later in Paul's ministry to the Gentiles as he made a number of efforts to reconcile their differences in order to maintain unity within the local churches and in the overall body of Christ. Perhaps the greatest example of Paul's efforts to unite these two cultures is seen in his collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem. This topic is discussed in Acts 24:17, Romans 15:26-28, 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 and 2 Corinthians 8:1 to 2 Corinthians 9:15. Paul will also state in several of his epistles that in Christ Jesus there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek.

Galatians 3:28, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."

Colossians 3:11, "Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all."

Acts 6:2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.

Acts 6:2 — "Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said" - Comments- Acts 6:2 is the first time that the phrase "the Twelve" is used outside of the Gospels. This phrase very likely includes the election of Mathias ( Acts 1:26).

Acts 1:26, "And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles."

We will find this phrase applied only one other time when Paul will use it once in his first epistle to the Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 15:5, "And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:"

Acts 6:2 — "It is not reason that we should leave the word of God" - Comments- Peter responded to the request of the Greeks in caring for their widows by first establishing the priorities of the Twelve. He explained that they could not leave off the proclamation of the Gospel as Jesus had commanded them. He has once went back to fishing after Jesus' resurrection, only to be loving redirected back into the full-time ministry on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Peter would not easily forget the lesson that Jesus taught him as He told Peter three times to feed His sheep. We read in Acts 5:42 how "daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ." This verse serves to sum up the "witnessing and teaching" of the apostles, which activity has already filled the first five chapters of the book of Acts.

Acts 6:3 — "and serve tables" - Comments- The phrase "serve tables" suggests that the major focus of the Church's daily ministry to the widows was in providing their daily necessities, such as food.

Acts 6:3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and Wisdom of Solomon , whom we may appoint over this business.

Acts 6:3"of honest report" - Comments- Sad to say, even in the early Church, honesty was not found in the heart of every believer. As the believers were to look out for seven men who were honest, this verse tells us that honesty is recognizable. You can spend time working with someone and see honesty within their character.

Acts 6:3 — "full of the Holy Ghost" - Comments- The Greek text leaves out the word "Holy" and only uses "Spirit" (Ghost). However, we know from the context of this passage, especially Acts 6:5, that it is a reference to the Holy Spirit.

The attribute of being full of the Holy Ghost is recognizable in the life of the believer. Someone who is filled with the Spirit is filled with joy and has a song in their heart. 141] They are thankful at all times ( Ephesians 5:18-20).

141] Kenneth Hagin, Following God's Plan For Your Life (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Faith Library Publications, c 1993, 1994), 26.

Ephesians 5:18-20, "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual Song of Solomon , singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;"

Acts 6:3Comments- The selection of the first seven deacons in the church at Jerusalem was based upon two fundamental outward manifestations. They were to be full of the Holy Spirit and full of wisdom. These characteristics were the outward testimony of their sincere faith and devotion to Christ. This phrase stands equivalent to that used in Acts 6:5, "full of faith and of the Holy Ghost," and Acts 6:8, "full of faith and power," and Acts 11:24, "full of the Holy Ghost and of faith."

The selection of the first seven disciples is an illustration of Paul's standard of qualifications recorded in 1 Timothy 3:10, "And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless."

These apostles were very careful to choose out seven men of good report, already proven to be faithful. Romans 12:11 gives us a similar description of such virtues. One who is not slothful in business is someone who has the wisdom to manage finances well, while being honest when handling money. The phrase "fervent in spirit" means "filled with the Spirit".

Romans 12:11, "Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;"

Acts 6:4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

Acts 6:4"and to the ministry of the word" - Comments - The ministry of the Word includes witnessing, teaching, preaching and healing. Acts 2-5 is full of this type of ministry, and Jesus" ministry also included these things ( Matthew 4:23).

Matthew 4:23, "And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people."

Acts 6:4Comments - Acts 6:4 brings out the importance of prayer and the ministry of the Word of God in the life of those who serve Him. The two-fold emphasis of prayer and ministry is seen in the Song of Solomon where God's child is exhorted to retreat to the garden of prayer and solitude, then return to the labour of the Lord's vineyard. Every believer should have a place of prayer in order to experience the Lord so that he can go forth and minister under the anointing.

Acts 6:5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philippians , and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:

Acts 6:5Comments- F. F. Bruce says that it is interesting to note that the seven deacons listed in Acts 6:5 had Greek names. 142] This implies that they were Greek converts called out to assist the Grecian widows. If not Greek by birth, they were Greek-speaking.

142] F. F. Bruce, The Books and the Parchments (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1963), 58.

We can also comment on the order in which they are listed. As is typical of biblical lists of names, such as with the twelve apostles ( Matthew 10:1-4, Mark 3:13-19, Luke 6:12-16, Acts 1:13), the more prominent names are listed first. We know that Stephen, listed first, later received importance as the first martyr of the Church ( Acts 6:8 to Acts 8:1 a). Philippians , listed second, received his prominence as the first person to hold the office of an evangelist in the Church ( Acts 8:1 b-40). The other five are not mentioned further in Scriptures. However, we do find the listed in the writings of the early Church fathers. Hippolytus mentions them in his writing The Same Hippolytus on the Seventy Apostles. He tells us that they were among the seventy disciples referred to in Luke 10:1.

"6. Stephen, the first martyr.

7. Philippians , who baptized the eunuch.

8. Prochorus, bishop of Nicomedia, who also was the first that departed, believing together with his daughters.

9. Nicanor died when Stephen was martyred.

10. Timon, bishop of Bostra.

11. Parmenas, bishop of Soli.

12. Nicolaus, bishop of Samaria." (Appendix to the Works of Hippolytus 49: The Same Hippolytus on the Seventy Apostles 6-12) (ANF 5)

The birth of the church in Antioch is mentioned in Acts 11:19-30. An early reference to Antioch in Acts 6:5 is a foreshadowing to its upcoming role in the growth of the early Church. This church will also serve to send out Paul and Barnabas into the mission field and as Paul's lifetime home church.

Acts 6:6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

Acts 6:6Comments- This setting apart with the laying on of hands happened throughout the New Testament ( Acts 13:1-3, 1 Timothy 4:14; 1 Timothy 5:22, 2 Timothy 1:6).

Acts 13:1-3, "Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away."

1 Timothy 4:14, "Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery."

1 Timothy 5:22, "Lay hands suddenly on no Prayer of Manasseh , neither be partaker of other men"s sins: keep thyself pure."

2 Timothy 1:6, "Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands."

The laying on of hands is one of the six foundational doctrines of the Scriptures according to Hebrews 6:1-2.


Verses 1-25

The Church's Structure (Divine Service): Key Witnesses that Began the Spread of Gospel into Judea and Samaria - While Acts 2:1 to Acts 5:42 gives us the testimony of the founding and growth of the Church in Jerusalem, the stoning of Stephen gave rise to the spreading of the Church to Judea and Samaria. Acts 6:1 to Acts 12:25 serves as the testimony of the spread of the Gospel to the regions beyond Jerusalem as a result of persecution, which was in fulfillment of Jesus' command to the apostles at His ascension, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." ( Acts 1:8) In Acts 6:1-7 the New Testament Church begins to structure itself with the office of the deacon. One of these deacons named Stephen becomes the first martyr of the Church ( Acts 6:8 to Acts 7:1 a). As the result of a great persecution fueled by the zeal of Saul of Tarsus, the Gospel begins to spread into Judea and Samaria. Philip the evangelist takes the Gospel into Samaria and to an Ethiopian eunuch ( Acts 8:5-40), Saul of Tarsus is converted ( Acts 9:1-31), Peter takes the Gospel beyond Jerusalem to the house of a Gentile named Cornelius ( Acts 9:32 to Acts 10:48), while Luke provides additional testimonies of Church growth to Antioch and further persecutions ( Acts 11:1 to Acts 12:25). These testimonies emphasize the spread of the Gospel into Judea and Samaria.

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. Introduction: Appointment of First Deacons — Acts 6:1-6

2. The Witness of Stephen — Acts 6:7 to Acts 8:4

3. The Witness of Philip the Evangelist — Acts 8:5-40

4. The Witness of Paul's Conversion — Acts 9:1-31

5. The Witness of Peter — Acts 9:32 to Acts 10:48

6. The Witness of Church Growth — Acts 11:1 to Acts 12:25


Verse 7

The Witness of Stephen - In Acts 6:7 to Acts 8:4 Luke records the witness of Stephen. The importance of his testimony is the fact that he is the first martyr of the Church, ushering in a period of persecution that spread the Gospel abroad.

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. Stephen's Arrest — Acts 6:7-15

2. Stephen's Sermon — Acts 7:1-53

3. Stephen is Stoned — Acts 7:54 to Acts 8:1 a

4. The Persecution and Scattering of the early Church — Acts 8:1 b-4


Verses 7-15

Stephen's Arrest - In Acts 6:7-15 we have the account of Stephen's arrest by the Jewish leaders.

Acts 6:7"And the word of God increased" - Comments- Perhaps the phrase "and the word of God spread" is more descriptive of Acts 6:7. How did it spread: though witnessing, teaching, and ministering by more and more people being converted.

Acts 6:7Comments- When the Word increased, there was an increase in converts. When it increases in our lives, things begin to happen, because the Word cleanses us of unclean things ( John 15:3). The church was blessed in the ministry of Word, and it was able to increase. We are to desire the sincere milk of the Word of God ( 1 Peter 2:2) in order that we may grow.

John 15:3, "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you."

1 Peter 2:2, "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:"

Acts 6:15Comments- Stephen's face shown as an angel of God because of the anointing. We find a similar reference to the face of Moses as it shone because he had been in the presence of God on Mount Sinai.

Exodus 34:29-30, "And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses" hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him."

Paul makes a reference to this event in his second epistle to the Corinthians as he compares the glory of the new covenant with the old; for there was no single event that magnified the glory of the old covenant like the time when Moses' face shown. However, every servant of Christ Jesus has received a more glorious calling. This is clearly illustrated in the glory that shown on the face of Stephen.

2 Corinthians 3:7-8, "But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?"

Acts 7:1-53 — Stephen's Sermon - In Acts 7:1-53 we have the testimony of Stephen's sermon before the Sanhedrin.

How Did Luke Receive the Text of Stephen's Sermon? - One must ask the question of how the content of Stephen's sermon was handed down to Luke , the author of Acts. We can be almost certain that Saul of Tarsus was present in this meeting. Song of Solomon , he could have been the one to give Luke the content of this sermon directly to Luke. A second possibility is that Stephen's sermon existed in some written form and that Luke used a copy while gathering testimonies of the early Church. Certainly the early Church would have been very interested in preserving the story of the first Christian martyr, and one of them could have written it down. A third possibility exists that in that the Sanhedrin could have assigned someone to write down the words of this "trial" and archived it in Jerusalem for Luke to find access to at a later time. Even today, our courts are set up to record every word spoken in them during the course of a trial. However, no physical evidence exists to suggest either one of these three possibilities are certain.

Acts 7:4Comments- F. F. Bruce says it is interesting to note that the text of the Samaritan Pentateuch in Genesis 11:26-32 is in closer textual agreement to the statement of Abraham leaving Haran after his father's death in Acts 7:4 than the Massoretic or Septuagint texts. He also refers Philo the Jew as a possible reference for this statement in Stephen's speech. 143]

143] F. F. Bruce, The Books and the Parchments (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1963), 130.

"Now it is not probable that any one of those persons who are acquainted with the law are ignorant that Abraham had previously migrated from Chaldaea when he came to live in Charran. But after his father died he then departed from this land of Chaldaea, so that he has now migrated from two different places." (On the Migration of Abraham 32) 144]

144] C. D. Yonge, The Works of Philo Judaeus, Contemporary of Josephus, vol 2 (London: George Bell & Sons, 1894), 82.

Acts 7:6 — "not so much as to set his foot on" - Comments- The YLT reads, "not even a footstep." This phrase used by Stephen reminds us of the time when God commanded Abraham to walk through the land in the length and the breadth of it. Then He promised to give it to him ( Genesis 13:17). Yet, in Abraham's lifetime, this promise did not take place.

Genesis 13:17, "Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee."

Acts 7:8 — "And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac" - Comments- Acts 7:8 tells us how God gave to Abraham the covenant of circumcision and Abraham then begat Isaac. We immediately recognize in Acts 7:8 that Isaac was born as a part of the covenant that God made with Abraham. However, the type of covenant is significant because it helped produce the promised seed, a son. It takes sons to build a nation and not daughters. Circumcision has the physical effect of increasing the changes of a son.

It is interesting to note that Abraham and Sarah did not have a son until the time of Abraham's circumcision. God called him into the land of Canaan at the age of seventy-five. At that time God promised to make him a nation that would possess this land, but it was not until Abraham was circumcised at the age of ninety-nine that his wife conceived, which was twenty-four years later. For the Scriptures tell us that shortly after his circumcision Sarah conceived.

Song of Solomon , we must ask the question, "What is the relationship between circumcision and conception?" More particular, "What is the relationship between circumcision and giving birth to a son rather than a daughter?" For we know that in order to produce a nation a man must have a son. We read later how Isaac born two sons, and how Jacob bore twelve sons.

After my wife bore us two daughters, we inquired from others about a technique that insures a son. Although there are many ideas out there, we found one that made physiological sense. We were told to come together after ovulation, and not before, after the egg had been released on the fourteenth day of the menstrual cycle. This means that we were to come together after the fourteenth day and not before this day. The reasoning is rather simple. The male sperm are said to be stronger that the female sperm and are able to swim faster towards the egg. Thus, the male sperm arrive at the egg first. However, these male sperm have a much shorter lifespan than the female sperm simply because they have used up their energy resources faster. If a couple come together before ovulation, the male sperm have usually died by the time the egg reaches the fallopian tubes and the female sperm are the ones to fertilize the egg. But when the egg is waiting in the tubes, the male sperm reach it first and a male child is conceived.

Acts 7:14Comments - Acts 7:14 names seventy-five people that migrated in Egypt while Exodus 1:5 names seventy people.

Exodus 1:5, "And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already."

It is interesting to note that the LXX as well as the Dead Sea Scrolls use the number seventy-five in their texts.

Brenton, "But Joseph was in Egypt. And all the souls [born] of Jacob were seventy-five."

Stephen was most likely quoting from a version other than the Masoretic text.

Acts 7:25Comments- Moses must have knew that somehow God was going to deliver Israel through his hands at the age of forty years old.

Acts 7:30Comments- The angel was manifested to Moses as fire ( Hebrews 1:7).

Hebrews 1:7, "And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire."

Acts 7:35 Comments- See this story in Exodus 2:13-14.

Exodus 2:13-14, "And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known."

In Stephen's defence he told three Old Testament stories:

1. Abraham leaving Teran for Canaan.

2. Joseph being sold into Egypt.

3. Moses delivering the children of Israel out of Egypt.

These three Old Testament patriarchs are types and figures of New Testament salvation.

The nation of Israel later rejected Moses" Law, as these Jews do in Acts 7:51.

Acts 7:51, "Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye."

Acts 7:38 — "This is Hebrews , that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers" - Comments- The Greek word εκκλησί α, translated "church" in the New Testament, is also used in the LXX to denote the congregation of the children of Israel. The word literally means, "an assembly, or congregation." Thus, the church that is referred to in the New Testament is but an extension of the congregation of the children of Israel, particularly those who accepted Jesus as the Messiah. The early Christian converts saw themselves as connected with the "ekklesia" of the Old Testament. 145] This is why Paul called the New Testament Church the "Israel of God" in his epistle to the Galatians ( Galatians 6:16).

145] F. F. Bruce, The Books and the Parchments (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1963), 84.

Galatians 6:16, "And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God."

Acts 7:38 — "who received the lively oracles to give unto us" - Comments- The classical writers reveal that the concept of sacred mysteries being utters as divine oracles was practiced in the ancient world. Regarding the use of oracles, the ancient Greeks regarded divine oracles as a form of worship until the time of the Persian war (490-479 B.C.). 146] The temple of Apollo located at Delphi was famous in the ancient world for delivering oracles to men by those in a trance, or they interpreted dreams or patterns in nature. 147] The Greek historians Herodotus (484-425 B.C.) 148] and Plutarch (A.D 46-100) 149] mention this place of oracles in their writings. While the Romans as a nation did not regard oracles as a religious practice, this custom continued within the Empire, but not without the contempt of the Romans. 150] This practice was later outlawed under the Roman emperor Theodosius (A.D 379-385). 151] King Saul's visit to the witch of Endor shows its popularity among ancient eastern cultures ( 1 Samuel 28:7-25). The damsel who prophesied over Paul and Barnabas in Philippi is an example of the proliferation of divination in the New Testament times ( Acts 16:16-24). The Sibylline Oracles, 152] a collection of Greek oracles compiled by Jews and Christians in the early centuries before and after Christ, reflect the widespread popularity that the Sibyl prophetesses held in ancient Greek and Roman history. Regarding the concept of "mysteries" ( μυστή ριον) revealed through oracles, Plutarch, writing about the Pythian priestesses who prophesied at Delphi, speaks of "interpreters of the sacred mysteries." 153] Thus, when Paul refers to the mysteries hidden from the ages being revealed to the Church ( Romans 16:25, 1 Corinthians 2:7, Ephesians 1:9; Ephesians 3:3-4; Ephesians 3:9; Ephesians 6:19, Colossians 1:26; Colossians 2:2; Colossians 4:3, 1 Timothy 3:9), or when Luke , Paul, and Peter speak of the "oracles" ( λόγιον) (G 3051) of God ( Acts 7:38, Romans 3:2, Hebrews 5:12, 1 Peter 4:11), they are speaking in a cultural language that the Greeks and Romans understood, where pagans frequently sought oracles through divine utterance at the temples to reveal hidden mysteries for their lives.

146] C. H. Prichard, "Oracle," in A Dictionary of the Bible, vol 3, ed. James Hastings (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1901), 629.

147] R. F. Youngblood, F. F. Bruce, R. K. Harrison, and Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nelson"s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, rev. ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), "Oracle."

148] Herodotus writes, "…and he [Dorieus] asked the Spartans for a company of folks, whom he took away as colonists; he neither enquired of the oracle at Delphi in what land he should plant his settlement, nor did aught else that was customary…" (Histories 542) See Herodotus III, trans. A. D. Godley, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1938), 46-47.

149] Plutarch tells us that the Sibylline prophetesses of Delphi used poetic verses with their prophecies, saying, "…for when we drew near that part of the rock which joins to the senate-house, which by common fame was the seat of the first Sibyl that came to Delphi from Helicon, where she was bred by the Muses…Serapio made mention of certain verses of hers, wherein she had extolled herself as one that should never cease to prophesy even after her death…" (Wherefore the Pythian Priestess Now Ceases to Deliver Her Oracles in Verse 9) He later writes, "…but I am constrained to claim your first promise, to tell me the reason wherefore now the Pythian prophetess no longer delivers her oracles in poetic numbers and measures…and also the temple of Tellus, to which the oracle appertained, and where the answers were delivered in verses and song." (Wherefore the Pythian Priestess Now Ceases to Deliver Her Oracles in Verse 17) See William W. Goodwin, Plutarch's Essays and Miscellanies, vol 3 (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1911), 77, 86-87.

150] The Roman poet Lucan (A.D 39-65) reflects the contempt for such oracles by the Romans when he writes, "They had now come to the Temple, the only one which among the Libyan nations the uncivilized Garamantes possess. There stands Jupiter, the foreteller of destiny, as they relate; but not either brandishing the lightnings or like to ours, but Ammon with crooked horns." (Pharsalia 9593-598) See H. T. Riley, The Pharsalia of Lucan (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853), 359.

151] C. H. Prichard, "Oracle," In A Dictionary of the Bible, ed. James Hastings (), 629.

152] The Sibylline Oracles, translated by H. C. O. Lanchester, in The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English With Introductions and Critical and Explanatory Notes to the Several Books, vol 2, ed. R. H. Charles (electronic edition), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004).

153] Plutarch writes, "The interpreters of the sacred mysteries acted without any regard to us, who desired them to contract their relation into as few words as might be, and to pass by the most part of the inscriptions." (Wherefore the Pythian Priestess Now Ceases to Deliver Her Oracles in Verse 2) See William W. Goodwin, Plutarch's Essays and Miscellanies, vol 3 (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1911), 70.

Romans 16:25, "Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,"

1 Corinthians 2:7, "But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden Wisdom of Solomon , which God ordained before the world unto our glory:"

Ephesians 1:9, "Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:"

Ephesians 3:3-4, "How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)"

Ephesians 3:9, "And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:"

Ephesians 6:19, "And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,"

Colossians 1:26, "Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:"

Colossians 2:2, "That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;"

Colossians 4:3, "Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:"

1 Timothy 3:9, "Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience."

Acts 7:38, "This is Hebrews , that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:"

Romans 3:2, "Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God."

Hebrews 5:12, "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat."

1 Peter 4:11, "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."

The reference to pillars and foundations of the Church in 1 Timothy 3:15 suggests that Paul had in mind the ancient Greek and Roman temples with their practice of divination, and that he compares this pagan scene of worship to the New Testament Church and the Holy Scriptures, which serve as its pillars and foundation.

Acts 7:39Comments- The phrase "in their hearts" means that it was an act of their own will in making a decision to reject God's will and pursue their own will. The Scriptures tell us that if we sin willfully, their remains no more pardon, but certain judgment ( Hebrews 10:26-27). This is why God's judgment upon them when they turned was to destroy them in the wilderness. For when a person clearly hears God's will and turns his heart their remains no other option but chastisement and punishment.

Hebrews 10:26-27, "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries."

Acts 7:45Comments- In the Old Testament the Hebrew name עשוהי (Joshua) means "Jehovah is salvation." In the New Testament the Greek name I ησοϋς (Jesus) means "Savior" ( Matthew 1:21). Therefore, the Greek word for the name "Joshua" is Jesus. The name "Jesus" in this verse is a reference to Joshua. Twice in New Testament Joshua is referred to as Jesus, both here and in Hebrews 4:8.

Matthew 1:21, "And she shall bring forth a Song of Solomon , and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins."

Hebrews 4:8, "For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day."

Acts 7:53Comments- In Acts 7:53 Stephen tells us that Moses received the Law by the hands of angels. Adam Clarke says, "This verse is thus paraphrased by the Targum: ‘Thine, O Lord, is the magnificence; for thou hast created the world by thy great power, and by thy might hast led our fathers out of Egypt, and with great signs hast caused them to pass through the Red Sea. Thou hast appeared gloriously on Mount Sinai, with troops of angels, in giving law to thy people…'" 154]

154] Adam Clarke, Two Books of Chronicles, in Adam Clarke"s Commentary, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1996), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), notes on 1Chronicles .

1 Chronicles 29:11, "Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all."

This statement finds additional support in Deuteronomy 33:2 and Psalm 68:17 when it refers to angels who accompanied the Lord on Mt. Sinai.

Deuteronomy 33:2, "And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them."

Psalm 68:17, "The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place."

The LXX uses the word "angels" in Deuteronomy 33:2

Brenton, "And he said, The Lord is come from Sina, and has appeared from Seir to us, and has hasted out of the mount of Pharan, with the ten thousands of Cades; on his right hand [were] his angels with him."

Paul refers to angels whom God used to speak to Moses and give him the Laws of the Old Covenant.

Galatians 3:19, "Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator."

The writer of Hebrews alludes to this event in which angels spoke to Moses in the giving of the Law.

Hebrews 2:2, "For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;"

 


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Acts 6:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/acts-6.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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