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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament
Acts 7

 

 

Verse 1

Acts 7:1. ἀρχιερεὺς, the high priest) as the president.— εἰ, whether) The interrogation serves the convenience of (gives occasion to) the defence of Stephen against the charges of his adversaries. ἄρα, then, has an appearance of fairness, and of expressing astonishment. This is the sum of the defence: I acknowledge the glory of GOD, revealed to the fathers, Acts 7:2; the call of Moses,(45), Acts 7:34-35; the majesty of the law, Acts 7:8; Acts 7:38; Acts 7:44; the sanctity of the temple and of this place, Acts 7:7, at the end, 45, 47. And indeed the law is more ancient than the temple: the promise, than the law. For GOD both gave and showed Himself gratuitously (of free grace) to Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and their sons, as their GOD, Acts 7:2-3; Acts 7:9-10; Acts 7:17-18; Acts 7:32; Acts 7:34; Acts 7:45; and they also showed (rendered) faith and obedience to GOD, Acts 7:4; Acts 7:20-21; Acts 7:23; especially in upholding the law, Acts 7:8; and their claim to the land of promise, Acts 7:16. Meanwhile GOD neither at the beginning, nor ever after, tied down His presence to this one spot: for even before the erection of the temple, and outside of the favoured land, He vouchsafed (permitted) Himself to be known and worshipped, Acts 7:2; Acts 7:9; Acts 7:33; Acts 7:44; and that the fathers and their posterity were not utterly restricted (fixed down) to this place, their numerous wanderings show, Acts 7:4-5; Acts 7:14; Acts 7:29; Acts 7:44; and exile in Babylon, Acts 7:43, at the end. But ye always were evil, Acts 7:9; ye resisted Moses, Acts 7:25-26; Acts 7:39-40; ye turned away from the land of promise, Acts 7:39; ye abandoned God, Acts 7:40-41; ye worshipped the temple superstitiously, Acts 7:48; ye resisted GOD and His Spirit, Acts 7:51; ye have slain the prophets and Messiah Himself, Acts 7:52; ye have not kept the law, Acts 7:53. Therefore GOD is not bound to you, much less to you alone. The histories of former events are wont to be commemorated in Scripture, the fact being traced up from its beginnings: but in such a way that, according to the exigency of the purpose in hand, some things are rapidly gone through, others are omitted: see ch. Acts 13:17-18; Deuteronomy 33:2-3; Psalms 106:7-8 : Ezekiel 20:5-6; Habakkuk 3:3-4; Hebrews 11:3-4, where faith is treated of, as here, unbelief. And most opportunely at this solemn time and place, whereas (whilst) the apostles were rather bearing witness as to Jesus Christ, Stephen makes a recapitulation of ancient events: which also affords a specimen of how one ought wisely to draw out the kernel (to give the salient points) of an Ecclesiastical History. Wherefore by no means ought we to assent to Erasmus and others, who think that “many things in this speech have not very much pertinency to the matter in hand which Stephen undertook.” In truth, this testimony is most worthy of the fulness of the Spirit, as also of the faith and power which were in him; and although he does not put his enunciations in direct contradiction to the enunciations of his adversaries, yet he answers to all the charges with power. Nor can it be doubted but that Stephen, after that he had cleared up the events of the past and present, would have introduced (inferred) something as to the future, viz. the destruction of the temple, the abrogation of the ceremonial law, and the punishment of the people (with which comp. Acts 7:43, at the end); and moreover, more at large, as to Jesus being the true Messiah (with which comp. Acts 7:37), had not “his speech been interrupted by the cries of the Jews vehemently clamouring against him” (as the same Erasmus appropriately suggests). This is the only lengthened speech in this book, delivered by a witness of Christ who was not an apostle; a precious sample of the power of the Spirit.


Verse 2

Acts 7:2. ἀδελφοὶ καὶ πατέρες, brethren and fathers) Stephen, being a young man, addresses them according to their different ages.— θεὸς τῆς δόξης, the God of glory) The sum of the Divine praise. Glory is the Divinity manifest. This magnificent, appellation implies that Abraham was indebted to GOD for both himself wholly, and his posterity, and the land and all the blessings promised and performed to himself and his posterity, and this without anything on the credit side of the account.— ὤφθη, appeared) as the GOD of glory exhibited Himself to be seen.— τῷ πατρὶ ἡμῶν, to our father) Thence it was that this benefit appertained also to the offspring of Abraham.— πρὶν , before that) comp. Acts 7:4, at the end.


Verse 3

Acts 7:3. ἔξελθεδείξω) So Genesis 12:1, LXX., except that they (the LXX.) introduce καὶ ἐκ τοῦ οἴκου τοῦ πατρός σου.— γῆς, from thy country) This brought with it (caused) his departure from Chaldea.— συγγενείας, from thy kindred) This caused subsequently his departure from Haran or Charran, to which the family of Abraham had come, Acts 7:4. The more adult part of the family remained in Mesopotamia, the younger portion in Haran; for it is not to be supposed that Terah remained altogether alone there. They who also followed Abraham out of Haran, followed him of their own accord. Abraham was not ordered to bring them with him: and if they had not followed, he still would have gone forth out of Haran: comp. Genesis 11:31; Genesis 24:4 (where Abraham directs his servant to go to his country (Mesopotamia) and his kindred, implying that the adults of the family had remained in Mesopotamia).— ἣν ἂν, whichsoever) Abraham did not know which would be the land: Hebrews 11:8.


Verse 4

Acts 7:4. χαλδαίων, of the Chaldees) whose land belonged to Mesopotamia.— μετὰ, after that) Abraham, whilst Terah lived in Haran, had in some measure his paternal home in Haran, only acting the part of a stranger or foreign sojourner in the land of Canaan: but when his father was dead, he began altogether to have his home solely in the land of Canaan. It is not without mystery (symbolical meaning), that the father of Abraham did not enter the land of Canaan: for so it was evident, that it was not by the right of worldly inheritance that this land fell to himself and his posterity.— νῦν, now) at this present day.


Verse 5

Acts 7:5. οὐδὲ βῆμα ποδὸς, not even so much as to set his foot on) That land, concerning which Acts 7:16 treats, Abraham did not receive by the Divine gift, but bought; the very fact of the purchase implying that he was a stranger.— ἐπηγγείλατο, He promised) Genesis 12:7.— αὐτὴν, it) the whole of it.— οὐκ ὄντος αὐτῷ τέκνου, when he had as yet no child) Not even Ishmael as yet was born: nor was there any hope of offspring, on account of the barrenness of Sarah. Both the inheritance and the posterity itself was according to (by) promise. This clause makes an Epitasis (Emphatic addition to what precedes. See Append.), as does that clause, not even so much as to set his foot on.


Verse 6

Acts 7:6. δὲ, but) The antithesis between the promise and the time of its fulfilment, which was to be waited for(46)ὅτι ἔσται τὸ σπέρ΄α αὐτοῦ πάροικον ἐν γῇ ἀλλοτρίᾳ, καὶ δουλώσουσιν αὐτὸ καὶ κακώσουσιν, ἔτη τετρακόσια· καὶ τὸ ἔθνος ἐγὼ) Genesis 15:13-14, LXX., ὅτι πάροικον ἔσται τὸ σπέρ΄ά σου ἐν γῇ οὐκ ἰδῖᾳ, καὶ δουλώσουσιν αὐτοὺς καὶ κακώσουσιν αὐτοὺς καὶ ταπεινώσουσιν αὐτοὺς, τετρακόσια ἔτη. τὸ δὲ ἔθνος ἐγώ.— ἀλλοτρίᾳ, a strange) Egypt was not then named. Comp. the ἐὰν, “to whomsoever they shall be in bondage,” in Acts 7:7.— κακώσουσιν) This clause, which has been omitted by some, is required by the fact itself (concerning which presently) and by the accent in Genesis 15:13.— ἔτη τετρακόσια, four hundred years) These years are to be referred not only to the Egyptian bondage (which began long after the death of Joseph and of his brethren, when the people multiplied, Acts 7:15, etc.), but to the whole sojourn in the strange land, [viz. from the birth of Isaac up to the departure out of Egypt.—V. g.] Four hundred years in the case of a people, and forty years in the case of a man, constitute a memorable period; even in the case of Israel and Moses. Moreover by this very number it was indicated that the joyful dwelling in the land of Canaan afterwards would be much longer in continuance.


Verse 7

Acts 7:7. καὶ λατρεύσουσί μοι ἐν τῷ τόπῳ τούτῳ) Exodus 3:12, LXX., καὶ λατρεύσετε τῷ θεῷ ἐν τῷ ὄρει τούτῳ. These words spoken to him Moses records of the place, Horeb, not excluding the land of Canaan: Ibid. Acts 7:8. For if service (worship) on Horeb was a sign of Moses’ mission, Exodus 3:12, much more service in the land of Canaan was a sign. Therefore Stephen has woven together the oracles given to Abraham and Moses, in this sense; “They shall go forth from the land of bondage (this was said to both Abraham and Moses), and shall come to Horeb, and shall serve the Lord in this place; and shall come thence into the land of Canaan, and shall serve the Lord.” In thus weaving together these things, he shows in a strong way, (1) that what was said to Moses as to the worship of Israel towards GOD, was already in the time of Abraham divinely intended and meant: (2) that they were taught in Horeb to serve GOD for this purpose, that they might worship Him perpetually in the land of Canaan, Acts 7:44 : (3) that the worship in Horeb was very much curtailed by the people [owing to their idolatry of the calf], Acts 7:40-41, and was rather rendered at length when they entered into the land of Canaan; Acts 7:45, “They shall serve Me,” is the expression used; they shall not, as previously, serve the Egyptians; they shall serve in freedom, as Priests.


Verse 8

Acts 7:8. καὶ οὕτως, and so) after the covenant of circumcision had been given. For Ishmael had been born previously. οὕτως, so, including the idea of time, as πῶς, “How [was it then reckoned,” includes the idea, At what time? as the answer shows, which see], Romans 4:10.— πατριάρχας, patriarchs) A magnificent appellation from the LXX. transl.


Verse 9

Acts 7:9. [ ζηλώσαντες, moved with envy) Stephen shows that the ancestors of the Jews were already at that early time stiff-necked.—V. g.]— ἀπέδοντο εἰς αἴγυπτον, sold away into Egypt) removed (alienated) from them him who was presently after carried away into Egypt. An abbreviated expression: and so the LXX., Genesis 45:4, “I am Joseph, whom ἀπέδοσθε εἰς αἴγυπτον.”


Verse 10

Acts 7:10. ἐκ πασῶν, out of all) See 2 Timothy 3:11, note (Psalms 34:17).— κατέστησεν αὐτὸν ἡγούμενον ἐπʼ αἴγυπτον καὶ ὅλον τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ) Psalms 105:21 in the LXX., κατέστησεν αὐτὸν κύριον τοῦ οἴκου αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἄρχοντα πάσης τῆς κτήσεως αὐτοῦ.


Verse 12

Acts 7:12. ἰακὼβ, Jacob) Even believers experience the common miseries of life, but to their own good.


Verse 13

Acts 7:13. ἀνεγνωρίσθη, was made known to, was recognised by) Made himself known to or recognised by: Genesis 45:1 in the LXX., ἀνεγνωρίζετο τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς αὐτοῦ.


Verse 14

Acts 7:14. ἑβδομήκοντα πέντε, seventy-five) Stephen, or Luke, follows the Septuagint translation, as being then the best known; which in Genesis 46:27, or even in Deuteronomy 10:22, has given the number Seventy-five; whereas in the Hebrew and Samaritan Pentateuch, and in Josephus, the number is Seventy. So also Philo, adding one son and one grandson of Manasses, and the two sons of Ephraim and his one grandson: Gen. the ch. already quoted, Acts 7:20.


Verse 16

Acts 7:16. καὶ, and) We may give this paraphrase of the passage: “Jacob died and our fathers (namely, Joseph); and (because, after the example of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, they wished to rest in the land of promise, Genesis 50:13; Genesis 50:25, for this reason) they were carried over into Sychem or Shechem (and into the sepulchre of Hebron, Genesis 23:19), and were laid (in “the parcel of ground” at Shechem [Joshua 24:32], and) in the sepulchre (of Hebron), which Abraham had bought (and Jacob) for a price in money (and a hundred lambs) from the sons of Emmor, (the father) of Sichem or Shechem” (and from Ephron). For two most well known histories are intertwined with one another, having reference to a double purchase (examine well Genesis 23, 33), and to a double burial: Genesis 50 and Joshua 24. In this passage both histories require the omitted parts, by the force of the relatives, to be supplied mutually one from the other. The brevity which was best suited to the ardour of the Spirit gave Stephen just occasion, in the case of a fact so well known, to compress these details in the way he has done. Moreover there is to be added the consideration that, as Jacob was buried in the sepulchre of Hebron, and Joseph in the land of Shechem, so the rest of the fathers who died in Egypt, or (at least) some of them, are said to have been gathered to both of them. For Josephus, lib. ii. Ant. ch. iv., writes, that they were entombed at Hebron; Jerome, in Ep. ad Pammach. de opt. gen. int., informs us that their sepulchres existed even in his age at Shechem, and were wont to be visited by strangers. From which Franc. Junius, lib. i. Parall. 92, infers that some of them were buried in the one place, some in the other, according as seemed convenient to their posterity. Pererius, in Gen. fol. 672, thinks that they were carried over from Shechem to Hebron. And as it would have been too long for Stephen to have recounted these several details, he with admirable compendiousness has indicated the whole. Therefore the reading ἀβραὰμ remains intact: nor is there need of the conjecture ἰακώβ. Flaccius admirably observes on this passage: “Stephen has no time, in going cursorily through so many histories, to narrate each in distinct detail: therefore he compresses into one two different sepulchres, places, and purchases, in such a way that, in the case of the former history, indeed, he names the true purchaser, omitting the seller: on the other hand, in the later history, he names the true seller, omitting the purchaser; as it were by a diameter joining two out of those four contracting parties [two buyers, Abraham and Jacob, and two sellers, Ephron and Emmor or Hamor. Stephen takes and joins Abraham, the first of the first pair, and Emmor of the second]. However much, therefore, the name of the purchaser may be emended, yet still it would not be true that Jacob was buried in Shechem. Abraham bought a place of sepulture from the sons of Heth, Genesis 23; Jacob was buried there, Genesis 49, 50 : Jacob purchased a field from the sons of Emmor or Hamor, Genesis 33; Joseph was buried there, Joshua 24. Here you have a type of those contracts, and may see how Stephen contracted the two purchases into one.” So says the Illyrian (Illyricus). See also Glassius in respect to Ellipsis. In a similar way the same Stephen, a little before, in Acts 7:7, contracted two prophecies, viz. that to Abraham and that to Moses, into one: Exodus 3:12; Genesis 15:16 : and in Acts 7:9 he condensed into one word the selling of Joseph and his removal into Egypt: and below, in Acts 7:43, he joins a saying of Amos and the departure to Babylon, out of Jeremiah. So in Acts 7:24, “A certain one (an Israelite) suffering wrong;—an Egyptian” (inflicting the wrong) [ τινα ἀδικούμενοντὸν αἰγύπτιον]. A Semiduplex [That kind of abbreviated expression, when the relation of two members of a sentence is such that they need mutually to be supplied, one from the other. See Append.] sentence of this kind, though to us for the most part it seems strange and unusual, did not seem so to the Hebrews. We shall observe an example exactly like this one, below at Hebrews 12:20. In writing, hiatuses of this kind are usually marked by the pen: but they have place also in speaking, when, in the case of a fact most well-known, and vividly present to the mind of both speaker and hearers, there is said only what is needed, and the other things, which would interrupt the flow of the language, must be supposed to have been said.— μνήματι, the sepulchre) As they were pilgrims, the first land which they bought was land for a sepulchre; for they were seeking after the heavenly land, their true native country.— τοῦ συχὲμ) τοῦ, viz. πατρός. The son was more celebrated than the father; wherefore the latter takes his designation from the former. Emmor was the father of Shechem.


Verse 17

Acts 7:17. καθὼς) This is more than ὡς. Even as God had promised it would come to pass at a particular time, so it came to pass when the four centuries had elapsed [Genesis 15:13].


Verse 19

Acts 7:19. ΄ὴ ζωογονεῖσθαι) viz. τὰ βρέφη. A word of the Septuagint: Exodus 1:17-18, and elsewhere frequently.


Verse 20

Acts 7:20. ἐν καιρῷ, at which time) a sad time, when his birth was seasonable.— ἀστεῖος) So the LXX., Exodus 2:2, express the Hebrew טוב, a goodly child. A specimen of godly physiognomy.— τῳ θεῷ, to God) So the LXX., 1 Samuel 16:12, ἀγαθὸς ὁράσει κυρίῳ: Jonah 3:3, πόλις μεγάλη τῷ θεῷ. Whatever excellent thing there is, derives its excellence from the Divine gift.— μῆνας τρεῖς, three months) They might have thought that their labour is vain, that the child notwithstanding must perish; but they undertook the labour, and the matter eventuated in a successful result very far beyond their hope.— πατρὸς) viz. αὐτοῦ. So 1 Corinthians 5:1; Galatians 4:2.


Verse 21

Acts 7:21. ἐκτεθέντα δὲ αὐτὸν) The accusative absolute, as in ch. Acts 26:3, γνώστην ὄντα σε πάντων.— εἰς υἱὸν, for her son) that he should be to her in the light of a son.


Verse 22

Acts 7:22. ἐπαιδεύθη, was learned) as being designed for the kingdom (to be king). Comp. Hebrews 11:26.— σοφίᾳ, the wisdom) This wisdom the Egyptians had learned from Joseph: Psalms 105:22. This wisdom was surpassed by that of Solomon: 1 Kings 4:30. This was held in great account by the adversaries of Stephen, especially the Alexandrians: ch. Acts 6:9δυνατὸς, powerful) This power was of more consequence than all the wisdom of the Egyptians, which Stephen, however, mentions in order to commend Moses; nor was it the wisdom that produced that power, but the promise and faith: Hebrews 11:24-25. Often wisdom and power are joined.— ἐν λόγοις, in words) viz. eloquence: although his utterance was defective: Exodus 4:10.— ἐν ἔργοις, in deeds) viz. power.


Verse 23

Acts 7:23. ἐπληροῦτο, was fulfilled) There is a ripe time in all things. Before that time we ought to undertake nothing.— τεσσαρακονταετὴς χρόνος, the age of forty years) Moses’ life was thrice forty years: Acts 7:30; Acts 7:36.— ἀνέβη ἐπὶ τὴν καρδίαν αὐτοῦ, it came up into his heart) A very appropriate phrase. There may be something in the depth of the soul, which afterwards emerges and ascends (comes up) from that sea into the heart, as into an island. It might seem to have come into the mind of Moses at random: and yet Moses was acted on by Divine impulse.— ἐπισκέψασθαι, to visit) although he himself was happy and they wretched. He was not able to have exact knowledge in the palace of the sorrows of his brethren; therefore he went forth to them.— τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς, his brethren) A motive of love which Moses also employed to others: Acts 7:26.


Verse 24

Acts 7:24. πατάξας τὸν αἰγύπτιον, having smitten the Egyptian) So the LXX. in Exodus 2:12, where the Hebrew has “he slew the Egyptian.”


Verse 25

Acts 7:25. ἐνόμιζε, he supposed) Therefore Moses knew the reason why he had done it.— συνιέναι, would understand) Often from one proof a judgment may be formed as to many cases [instances. Here, as to the general character of Moses].— οὐ συνῆκαν, they understood not) By sloth and forgetfulness often great matters are neglected. It was this resistance (perverse opposition) of the people that seems afterwards to have induced Moses to refuse the undertaking.


Verse 26

Acts 7:26. ὤφθη, he appeared, showed himself) of his own accord, unexpectedly.— συνήλασεν, he brought them together) by the force of kindness.(47)εἰπὼν, saying) An example of fraternal correction.


Verse 27

Acts 7:27. ἀπώσατο, thrust him away) adding sin to sin.— τίςαἰγύπτιον) So the LXX. Exodus 2:14. Hebr., a man a prince and a judge.— τίς, who) The instruments of GOD are often repelled under the pretext of a defect of the human call.— ἄρχοντα, a prince) They seem not to have known how great a man Moses was in the palace. It is the province of a prince to judge.


Verse 28

Acts 7:28. ὃν τρόπον, in the same way as) Those things are often known which we do not suppose are known concerning us.


Verse 29

Acts 7:29. ἐν τῷ λόγῳ τούτῳ, at this saying) when he heard this saying.— πάροικος, a stranger, sojourner) In Egypt, as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, he had begun to be at home: now, as a stranger, he wanders abroad from that country also.


Verse 30

Acts 7:30. ἄγγελος, an angel) The Son of GOD. See foll, verses. Moses at first did not know who it was, but presently after recognised Him from the voice.— πυρὶ φλογὸς, in a flame of fire) signifying the majesty of GOD, who was present.


Verse 32

Acts 7:32. τῶν πατέρων, of thy fathers) These are presently named.— σου, thy) Whomsoever GOD intends to employ, so as to be a help to others, He previously confirms that very person in faith.— ἔντρομος γενόμενος, having been thrown into a tremor) Revelations from heaven begin with striking terror into a man, especially one who has heretofore had no experience of them, and end in consolation. It is by terror that the Divine instruments are prepared.


Verse 33

Acts 7:33. τῶν ποδῶν, from thy feet) He who puts his shoes off his feet is regarded as having himself aright in respect to the whole body. Comp. John 13:10 γὰρ τόπος, for the place) The sanctity of places depends on the unrestricted will and presence of GOD, and is therefore moveable (not stationary).


Verse 34

Acts 7:34. τοῦ λαοῦ μου, of My people) They themselves were by this time, for the most part, ignorant that they were the people of GOD and yet such they were.— τοῦ στεναγμοῦ, the groaning) The sighs, ἐκ στενοῦ, out of, or by reason of straits [whence comes στεναγμὸς], constitute a peculiar object of the Divine hearing.— κατέβην, I have come down) For previously He had not seemed to be near at hand.


Verse 35

Acts 7:35. τοῦτον, this) So οὗτος is used thrice in the three following verses, by a grand Anaphora [See Append. The repetition of the same word in beginnings].— ἠρνήσαντο, they refused or denied) Forty years before, they had denied him. In the book of GOD there is accurate note made of what mortals speak against GOD and the words and deeds of one man are ascribed also to those who are of the same mind: Romans 1:32. Something may be denied (it is possible in some cases to deny) even by the mere will or wish.— ἄρχοντα καὶ δικαστην, ἄρχηγον καὶ λυτρωτὴν) A gradation: ἄρχων, a prince; ἀρχηγὸς, a chief leader; δικαστὴς, a judge, one who delivers or rescues a private individual from a private individual; λυτρωτὴς, a redeemer or deliverer, who rescues a nation from a nation. So too GOD made Jesus, whom the Jews had denied, Lord.— ἐν χειρὶ) ביד is the expression in Hebrew.— ἀγγέλου, of the angel) viz. the Lord, the Son of God: see Acts 7:30-31. See L. de Dieu on this passage.


Verse 36

Acts 7:36. γῇθαλάσσῃ) The mention of the land and sea makes the language august.


Verse 37

Acts 7:37. προφήτην, a prophet) Stephen shows that he does not put in collision with one another Moses and Christ, and that his accusers ought not to do so. The same passage is quoted in ch. Acts 3:22, where see the note.


Verse 38

Acts 7:38. οὗτος, this) Moses.— γενόμενος) Construed with μετά.— ἐν τῆ ἐκκλησίᾳ) It is not the people in this passage, but the congregation of the people, that is denoted.— μετὰ τοῦ ἀγγέλουκαὶ τῶν πατέρων, with the angel—and the fathers) Therefore Moses was mediator. Stephen does not say, with the angels, but with the Angel, i.e. of the covenant.— ἐδέξατο, received) did not invent.— λόγια, words) oracles: λόγιον, a diminutive, on account of the brevity of the several enunciations. Every paragraph that begins with that formula, And the Lord spake unto Moses, is in itself a λόγιον. The Decalogue especially is referred to.— ζῶντα, living) Living is his expression, not life-giving. He praises the law. It is fiery: it is living; Deuteronomy 33:2.


Verse 39

Acts 7:39. γένεσθαι, to become obedient) for then especially was the time of submitting themselves.— ἀπώσαντο, thrust him from them) viz. Moses, along with the law.


Verse 40

Acts 7:40. ποίησονοὗτος, ὃςαὐτῷ) Exodus 32:1, LXX., ἀνάστηθι καὶ ποίησονοὗτος ἀνὴρ (Al. ἄνθρωπος), ὃςαὐτῷ.— ποίησον θεοὺς, make gods) By the verb used the notion in the very noun was refuted: for made gods are not Gods.— οἱ προπορεύσονται, who shall go before) They thought it irksome, by reason of their longing regrets after Egypt, to sit inactive and wait so long.— τί γέγονεν αὐτῷ, what has become of him) whether he is about to return to us, or what he is about to bring with him, and at what time.


Verse 41

Acts 7:41. ἐμοσχοποίησαν, they made a calf) A very notorious act of wickedness is signified by an extraordinary and newly-coined word. They imitated the Egyptians, whose God Apis was an OX.— ἀνήγαγον θυσίαν) A rare phrase. But so also in 1 Kings 3:15, ἀνήγαγεν ὁλοκαυτώσεις.— τῷ εἰδώλῳ, unto the idol) They were idolaters, although they made the name of God their pretext.(48)εὐφραίνοντο, they rejoiced) with great pageant.— ἐν τοῖς ἔργοις τῶν χειρῶν αὐτῶν, in the works of their own hands) It becomes GOD to rejoice in the works of His own hands: and it becomes us to rejoice in the works of His hands. Men are idolaters who rejoice in the works of their own hands.


Verse 42

Acts 7:42. ἔστρεψε, turned) because our fathers ἐστράφησαν, turned back (from Him towards Egypt): Acts 7:39.— παρέδωκεν, gave them up) often, from the time of their making the calf down to the times of Amos, and subsequently, as the perversity of the people continually increased.— τῇ στρατίᾳ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, the host of heaven) for example, Mars and Saturn. See the foll. ver. The oldest form of idolatry, which looked more plausible than the others.(49) It is called a host or army, on account of its multitude, order, and power.— τῶν προφητῶν, of the prophets) the twelve.— μὴμοι ἔτηἐρήμῳ, οἶκος ἰσραήλ;— ῥε΄φὰν ἐποιήσατε προσκυνεῖν αὐτοῖς ἐπέκεινα βαβυλῶνος) Amos 5:25-26, LXX., ΄ὴ ΄οι οἶκος ἰσραὴλ ἔτη ἐρή΄ῳ; ῥαιφὰν (instead of ῥε΄φὰν)— ἐποιήσατε ἑαυτοῖς ἐπέκεινα δα΄ασκοῦ (instead of βαβυλῶνος). The prophecy of Amos has two parts: the former of which confirms Acts 7:41, as to the guilt of the people; the latter confirms the beginning of Acts 7:42, as to the judgment of GOD, there being subjoined the mention of their being carried away to Babylon.— σφάγια, slain victims) They had offered these to the Lord; but they had not done so either to Him alone, or at all times, or with a perfect and willing heart.


Verse 43

Acts 7:43. καὶ) and therefore.— καὶ ἀνελάβετε, and ye took up) Hebr. ונשאתם, and ye bore, as litters or biers (for carrying images on), not without pageant. That this was perpetrated in the wilderness not long after the calf was made, is evident from the preceding verse. This idolatry was clandestine (for otherwise Moses would not have concealed or omitted to notice it), but yet it was gross and frequent. τὴν σκηνὴν, the tabernacle) A portable shrine.— καὶ τὸ) The four clauses in Amos are read in this order: And ye bore the tabernacle (Malcechem) of your king [Engl. Vers. of your Moloch], and—(Cijun) the support or prop [Engl. Vers. Chiun, the god] of your images; the star of your god, which ye have made for yourselves: wherein the third clause is subjoined to the second by apposition, there being now (in this case) no ואת prefixed; which is the reason why the LXX. translators (whom Stephen follows) have been able, without injury to the sense, to transpose these two clauses [the star—images, in LXX.: but images—the star, in the Hebr.], and why the fourth clause [which ye made to yourselves] has reference to the one of these in the Hebrew [the star], but to the other in the Greek [the figures or images], Moloch and Cijun, from being appellative became proper names; and these in Amos are construed with reference to their signification as appellatives, so that that weighty suffix, כם, your, should not be excluded [your Moloch or else King], in such a way, however, as to allude to the proper names: whence the LXX. expressly have translated them as proper names. That what Cijun (Chiun) denotes in Amos, is denoted by the Remphan of the LXX. translators, is evident from the same transposition of the clauses: namely, Saturn, as Moloch denotes Mars. See the Specimen Glossarii Sacri of A. Müller, p. 13; Selden, de diisSyr(50), and on him Andr. Beyerus; Buddei, H. E. V. T. Per. ii. p. 768, etc. Humphr. Hodius, lib. ii. de Bibl. c. 4, fol. 115, 116, plausibly infers that the translator of Amos was an Egyptian, from this Egyptian appellation of Saturn. Joh. Christoph. Harenbergius, in a remarkable disquisition, thinks that Chijun or Remphan was the Nile, which the Egyptians represented by the star Saturn. P. E. Jablonski interprets both of the Sun: Sam. Petitus, both of Saturn.— τὸ ἄστρον, the star) So Saturn is called, the star of whom was represented by the image: as contrasted with Mars, whom they worshipped under the form of a human figure.— τοῦ θεοῦ ὑμῶν, your god) R. Isaac Caro terms the planet Saturn the Star of Israel, appealing to the unanimous opinion of all astrologers. See Lud. de Dieu on this passage. For the purpose of upbraiding them, he thrice introduces the word your.— ῥεμφὰν, Remphan) The stop, judging from the Hebrew accents and the order of the words, ought to have been placed before this word, which is variously written; which, however, the LXX. translators have superseded or rendered unnecessary [by the different order of the words which they give]. But whereas the notion of the word Cijun had in it a notion suited for bringing conviction home to the Jews, a notion which is not fully given in the proper name, ρεμφὰν, of the same LXX., Stephen supplied it by introducing the verb προσκυνεῖν, to worship; whether you derive כיון from כהן (as איוב from אהב, and היה for ההה) or from כון, with which comp. the conjugate, להכין, Isaiah 40:20. The word, ῥεφὰν, and by inserting as the Greeks do an ΄ before the second labial, ῥε΄φὰν, seems to have the same origin as תרפים (as to which others have treated); and hence has arisen the name Remphis, a king of Egypt. Moloch is a name plain enough.— τοὺς τύπους, figures) [types]. Subtilty [in describing images as mere symbols, or types, representing different attributes of the true God] does not excuse idolatry.— ἐπέκεινα βαβυλῶνος, beyond Babylon) i.e. beyond Damascus and Babylon: for Amos in the Hebrew, and the LXX., read ἐπέκεινα δα΄ασκοῦ. At the time of Amos they were in dread of Damascus on account of the Syrian wars: Babel (Babylon), the place of their captivity, was not as yet named; Stephen therefore supplied it: and in fact they were carried away beyond the city of Babylon: 2 Kings 17:6, “The king of Assyria took Samaria (in the ninth year of Hoshea), and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and Habor, by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.” They were carried away, as a punishment, to that quarter from which they had brought their idols. Their thoughts were dwelling on Egypt: they therefore had to depart to another region far removed from it. A similar case of Ampliatio(51) of a quotation in ch Acts 15:17 (where see the note) should be compared. The Wecheliana editio observes, that there is read somewhere δαμασκοῦ instead of βαβυλῶνος: and Prideaux, in his Connection of Sacred History with Profane, Part i. p. 14, 15, ed. Germ., thinks this to be derived from old copies, and almost approves of it. The Wechelian readings, when they are supported by no other MSS., owe their origin to the annotations of Beza. δα΄ασκοῦ has been plainly derived from the LXX. in (into) Justin, whom Beza quotes.


Verse 44

Acts 7:44. σκηνὴ τοῦ μαρτυρίου, the tabernacle of witness) So the LXX. for the Hebrew אהל מועד, Exodus 27:21, etc.— κατὰ τὸν τύπον, according to the fashion) Hebrews 8:5, note. This ‘type’ was better than those ‘types’ (‘figures’), of which Acts 7:43 speaks.


Verse 45

Acts 7:45. διαδεξάμενοι, having received) in a long succession.— ἐν, in [or into]) when they subdued the peoples (in Canaan).— τῇ κατασχέσει, the occupation [‘possession’]) מורשה, LXX. κατάσχεσις· ירש, κατέσχε.


Verse 46

Acts 7:46. εὗρε χάριν, found favour) Happy is he who finds favour. Nothing is better.— ᾐτήσατο εὑρεῖν, sought to find) ardently: Psalms 132:2-5.—( σκήνωμα) Psalms 132:5, משכן, LXX., σκήνωμα. This is more than σκηνή.(52)


Verse 47

Acts 7:47. σολομὼν, Solomon) So long was Israel without a temple.— οἶκον, a house) This is a humble (“tenue”) term, and one suited to this passage, instead of temple.


Verse 48

Acts 7:48. οὐκ, not) This particle put in the beginning of the sentence has great force. The same protestation was made by Solomon in the very act of dedicating the temple, 1 Kings 8:27.— ὓψιστος, the Highest) An appropriate appellation. He is not to be contained by any edifice.— ἐν χειροποιήτοις, in what are made with hands) This is the ancient reading,(53) to which the more modern authorities have added ναοῖς, from ch. Acts 17:24 : χειροποίητα is wont to be used by the LXX. absolutely for idols; also for shrines or sanctuaries, Isaiah 16:12. And most elegantly Stephen abstains from the term ναοῖς, refuting thus their superstition. The Divine manufacture (making with hands), is the whole universe of things, Acts 7:50.

So ABCDE Vulg. But Rec. Text adds ναοῖς, without any of the oldest authorities.—E. and T.


Verse 49

Acts 7:49. σὐρανὸς, κ. τ. λ.) Isaiah 66:1-2, in the Septuag., οὕτως λέγει κύριος, οὐρανός μοι θρόνος, δὲ γῆ ὑποπόδιον τῶν ποδῶν μου· ποῖον οἶκον οἰκοδομήσετέ μοι; καὶ ποῖος τόπος τῆς καταπαύσεώς μου; πάντα γὰρ ταῦτα ἐποίησεν χείρ μου.— καταπαύσεως, of My rest) The Gentiles made for their gods cushioned couches.(54) The false use of the temple is hereby reproved.


Verse 50

Acts 7:50. χείρ μου, My hand) which is ever unwearied.


Verse 51

Acts 7:51. σκληροτράχηλοι, stiff-necked) The heart and tongue are required in confession: the heart, ears, and neck,(55) are required in receiving the truth. Stephen weightily censures the Jews: and yet not too soon; for they had been before affectionately (courteously) invited by the apostles.— ἀπερίτμητοι, uncircumcised) A just reproof: comp. Acts 7:8.— τῇ καρδίᾳ, in heart) Such they show themselves in Acts 7:54.— τοῖς ὠσὶν, the ears) Such they show themselves in Acts 7:57, “They stopped their ears.”— ὑμεῖς, ye) not we, the witnesses of Jesus. He includes the ancient Jews; comp. the end of the ver.— ἀεὶ, always) The sum of his discussion: always, as often soever as ye are called.— τῷ πνεύματι τῷ ἁγίῳ, the Holy Spirit) who testifies concerning Jesus, and concerning the whole truth, by the prophets.— ἀντιπίπτετε, set yourselves against) They were altogether differently minded from what is demanded in the second ver. of the same chapter of Isa. (66)— ὡς οἱ πατέρες ὑμῶν, καὶ ὑμεῖς, as your fathers, so ye) Both are explained (illustrated) in Acts 7:52.


Verse 52

Acts 7:52. καὶ ἀπέκτειναν, and they have slain) This is commonly construed with what follows; but it is more suitable to connect it with the verb ἐδίωξαν, persecuted. [The margin of Ed. 2 and the Vers. Germ. more clearly answers to this judgment than the larger Ed.—E. B.] For, Which of the prophets not expresses, with the addition of feeling, the same meaning as, all the prophets; whence the construction should be, [“Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted and slain,” i.e.] all the prophets, who announced or showed before, etc. Syllepsis. [Append. Where the sense regulates the construction more than the words; as here the Plural, τοὺς προκαταγγείλαντας, refers to the antecedent plural implied in the singular, τίνα τῶν προφητῶν;]— περὶ τῆς ἐλεύσεως, concerning the coming) Whence He is so often called ἐρχόμενος, the Comer, He who is to come.— τοῦ δικαίου, of the Just One) A remarkable Antonomasia [substitution of an appellative designation for a proper name]. The true Messiah is the Just Author of justice or righteousness.— νῦν, now) The now answers to the before in who announced or showed before.— προδοται, betrayers) to Pilate. Refer this to the previous, persecuted.— φονεῖς, murderers) Pilate delivering Him up to them. Refer this to the previous, have slain.


Verse 53

Acts 7:53. οἵτινες, who) He proves, from the deed which they had perpetrated upon the Christ, that they had not kept the law. Comp. John 7:19.— ἐλάβετε, have received) with subjection, in the first instance.— εἰς διαταγὰς ἀγγέλων, into, as to [by] the dispositions of angels) [as being the ordinances established by angels]. This indicates the majesty of the law: Galatians 4:14, “Ye received me as an angel of God.” The angels on Sinai appeared under the appearance of a flame. Comp. Galatians 3:19 ( διαταγεὶς δἰ ἀγγέλων), Hebrews 2:2. εἰς, at, in respect to, or by reason of, as in Romans 4:20 ( εἰς τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν: he staggered not at it in unbelief, as being the promise of God). The Jews received the law as that which was to be regarded in the light that angelical ordinances would deserve to be regarded; namely, with the highest reverence. God has the angels for His ministers. Hence, what is angelic, is certainly also divine.— οὐκ ἐφυλάξατε, have not kept it) with all your phylacteries [alluding to the verb ἐφύλαξατε]. He who believes on Christ, establishes the law: he who sets aside Christ, sets aside the law. Reason would think that these last words of Stephen ought to have been suppressed by him, because he had by this time completed his defence. But in the state of one making confession of the truth, all things ought to be said, which the glory of GOD and the salvation of the hearers demand.


Verse 55

Acts 7:55. πλήρης, full) As the fury of his enemies increases, the strength of spirit in Stephen increases, as also every fruit of the Spirit.— ἀτενίσας, having looked stedfastly) By an earnest look to heaven, the mind of those dying by a violent death may be raised up.— εἶδε, he saw) Jesus is not said to have addressed Stephen.— δόξαν θεοῦ, the glory of God) the ineffable splendour which shines forth in the third heaven.— ἐστῶτα, standing) as if to meet Stephen. Comp. Acts 7:59. For everywhere else he is said to sit. Arator well writes,—

“Lumina cordis habens cœlos conspexit apertos

Ne lateat, quid Christus aget: pro martyre surgit.

Quem tunc stare videt, confessio nostra sedentem

Cum soleat celebrare magis. Caro juncta Tonanti

In Stephano favet ipsa sibi: Dux præscius armat

Quos ad dona vocat.”

“By the light that shone into his heart he beheld the heavens opened, so that it does not escape his glance what Christ is doing there: He rises for the martyr, whom the latter at that time sees standing; whereas our confession (creed) is wont rather to celebrate Him as sitting. The flesh itself, assumed by the Thunderer, favours, in the case of Stephen, its own self. The prescient Captain of our salvation arms those, whom He calls to gifts.”


Verse 56

Acts 7:56. ἰδοὺ, Behold) A confession of faith flowing from a present experimental proof. [From this very moment the eternal life shone upon Stephen more strongly than heretofore.—V. g.]— θεωρῶ, I see) It was not the province of his enemies to see, but to believe, if they had had faith.— τοὺς οὐρανοὺς, the heavens) This expresses more than heaven, in Acts 7:55.— τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, the Son of man) Luke in the preceding ver. calls Him Jesus. Not Luke, but Stephen, saw Jesus. Comp. note on Matthew 16:13 as to the appellation, Son of man. [An appellation which none but Christ employed, and of Himself during His life. Nor is it found in the twenty-one Epistles.] The article refers to Daniel 7:13. As Adam is the representative of all his fallen offspring; so Jesus, the second Adam, is the representative-man of all the redeemed sons of men, sustaining their rights and primogeniture. 1 Corinthians 15:47; Hebrews 2:11, where the article is not added, the words being those of David, not Paul. It expresses His manifested state, both the past one in lowliness, and the present and future one in exaltation, as Stephen sees Him, and as He shall appear.


Verse 57

Acts 7:57. κράξαντες, having cried out) so as that they should not hear Stephen. The transition is easily made from words, threats, stripes, and imprisonment, to murder.— ὥρμησαν, rushed) before that the judges had given (got ready) their votes.


Verse 58

Acts 7:58. ἔξω τῆς πόλεως, out of the city) They regard Stephen as having been injurious to the city, and therefore unworthy to die in it.— ἀπέθεντο, they laid down) in order to be the less encumbered.— νεανίου, of a young man) Saul already at that time seems to have held some degree of dignity among them. It was, however, so ordered by Providence, that he did not raise his hand against the martyr: ch. Acts 26:10.— σαύλου Saul) He was perhaps of the progeny of King Saul.—Valla. At least they were of the same tribe.


Verse 59

Acts 7:59. κύριε ἰησοῦ, Lord Jesus) Stephen still confesses His name.

θεὶς, laying down [resting on his knees]) He was not able to do so previously: yet he was able to pray, being more unimpeded in mind than in body. At the same time the knees being laid down, so as to kneel, more properly accords with his intercession for the sin of his enemies.— φωνῇ μεγάλῃ, with a loud voice) with boldness of speech; in order that those raising the tumult might hear.— κύριε, Lord) He calls the same Jesus, Lord. Dying persons ought to invoke Him.— ἁμαρτίαν, sin) It is not inconsistent with maintaining patience to call sin, sin.— ἐκοιμήθη, he fell asleep) A mournful but sweet word. This proto-martyr had (strange to say) all the very apostles as his survivors.

 


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Bibliography Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Acts 7:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/acts-7.html. 1897.

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Friday, October 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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