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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
Acts 7

 

 

Introduction

CHAPTER 7

Acts 7:1. ἄρα is wanting in A B C א, min. Vulg. Cant. Germ. Bed. Deleted by Lachm. But if not genuine, it would hardly have been added, as it was so little necessary for the sense that, on the contrary, the question expressed in a shorter and more precise form appears to be more suitable to the standpoint and the temper of the high priest.

Acts 7:3. τὴν γῆν] The article is wanting in Elz. Scholz, against far preponderant attestation. A copyist’s error. Restored by Griesb. Lachm. Tisch. Born.

Acts 7:5. αὐτῷ δοῦναι] δοῦναι αὐτῷ is decidedly attested; so Lachm. Tisch. Born.

Acts 7:7. δουλεύσωσι] Tisch. reads δουλεύσουσιν, in accordance, no doubt, with A C D, VSS. Ir., but it is a mechanical repetition from Acts 7:6.

Acts 7:11. τὴν γῆν αἰγύπτου] A B C D* (which has ἐφʼ ὅλης τῆς αἰγ.) א, 81, VSS. have τὴν αἴγυπτον. Recommended by Griesb. and adopted by Lachm. But how easily might γην be passed over after THN! and then the change αἴγυπτον became necessary.

Acts 7:12. Instead of σῖτα, σιτία is to be received, with Lachm. Tisch. Born.(189)

ἐν αἰγύπτῳ] Lachm. Tisch. read εἰς αἴγυπτον, following A B C E א, 40. ἐν αἰγ. is an explanatory supplement to ὄντα.

Acts 7:14. After συγγέν. Elz. has αὑτοῦ, in opposition to witnesses of some importance (also א), although it is defended by Born. A prevalent addition.

Acts 7:15. δέ] A C E א, 15, 18, VSS. have καὶ κατέβη, which Griesb. has recommended, Rinck preferred, and Lachm. and Tisch. have adopted. D, 40, Syr. p. Cant. have no conjunction at all; so Born., but from the LXX. Deuteronomy 10:22; καὶ κατ. is to be preferred as best attested.

Acts 7:16. ] Elz. reads , against decisive testimony. Mistaking the attraction.

τοῦ συχέ΄] Lachm. reads τοῦ ἐν σ., according to A E א** min. Copt. Syr. p. Tol. B C א* min. Sahid. Arm. have merely ἐν σ. An alteration, because this συχέ΄ was apprehended, like the preceding, as the name of a town, and the parallel with Genesis 33:19 was not recognised.

Acts 7:17. ὡ΄ολόγησεν] So Tisch. Lachm. But Elz. and Scholz have ὤ΄οσεν, against AB C א, 15, 36, and some VSS. A more precisely defining gloss from the LXX., instead of which D E have ἐπηγγείλατο (so Born.).

Acts 7:18. After ἕτερος Lachm. has ἐπʼ αἴγυπτον, according to A B C א, min. and several VSS. An exegetical addition from the LXX.

Acts 7:20. After πατρός Elz. has αὑτοῦ. See on Acts 7:14.

Acts 7:21. ἐχτεθέντα δὲ αὐτόν] Lachm. Born. read ἐχτεθέντος δὲ αὐτοῦ, according to AB C D א, min. A correction in point of style.

Acts 7:22. πάσῃ σοφίᾳ] A C E א, VSS. Or. (twice) Bas. Theodoret have ἐν πάσῃ σοφ. So Tisch. D* has πᾶσαν τὴν σοφίαν. So Born. Interpretations of the Recepta, in favour of which is also the reading πάσης σοφίας in B, which is a copyist’s error.

ἐν before ἔργ. (Elz. Scholz) is as decidedly condemned by external testimonies as the αὐτοῦ after ἔργοις, omitted in Elz., is attested.

Acts 7:26. συνήλασεν] B C D א, min. and some VSS. have συνήλλασεν or συνήλλασσεν. Valck. has preferred the former, Griesb. recommended the latter, and Lachm. Born. (comp. also Fritzsche, de conform. Lachm. p. 31) adopted it. Gloss on the margin for the explanation of the original συνήλασεν εἰς εἰρήνην. On its reception into the text, the εἰς εἰρ., separated from συγήλ. by αὐτούς, was retained.

Acts 7:27. ἐφʼ ἡ΄ᾶς] A B C H א, min. Theophyl. have ἐφʼ ἡ΄ῶν. So Tisch. and Lachm. From LXX. Exodus 2:14.

Acts 7:30. χυρίου] is to be deleted, with Lachm. and Tisch., following A B C א, Copt Sahid. Vulg. A current addition to ἄγγελος generally, and here specially occasioned by the LXX. Exodus 3:2.

Instead of φλογὶ πυρός, Tisch. has πυρὶ φλογός, after A C E, min. Syr. Vulg. The reading similarly varies in the LXX., and as the witnesses at our passage are divided, we cannot come to any decision.

Acts 7:31. ἐθαύ΄αζε] So Griesb. Scholz, Tisch. Born. But Elz. and Lachm. have ἐθαύ΄ασεν. Both have considerable attestation. But the suitableness of the relative imperfect was, as often elsewhere, not duly apprehended.

After κυρίου Elz. Scholz have πρὸς αὐτόν, which, however, Lachm. and Tisch. have deleted, following A B א, min. Copt. Arm. Syr. p. An exegetical amplification, instead of which D, after καταν., continues by: κύρ. εἷπεν αὐτῷ λέγων.

Acts 7:32. Lachmann’s reading: θεὸς ἀβραά΄ κ. ʼισαάκ κ. ʼιακώβ (so also Tisch.), has indeed considerable attestation, but it is an adaptation to Acts 3:13.

Acts 7:33. ἐν ] Lachm. Tisch. read ἐφʼ , which is to be preferred on account of preponderant attestation by A B C D** (D* has οὔ, so Born.) א; ἐν is from the LXX.

Acts 7:34. ἀποστελῶ] Lachm. Tisch. Born. read ἀποστείλω, which is so decidedly attested by A B C D, Chrys., and by the transcriber’s error ἀποστίλω in E and א, that it cannot be considered as an alteration after the LXX. Exodus 3:10. The Recepta is a mistaken emendation.

Acts 7:35. Instead of ἀπέστειλεν, ἀπέσταλκεν is to be read, with Lachm. Tisch. Born., according to decisive evidence.

ἐν χειρί] Lachm. Tisch. Born. read σὺν χειρί, which is so decidedly attested, and might so easily give place to the current ἐν χειρί, that it must be preferred.

Acts 7:36. γῆ] Lachm. reads τῇ, according to B C, min. Sahid. Cant. A transcriber’s error. The originality of γῇ is supported also by the αἰγύπτου (instead of αἰγύπτῳ) adopted by Elz. and Born. after D, which, however, has preponderating testimony against it.

Acts 7:37. After θεός Elz. has ὑμῶν, against decisive testimony. χύριος and αὐτοῦ ἀχούσεσθε are also to be rejected (Lachm. and Tisch. have deleted both), as important authorities are against them, and as their insertion after the LXX. and Acts 3:22 is more natural than their omission.

Acts 7:39. ταῖς καρδ.] Lachm. reads ἐν ταῖς καρδ., according to A B C א. This is evidently an explanatory reading. On the other hand, τῇ καρδίᾳ (in H, min. and some VSS. Chrys. Oec. Theoph.), preferred by Rinck and Tisch., would unhesitatingly be declared genuine, were it not that almost all the uncials and VSS. support the plural.

Acts 7:43. ὑμῶν] is wanting in B D, min. VSS. Or. Ir. Philast Rightly erased by Lachm. and Tisch. From the LXX.

ῥεφάν] a great variety in the orthography. Lachm. and Tisch. have ῥεφάν, according to A C E. But Elz. Scholz have ῥεμφάν; Born. ῥεμφάμ (D, Vulg. Ir.); B has ῥομφᾶ; א*, ῥομφᾶν; א**, ῥαιφᾶν.

Acts 7:44. The usual ἐν before τοῖς, which Lachm. and Tisch. have deleted (after A B C D** H א, min. Chrys. and some VSS.), is an explanatory addition.

Acts 7:46. θεῷ] B D H א*, Cant. have οἴχῳ. Adopted by Lachm. and Born. But in accordance with Acts 7:48 it appeared contradictory to the idea of Stephen, to designate the temple as the dwelling of God; and hence the alteration.

Acts 7:48. After χειροπ. Elz. has ναοῖς, against A B C D E א, min. and most VSS. An exegetical addition. Comp. Acts 17:24.

Acts 7:51. τῇ καρδιᾳ] Lachm. and Born. read χαρδίαις. But the plural, which is found partly with and partly without the article in A C D א, min. and several VSS. Chrys. Jer., was occasioned by the plural of the subject. B has καρδίας, which, without being a transcriber’s error (in opposition to Buttm. neutest Gr. p. 148 [E. T. 170]), may be either singular or plural, and therefore is of no weight for either reading.

Acts 7:52. γεγένησθε] The reading ʼγένεσθε in Lachm. Tisch. Born. is decidedly attested, and therefore to be adopted.


Verse 1

Acts 7:1. The high priest interrupts the silent gazing of the Sanhedrists on Stephen, as he stood with glorified countenance, and demands of him an explanation of the charge just brought against him.

Is then this (which the witnesses have just asserted) so? With εἰ (see on Acts 1:6; Luke 13:23) the question in the mouth of the high priest has something ensnaring about it. On the ἄρα, used with interrogative particles as referring to the circumstances of the case (here: of the discussion), see Klotz, ad Devar. p. 177; Nägelsb. on the Iliad, p. 11, ed. 3.


Verse 2-3

Acts 7:2-3. Brethren and respectively ( καί) fathers. The former (kinsmen, אַחִים) refers to all present; the latter (comp. the Latin Patres and the Hebrew אָב in respectful address to kings, priests, prophets, and teachers; Lightfoot, ad Marc. p. 654), to the Sanhedrists exclusively. Comp. Acts 22:1.

θεὸς τῆς δόξης] God, who has the glory. And this δόξα ( כָּבוֹד), as it stands in significant relation to ὤφθη, must be understood as outward majesty, the brightness in which Jehovah, as the only true God, visibly manifests Himself. Comp. Acts 7:55; Exodus 24:16; Isaiah 6:3; Psalms 24:7; Psalms 29:3; and on 1 Corinthians 2:8.

Haran, חָרָן, LXX. χαῤῥάν, with the Greeks (Herodian. iv. 13. 7; Ptol. v. 18; Strab. xvi. 1, p. 747) and Romans (“miserando funere Crassus Assyrias Latio maculavit sanguine Carrhas,” Lucan. i. 104; comp. Dio Cass. xl. 25; Ammian. Marc. xxiii. 3) κάῤῥαι and Carrhae, was a very ancient city in northern Mesopotamia. See Mannert, Geogr. V. 2, p. 280 ff.; Ritter, Erdk. XI. 291 ff. The theophany here meant is most distinctly indicated by Acts 7:3 as that narrated in Genesis 12:1. But this occurred when Abraham had already departed from Ur to Haran (Genesis 11:31); accordingly not: πρὶν κατοικῆσαι αὐτὸν ἐν χαῤῥάν. This discrepancy(196) is not to be set at rest by the usual assumption that Stephen here follows a tradition probably derived from Genesis 15:7, comp. Nehemiah 9:7 (Philo, de Abr. II. pp. 11, 16, ed. Mang.; Joseph. Antt. i. 7. 1; see Krause, l.c. p. 11), that Abraham had already had a divine vision at Ur, to which Stephen refers, while in Genesis 12 there is recorded that which afterwards happened at Haran. For the verbal quotation, Acts 7:3, admits of no other historical reference than to Genesis 12:1. Stephen has thus, according to the text, erroneously (speaking off-hand in the hurry of the moment, how easily might he do so!) transferred the theophany that happened to Abraham at Haran to an earlier period, that of his abode in Ur, full of the thought that God even in the earliest times undertook the guidance of the people afterwards so refractory! This is simply to be admitted (Grotius: “Spiritus sanctus apostolos et evangelistas confirmavit in doctrina evangelica; in ceteris rebus, si Hieronymo credimus, ut hominibus, reliquit quae sunt hominum”), and not to be evaded by having recourse (see Luger after Beza, Calvin, and others) to an anticipation in Genesis 11:31, according to which the vision contained in Acts 12:1 is supposed to have preceded the departure from Ur; or, by what professes to be a more profound entering into the meaning, to the arbitrary assumption “that Abraham took an independent share in the transmigration of the children of Terah from Ur to Haran” (Baumgarten, p. 134), to which primordial hidden beginning of the call of Abraham the speaker goes back.

ἐν τῇ ΄εσοποτ.] for the land of Ur ( אוּר כַּשְׂדִּים, Genesis 11:28) was situated in northern Mesopotamia, which the Chaldeans inhabited; but is not to be identified with that Ur, which Ammianus Marc. xxv. 8 mentions as castellum Persicum, whose situation must be conceived as farther south than Haran. See, after Tuch and Knobel on Genesis, Arnold in Herzog’s Encykl. XVI. p. 735.

πρὶν ] see on Matthew 1:18.

ἣν ἄν σοι δείξω] quamcunque tibi monstravero. “Non norat Abram, quae terra foret,” Hebrews 11:8, Bengel.


Verses 2-53

Acts 7:2-53. On the speech of Stephen, see Krause, Comm. in hist, et orat. Steph., Gott. 1786; Baur, de orat. hab. a Steph. consilio, Tub. 1829, and his Paulus, p. 42 ff.; Luger, üb. Zweck, Inhalt u. Eigenthümlichk. der Rede des Steph., Lübeck 1838; Lange in the Stud. u. Krit. 1836, p. 725 ff., and apost. Zeitalt. II. p. 84 ff.; Thiersch, de Stephani orat., Marb. 1849. Comp. his Kirche im apost. Zeitalt. p. 85 ff.; Rauch in the Stud. u. Krit. 1857, p. 352 ff.; F.Nitzsch in the same, 1860, p. 479 ff.; Senn in the Evang. Zeitschr. f. Prot. u. Kirche, 1859, p. 311 ff.

This speech bears in its contents and tone the impress of its being original. For the long and somewhat prolix historical narrative, Acts 7:2-47, in which the rhetorical character remains so much in the background, and even the apologetic element is discernible throughout only indirectly, cannot—so peculiar and apparently even irrelevant to the situation is much of its contents(190)—be merely put into the mouth of Stephen, but must in its characteristic nature and course have come from his own mouth. If it were sketched after mere tradition or acquired information, or from a quite independent ideal point of view, then either the historical part would be placed in more direct relation to the points of the charge and brought into rhetorical relief, or the whole plan would shape itself otherwise in keeping with the question put in Acts 7:1; the striking power and boldness of speech, which only break forth in the smallest portion (Acts 7:48-53), would be more diffused over the whole, and the historical mistakes—which have nothing surprising in them in the case of a discourse delivered on the spur of the moment—would hardly occur.

But how is the authentic reproduction of the discourse, which must in the main be assumed, to be explained? Certainly not by supposing that the whole was, either in its main points (Krause, Heinrichs) or even verbally (Kuinoel), taken down in the place of meeting by some person unknown (Riehm, de fontib. Act. ap. p. 195 f., conjectures: by Saul). It is extremely arbitrary to carry back such shorthand-writing to the public life of those times. The most direct solution would no doubt be given, if we could assume notes of the speech made by the speaker himself, and preserved. But as this is not here to be thought of, in accordance with the whole spirit of the apostolic age and with Acts 6:12, it only remains as the most natural expedient: to consider the active memory of an ear-witness, or even several, vividly on the stretch, and quickened even by the purpose of placing it on record, as the authentic source; so that, immediately after the tragical termination of the judicial procedure, what was heard with the deepest sympathy and eagerness was noted down from fresh recollection, and afterwards the record was spread abroad by copies, and was in its substantial tenor adopted by Luke. The purely historical character of the contents, and the steady chronological course of the greater part of the speech, remove any improbability of its being with sufficient faithfulness taken up by the memory. As regards the person of the reporter, no definite conjectures are to be ventured on (Olshausen, e.g., refers to Acts 6:7; Luger and Baumgarten, to the intervention of Saul); and only this much is to be assumed as probable, that he was no hostile listener, but a Christian (perhaps a secret Christian in the Sanhedrim itself),—a view favoured by the diffusion, which we must assume, of the record, and more especially by the circumstance, that Acts 7:54-60 forms one whole with the reproduction of the speech interrupted at Acts 7:53, and has doubtless proceeded from the same authentic source. With this view even the historical errors in the speech do not conflict; with regard to which, however,—especially as they are based in part on traditions not found in the O. T.,—it must remain undetermined how far they are attributable to the speaker himself or to the reporter. At all events, these historical mistakes of the speech form a strong proof in what an unaltered form, with respect to its historical data, the speech has been preserved from the time of its issuing from the hands that first noted it down.

From this view it is likewise evident in what sense we are to understand its originality, namely, not as throughout a verbal reproduction, but as correct in substance, and verbal only so far, as—setting aside the literary share, not to be more precisely determined, which Luke himself had in putting it into its present shape—it was possible and natural for an intentional exertion of the memory to retain not only the style and tone of the discourse on the whole, but also in many particulars the verbal expression. Definitions of a more precise character cannot psychologically be given. According to Baur and Zeller the speech is a later composition, “at the foundation of which, historically considered, there is hardly more than an indefinite recollection of the general contents of what was said by Stephen, and perhaps even only of his principles and mode of thought;” the exact recollection of the speech and its preservation are inconceivable; the artificial plan, closely accordant with its theme, betrays a premeditated elaboration; the author of the Acts unfolds in it his own view of the relation of the Jews to Christianity; the discussion before the Sanhedrim itself is historically improbable, etc.; Stephen is “the Jerusalem type of the Apostle of the Gentiles.” See in opposition to Baur, Schneckenburger in the Stud. u. Krit. 1855, p. 527 ff. Bruno Bauer has gone to the extreme of frivolous criticism: “The speech is fabricated, as is the whole framework of circumstances in which it occurs, and the fate of Stephen.”

Interpreters, moreover, are much divided in their views concerning the relation of the contents to the points of complaint contained in Acts 6:13-14. Among the older interpreters—the most of whom, such as Augustine, Beza, and Calvin, have recourse to merely incidental references, without any attempt to enter into and grasp the unity of the speech—the opinion of Grotius is to be noted: that Stephen wished indirectly, in a historical way, to show that the favour of God is not bound to any place, and that the Jews had no advantage over those who were not Jews, in order thereby to justify his prediction concerning the destruction of the temple and the call of the Gentiles.(191) But the very supposition, that the teaching of the call of the Gentiles was the one point of accusation against Stephen, is arbitrary; and the historical proofs adduced would have been very ill chosen by him, seeing that in his review of history it is always this very Jewish people that appears as distinguished by God. The error, so often committed, of inserting between the lines the main thoughts as indirectly indicated, vitiates the opinion of Heinrichs, who makes Stephen give a defence of his conversion to Christ as the true Messiah expected by the fathers; as well as the view of Kuinoel, that Stephen wished to prove that the Mosaic ceremonial institutions, although they were divine, yet did not make a man acceptable to God; that, on the contrary, without a moral conversion of the people, the destruction of the temple was to be expected. Olshausen stands in a closer and more direct relation to the matter, when he holds that Stephen narrates the history of the O. T. so much at length, just to show the Jews that he believed in it, and thus to induce them, through their love for the national history, to listen with calm attention. The nature of the history itself fitted it to form a mirror to his hearers, and particularly to bring home to their minds the circumstance that the Jewish people, in all stages of their development and of the divine revelation, had resisted the Spirit of God, and that, consequently, it was not astonishing that they should now show themselves once more disobedient. Yet Olshausen himself does not profess to look upon this reference of the speech as “with definite purpose aimed at.” In a more exact and thorough manner, Baur, whom Zeller in substance follows, has laid down as the leading thought: “Great and extraordinary as were the benefits which God from the beginning imparted to the people, equally ungrateful in return and antagonistic to the divine designs was from the first the disposition of that people.” Comp. already Bengel: “Vos autem semper mali fuistis,” etc. In this case, however, as Zeller thinks, there is brought into chief prominence the reference to the temple in respect to the charges raised, and that in such a way that the very building of the temple itself was meant to be presented as a proof of the perversity of the people,—a point of view which is foreign to Stephen, and arbitrarily forced on his words, as it would indeed in itself be unholy and impious (2 Samuel 7:13; 1 Kings 5:5; 1 Kings 6:12; 1 Chronicles 18:12); comp. on Acts 7:49-50. With reason, Luger (who yet goes too far in the references of details), Thiersch, Baumgarten, and F. Nitzsch have adhered to the historical standpoint given in Acts 6:13-14, and kept strictly in view the apologetic aim of the speech (comp. also de Wette); along with which, however, Thiersch and Baumgarten not without manifold caprice exaggerate, in the histories brought forward by Stephen, the typical reference and allegorical application of them (by which they were to serve as a mirror to the present) as designed by him,(192) as is also done in the Erlang. Zeitschr. 1859, p. 311 ff. Rauch is of opinion that the speech is directed against the meritoriousness of the temple-worship and of the works of the law, inasmuch as it lays stress, on the contrary, upon God’s free and unmerited grace and election (a similar view was already held by Calvin); but to this there remains the decisive counter-argument, that the assumed point (the non-meritorious nature of grace and election) is not at all expressly brought out by Stephen or subjected to more special discussion. Moreover, Rauch starts from the supposition that the assertion of the witnesses in Acts 6:14 was true (see, against this, on Acts 6:13), inasmuch as Stephen had actually said what was adduced at Acts 6:14.

But if the assertion in Acts 6:14 is not adduced otherwise than as really false testimony, then it is also certain that the speaker must have the design of exposing the groundlessness of the charges brought against him, and the true reason for which he was persecuted. And the latter was to the martyr the chief point, so that his defence throughout does not keep the apologetic line, but has an offensive character (comp. the appropriate remarks of F. Nitzsch), at first indirectly and calmly, and then directly and vehemently; the proof that the whole blame lay on the side of his judges, was to him the chief point even for his own justification. Accordingly, the proper theme is to be found in Acts 7:51-52, and the contents and course of the speech may be indicated somewhat as follows: I stand here accused and persecuted, not because I am a blasphemer of the law and of the temple, but in consequence of that spirit of resistance to God and His messengers, which YOU, according to the testimony of history, have received from your fathers and continue to exhibit. Thus, it is not my fault, but your fault. To carry out this view more in detail, Stephen (1) first of all lets history speak, and that with all the calmness and circumstantiality by which he might still have won the assembly to reflection.(193) He commences with the divine guidance of the common ancestor, and comes to the patriarchs; but even in their case that refractoriness was apparent through the envy toward Joseph, who yet was destined to be the deliverer of the family. But, at special length, in accordance with the aim of his defence, he is obliged to dwell upon Moses, in whose history, very specially and repeatedly, that ungodly resistance and rejection appeared (Acts 7:27 f., Acts 7:39 ff.), although he was the mediator of God for the deliverance of His people, the type of the Messiah, and the receiver of the living oracles of the law. Stephen then passes from the tabernacle to the temple prayed for by David and built by Solomon (Acts 7:44 ff.). But hardly has he in this case indicated the mode of regarding it at variance with the prophet Isaiah, which was fostered by the priests and the hierarchy (Acts 7:48-50), than (2) there now breaks forth a most direct attack, no longer to be restrained, upon his hostile judges (Acts 7:51 ff.), and that with a bold reproach, the thought of which had already sufficiently glanced out from the previous historical representation, and now receives merely its most unveiled expression.(194) This sudden outbreak, as with the zeal of an ancient prophet, makes the unrighteous judges angry; whereupon Stephen breaks off in the mid-current of his speech,(195) and is silent, while, gazing stedfastly heavenwards to the glory of God, he commits his cause to Him whom he sees standing at the right hand of God.

Very different judgments have been formed concerning the value of the speech, according as its relation to its apologetic task has been recognised and appreciated. Even Erasmus (ad Acts 7:51) gave it as his opinion, that there were many things in it “quae non ita multum pertinere videantur ad id quod instituit.” He, in saying so, points to the interruption after Acts 7:53. Recently Schwanbeck, p. 251, has scornfully condemned it as “a compendium of Jewish history forced into adaptation to a rhetorical purpose, replete with the most trifling controversies which Jewish scholasticism ever invented.” Baur, on the other hand, has with justice acknowledged the aptness, strikingness, and profound pertinence of the discourse, as opposed to the hostile accusations,—a praise which, doubtless, is intended merely for the alleged later composer. Ewald correctly characterizes the speech as complete in its kind; and F. Nitzsch has thoroughly and clearly done justice to its merits. It is peculiarly important as the only detailed speech which has been preserved from one not an apostle, and in this respect also it is a “documentum Spiritus pretiosum,” Bengel.

As regards the language in which Stephen spoke, even if he were a Hellenist (which must be left undecided), this forms no reason why he should not, as a Jew, have spoken in Hebrew before the supreme council. Nor does the partial dependence on the LXX. justify us in inferring that the speech was delivered in Greek; it is sufficient to set down this phenomenon to the account of the Greek translation of what was spoken in Hebrew, whether the source from which Luke drew was still Hebrew or already Greek.


Verse 4

Acts 7:4. τότε] after he had received this command.

μετὰ τὸ ἀποθανεῖν τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ] Abraham was born to his father Terah when he was 70 years of age (Genesis 11:26); and the whole life of Terah amounted to 205 years (Genesis 11:32). Now, as Abraham was 75 years old when he went from Haran (Genesis 12:4; Joseph. Antt. i. 7. 1), it follows that Terah, after this departure of his son, lived 60 years. Once more, therefore, we encounter a deviation from the biblical narrative, which is found also in Philo, de migr. Abr. p. 415, and hence probably rests on a tradition, which arose for the credit of the filial piety of Abraham, who had not migrated before his father’s death. The circumstance that the death of Terah is narrated at Genesis 11:32 (proleptically, comp. Acts 12:4) before the migration, does not alter the state of matters historically, and cannot, with an inviolable belief in inspiration, at all justify the expedient of Baumgarten, p. 134.(197) The various attempts at reconciliation are to be rejected as arbitrarily forced: e.g. the proposal (Knatchbull, Cappellus, Bochart, Whiston) to insert at Genesis 11:32, instead of 205, according to the Samaritan text 145 (but even the latter is corrupted, as Genesis 11:32 was not understood proleptically, and therefore it was thought necessary to correct it);(198) or the ingenious refinement which, after Augustine, particularly Chladenius (de conciliat. Mosis et Steph. circa annos Abr., Viteb. 1710), Loescher, Wolf, Bengel, and several older interpreters have defended, that μετῴκισεν is to be understood, not of the transferring generally, but of the giving quiet and abiding possession, to which Abraham only attained after the death of his father. More recently (Michaelis, Krause, Kuinoel, Luger, Olshausen) it has been assumed that Stephen here follows the tradition (Lightf. in loc.; Michael. de chronol. Mos. post diluv. sec. 15) that Abraham left Canaan after the spiritual death of his father, i.e. after his falling away into idolatry (this, at least, was intended to protect the patriarch from the suspicion of having violated his filial duty!); which opinion Michaelis incorrectly ascribes also to Philo. According to this view, ἀποθανεῖν would have to be understood spiritually, which the context does not in the least degree warrant, and which no one would hit upon, if it were not considered a necessity that no deviation from Genesis l.c. should be admitted.

μετῴκισεν] namely, God. Rapid change of the subject; comp. on Acts 6:6.

εἰς ἣν ὑμεῖς νῦν κατοικ.] i.e. into which ye having moved now dwell in it. A well-known brachylogy by combining the conception of motion with that of rest, Winer, p. 386 f. [E. T. 516 f.]; Dissen, ad Pind. Ol. xi. 38, p. 132. The εἰς ἥν calls to mind the immigration of the nation (which is represented by ὑμεῖς) from Egypt.


Verse 5

Acts 7:5. κληρονομία, נַחֲלָה, hereditary possession. Hebrews 11:8.

βῆμα ποδός] LXX. Deuteronomy 2:5 ( כַּף־רֶגֶל), spatium, quod planta pedis calcatur. Comp. on βῆμα in the sense of vestigium, Hom. H. Merc. 222, 345. On the subject-matter, comp. Hebrews 11:9.

καὶ ἐπηγγείλατο] Genesis 13:15. καί is the copula. He gave not … and promised (the former he omitted, and the latter he did).

καὶ τᾷ σπέρμ. αὐτοῦ] καί is the simple and, not namely (see Gen. l.c.). The promise primarily concerned Abraham as the participant father of the race himself. Comp. Luke 1:71.

This verse, too, stands apparently at variance with Genesis, where, in chap. 23., we are informed that Abraham purchased a field from the sons of Heth. But only apparently. For the remark οὐκ ἔδωκεν αὐτῷποδός refers only to the first period of Abraham’s residence in Palestine before the institution of circumcision (Acts 7:8), while that purchase of a field falls much later. It was therefore quite superfluous, either (with Drusius, Schoettgen, Bengel) to emphasize the fact that Abraham had not in fact acquired that field by divine direction, but had purchased it, or (with Kuinoel and Olshausen) to have recourse to the erroneous assumption (not to be justified either by John 7:8 or by Mark 11:13) that οὐκ stands for οὔπω.


Verse 6-7

Acts 7:6-7. By the continuative δέ there is now brought in the express declaration of God, which was given on occasion of this promise to Abraham concerning the future providential guidance destined for his posterity. But God (at that time) spoke thus: “that his seed will dwell as strangers in a foreign land,” etc. The ὅτι does not depend on ἐλάλ., nor is it the recitative, but (see the LXX.) it is a constituent part of the very saying adduced.(199) This is Genesis 15:13, but with the second person (thy seed) converted into the third, and also otherwise deviating from the LXX.; in fact, καὶ λατρ. μοι ἐν τῷ τόπῳ τούτῳ is entirely wanting in the LXX. and Hebrew, and is an expansion suggested by Exodus 3:12.

ἔσται πάροικον] גֵּר יִהְיֶה. Comp. on Luke 24:18; Ephesians 2:19.

δουλώσουσιν αὐτό] namely, the ἀλλότριοι.

τετρακόσια] Here, as in an oracle, the duration is given, as also at Gen. l.c., in round numbers; but in Exodus 12:40 this period of Egyptian sojourning and bondage ( ἔτη τετρακ. belongs to the whole ἔσται κακώσουσιν) is historically specified exactly as 430 years. In Galatians 3:17 (see in loc.), Paul has inappropriately referred the chronological statement of Exodus 12:40 to the space of time from the promise made to Abraham down to the giving of the law.

Acts 7:7. As in the LXX. and in the original Heb. the whole passage Acts 7:6-7 is expressed in direct address ( τὸ σπέρ΄α σου), while Stephen in Acts 7:6 has adduced it in the indirect form; so he now, passing over to the direct expression, inserts the εἶπεν θεός, which is not in the LXX. nor in the Heb.

And (after this 400 years’ bondage) the peopleI shall judge; κρίνειν of judicial retribution, which, as frequently in the N. T., is seen from the context to be punitive.

ἐγώ] has the weight of the authority of divine absoluteness. Comp. Romans 12:19.

ἐν τῷ τόπῳ τούτῳ] namely, where I now speak with thee (in Canaan). There is no reference to Horeb (Exodus 3:12 : ἐν τῷ ὄρει τούτῳ), as we have here only a freely altered echo of the promise made to Moses, which suggested itself to Stephen, in order to denote more definitely the promise made to Abraham. Arbitrary suggestions are made by Bengel and Baumgarten, who find an indication of the long distance of time and the intervening complications. Stephen, however, here makes no erroneous reference (de Wette), but only a free application, such as easily presented itself in an extempore speech.


Verse 8

Acts 7:8. διαθήκην περιτομῆς] a covenant completed by means of circumcision, Genesis 17:10. Comp. on Romans 4:11. Abraham was bound to the introduction of circumcision; and, on the other hand, God bound Himself to make him the father of many nations.

ἔδωκεν] inasmuch as God proposed and laid on Abraham the conclusion of the covenant.

οὕτως] so, i.e. standing in this new relation to God (comp. on Ephesians 5:33) as the bearer of the divine covenant of circumcision. Ishmael was born previously.

καὶ ἰσαὰκ τ. ἰακώβ] namely, ἐγέννησε κ. περιέτ. τ. ἡμ. τ. ὀγδ.


Verses 9-13

Acts 7:9-13. ζηλώσαντες] here of envious jealousy, as often also in classical writers. Certainly Stephen in this mention has already in view the similar malicious disposition of his judges towards Jesus, so that in the ill-used Joseph, as afterwards also in the despised Moses (both of whom yet became deliverers of the people), he sees historical types of Christ.

ἀπέδοντο εἰς αἴγ.] they gave him away (by sale, comp. Acts 5:8) to Egypt (comp. Genesis 45:4, LXX.). For analogous examples to ἀποδ. εἰς, see Elsner, p. 390.

The following clauses, rising higher and higher with simple solemnity, are linked on by καί.

χάριν κ. σοφίαν] It is simplest (comp. Genesis 39:21) to explain χάριν of the divine bestowal of grace, and to refer ἐναντίον φαρ. merely to σοφίαν: He gave him grace (generally) and (in particular) wisdom before Pharaoh, namely, according to the history which is presumed to be well known, in the interpretation of dreams as well as for other counsel.

ἡγούμ.] “vice regis cuncta regentem,” Genesis 41:43, Grotius.

κ. ὁλ. τ. οἰκ. αὐτ.] as high steward.

χορτάσματα] fodder for their cattle. So throughout with Greek writers, and comp.LXX. Genesis 24:25; Genesis 24:32; Genesis 42:27; Judges 19:19; Sirach 33:29; Sirach 38:29. A scarcity of fodder, to which especially belongs the want of cereal fodder, is the most urgent difficulty, in a failure of crops, for the possessors of large herds of cattle.

ὄντα σιτία] that there was corn. The question, Where? finds its answer from the context and the familiar history. The following εἰς αἴγυπτον (see critical remarks) belongs to ἐξαπέστ., and is, from its epoch-making significance, emphatically placed first. On ἀκούειν, to learn, with the predicative participle, see Winer, p. 325 [E. T.436]; frequent also in Greek writers.

ἀνεγνωρίσθη] he was recognised by his brethren (Plat. Pol. p. 258 A, Pharm. p. 127 A, Lach. p.181 C), to be taken passively, as also Genesis 45:1, when the LXX. thus translates הִתְוַדַּע.

τὸ γένος τοῦ ἰωσήφ] the name (instead of the simple αὐτοῦ, as A E, 40, Arm. Vulg. read) is significantly repeated (Bornem. ad Xen. Symp. 7. 34; Kühner, ad Xen. Anab. i. 7. 11); a certain sense of patriotic pride is implied in it.


Verse 14-15

Acts 7:14-15. ἐν ψ. ἑβδομήκ. πέντε] in 75 souls (persons, Acts 2:41, Acts 27:37), he called his father and (in general) the whole family, i.e. he called them in a personal number of 75, which was the sum containing them. The expression is a Hebraism ( בְּ), after the LXX. Deuteronomy 10:22. In the number Stephen, however, follows the LXX. Genesis 46:27, Exodus 1:5,(200) where likewise 75 souls are specified, whereas the original text (which Josephus follows, Antt. ii. 7. 4, vi. 5. 6) reckons only 70. δὲ ἰωσὴφ οἱ γενόμενοι αὐτῇ ἐν γῇ αἰγύπτῳ ψυχαὶ ἐννέα, so that 75 persons are made out. It is thus evidently contrary to this express mode of reckoning of the LXX., when it is commonly assumed (also by Wetstein, Michaelis, Rosenmüller, Kuinoel, Olshausen) that the LXX. had added to the 70 persons of the original text 5 grandchildren and great-grand-children of Joseph (who are named in the LXX Genesis 46:20). But in the greatest contradiction to the above notice of the LXX. stands the view of Seb. Schmid, with whom Wolf agrees, that the LXX. had added to the 66 persons (ver. 26) the wives of the sons of Jacob, and from the sum of 78 thereby made up had again deducted 3 persons, namely, the wife of Judah who had died in Canaan, the wife of Joseph and Joseph himself, so that the number 75 is left. Entirely unhistorical is the hypothesis of Krebs and Loesner. “Stephanum apud Luc. (et LXX.) de iis loqui, qui in Aegyptum invitati fuerint, Mosen de his, qui eo venerint, quorum non nisi 70 fuerunt.” Beza conjectured, instead of πέντε in our passage: πάντες (!); and Massonius, instead of the numeral signs OE (75), the numeral signs C ξ (66). For yet other views, see Wolf.">(201)

αὐτὸς κ. οἱ πατ. ἡ΄ῶν] he and our patriarchs (generally). A very common epanorthosis. See on John 2:12.


Verse 16

Acts 7:16. ΄ετετέθησαν] namely, αὐτὸς κ. οἱ πατέρες ἡμῶν. Incorrectly Kuinoel and Olshausen refer it only to the πατέρες;(202) whereas αὐτὸς καὶ οἱ πατέρες ἡ΄ῶν are named as the persons belonging to the same category, of whom the being dead is affirmed. Certainly Genesis 49:30 (comp. Joseph. Antt. ii. 8. 7), according to which Jacob was buried in the cave of Machpelah at Hebron (Genesis 23), is at variance with the statement μετετέθ. εἰς συχέμ. But Stephen—from whose memory in the hurry of an extemporary speech this statement escaped, and not the statement, that Joseph’s body was buried at Sychem (Joshua 24:33, comp. Genesis 50:25)—transfers the locality of the burial of Joseph not merely to his brethren (of whose burial-place the O. T. gives no information), but also to Jacob himself, in unconscious deviation, as respects the latter, from Genesis 49:30. Perhaps the Rabbinical tradition, that all the brethren of Joseph were also buried at Sychem (Lightf. and Wetst. in loc.) was even then current, and thus more easily suggested to Stephen the error with respect to Jacob. It is, however, certain that Stephen has not followed an account deviating from this (Joseph. Antt. ii. 8. 2), which transfers the burial of all the patriarchs to Hebron, although no special motive can be pointed out in the matter; and it is entirely arbitrary, with Kuinoel, to assume that he had wished thereby to convey the idea that the Samaritans, to whom, in his time, Sychem belonged, could not, as the possessors of the graves of the patriarchs, have been rejected by God.

ὠνήσατο ἀβρ.] which (formerly) Abraham bought. But according to Genesis 33:19, it was not Abraham, but Jacob, who purchased a piece of land from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem. On the other hand, Abraham purchased from Ephron the field and burial-cave at Hebron (Genesis 23). Consequently, Stephen has here evidently fallen into a mistake, and asserted of Abraham what historically applied to Jacob, being led into error by the fact that something similar was recorded of Abraham. If expositors had candidly admitted the mistake so easily possible in the hurry of the moment, they would have been relieved from all strange and forced expedients of an exegetical and critical nature, and would neither have assumed a purchase not mentioned at all in the O. T., nor (Flacius, Bengel, comp. Luger) a combining of two purchases (Genesis 23, 33) and two burials (Genesis 50; Joshua 24); nor (Beza, Bochart, Bauer in Philol. Thuc. Paul. p. 167, Valckenaer, Kuinoel), against all external and internal critical evidence, have asserted the obnoxious ἀβρ. to be spurious (comp. Calvin), either supplying ἰακώβ as the subject to ὠνήσατο (Beza, Bochart), or taking ὠνήσατο as impersonal (“quod emtum erat,” Kuinoel); nor would ἀβρ., with unprecedented arbitrariness, have been explained as used in a patronymic sense for Abrahamides, i.e. Jacobus (Glass, Fessel, Surenhusius, Krebs). Conjectural emendations are: ἰακώβ (Clericus); τοῦ ἀβραά΄ (Cappellus). Other forced attempts at reconciliation may be seen in Grotius and Calovius.

τοῦ συχέ΄] the father of Sychem.(203) The relationship is presupposed as well known.

ὠνήσατο] is later Greek; Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 137 f.

τιμῆς ἀργυρ.] the genitive of price: for a purchase-money consisting of silver. The LXX. (Genesis 33:19) has ἑκατὸν ἀμνῶν (probably the name of a coin, see Bochart, Hieroz. I. p. 473 ff.; Gesenius, Thes. iii. p. 1241, s.v. קְשִׂיטָח), for which Stephen has adopted a general expression, because the precise one was probably not present to his recollection.


Verse 17-18

Acts 7:17-18. καθώς] is not, as is commonly assumed, with an appeal to the critically corrupt passage 2 Maccabees 1:31, to be taken as a particle of time cum, but (comp. also Grimm on 2 Maccabees 1:31) as quemadmodum. In proportion as the time of the promise (the time destined for its realization) drew nigh, the people grew, etc.

ἧς ὡμολόγ. κ. τ. λ.] which God promised (Acts 7:7). ὁμολογ., often so used in Greek writers; comp. Matthew 14:7.

ἀνέστη βασιλεὺς ἕτερος] τῆς βασιλείας εἰς ἄλλον οἶκου μετεληλυθυΐας,(204) Joseph. Antt. ii. 9. 1.

ὃς οὐκ ᾔδει τὸν ἰωσήφ] who knew not Joseph (his history and his services to the country). This might be said both in Exodus 1:8 and here with truth; because, in all the transactions of Pharaoh with Moses and the Israelites, there is nothing which would lead us to conclude that the king knew Joseph. Erroneously Erasmus and others, including Krause, hold that οἶδα and ידע here signify to love; and Heinrichs, Kuinoel, Olshausen, Hackett render: who did not regard the merits of Joseph. In 1 Thessalonians 5:12, also, it means simply to know, to understand.


Verse 19

Acts 7:19. κατασοφίζεσθαι] to employ cunning against any one, to beguile, LXX. Exodus 1:10. Only here in the N. T. But see Kypke, II. p. 37; and from Philo, Loesner, p. 186. Aorist participle, as in Acts 1:24.

τοῦ ποιεῖν ἔκθετα τὰ βρέφη αὐτῶν] a construction purely indicative of design; comp. on Acts 3:12. But it cannot belong to κατασοφισ. (so Fritzsche, ad Matth. p. 846), but only to ἐκάκ. Comp. 1 Kings 17:20. He maltreated them, in order that they should expose their children, i.e. to force upon them the exposure of their children. On ποιεῖν ἔκθετα = ἐκθεῖναι, comp. ποιεῖν ἔκδοτον = ἐκδιδόναι, Herod. iii. 1; on ἔκθετος, Eur. Andr. 70.

εἰς τὸ μὴ ζωογ.] ne vivi conservarentur, the object of ποιεῖν ἔκθετα τ. βρ. αὐτ. Comp. LXX. Exodus 1:17; Luke 17:33. See on 2 Corinthians 8:6; Romans 1:20.


Verse 20

Acts 7:20. ἐν καιρῷ] “tristi, opportuno,” Beng.

ἀστεῖος τῷ θεῷ] Luther aptly renders: a fine child for God,—i.e. so beautifully and gracefully formed (comp. Judith 11:23), that he was by God esteemed as ἀστεῖος. Compare Winer, p. 232 [E. T. 310]. In substance, therefore, the expression amounts to the superlative idea; but it is not to be taken as a paraphrase of the superlative, but as conceived in its proper literal sense. See also on 2 Corinthians 10:4. Hesiod, ἔργ. 825: ἀναίτιος ἀθανάτοισιν, and Aesch. Agam. 352: θεοῖς ἀναμπλάκητος, are parallels; as are from the O. T., Genesis 10:9, Jonah 3:3. The expressions θεοειδής and θεοείκελος, compared by many, are not here relevant, as they do not correspond to the conception of ἀστεῖος τῷ θεῷ.

Moses’ beauty (Exodus 2:2; comp. Hebrews 11:23) is also praised in Philo, Vit. Mos. i. p. 604 A, and Joseph. Antt. ii. 9. 7, where he is called παῖς μορφῇ θεῖος. According to Jalkut Rubeni, f. 75. 4, he was beautiful as an angel.

μῆνας τρεῖς] Exodus 2:2.

τοῦ πατρός] Amram, Exodus 6:20.


Verse 21-22

Acts 7:21-22. ἐκτεθ. δὲ αὐτὸν, ἀνείλ. αὐτόν] Repetition of the pronoun as in Matthew 26:71; Mark 9:28; Matthew 8:1. See on Matthew 8:1, Fritzsche, ad Marc. p. 377.

ἀνείλατο] took him up (sustulit, Vulg.). So also often among Greek writers, of exposed children; see Wetstein.

ἑαυτῇ] in contrast to his own mother.

εἰς υἱόν] Exodus 2:10, for a son, so that he became a son to herself. So also in classical Greek with verbs of development. Bernhardy, p. 218 f.

πάσῃ σοφίᾳ αἰγ.] Instrumental dative. The notice itself is not from the O. T., but from tradition, which certainly was, from the circumstances in which Moses (Philo, Vit. Mos.) was placed, true. The wisdom of the Egyptians extended mainly to natural science (with magic), astronomy, medicine, and mathematics; and the possessors of this wisdom were chiefly the priestly caste (Isaiah 19:12), which also represented political wisdom. Comp. Justin. xxxvi. 2.

δυνατὸς ἐν λόγ. κ. ἔργ.] see on Luke 24:19. ἐν ἔργ. refers not only to his miraculous activity, but generally to the whole of his abundant labours. With δυν. ἐν λόγοις (comp. Joseph. Antt. iii. 1. 4 : πλήθει ὁμιλεῖν πιθανώτατος) Exodus 4:10 appears at variance; but Moses in that passage does not describe himself as a stammerer, but only as one whose address was unskilful, and whose utterance was clumsy. But even an address not naturally fluent may, with the accession of a higher endowment (comp. Luke 21:15), be converted into eloquence, and become highly effective through the Divine Spirit, by which it is sustained, as was afterwards the historically well-known case with the addresses of Moses. Comp. Joseph. Antt. ii. 12. 2. Thus, even before his public emergence (for to this time the text refers), a higher power of speech may have formed itself in him. Hence δύν. ἐν λόγ. is neither to be referred, with Krause, to the writings of Moses, nor to be regarded, with Heinrichs, as a once-current general eulogium; nor is it to be said, with de Wette, that admiration for the celebrated lawgiver had caused it to be forgotten that he made use of his brother Aaron as his spokesman.


Verse 23

Acts 7:23. But when a period of forty years became full to him,—i.e. when he was precisely 40 years old. This exact specification of age is not found in the O. T. (Exodus 2:11), but is traditional (Beresh. f. 115. 3; Schemoth Rabb. f. 118. 3). See Lightfoot in loc. Bengel says: “Mosis vita ter 40 anni, Acts 7:30; Acts 7:36.”

ἀνέβη ἐπὶ τὴν καρδίαν αὐτοῦ] it arose into his heart, i.e. came into his mind, to visit (to see how it went with them), etc. The expression (comp. 1 Corinthians 2:9) is adopted from the LXX., where it is an imitation of the Hebrew עָלָה עַל לֵב, Jeremiah 3:16; Jeremiah 32:35; Isaiah 65:17.(205) Neither is διαλογισ΄ός (for which Luke 24:38 is erroneously appealed to) nor βουλή to be supplied.

ἐπισκέψ.] invisere (Matthew 25:36, often also in Greek writers). He had hitherto been aloof from them, in the higher circles of Egyptian society and culture.

τοὺς ἀδελφούς] “motivum amoris,” Bengel. Comp. Acts 7:26.


Verse 24-25

Acts 7:24-25. See Exodus 2:11-12.

ἀδικεῖσθαι] to be unjustly treated. Erroneously Kuinoel holds that it here signifies verberari. That was the maltreatment.

ἠμύνατο] he exercised retaliation. Only here in the N. T., often in classic Greek. Similarly ἀμείβεσθαι; see Poppo, ad Thuc. i. 42; Herm. ad Soph. Ant. 639.

κ. ἐποίησ. ἐκδίκ.] and procured revenge (Judges 11:36). He became his ἔκδικος, vindex.

τῷ καταπονουμ.] for him who was on the point of being overcome (present participle). Comp. Polyb. xxix. 11. 11, xl. 7. 3; Diod. xi. 6, xiii. 56.

πατάξας] mode of the ἠμύνατο κ. ἐποίησ. κ. τ. λ. Wolf aptly says: “Percussionem violentam caedis causa factam hic innui indubium est.” Comp. Matthew 26:31, and see Acts 7:28.

The inaccuracy, that τὸν αἰγύπτιον has no definite reference in the words that precede it, but only an indirect indication (Winer, p. 587 [E. T. 788]) in ἀδικούμενον (which presupposes a maltreater), is explained from the circumstances of the event being so universally known.

Acts 7:25. But he thought that his brethren would observe that God by his hand (intervention) was giving them deliverance.

δίδωσιν] the giving is conceived as even now beginning; the first step toward effecting the liberation from bondage had already taken place by the killing of the Egyptian, which was to be to them the signal of deliverance.


Verse 26-27

Acts 7:26-27 f. See Exodus 2:13 f.

ὤφθη] he showed himself to them,—when, namely, he arrived among them “rursus invisurus suos” (Erasmus). Comp. 1 Kings 3:16. Well does Bengel find in the expression the reference ultro, ex improviso. Comp. Acts 2:3, Acts 7:2, Acts 9:17, al.; Hebrews 9:28.

αὐτοῖς] refers back to ἀδελφούς. It is presumed in this case as well known, that there were two who strove.

συνήλασεν αὐτ. εἰς εἰρ.] he drove them together (by representations) to ( εἰς denoting the end aimed at) peace. The opposite: ἔριδι ξυνελάσσαι, Hom. Il. xx. 134. The aorist does not stand de conatu (Grotius, Wolf, Kuinoel), but the act actually took place on Moses’ part; the fact that it was resisted on the part of those who strove, alters not the action. Grotius, moreover, correctly remarks: “vox quasi vim significans agentis instantiam significat.”

δὲ ἀδικῶν τ. πλησ.] but he who treated his neighbour (one by nationality his brother) unjustly (was still in the act of maltreating him).

ἀπώσατο] thrust him from him. On κατέστησεν, has appointed, comp. Bremi, ad. Dem. Ol. p. 171; and on δικαστής, who judges according to the laws, as distinguished from the more general κριτής, Wyttenbach, Ep. crit. p. 219.

μὴ ἀνελεῖν κ. τ. λ.] thou wilt not surely despatch (Acts 2:23, Acts 5:33) me? To the pertness of the question belongs also the σύ.


Verse 29-30

Acts 7:29-30. See Exodus 2:15-22; Exodus 3:2.

ἐν τῷ λόγῳ τούτῳ] on account of this word, denoting the reason which occasioned his flight. Winer, p. 362 [E. T. 484].

΄αδιάμ] מִדְיָן, a district in Arabia Petraea. Thus Moses had to withdraw from his obstinate people; but how wonderfully active did the divine guidance show itself anew, Acts 7:30! On πάροικος, comp. Acts 7:6.

καὶ πληρωθ. ἐτῶν τεσσαράκ.] traditionally (but comp. also Exodus 7:7): “Moses in palatio Pharaonis degit XL annos, in Mediane XL annos, et ministravit Israeli annos XL.” Beresh. Rabb. f. 115. 3.

ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τοῦ ὄρ. σ.] in the desert, in which Mount Sinai is situated, מִדְבַּר סִינַי, Exodus 19:1-2; Leviticus 7:28. From the rocky and mountainous base of this desert Sinai rises to the south (and the highest), and Horeb more to the north, both as peaks of the same mountain ridge. Hence there is no contradiction when, in Exodus 3, the appearance of the burning bush is transferred to the neighbourhood of Horeb, as generally in the Pentateuch the names Sinai and Horeb are interchanged for the locality of the giving of the law (except in Deuteronomy 33:2, where only Horeb is mentioned, as also in Malachi 4:4); whereas in the N. T. and in Josephus only Sinai is named. The latter name specially denotes the locality of the giving of the law, while Horeb was also the name of the entire mountain range. See the particulars in Knobel on Exodus 19:2.

ἐν φλογὶ πυρὸς βάτου] in the flame of fire of a thorn bush. Stephen designates the phenomenon quite as it is related in Exodus, l.c., as a flaming burning bush, in which an angel of God was present, in which case every attempt to explain away the miraculous theophany (a meteor, lightning) must be avoided. On φλόξ πυρός, comp. 2 Thessalonians 1:8, Lachmann; Hebrews 1:7; Revelation 1:14; Revelation 2:18; Revelation 19:12; Isaiah 29:6; Isaiah 56:12; Pind. Pyth. iv. 400.


Verses 31-33

Acts 7:31-33. See Exodus 3:3-5.

τὸ ὅραμα] spectaculum. See on Matthew 17:9.

κατανοῆσαι] to contemplate, Luke 12:24; Luke 12:27; Acts 11:6.

φωνὴ κυρίου] as the angel represents Jehovah Himself, so is he identified with Him. When the angel of the Lord speaks, that is the voice of God, as it is His representative servant, the angel, who speaks. To understand, with Chrysostom, Calovius, and others, the angelus increatus (i.e. Christ as the λόγος) as meant, is consequently unnecessary, and also not in keeping with the anarthrous ἄγγελος, which Hengstenberg, Christol. III. 2, p. 70, wrongly denies. Comp. Acts 12:7; Acts 12:23.

λῦσον τὸ ὑπόδημα τῶν ποδ. σου] The holiness of the presence of God required, as it was in keeping generally with the religious feeling of the East,(206) that he who held intercourse with Jehovah should be barefooted, lest the sandals charged with dust should pollute (Joshua 5:15) the holy ground ( γῆ ἁγία); hence also the priests in the temple waited on their service with bare feet. See Wetstein; also Carpzov. Appar. p. 769 ff.


Verse 34

Acts 7:34. ἰδὼν εἶδον] LXX. Exodus 3:7. Hence here an imitation of the Hebrew form of expression. Comp. Matthew 13:14; Hebrews 6:14. Similar emphatic combinations were, however, not alien to other Greek. See on 1 Corinthians 2:1; Lobeck, Paralip. p. 532. ἰδὼν εἶδον is found in Lucian, Dial. Mar. iv. 3.

κατέβην] namely, from heaven, where I am enthroned, Isaiah 66:1; Matthew 5:34. Comp. Genesis 11:7; Genesis 18:21; Psalms 144:5.

ἀποστείλω (see the critical remarks), adhortative subjunctive; see Elmsl. ad Eur. Bacch. 341, Med. 1242.


Verses 35-37

Acts 7:35-37. The recurring τοῦτον is emphatic: this and none other. See Bornemann in the Sächs. Stud. 1842, p. 66. Also in the following Acts 7:36-38, οὗτοςοὗτοςοὗτος are always emphatically prefixed.

ὃν ἠρνήσαντο] whom they (at that time, Acts 7:27) denied, namely, as ἄρχοντα καὶ δικαστήν. The plural is purposely chosen, because there is meant the whole category of those thinking alike with that one (Acts 7:27). This one is conceived collectively (Kühner, ad Xen. Anab. i. 4. 8). Comp. Roth, Exc. Agr. 3.

ἄρχ. κ. λυτρωτήν] observe the climax introduced by λυτρωτ. in relation to the preceding δικαστ. It is introduced because the obstinacy of the people against Moses is type of the antagonism to Christ and His work (Acts 7:51); consequently, Moses in his work of deliverance is a type of Christ, who has effected the λύτρωσις of the people in the highest sense (Luke 1:64; Luke 2:38; Hebrews 9:12; Titus 2:14).

According to the reading σὺν χειρί (see the critical remarks), the meaning is to be taken as: standing in association with the hand, i.e. with the protecting and helping power, of the angel. Comp. the classical expression σὺν θεοῖς. This power of the angel was that of God Himself (Acts 7:34), in virtue of which he wrought also the miracles, Acts 7:36.

As to the gender of βάτος, see on Mark 12:26.

After the work of Moses (Acts 7:36), Acts 7:37 now brings into prominence his great Messianic prophecy, which designates himself as a type of the Messiah, Deuteronomy 18:15 (comp. above, Acts 3:22); whereupon in Acts 7:38 his exalted position as the receiver and giver of the law is described, in order that this light, in which he stands, may be followed up in Acts 7:39 by the shadow—the contrast of disobedience towards him.


Verse 38

Acts 7:38. This is he who … had intercourse with the angel … and our fathers, was the mediator (Galatians 3:19) between the two. On γίνομαι μετά, versor cum, which is no Hebraism, comp. Acts 9:19, Acts 20:18; Mark 16:10; Ast, Lex. Plat. I. p. 394.

ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ] in the assembly of the people (held for the promulgation of the law) in the desert, Exodus 19. This definite reference is warranted by the context, as it is just the special act of the giving of the law that is spoken of.

λόγια ζῶντα] i.e. utterances which are not dead, and so ineffectual, but living, in which, as in the self-revelations of the living God, there is effective power (John 6:51), as well with reference to their influence on the moulding of the moral life according to God’s will, as also especially with reference to the fulfilment of the promises and threatenings thereto annexed. Comp. 1 Peter 1:23; Hebrews 5:12; Deuteronomy 32:47. Incorrectly Beza, Calvin, Grotius, Kuinoel, and others hold that ζῆν stands for ζωοποιεῖν. Even according to Paul, the law in itself is holy, just, good, spiritual, and given for life (Romans 7:12; Romans 7:14); that it nevertheless kills, arises from the abuse which the power of sin makes of it (Romans 7:5; Romans 7:13 ff.; 1 Corinthians 15:56), and is therefore an accidental relation.


Verse 39-40

Acts 7:39-40. They turned with their hearts to Egypt, i.e. they directed their desires again to the mode of life pursued in Egypt, particularly, as is evident from the context (Acts 7:40), to the Egyptian idolatry. Exodus 20:7-8; Exodus 20:24. Others (including Cornelius a Lapide, Morus, Rosenmüller): they wished to return lack to Egypt. But the οἱ προπορεύσονται ἡμῶν in Acts 7:40 would then have to be taken as: “who shall go before us on our return,”—which is just as much at variance with the historical position at Exodus 32:1 as with Exodus 32:4, 1 Kings 12:28, and Nehemiah 9:18, where the golden bull appears as a symbol of the God who has led the Israelites out of Egypt.

θεούς] the plural, after Exodus 32:1, denotes the category (see on Matthew 2:20), without reference to the numerical relation. That Aaron made only one idol, was the result of the universally expressed demand; and in accord with this universal demand is also the expression in Exodus 32:4.

οἱ προπορ.] borne before our line of march, as the symbols, to be revered by us, of the present Jehovah.

γὰρ ΄. οὗτος] γάρ gives the motive of the demand. Moses, hitherto our leader, has in fact disappeared, so that we need another guidance representative of God.

οὗτος] spoken contemptuously. See on Acts 6:14.

The nominative absolute is designedly chosen, in order to concentrate the whole attention on the conception. Comp. on Matthew 7:24; Buttm. neut. Gr. p. 325 [E. T. 379]; Valck. Schol. p. 429. For this Moses … we know not what has happened to him (since he returns not from the mount).


Verse 41

Acts 7:41. ἐμοσχοποίησαν] they made a bull, Exodus 32:4 : ἐποίησεν αὐτὰ μόσχον χώνευτον. The word does not elsewhere occur, except in the Fathers, and may have belonged to the colloquial language. The idol itself was an imitation of the very ancient and widely-spread bull-worship in Egypt, which had impressed itself in different forms, e.g. in the worship of Apis at Memphis, and of Mnevis at Heliopolis. Hence μόσχος is not a calf, but (comp. Hebrews 9:12-13; Hebrews 9:19; Herod. iii. 28) equivalent to ταῦρος, a young bull already full-grown, but not yet put into the yoke.

Examples of ἀνάγειν (namely, to the altar, 1 Kings 3:15) θυσίαν may be seen in Elsner, p. 393, and from Philo in Loesner, p. 189.

εὐφραίνοντο] they rejoiced in the works of their hands. By the interpretation: “they held sacrificial feasts” (Kuinoel), the well-known history (Exodus 32:6), to which the meaning of the words points, is confounded with that meaning itself.

ἔργοις] plural of the category, which presented itself in the golden calf. On εὐφραίν. ἐν (Sirach 14:5; Sirach 39:31; Sirach 51:29; Xen. Hier. i. 16), to denote that on which the joy is causally based, compare χαίρειν ἐν, Luke 10:20; see on Philippians 1:18.


Verse 42

Acts 7:42. ἔστρεψε δὲ θεός] but God turned,—a figurative representation of the idea: He became unfavourable to them. The active in a neuter sense (1 Maccabees 2:63; Acts 5:22; Acts 15:16; Kühner, II. pp. 9, 10); nothing is to be supplied. Incorrectly Vitringa, Morus, and others hold that ἔστρεψε connected with παρέδ. denotes, after the Hebrew שׁוּב, rursus tradidit. This usage has not passed over to the N. T., and, moreover, it is not vouched for historically that the Israelites at an earlier period practised star-worship. Heinrichs connects ἔστρ. with αὐτούς: “convertit animos eorum ab una idololatria ad aliam.” But the expression of divine disfavour is to be retained on account of the correlation with Acts 7:39.

καὶ παρέδ. αὐτοὺς λατρ.] and gave them up to serve (an explanatory infinitive). The falling away into star-worship ( στρατ. τ. οὐρανοῦ = צְבָא הַשָּׁמַיִם, in which, from the worshipper’s point of view, the sun, moon, and stars are conceived as living beings) is apprehended as wrought by an angry God by way of punishment for that bull-worship, according to the idea of sin being punished by sin. The assertion, often repeated since the time of Chrysostom and Theophylact, that only the divine permission or the withdrawal of grace is here denoted, is at variance with the positive expression and the true biblical conception of divine retribution. See on Romans 1:24. Self-surrender (Ephesians 4:19) is the correlative moral factor on the part of man.

μὴ σφάγια κ. τ. λ.] Amos 5:25-27, freely after the LXX. Ye have not surely presented unto me sacrifices and offerings (offerings of any kind) for forty years in the wilderness? The question supposes a negative answer; therefore without an interrogation the meaning is: Ye cannot maintain that ye have offered … to me. The apparent contradiction with the accounts of offerings, which were actually presented to Jehovah in the desert (Exodus 24:4 ff.; Numbers 7; Numbers 9:1 ff.) disappears, when the prophetic utterance, understood by Stephen as a reproach,(207) is considered as a sternly and sharply significant divine verdict, according to which the ritual offerings in the desert, which were rare and only occurred on special occasions (comp. already Lyra), could not be taken at all into consideration against the idolatrous aberrations which testified the moral worthlessness of those offerings. Usually (as by Morus, Rosenmüller, Heinrichs, Olshausen, similarly Kuinoel) μοι is considered as equivalent to mihi soli. But this is incorrect on account of the enclitic pronoun and its position, and on account of the arbitrarily intruded μόνον. Fritzsche (ad Marc. p. 65 f.) puts the note of interrogation only after προσκυνεῖν αὐτοῖς, Acts 7:43 : “Sacrane et victimas per XL annos in deserto mihi obtulistis, et in pompa tulistis aedem Molochi etc.?” In this way God’s displeasure at the unstedfastness of His people would be vividly denoted by the contrast. But this expedient is impossible on account of the μή presupposing a negation. Moreover, it is as foreign to the design of Stephen, who wishes to give a probative passage for the λατρεύειν τῇ στρατιᾷ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, to concede the worship of Jehovah, as it is, on the other hand, in the highest degree accordant with that design to recognise in Acts 7:42 the negative element of his proof (the denial of the rendering of offering to Jehovah), and in Acts 7:43 the positive proof (the direct reproach of star-worship).


Verse 43

Acts 7:43. καὶπροσκυνεῖν αὐτοῖς] is the answer which God Himself gives to His question, and in which καί joins on to the negation implied in the preceding clause: No, this ye have not done, and instead of it ye have taken up (from the earth, in order to carry it in procession from one encampment to another) the tent ( סִכּוּת, the portable tent-temple) of Moloch.

τοῦ ΄ολόχ] so according to the LXX. The Hebrew has מַלְכְּכֶם (of your king, i.e. your idol). The LXX. puts instead of this the name of the idol, either as explanatory or more probably as following another reading ( מִלְכֹּם, comp. LXX. 2 Kings 23:13). ΄ολόχ, Hebrew הַמֹּלֶךְ (Rex), called also מִלְכֹּם and מַלְכָּם, was an idol of the Ammonites, to whom children were offered, and to whom afterwards even the Israelites(208) sacrificed children (Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 20:2; 1 Kings 11:7; 2 Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 7:31). His brazen image was, according to Rabbinical tradition (comp. the description, agreeing in the main, of the image of Kronos in Diod. Sic. xx. 14), especially according to Jarchi on Jeremiah 7:31, hollow, heated from below, with the head of an ox and outstretched arms, into which the children were laid, whose cries were stifled by the sacrificing priests with the beating of drums. The question whether Moloch corresponds to Kronos or Saturn, or is to be regarded as the god of the sun (Theophylact, Spencer, Deyling, and others, including Heinrichs, Kuinoel, Olshausen, Münter, Creuzer), is settled for our passage to this extent, that, as here by Moloch and Rephan two different divinities from the host of heaven must be meant, and Rephan corresponds to Kronos, the view of Moloch as god of the sun receives thereby a confirmation, however closely the mythological idea of Kronos was originally related to the notion of a solar deity (comp. Preller, Griech. Mythol. I. p. 42 f.), and consequently also to that of Moloch. See, moreover, for Moloch as god of the sun, Müller in Herzog’s Encykl. IX. p. 716 f.

καὶ τὸ ἄστρον τοῦ θεοῦ ὑμ. ῥεφάν] and the star (star-image) of your (alleged) god Rephan, i.e. the star made the symbol of your god Rephan. ῥεφάν is the Coptic name of Saturn, as Kircher (Lingua Aeg. restituta, p. 49, 527) has proved from the great Egyptian Scala. The ancient Arabs, Phoenicians, and Egyptians gave divine honours to the planet Saturn; and in particular the Arabic name of this star, كيوان, corresponds entirely to the Hebrew form כִּיּוּן (see Winer, Realw. II. p. 387, and generally Müller in Herzog’s Encykl. xii. p. 738), which the LXX. translators כִּיּוּן אֱלֹהֵיכֶם צַלְמֵיכֶם. Moreover, it is to be observed that the words of the original may be taken also as future, as a threat of punishment (E. Meier, Ewald): so shall ye take up the tent (Ewald: the pole) of your king and the platform of your images, etc. According to this, the fugitives are conceived as taking on their backs the furniture of their gods, and carrying them from one place of refuge to another. This view corresponds best with the connection in the prophet; and in the threat is implied at the same time the accusation, which Düsterdieck in the Stud. u. Krit. 1849, p. 910, feels the want of, on which account he takes it as present (but ye carry, etc.).—The speech of Stephen, as we have it, simply follows the LXX.">(209) have expressed by Rephan, the Coptic name of Saturn known to them. See Movers, Phönicier, I. p. 289 f., Müller, l.c.

We may add, that there is no account in the Pentateuch of the worship of Moloch and Rephan in the desert; yet the former is forbidden in Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 20:2; Deuteronomy 18:10. It is probable, however, that from this very fact arose a tradition, which the LXX. followed in Amos, l.c.

τοὺς τύπους] apposition to τὴν σκην. τ. ΄ολ. κ. τ. ἄστρ. τ. θεοῦ ὑμ. ῥεφ. It includes a reference to the tent of Moloch, in so far as the image of the idol was to be found in it and was carried along with it. For examples in which the context gives to τύπος the definite sense of idol, see Kypke, ii. p. 38, and from Philo, Loesner, p. 192.

ἐπέκεινα] beyond Babylon. Only here in the N. T., but often in classic writers.

βαβυλ.] LXX.: δαμασκοῦ (so also the Hebrew). An extension in accordance with history, as similar modifications were indulged in by the Rabbins; see Lightfoot, p. 75.


Verse 44

Acts 7:44. σκηνὴ τοῦ μαρτ.] not a contrast to Acts 7:43, for the bringing out of the culpability (“hic ostendit Steph., non posse ascribi culpam Deo,” Calvin, comp. Olshausen and de Wette) which there is nothing to indicate; but after the giving of the law (Acts 7:38) and after the described backsliding and its punishment (Acts 7:39-43), Stephen now commences the new section of his historical development,—that of the tabernacle and of the temple,—as he necessarily required this for the subsequent disclosure of the guilt of his opponents precisely in respect to this important point of charge.

The Hebrew אֹחֶל מוֹעֵד means tent of meeting (of God with His people), i.e. tent of revelation (not tent of the congregation, see Ewald, Alterth. p. 167), but is in the LXX., which the Greek form of this speech follows, incorrectly rendered by σκηνὴ τοῦ μαρτυρίου (the tent in which God bears witness of Himself), as if derived from עֵד, a witness. For the description of this tabernacle, see Exodus 25-27 :

κατὰ τὸν τύπον ὃν ἑωρ.] see Exodus 25:9; Exodus 25:40. Comp. Hebrews 8:5, and thereon Lünemann and Delitzsch, p. 337 f.


Verse 45

Acts 7:45. Which also our fathers with Joshua (in connection with Joshua, under whose guidance they stood), after having received it (from Moses), brought in (to Canaan). διαδέχεσθαι (only here in the N. T.) denotes the taking over from a former possessor, 4 Maccabees 4:15; Dem. 1218, 23. 1045, 10; Polyb. ii. 4. 7; xxxi. 12. 7; Lucian. Dial. M. xi. 3.

ἐν τῇ κατασχέσει τῶν ἐθνῶν] κατάσχεσις, as in Acts 7:5, possessio (LXX., Apocr., Joseph.). But ἐν is not to be explained as put for εἰς (Vulgate, Calvin, Grotius, Kuinoel, and others), nor is κατάσχεσις τῶν ἐθνῶν taking possession of the land of the Gentiles (as is generally held), which is not expressed. Rather: the fathers brought in the tabernacle of the covenant during the possession of the Gentiles, i.e. while the Gentiles were in the state of possession. To this, then, significantly corresponds what further follows: ὧν ἔξωσεν θεὸς κ. τ. λ. But of what the Gentiles were at that time possessors, is self-evident from εἰσήγαγον—namely, of the Holy Land, to which the εἰς in εἰσήγαγ. refers according to the history well known to the hearers.

ἀπὸ προσώπου τ. π. ἡμ.] away from the face of our fathers, so that they withdrew themselves by flight from their view. Comp. LXX. Exodus 34:24; Deuteronomy 11:23. On the aorist form ἔξωσα, from ἐξωθεῖν, see Winer, p. 86 [E. T. 111].

ἕως τῶν ἡμ. δ.] is to be separated from the parenthetic clause ὧν ἔξωσενἡμῶν, and to be joined to the preceding: which our fathers brought in … until the days of David, so that it remained in Canaan until the time of David (inclusively). Kuinoel attaches it to ὧν ἔξωσεν κ. τ. λ.; for until the time of David the struggle with the inhabitants of Canaan lasted. This is in opposition to the connection, in which the important point was the duration of the tabernacle-service, as the sequel, paving the way for the transition to the real temple, shows; with David the new epoch of worship begins to dawn.


Verse 46-47

Acts 7:46-47. καὶ ᾐτήσατο] and asked, namely, confiding in the grace of God, which he experienced (Luke 1:30). The channel of this request, only indirectly expressed by David (2 Samuel 7:2), and of the answer of God to it, was Nathan. See 2 Samuel 7:2; 1 Chronicles 18:1. What is expressed in Psalms 132:2 ff. is a later retrospective reference to it. See Ewald on the Psalm. This probably floated before the mind of Stephen (hence σκήνωμα and εὑρεῖν). The usual interpretation of ᾐτήσατο: optabat, desiderabat, is incorrect; for the fact, that the LXX. Deuteronomy 14:16 expresses שׁאל by ἐπιθυμεῖν, has nothing at all to do with the linguistic use of αἰτοῦμαι.

εὑρεῖν σκήνωμα τῷ θεῷ ἰακ.] i.e. to obtain the establishment of a dwelling-place destined for the peculiar god of Jacob. In the old theocratic designation τῷ θεῷ ἰακῶβ (instead of the bare αὐτῷ) lies the holy national motive for the request of David; on σκήνωμα applied to the temple at Jerusalem, comp. 3 Esdr. 1:50, and to a heathen temple, Pausan. iii. 17. 6, where it is even the name. Observe how David, in the humility of his request, designates the temple, which he has in view, only generally as σκήνωμα, whereas the continuation of the narrative, Acts 7:47, has the definite οἶκον.

Stephen could not but continue the historical thread of his discourse precisely down to the building of Solomon’s temple, because he was accused of blasphemy against the temple.


Verses 48-50

Acts 7:48-50. Nevertheless this ᾠκοδόμ. αὐτῷ οἶκον (Acts 7:47) is not to be misused, as if the presence of the Most High (observe the emphatic prefixing of ὕψιστος, in which lies a tacit contrast of Him who is enthroned in the highest heavens to heathen gods) were bound to the temple! The temple-worship, as represented by the priests and hierarchs, ran only too much into such a misuse. Comp. John 4:20 ff.

χειροποιήτοις] neuter: in something which is made by hands, Acts 17:24. Comp. LXX. Isaiah 16:12; 2 Chronicles 6:18.

Acts 7:49-50 contain Isaiah 66:1-2, slightly deviating from the LXX.

οὐρανὸςποδῶν μου] a poetically moulded expression of the idea: heaven and earth I fill with my all-ruling presence. Comp. Matthew 5:34; 1 Kings 8:27. Thus there cannot be for God any place of His rest ( τόπ. τῆς καταπαύσ.), any abode of rest to be assigned to Him.

οἰκοδομήσετε] The future used of any possible future case. Baur(210) and Zeller have wrongly found in these verses a disapproving judgment as to the building of the temple, the effect of which had been to render the worship rigid; holding also what was above said of the tabernacle—that it was made according to the pattern seen by Moses—as meant to disparage the temple, the building of which is represented as “a corruption of the worship of God in its own nature free, bound to no fixed place and to no rigid external rites” (Zeller). Such thoughts are read between the lines not only quite arbitrarily, but also quite erroneously, as is evident from Acts 7:46, according to which the building of Solomon appears as fulfilment of the prayer of David, who had found favour with God; comp. 1 Kings 8:24. The prophetical quotation corresponds entirely to the idea of Solomon himself, 1 Kings 8:27. The quotation of the prophetic saying was, moreover, essentially necessary for Stephen, because in it the Messianic reformation, which he must have preached, had its divine warrant in reference to the temple-worship.


Verse 51

Acts 7:51. The long—restrained direct offensive now breaks out, as is quite in keeping with the position of matters brought to this point.(211) This against Heinrichs, Kuinoel, Olshausen, and others, who quite arbitrarily suppose that after Acts 7:50 an interruption took place, either by the shouts of the hearers, or at least by their threatening gestures; as well as against Schwanbeck, p. 252, who sees here “an omission of the reporter.” Stephen has in Acts 7:50 ended his calm and detailed historical narrative. And now it is time that the accused should become the bold accuser, and at length throw in the face of his judges the result, the thoughts forming which were already clearly enough to be inferred from the previous historical course of the speech. Therefore he breaks off his calm, measured discourse, and falls upon his judges with deep moral indignation, like a reproving prophet: Ye stiff-necked! etc.

ἀπεριτμ. τῇ καρδ. κ. τ. ὠσίν] an upbraiding of them with their unconverted carnal character, in severe contrast to the Jewish pride of circumcision. The meaning without figure is: Men whose management of their inner life, and whose spiritual perception, are heathenishly rude, without moral refinement, not open for the influence of the divine Spirit. Comp. Leviticus 26:41; Deuteronomy 10:16; Deuteronomy 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4; Jeremiah 6:10; Jeremiah 9:25; Romans 2:25; Romans 2:29; Barnabas, Ep. 9; Philo, de migrat. Abr. I. p. 450; and from the Rabbins, Schoettgen in loc.

ὑμεῖς] with weighty emphasis.

ἀεί] always; even yet at this day!

ὡς οἱ πατέρες ὑμῶν καὶ ὑμεῖς] sc. ἀεὶ τῷ πν. ἁγ. ἀντιπ.; for the fathers are thought of in their resistance to God and to the vehicles of His Spirit, and therefore not the bare ἐστέ is to be supplied (with Beza and Bornemann in the Sächs. Stud. 1842, p. 72).

The term ἀντιπίπτειν, not occurring elsewhere in the N. T., is here chosen as a strong designation. Comp. Polyb. iii. 19. 5 : ἀντέπεσαν ταῖς σπείραις καταπληκτικῶς. Numbers 27:14; Herodian. 6:3. 13. Bengel well puts it: “in adversum ruitis.”


Verse 52

Acts 7:52. Proof of the ὡς οἱ πατέρες ὑμῶν καὶ (also) ὑμεῖς.

καὶ ἀπέκτ.] καί is the climactic even; they have even killed them. Comp. on this reproach, Luke 11:47. The characteristic more special designation of the prophets; τοὺς προκαταγγείλαντας κ. τ. λ., augments the guilt.

τοῦ δικαίου] κατʼ ἐξοχήν of Jesus, the highest messenger of God, the (ideal) Just One, iii. 14, xxii. 14; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 John 2:1. Contrast to the relative clause that follows.

νῦν] in the present time, opposed to the times of the fathers; ὑμεῖς is emphatically placed over against the latter as a parallel.

προδόται] betrayers (Luke 6:16), inasmuch as the Sanhedrists, by false and crafty accusation and condemnation, delivered Jesus over to the Roman tribunal and brought Him to execution.


Verse 53

Acts 7:53. οἵτινες] quippe qui. Stephen desires, namely, now to give the character, through which the foregoing οὗ νῦν ὑμεῖς προδόται κ. τ. λ., as founded on their actually manifested conduct, receives its explanation.

ἐλάβετε] ye have received, placed first with emphasis.

εἰς διαταγὰς ἀγγέλων] upon arrangements of angels, i.e. so that the arrangements made by angels (the direct servants of God), which accompanied the promulgation of the law,(212) made you perceive the obligation to recognise and observe the received law (comp. the contrast, κ. οὐκ ἐφυλάξ.) as the ethical aspect of your ἐλάβετε. Briefly, therefore: Ye received the law with reference to arrangements of angels, which could not leave you doubtful that you ought to submit obediently to the divine institution.

εἰς denotes, as often in Greek writers and in the N. T. (Winer, p. 371 [E. T. 496]), the direction of the mind, in view of. Comp. here especially, Matthew 12:41; Romans 4:20.

διαταγή is arrangement, regulation, as in Romans 13:2, with Greek writers διάταξις. Comp. also Ezra 4:11; and see Suicer, Thes. I. p. 886. On the subject-matter, comp. Galatians 3:19; Hebrews 2:2; Delitzsch on Heb. p. 49. At variance with linguistic usage, Beza, Calvin, Piscator, Elsner, Hammond, Wolf, Krause, Heinrichs, Kuinoel, and others, taking διαταγή in the above signification, render: accepistis legem ab angelis promulgatam, as if εἰς stood for ἐν. Others (Grotius, Calovius, Er. Schmid, Valckenaer, and others) explain διαταγή as agmen dispositum, because διατάσσειν is often (also in the classics) used of the drawing up of armies (2 Maccabees 12:20), and διάταξις of the divisions of an army (Judith 1:4; Judith 8:36), and translate praesentibus angelorum ordinibus, so that εἰς is likewise taken for ἐν. But against this view (with which, moreover, εἰς would have to be taken as respectu) there is the decisive fact, that there is no evidence of the use of διαταγή in the sense assumed; and therefore the supposition that διαταγή = διάταξις in this signification is arbitrary, as well as at variance with the manifest similarity of the thought with Galatians 3:19. Bengel (comp. Hackett, F. Nitzsch, also Winer doubtfully, and Buttmann) renders: Ye received the law for commands of angels, i.e. as commands of angels, so that εἰς is to be understood as in Acts 7:21; comp. Hebrews 11:8. But the Israelites did not receive the law as the commands of angels, but as the commands of God, in which character it was made known to them διʼ ἀγγέλων. Comp. Joseph. Antt. xv. 5. 3 : ἡμῶν τὰ κάλλιστα τῶν δογμάτων καὶ τὰ ὁσιώτατα τῶν ἐν τοῖς νόμοις διʼ ἀγγέλων παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ μαθόντων; and see Krebs in loc.

Moreover, the mediating action of the angels not admitting of more precise definition, which is here adverted to, is not contained in Exodus 19, but rests on tradition, which is imported already by the LXX. into Deuteronomy 33:2. Comp. on Galatians 3:19. For Rabbinical passages (Jalkut Rubeni f. 107, 3, al.), see Schoettgen and Wetstein, ad Galatians 3:19. It was a mistaken attempt at harmonizing, when earlier expositors sought to understand by the angels either Moses and the prophets (Heinrichs, Lightfoot) or the seniores populi (Surenhusius, καταλλ. p. 419); indeed, Chrysostom even discovers here again the angel in the bush.


Verses 54-56

Acts 7:54-56. ταῦτα] The reproaches uttered in Acts 7:51-53.

διεπρ. ταῖς καρδ.] see on Acts 5:33.

ἔβρυχον τ. ὀδόντ.] they gnashed their teeth (from rage and spite). Comp. Archias 12 : βρύχων θηκτὸν ὀδόντα, Hermipp. quoted in Plut. Pericl. 33; Job 16:9; Psalms 35:16; Psalms 37:12.

ἐπʼ αὐτόν] against him.

πλήρ. πνεύμ.] which at this very moment filled and exalted him with special power, Acts 4:8.

εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν] like Jesus, John 17:1. The eye of the suppliant looks everywhere toward heaven (comp. on John 17:1), and what he beheld he saw in the spirit ( πλήρ. πνεύμ. ἁγίου); he only, and not the rest present in the room.

τοὺς οὐρανούς] up to the highest. Comp. Matthew 3:16. It is otherwise in Acts 10:11.

δόξαν θεοῦ] כִּבוֹד יְהֹוָה: the brightness in which God appears. See on Acts 7:2. Luke 2:9.

ἑστῶτα] Why not sitting? Matthew 26:64; Mark 16:19, al. He beheld Jesus, as He has raised Himself from God’s throne of light and stands ready for the saving reception of the martyr. Comp. Acts 7:59. The prophetic basis of this vision in the soul of Stephen is Daniel 7:13 f. Chrysostom erroneously holds that it is a testimony of the resurrection of Christ. Rightly Oecumenius: ἵνα δείξῃ τὴν ἀντίληψιν τὴν εἰς αὐτόν. Comp. Bengel: “quasi obvium Stephano.” De Wette finds no explanation satisfactory, and prefers to leave it unexplained; while Bornemann (in the Sächs. Stud. 1842, p. 73 f.) is disposed only to find in it the idea of morandi et existendi (Lobeck, ad Aj. 199), as formerly Beza and Knapp, Scr. var. arg.

εἶδε] is to be apprehended as mental seeing in ecstasy. Only of Stephen himself is this seeing related; and when he, like an old prophet (comp. John 12:41), gives utterance to what he saw, the rage of his adversaries—who therefore had seen nothing, but recognised in this declaration mere blasphemy—reaches its highest pitch, and breaks out in tumultuary fashion. The views of Michaelis and Eckermann, that Stephen had only expressed his firm conviction of the glory of Christ and of his own impending admission into heaven; and the view of Hezel (following older commentators, in Wolf), that he had seen a dazzling cloud as a symbol of the presence of God,—convert his utterance at this lofty moment into a flourish of rhetoric. According to Baur, the author’s own view of this matter has objectivized itself into a vision, just as in like manner Acts 6:15 is deemed unhistorical.

εἶδεθεωρῶ] he saw … I behold. See Tittmann’s Synon. pp. 116, 120. As to υἱὸς τ. ἀνθρ., the Messianic designation in accordance with Daniel 7:13, see on Matthew 8:20.


Verse 57-58

Acts 7:57-58. The tumult, now breaking out, is to be conceived as proceeding from the Sanhedrists, but also extending to all the others who were present (Acts 6:12). To the latter pertains especially what is related from ὥρμησαν onward.

They stopped their ears, because they wished to hear nothing more of the blasphemous utterances.

ἐξω τῆς πόλεως] see Leviticus 24:14. “Locus lapidationis erat extra urbem; omnes enim civitates, muris cinctae, paritatem habent ad castra Israelis.” Gloss in Babyl. Sanhedr. f. 42. 2.

ἐλιθοβολοῦν] This is the fact generally stated. Then follows as a special circumstance, the activity of the witnesses in it. Observe that, as αὐτόν is not expressed with ἐλιθοβ.,(213) the preceding ἐπʼ αὐτόν is to be extended to it, and therefore to be mentally supplied. Comp. LXX. Exodus 23:4-7.

οἱ μάρτυρες] The same who had testified at Acts 6:13. A fragment of legality! for the witnesses against the condemned had, according to law, to cast the first stones at him, Deuteronomy 17:7; Sanhedr. vi. 4.

ἀπέθεντο τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτῶν] ὤστε εἶναι κοῦφοι καὶ ἀπαραπόδιστοι εἰς τὸ λιθοβολεῖν, Theophylact.

σαύλου] So distinguished and zealous a disciple of the Pharisees—who, however, ought neither to have been converted into the “notarial witness,” nor even into the representative of the court conducting the trial (Sepp)—was for such a service quite as ready (Acts 22:20) as he was welcome. But if Saul had been married or already a young widower (Ewald), which does not follow from 1 Corinthians 7:7-8, Luke, who knew so exactly and had in view the circumstances of his life, would hardly have called him νεανίας, although this denotes a degree of age already higher than μειράκιον (Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 213). Comp. Acts 20:9, Acts 23:17, also Acts 5:10; Luke 7:14.

καὶ ἐλιθοβόλουν] not merely the witnesses, but generally. The repetition has a tragic effect, which is further strengthened by the appended contrast ἐπικαλ. κ. τ. λ. A want of clearness, occasioned by the use of two documents (Bleek), is not discernible.

The stoning, which as the punishment of blasphemy (Luke 24:16; Sanhedr. vii. 4) was inflicted on Stephen, seeing that no formal sentence preceded it, and that the execution had to be confirmed and carried out on the part of the Roman authorities(214) (see Joseph. Antt. xx. 9. 1, and on John 18:31), is to be regarded as an illegal act of the tumultuary outbreak. Similarly, the murder of James the Just, the Lord’s brother, took place at a later period. The less the limits of such an outbreak can be defined, and the more the calm historical course of the speech of Stephen makes it easy to understand that the Sanhedrists should have heard him quietly up to, but not beyond, the point of their being directly attacked (Acts 7:51 ff), so much the less warrantable is it, with Baur and Zeller, to esteem nothing further as historical, than that Stephen fell “as victim of a popular tumult suddenly arising on occasion of his lively public controversial discussions,” without any proceedings in the Sanhedrim, which are assumed to be the work of the author.


Verse 59-60

Acts 7:59-60. ἐπικαλούμενον] while he was invoking. Whom? is evident from the address which follows.

κύριε ἰησοῦ] both to be taken as vocatives (Revelation 22:20) according to the formal expression κύριος ἰησοῦς (Gersdorf, Beitr. p. 292 ff.), with which the apostolic church designates Jesus as the exalted Lord, not only of His church, but of the world, in the government of which He is installed as σύνθρονος of the Father by His exaltation (Philippians 2:6 ff.), until the final completion of His office (1 Corinthians 15:28); comp. Acts 10:36. Stephen invoked Jesus; for he had just beheld Him standing ready to help him. As to the invocation of Christ generally (relative worship, conditioned by the relation of the exalted Christ to the Father), see on Romans 10:12; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Philippians 2:10.

δέξαι τὸ πνεῦμά μου] namely, to thee in heaven until the future resurrection. Comp. on Philippians 1:26, remark. “Fecisti me victorem, recipe me in triumphum,” Augustine.

φωνῇ μεγάλῃ] the last expenditure of his strength of love, the fervour of which also discloses itself in the kneeling.

μὴ στήσῃς αὐτοῖς τ. ἁμαρτ. ταύτ.] fix not this sin (of my murder) upon them. This negative expression corresponds quite to the positive: ἀφιέναι τὴν ἁμαρτίαν, to let the sin go as regards its relation of guilt, instead of fixing it for punishment. Comp. Romans 10:3; Sirach 44:21-22; 1 Maccabees 13:38; 1 Maccabees 14:28; 1 Maccabees 15:4, al. The notion, “to make availing” (de Wette), i.e. to impute, corresponds to the thought, but is not denoted by the word. Linguistically correct is also the rendering: “weigh not this sin to them,” as to which the comparison of שָׁקַל is not needed (Matthew 26:15; Plat. Tim. p. 63 B, Prot. p. 356 B, Pol. x. p. 602 D Xen. Cyr. viii. 2. 21; Valcken. Diatr. p. 288 A). In this view the sense would be: Determine not the weight of the sin (comp. Acts 25:7), consider not how heavy it is. But our explanation is to be preferred, because it corresponds more completely to the prayer of Jesus, Luke 23:34, which is evidently the pattern of Stephen in his request, only saying negatively what that expresses positively. In the case of such as Saul what was asked took place; comp. Oecumenius. In the similarity of the last words of Stephen, Acts 7:59 with Luke 23:34; Luke 23:40 (as also of the words δέξαι τὸ πν. μου with Luke 23:46), Baur, with whom Zeller agrees, sees an indication of their unhistorical character; as if the example of the dying Jesus might not have sufficiently suggested itself to the first martyr, and proved sufficient motive for him to die with similar love and self-devotion.

ἐκοιμήθη] “lugubre verbum et suave,” Bengel; on account of the euphemistic nature of the word, never used of the dying of Christ. See on 1 Corinthians 15:18.

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Acts 7:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/acts-7.html. 1832.

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Wednesday, August 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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