Ananias obeys and performs his ministry to Paul. Laying hands on Saul, he declares that he has been sent by the Lord Jesus so that Saul may see again and be filled with the Spirit (Acts ). Saul's vision (v. 12) linked only the healing and the laying on of hands, consistent with other passages in Luke-Acts (Lk ; ; Acts ). Acts Moses was born and was only in his Israeli home for three months (Acts ). They exposed him in a basket to Pharoah’s daughter who took him and raised him as her own son (Acts ). According to Josephus, her name was “Thermutis”. The Acts of the Apostles (Koinē Greek: Πράξεις Ἀποστόλων, Práxeis Apostólōn; Latin: Actūs Apostolōrum), often referred to simply as Acts, or formally the Book of Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; it tells of the founding of the Christian church and the spread of its message to the Roman Empire.. Acts and the Gospel of Luke make up a two-part work, Luke–Acts.
Acts They misunderstood their own spiritual roots Acts They rejected their God-sent deliverers Acts They disobeyed their law Acts They despised their temple Acts They stubbornly resisted their God and His truth. What are the chances you will miss Christmas this year? Saturday will come and go and you will somehow just miss it? The Sanhedrin had not only missed the coming of Christ, but after His resurrection they continued to cover up and deny the historical reality of His appearing.
You know what a watershed is. You see the sign on the highway: marks a great divide between the waters flowing in one direction or the other. We have seen how Peter attempted to re-offer the kingdom to the Jewish nation if they would only repent and trust in the risen Lord Jesus. But they persisted in their rejection and rebellion. God is now going to switch directions and take this new gospel message directly to the despised Gentiles. The Jews could not abide this change in approach and the loss of their favored status — even though God was not permanently setting them aside.
As Stephen faced death himself, his mind was not spinning out of control in panic; instead he calmly reviews with these Jewish religious leaders the history of their stubborn arrogance and self righteousness. They thought they could confine God to a box of a physical connection to the temple in Jerusalem.
Acts Commentary. Many followers of Christ today are effectively "functionally" ignorant of much of the Old Testament which is very sad. They might go to the Psalms and Proverbs for devotionals but generally spend little time in this treasure chest of inspired truth which is the foundation for the NT.
All we really need is the New Testament. The Old Testament heritage supports the New Testament and explains it. He builds everything he says on the Old Testament. Stephen's Powerful Sermon - 2. First he highlighted Abraham and the patriarchal age Acts ; then Joseph and the Egyptian exile Acts ; thirdly Moses, the Exodus and the wilderness wanderings Acts ; and lastly David and Solomon, and the establishment of the monarchy Acts On the contrary, the God of the Old Testament was the living God, a God on the move and on the march, who was always calling his people out to fresh adventures, and always accompanying and directing them as they went.
Instead, Stephen emphasized some things in Jewish history they may not have considered: That God never confined Himself to one place like the temple , and that the Jewish people had a habit of rejecting those God sends to them. Acts 7 Commentary. The ESV begins with " and.
Both were involved in the illegal nocturnal trials of Jesus and were instrumental in bringing about His crucifixion. Presumably the one addressed here is Caiaphas. He had "blood on his hands" already so what was a little more blood to his conscience?
This office was established by God through Moses instructions in the Pentateuch. It reminds us somewhat of our phrase "Do you plead guilty or non-guilty? S Lewis Johnson points out that this question was a "trap" - The stock question in logic books, if you want to illustrate a question that will incriminate the person that you want to defeat in an argument, the stock question is have you stopped beating your wife?
Below are these things , the accusations leveled against Stephen. The fifth one could be viewed as related to accusations 3 and 4.
One was that he was subverting Moses and the law Acts , The other charge Here is a outline with relationship to the charges against Stephen The irony is that the original defendant is not guilty while the original prosecutors are guilty.
Many have criticized Stephen's speech for number of reasons. Martyn Lloyd-Jones must have thought Acts 7 be of great significance as he preached 38 sermons on this single chapter!
These religious Jews put all of their salvific emphasis on the Temple and the Torah. They told people that to have any relationship with God they must go into the Temple because the presence of God was in the Temple. They also taught that the people needed to keep the O. Stephen has been toppling their theology with the grace message. He has been exalting the name of Jesus Christ above the land, the Law and the Temple Now why is it brought up that God appeared to Abraham in Mesopotamia? Acts Because Stephen is proving that the God of Israel is not a God limited to their specific geographical spot in the Temple of Jerusalem, but He is a God of the whole world.
He began at the beginning, then went on and on making almost no mention of the matter in hand; there can be no greater fault than to say a lot but wander from the subject.
He was accused of trying to overthrow religion; therefore, he strenuously insisted that he was still true to the God their fathers always worshiped What function, then, did the temple have in a post-Calvary world?
Now that Jesus had offered up his own life as a sacrifice for sins, did the physical temple in Jerusalem, along with its rituals and ceremonies and priests, have any significance at all, other than to point to something that had now been fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ cf Ro , Col ?
So far, at least, Christians were still attending some of the rituals of the temple in Jerusalem the morning and evening prayers, for example , though they were unlikely now to be taking part in the sacrificial ceremonies. Paul, in one of his messages, latter on, comments upon the fact that he sat at the feet of Gamaliel, as if Gamaliel was his master in spiritual things. Of course, he was not a willing person at the feet of Stephen at those debates in the Hellenistic synagogue cf "they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.
It was there that he Paul learned his message We cannot understand them. They are puzzles to us. But, nevertheless, they are part of the providence of God I can imagine Paul going in, and I can imagine also that Paul, too, was defeated by this man, Stephen You have blasphemed Moses and you have blasphemed God. He had, evidently, told them that the temple was no longer the place where God is worshipped.
God is worshipped in spirit and in truth, and while the temple may have been the proper place for a time, now that Christ has come, we worship God not through the Levitical ceremonies of the Mosaic system; but we worship him in spirit and in truth Jn Jonathan Teram - We must note a few things about his defense right away.
Second , it seems like Stephen hardly defends himself. For this reason, some skeptics have said that this defense is not genuine but rather is just Luke inserting another argument for Christianity. What those skeptics fail to note is that though Stephen does not defend himself per say, he does answer his accusations and prove that they are false. The hung on the illustration and missed out on the reality. Rather than allowing the Law to point them to their need of a Savior, Jesus Christ, they used the law unlawfully to encourage their own law keeping as good enough to please God.
Keeping the Law and temple, but missing Christ is a tragedy. God is not imprisoned in the walls of his temple, he is not a caged animal for the enjoyment of his people. He is boundless in calling whomever he will. In v2 — his call goes out to one who lived in Mesopotamia. God does not just call out to Abraham from the comfort and safety of Mt.
The idea of God doing this would be repulsive to the Jews. Remember, in Genesis this is the land of rebellion against God as the tower of Babel is built.
Throughout the Old Testament this land is the capital of idolatry. But God goes into that unlikely place to call a people. This he proves by showing, that the outward organization and condition of Israel had undergone repeated change, under Abraham Acts —8 , Joseph Acts —16 , Moses Acts —44 , David Acts —46 ; that the actual state of things had no existence before Solomon Acts ; that even this was intended from the beginning to be temporary Acts —50 ; and lastly, that the Israelites of every age had been unfaithful to their trust Acts , 25, 27, 35, 39—43, 51— This was a defence of the Christian cause even more than of himself.
His use of the Bible was itself a refutation. He knows the Scriptures; he reverently repeats their history. He shows that he accepts Moses as a prophet, and that even his preaching of Jesus as the Messiah was simply the proclamation that Moses' prophecy had been fulfilled, and Moses himself bade them, "Hear ye him. The people rejected Moses, but he became their deliverer, and brought them to the Promised Land. The rulers were now rejecting Jesus ; they had betrayed and murdered him, but still God would make him their deliverer, and he would bring the Messianic kingdom they hoped for.
So God delivered Joseph, as he has now delivered Christ. Even in the earliest times there were suggestions of a wider worship than tabernacle or temple, and that vision was now being realized.
He was doing so not so much to acquit himself but to defend the Gospel. Notice that Acts serves as an illustration of his indictment to the Sanhedrin that " you are doing just as your fathers did. Eternal Perspective of God of Glory — sees the end from the beginning - Stephen condemning the Jewish leaders for their limited perspective.
At the time Abraham and his family were worshipping other gods Joshua ; call in Haran was a confirmation of earlier call when he was in Ur Gen. Warren Wiersbe adds that "Abraham was the founder of the Hebrew nations, and his relationship to God was one of grace and faith. God had graciously appeared to him and called him out of heathen darkness into the light of salvation, and Abraham had responded by faith. Abraham was saved by grace, through faith, and not because he was circumcised, kept a law, or worshipped in a temple.
He believed the promises of God and it was this faith that saved him. Neil writes that "On the surface it appears to be a rather tedious recital of Jewish history which has little relevance to the charges on which Stephen has been brought to trial; on closer study, however, it reveals itself as a subtile and skilful proclamation of the Gospel which, in its criticism of Jewish institutions, marks the beginning of the break between Judaism and Christianity, and points forward to the more trenchant exposition of the difference between the old faith and the new as expressed by Paul and the author of the Letter to the Hebrews.
Stephen's presentation illustrates an important principle for all Christ followers - "Stephen was a faithful servant before he became a martyr. Thus, when this moment arrived, he was ready. What steps have you taken to defend your faith? Could you be as faithful as Stephen under such criticism and scrutiny? William Larkin makes an interesting introductory statement that "Human religious effort is a fact of life in almost every culture. Yet Stephen declares it is such effort that has kept Israel from knowing the righteous Savior and true worship.
Stephen's opponents see in his preaching a challenge to first-century Judaism's twin pillars of piety: the law and the temple Acts , Acts Stephen now proceeds to answer these charges, not as one defending himself but as a witness to the gospel Lk He exposes the falseness of the charges as he affirms his loyalty to God's law and true worship. But more important, he reveals how religious effort, in this case first-century Judaism, is an obstacle to the true knowledge of God's saving provision, the Messiah.
God was creative and innovative in His dealings with humans and particularly with Israel Warren Wiersbe feels that the illustration of Abraham Acts demonstrates that "they misunderstood their own spiritual roots. It was "the victor's crown," a symbol of triumph in the Grecian athletic games. How fitting that it is the name of this godly saint who paid the highest price when he was stoned to death for speaking the truth of the Gospel! Give me your attention now!
Speaks of urgency! While it may be unintended I think it was intentional! Dt How longsuffering and mercy filled is our God! R C H Lenski feels that Stephen was "Apparently not making a special defense at all or with one syllable referring to his accusers and their false witnesses, he is yet utterly refuting them and making the most effective defense.
In other words he is not seeking to defend himself per se but to give a Scriptural defense of the Gospel and of Jesus.
Rather, it is a proclamation of the Christian message in terms of the popular Judaism of the day and an indictment of the Jewish leaders for their failure to recognize Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah or to appreciate the salvation provided in him. Expositor's Bible Commentary. It was instead an apologetic for the new way of worship that Jesus taught and His followers embraced.
Luke evidently recorded this speech, the longest one in Acts, to explain and defend this new way of worship quite fully. F F Bruce agrees commenting that "Such a speech as this was by no means calculated to secure an acquittal before the Sanhedrin.
This becomes particularly clear when he talks about the temple. It was cherished by the Jews. But it was destined to pass away, and Stephen seemed to have sensed that. His speech is a transition speech that paves the way for presenting the gospel to the Gentiles, which begins in the very next chapter of Acts.
He begins by saying they are on the same ethnic team! In short it refers to a speech given in defense. While the word is not used in Acts 7 clearly Stephen is also implying "Hear my apologia! Stephen demonstrates he is filled with the Spirit of the Living God. He gives us a living illustration of the Peter's words.
Such a speech as this was by no means calculated to secure an acquittal before the Sanhedrin. Are you doing this? It is critical! Stephen begins his message with a description of God that clearly indicates he is not a blasphemer of God. A blasphemer takes that which is sacred and calls it worthless, without value, worth nothing.
Stephen's description refutes their charge. In fact Stephen uses the name "God" 18 times in his speech, but never in a demeaning or denigrating way. Free of all human roots, he became totally dependent on God to provide his future, his inheritance And today we too must be willing to say no to our dependence on religious effort and say yes to the God Who calls us to follow Him alone. Acts Stephen's Speech. Stephen begins by showing that God revealed Himself to a man who at that time was a pagan and who was not in Israel.
Because Israel was the only nation privileged to have the glory of God as a part of its inheritance Ro. God's glory had come in His Son John , but the nation had rejected Him. He is glorified when He is allowed to be seen as He really is.
To be where God is, is glory, which is every believer's reward! To be what God intended will be glory cf 1 Jn To do what God purposed will be glory.
In other words, it is the displaying of God to the world. Thus, things which glorify God are things which show the characteristics of His being to the world. The stars vanish when the sun appears. Ps Just as the eighth Psalm is to be read by moonlight, when the stars are bright, as the nineteenth needs the rays of the rising sun to bring out its beauty, so this can be best rehearsed beneath the black wing of tempest, by the glare of the lightning, or amid that dubious dusk which heralds the war of elements.
The verses march to the tune of thunderbolts. God is everywhere conspicuous, and all the earth is hushed by the majesty of his presence. The word of God in the law and gospel is here also depicted in its majesty of power. True ministers are sons of thunder, and the voice of God in Christ Jesus is full of majesty. Thus we have God's works and God's word joined together: let no man put them asunder by a false idea that theology and science can by any possibility oppose each other.
We may, perhaps, by a prophetic glance, behold in this Psalm the dread tempests of the latter days, and the security of the elect people. Will stir your heart to worship the God of Glory! Hackett feels that the idea of glory speaks of "the light or visible splendor amid which Jehovah revealed himself; the symbol, therefore, of his presence.
John MacArthur on the significance of the name God of glory - Glory is the fullness of the manifestation of all that God is. The glory of God is the composite of all of His attributes, when it is talking about the nature of God. We can talk about the God of love or the God of justice or the God of grace or the God of wisdom or the God of righteousness or the God of wrath or the God of power or the God of presence or anything we want.
But we can just say the God of glory , and that encompasses every single thing that God ever is. Marshall suggests that Stephen used the name God of glory "perhaps to emphasize at the outset the transcendence of the God Who does not live in a Temple made with hands. The other fascinating aspect of then Name God of glory is that Luke has just described Stephen's face " like the face of an angel. Even as he is speaking his face was glowing with glory! Filled with the Spirit and boldness and glowing with the glory of God -- can you imagine the reaction of these religious leaders!
Not only did Stephen give a visual reminder of God, but he gave off an aroma of Jesus! Paul writes And who is adequate for these things? But as we see in this chapter, they were dug in, so to speak, to their love of sin and and power and prestige, and were not about to acknowledge Stephen as representative of the Most High God!
Such is the all encompassing power of sin on our hearts and minds! Stephen does not mention Ur but the implication that the God of glory appeared to Abraham in Ur of the Chaldees. This is not a discrepancy but is progressive revelation, Stephen's account giving additional detail.
See map of Abraham's travels from Ur to Haran to Canaan. Now we come to what at first glance appears to be a discrepancy by Stephen when compared to the parallel OT account. Stephen implies God appeared to Abraham in Ur. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. So which is correct? Stated another way, did Abraham have one or two encounters with God before he departed for Canaan? It was God who appeared, spoke, sent, promised, punished and rescued. Change is painful to us all, especially when it affects our cherished buildings and customs, and we should not seek change merely for the sake of change.
Yet true Christian radicalism is open to change. It knows that God has bound himself to his church promising that he will never leave it and to his word promising that it will never pass away.
So long as these essentials are preserved, the buildings and the traditions can if necessary go. We must not allow them to imprison the living God or to impede his mission in the world.
MacArthur answers that "There is an apparent historical discrepancy here. Stephen places his call while he still lived in that city before he lived in Haran. Since Stephen was fully controlled by the Holy Spirit Acts , 15; his facts must be correct and can be harmonized with other Scripture. Both ancient writers Philo and Josephus give that obvious interpretation F. Yet that was what Stephen evidently did Acts —8. John the Baptist had encountered a similar audience. These people were drawing the conclusion that just because they had genetic ties with Abraham—because they could proudly trace their roots all the way back to the Patriarch—they were therefore blessed by God no matter what.
They believed that their very Jewishness was sufficient to ensure their protection and blessing. How wrong they were! Reformed Expository Commentary - Acts. Our father Abraham - Note that Stephen does not say "your father" but " our father Abraham. He is not denying his roots or origin. He still considered himself an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the chosen nation. Stephen begins with " father Abraham " who lived a life of faith and whose revelation from God was independent of the Law or the Temple.
Stephen's point is that the transcendent God can reveal Himself to whom He wants and whenever He wants. He is not restricted to the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem remember they had accused him of speaking against the Temple - Acts Stephen called him not just Abraham but father Abraham undoubtedly because he knew the Sanhedrin greatly revered him and were proud to be Abraham's "children.
Both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ sought to correct their faulty understanding It is because you cannot hear My word. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him.
Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be? Jn God had graciously appeared to him and called him out of heathen darkness into the light of salvation, and Abraham had responded by faith Hebrews , Abraham was saved by grace, through faith, and not because he was circumcised, kept a law, or worshiped in a temple. He believed the promises of God and it was this faith that saved him The Jews were blind to the simple faith of Abraham and the patriarchs, and they had cluttered it with man-made traditions that made salvation a matter of good works, not faith.
God has no grandchildren. Each of us must be born into the family of God through personal faith in Jesus Christ John Clearly he is identifying himself with his Jewish brethren. See Map. Ge Genesis confirms that Haran remained the permanent residence of Abraham's relatives even in the days of Jacob. These religious leaders were too Jerusalem focused, too temple obsessed. They had better get their eyes open, Stephen was saying, or they would miss what God was doing.
It was happening, not in the temple recesses, in the Holy Place, or Holy of Holies, but rather in the temple courtyard and in the streets of Jerusalem.
There the gospel of Jesus Christ was being preached and confirmed with powerful exhibitions of God's power working through the apostles. Life Application Bible Commentary — Acts. This table is modified from a table in Believer's Study Bible.
To do so is either to affirm that the Spirit of Truth inspired error, or to deny that all the Bible is inspired. The former is absurd to the point of blasphemy; the latter contradicts 2 Timothy And if all of Scripture is not inspired, who decides what is and is not inspired? Fallible human reason is certainly not qualified to sit in judgment on the Word of God. The problem, then, lies with the veracity of neither Stephen nor Luke, but only with our lack of complete information.
Thus Stephen telescopes accounts of Abraham's purchase of Machpelah site and Jacob's acquisition of Shechem site which would be consistent with his telescoping of the two calls of Abraham in Acts See above, resolution 2. Interestingly, Josephus informs us of a tradition that says the brothers of Joseph were buried at Hebron. Thus, Stephen traced the history of Abraham.
In fact all of Stephen's quotes from the Old Testament come from the Septuagint and account for some differences between the NT quote and the original OT verse which is based on the Hebrew text. Leave is aorist imperative , a command to do this now. One might well ask what could have persuaded Abraham to uproot himself as he did from the land of his birth and set out on a journey whose goal he did not know in advance.
By all the prudential canons of ordinary life, it was a mad adventure; but as related in the biblical narrative it was an act of true wisdom. Those who are obedient to the heavenly vision, Stephen seems to suggest, will always live loose to any particular earthly spot, will always be ready to get out and go wherever God may guide.
From there, after his father died, God had him move to this country in which you are now living. NASB: Lockman. Then he left - Why did he leave? He had seen and heard God Who gave him a command. And so he obeyed. Here's the point - Abraham obedience was based on his faith in God. Abraham's obeyed because he believed God.
Stated another way his relationship with God was based on faith. Furthermore, he actually saw God and heard God, something that none of the Sanhedrin had ever done of course they had seen Jesus but refused to recognize Him as God.
And one other point is that God initiated a relationship with Abraham when he was a pagan, living in an idolatrous land. These "religious" leaders were living in the Holy Land and had no relationship with the living God as had Abraham.
While Stephen did not specifically point out these distinctions between Abraham and the religious leaders, his recital of the journey of the man they held in high esteem as their "spiritual" father would remind that their approach to God was radically different than Abraham's approach.
Apple - The key to obedience is obeying when you cannot see what the consequences will be. ESV says "God removed him from there. This verb has the idea of resetting someone in Acts where God made Abraham move or resettled him. It is the technical word for planting a colony. John Piper elaborates on "had him move" - "According to verse 4, Abraham makes it half way to the promised land and settles in Haran.
But God is merciful and does more than merely tell Abraham to go on to the promised land; He actually moves him —exerts some special power on Abraham So God's mercy begins with choosing Abraham out of all the peoples on the earth to inherit the promised land; and God's patience begins by giving Abraham an extra push to get all the way to the promised land when he had settled half way in Haran..
A comparison of the data in Genesis Ge , 32; seems to indicate that Terah lived another 60 years after Abraham left. Genesis states that Terah was 70 when he fathered his oldest son, presumably Abraham Ge Since Abraham was 75 when he left Haran Ge , Terah would have been Yet Terah did not die till he was Ge The best solution seems to be that Abraham was not the oldest son of Terah, but was named first because he was the most prominent Ge If Abraham was born when Terah was , the figures are harmonized.
But Genesis says he was How do we account for the sixty years? It is not necessary to see the discrepancy as due to Luke's dependence on a variant textual tradition as Marshall ; compare Samaritan Pentateuch Gen or as an example of the natural reading of the text by an ordinary reader Lake and Cadbury , what Longenecker labels the conflation practice and inexactitude of popular Judaism Gleason Archer's solution overcomes the difficulty.
If we take Abraham not as Terah's eldest but as his youngest son, though he is mentioned first because of his prominence in the narrative, it is possible to propose that he was born some time after Terah was seventy, even sixty years later—that is, when he was This would account for the missing sixty years and harmonize the passages.
According to this view Terah was years old at the birth of Abraham, leaving Abraham 75 at the death of Terah This verse could be subtitled fulfillment deferred "for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
As David wrote "You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Lord God enable us to live with a fulfillment deferred mentality, with our eyes fixed on Jesus.
The words of the writer of Hebrews come to mind - "And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence AS ABRAHAM so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. James Montgomery Boice observes that "This statement [that Abraham remained a pilgrim in Canaan] must have been meant as a rebuke to these settled leaders of the people.
They were in the land God had given. It was a blessing. But they were too much at home in the land. They had forgotten that, wonderful as possession of the land of promise was, they were nevertheless only to be pilgrims in it as Abraham had been. Without this orientation, they lacked the spiritual depth that characterized their ancestor. These rulers had ceased to look forward.
They were looking back, and they had taken the things of the world and the blessings of the world to be permanent. Abraham had no tangible possession even in Canaan. His faith was exercised along purely spiritual lines. He had the promise but not the place Stephen was underlining the purely spiritual roots of the Hebrew faith and pointing to the purely spiritual nature of New Testament Christianity, which takes little or no account of sacred shrines and holy places.
Exploring Acts. What is Stephen's point in this description of Abraham? He is describing Abraham's faith. The writer of Hebrews put it this way Toussaint makes the point that what Stephen is doing here is showing from Israel's own history that the blessings of God were "not limited to the land of Israel and the Temple area.
David Guzik explains that "Abraham was promised both the land and descendants, but had no outward proof of either. He could only trust God for the fulfillment of these things.
With this, Stephen emphasized a relationship with God on the basis of faith and not outward evidences like a temple or the structure of institutional religion and its customs.
Even when Abraham was in the land, he was a pilgrim. This was a rebuke to the religious leaders Stephen spoke to, because many among them had stopped being pilgrims and they made idols out of the blessings of the temple and the land.
So Abraham trusted God's word, accepted the promise, and put his life in God's hand. Acts: A Logion Press Commentary. Rex A Koivisto summarizes what he feels to be Stephen's main theological point regarding his review of the life of Abraham The theological point of this section is clear: the God of Israel is not tied to the land upon which the Temple rests.
The land must not be given the overriding significance that the Jewish contemporaries of Stephen were giving to it. That this consideration should be important to Luke in his theology and structure of Acts is clear. To this point the Church itself had been localized in Jerusalem, impeding progress on the fulfillment of the Great Commission Acts In view of this connection, it is difficult to deny that the theology of Stephen was central to the theology of Luke as he composed Acts. Stephen's Speech: A Theology of Errors?
Stephen pointed to spiritual lessons from Abraham's life. Abraham trusted God in situations where common sense would have led most people to doubt. Similarly, human reason had convinced the Jewish leaders that a simple carpenter from Nazareth could not possibly be the promised Messiah. Using the life of Abraham, Stephen reminded his audience that God seldom acts in an expected manner. Don't let your familiarity with Bible stories blind you to God's working behind the scenes.
Learn the lessons of faith that are gained from reflecting on the lives of biblical saints. Mistreated but not forgotten. Perhaps you need to hear and receive that truth if you are a follower of Christ and have been mistreated and feel as if your Covenant keeping God has forgotten you and your plight!
His Name is still Immanuel, God with us! Like Abraham they would have no permanent land in Egypt. They would retain their identity as Israelites. Paroikos is also used in Acts Note that Ex says "the time that the sons of Israel lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. See Chart Comparing years to years. This same verb is used in the Septuagint of Ex which describes Israel's mistreatment in Egypt. Phillips comments that Israel's years of enslavement in Egypt "was an implied rebuke, too, to those who thought that biblical belief had to be tied to a Temple.
At the very beginning of Jewish national life, and for four long centuries, the chosen people were not even in the Promised Land! The high priest and his party could hardly escape the drift of Stephen's argument.
In contrast to douloo above this verb specifically includes the idea of serving while douloo means to make one a slave without necessarily conveying the idea of serving. God would deliver them from bondage as he says later using a man named Moses. Although Stephen never uses the specific Name of Jesus in this lengthy message, one cannot help but think that he was recalling this prophecy of Israel's deliverance from bondage as a picture of the Deliverer the Messiah who came to deliver men from enslavement to sin.
Have we appreciated the precious value of our redemption? Do we live as those delivered from the power of sin? How are we serving God in the place where He has put us right now? This place - What place? We have alluded to this above. The place appears to be Mount Sinai Horeb. This is clearly a "jab" at the Sanhedrin who hold that the only place to worship God is in the Temple in Jerusalem.
Sinai, which is also outside the Promised Land. Chris Vogel adds that "Stephen then makes a play on words in Acts Zion, but the context of Exodus refers to Mt.
The place that is important to God is the place where God meets his people. But it was a promise which was based on faith, faith just as Abraham had manifested in leaving his home and going to Canaan. What is the covenant of circumcision a sign of? Genesis 17 recounts the Abrahamic covenant and its relation to the covenant of circumcision note the repetition of "I will".
Criswell comments that "Circumcision, i. It distinguished the seed of Abraham from the Gentiles, reminded Israel of their covenant with God, and represented purification and putting away of evil cf. Thus, the Abrahamic covenant, although conveying unconditional promises to Abraham, also included obligations by which individual descendants would express their faith and enjoy the blessings.
Circumcision was an act of obedience and faith. What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found?
While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Although the Jews in Stephen's day still circumcised their baby boys, they failed to obey God. The people's hearts were far from him.
Life Application Commentary. Thus he clears himself of the accusation that he has blasphemed against the Law and against God. By establishing a covenant with Abraham and his descendants, God declares His enduring love toward His people. God initiates and maintains it throughout the generations as an everlasting covenant. They had distorted the clear teaching of Scripture.
In other words, circumcision was always meant to be an external sign of an internal work of grace by faith. But he was not circumcised until 10 to 20 years later at the age 99! What the Sanhedrin and the majority of Jews had failed to understand was that the circumcision that God was interested in was Circumcision of their Heart. No individual blessing apart from faith in God and His promises.
Yes all of Stephen's hearers had been circumcised like Isaac and Jacob and the 12 patriarchs, but covenant of circumcision had a different meaning to the Sanhedrin then it did to their esteemed patriarchs. To the patriarchs circumcision was a sign of their faith in the Abrahamic Covenant. To the Sanhedrin it was a sign of their being chosen by God for heaven, and no longer was a marker of their faith in the Abrahamic Covenant.
They put their faith so to speak in the sign, the physical circumcision, not in the unconditional covenant of grace that the sign was meant to point to. Such is the danger of ritual, which may have at one time had a valid meaning pointing to a spiritual reality, but over time losing that meaning and no longer pointing to the spiritual reality.
The danger of ritual is to replace the relationship to which the ritual was meant to point. That is exactly what happened to the Jews and their understanding of the covenant of circumcision.
It was no longer about their covenant relationship to Jehovah. It is based on the fact that prothombin levels are low in the first 8 days of an infant's life and circumcision could potentially result in exsanguination because of inability to clot. Abraham lived sub specie aeternitatis—in the light of eternity.
Having the outward symbols of church membership is no guarantee whatsoever of eternal life and the forgiveness of sins. Only faith alone in Jesus Christ alone can assure us of that. Warren Wiersbe comments "The Jews prided themselves in their circumcision, failing to understand that the rite was symbolic of an inner spiritual relationship with God Dt. Over the years, the fulfilling of ritual had taken the place of the enjoyment of reality. This happens in churches even today.
Bible Exposition Commentary. Thomas Constable sums up Stephen's first section of teaching on Abraham noting that "Throughout his speech Stephen made many statements that had revolutionary implications for traditional Jewish thinking of his day. He did not expound these implications, but they are clear in view of what the disciples of Jesus were preaching. As such his speech is a masterpiece of understatement, or rather non-statement.
That the Sanhedrin saw these implications and rejected them becomes clear at the end of the speech when they reacted as negatively as possible. Stephen is no blasphemer. Although the whole fertile crescent from the River Euphrates to the River Nile was the scene of their migrations, God was with them.
Why was this? It was because he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision 8 , that is, made a solemn promise to Abraham to bless him and his posterity, and gave him circumcision to signify and seal this covenant. So, long before there was a holy place, there was a holy people, to whom God had pledged himself.
He then renewed the promise he had made to Abraham, first to his son Isaac, then to his grandson Jacob, and then to his great-grandsons the twelve patriarchs 8b. Thus Stephen makes the transition from Abraham to Joseph, the second great figure of the Old Testament he singles out 9— Message of Acts.
Ray Stedman writes "I will never forget the young man who came into my study one day, Bible in hand, and announced that he had been reading the Bible. He didn't know a lot about it, but he said, "Would you circumcise me? I want to know God, so I want to be circumcised. That boy became a Christian and is still in our congregation and growing in the Lord. The Jewish apocryphal Book of Jubilees declares: This law is for all generations for ever, and there is no circumcision of the time, and no passing over one day out of the eight days; for it is an eternal ordinance, ordained and written on the heavenly tables.
Many Jews believed that salvation was based on their obedience to God in being circumcised, and that, therefore, their eternal security rested in that rite. Since it is humanly impossible to remove circumcision, presumably that would be accomplished by a direct act of God.
As with all religious rituals, circumcision was designed to serve as an outer symbol of an inner reality. Those who participated thoughtfully would be reminded of profound spiritual truths. But we know from our own experiences of repeating the church creeds, saying the Lord's Prayer, or celebrating ordinances like baptism and the Lord's Supper that it is difficult to avoid merely going through the motions. We are often guilty of participating passively and mindlessly in religious exercises.
Make it your goal to give God your full attention body, soul, and spirit the next time you pray, take Communion, or take part in a church ceremony. The patriarchs became jealous of Joseph and sold him into Egypt - Acts ends with "the twelve patriarchs" which is interesting in that he did not call them 12 sons.
Why call them patriarchs? They reject their brother because of jealousy Read Ge , The Sanhedrin esteemed these men as their patriarchs and yet here Stephen says they mistreated their brother. As you consider this story, the parallels between Joseph and Jesus become very clear. Jesus was rejected by His brethren the Jews.
We love and esteem the patriarchs. They sold Joseph. God had given Joseph the birthright. God had proclaimed him as the progenitor, or as the right of primogenitor 1 Chr He had the one who had the birthright. And God was with him, but you were against him. You debased him Sermon They were a graphic illustration of the nation's spiritual blindness manifested in the case of Jesus.
As the Sanhedrin had rejected Jesus, so the patriarchs rejected Joseph, and for the same reason-envy. This description of the patriarchs held in high esteem by the Sanhedrin must have caused a stir as the Sadducees themselves had been filled with jealousy of the apostles Acts and ultimately "were cut to the quick" by the teaching of the apostles and were "intending to slay them," until Gamaliel stepped in for the rescue.
The point is that the members of the Sanhedrin had reacted with jealously just as had the jealous patriarchs so that the implications and intent of Stephen's story would have been unmistakable. Sadducees were surely squirming in their seats! Yet - Term of contrast. Horton comments that "Stephen is leading also to a comparison with the way the Jewish leaders treated Jesus and the way God exalted Him. Note the. Warren Wiersbe points out that in Acts Israel "rejected their God-sent deliverers.
They sold Joseph, but God rescued him. The nation's rebellion against God thus began with the patriarchs themselves. Stephen is using this illustration because Jesus was hated, rejected, and mistreated by these religious leaders because He is the revelation of God and He is the only begotten Son of God.
Eight facts are brought out:. God was working outside of Israel. His hand was on Joseph outside of the Promised Land and the only land they had was a burial tomb. Joseph was hated by his family, just like Jesus. Acts and rescued him from all his afflictions, and granted him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he made him governor over Egypt and all his household.
God granted Joseph favor and he was made governor over Egypt. This is a clear manifestation of the fact that God was indeed " with him. So what God did was take Joseph out, delivering him from perilous circumstances. Stephen uses this same verb in Acts to describe God's coming down to rescue His chosen people from oppression in Egypt, using Moses as His instrument to bring about their deliverance Acts And beloved He is the same God. So cry out! Thlipsis is used here of Joseph's severe tribulations, but in Acts of the great affliction thlipsis that came upon Israel because of the famine.
Word Studies in the New Testament. God gave giving is a manifestation of His grace favor grace to Joseph. Governor hegeomai means leader, leading man. Could find heurisko means to find after searching or seeking. The covenant promises were on the verge of dying out with the death of the covenant people.
But God was backing them up against the wall so to speak to force them out of the promised land and into the pagan land of Egypt. Although it did not look like it, clearly God was showing His faithfulness to the Abrahamic covenant, as Jacob and his sons would soon discover. Famine did not signal failure of the covenant! This serves to emphasize the rebuke.
Why Egypt had wheat throughout the seven years of famine is not stated, but it was due to Joseph. The Interpretation of The Acts of the Apostles.
Notice that he does not tell us that the first time they went they did not recognize Joseph but he did recognize them. Ge , 7. For what had happened in Joseph's day will all be repeated, on a grander scale, to drive the Jews at last to Jesus.
Then Joseph sent word and invited Jacob his father and all his relatives to come to him - "It was this knowledge, brought to Pharaoh, that enabled Joseph to transfer his father and his entire relationship from Canaan to Egypt and to take them out of the famine-stricken land to one that was well supplied with food, with one of the family serving as vice-ruler. But this move was a fulfillment of the word spoken to Abraham in Acts Here in Egypt God intended to let Jacob's family grow into a nation.
As we have stated earlier, Stephen quotes are all from the Septuagint possibly reflecting his Hellenistic background - which would be more familiar with Greek in the Septuagint. Opponents of the Bible cry "Foul" Discrepancy! But they are not correct.
Gleason Archer explains this alleged discrepancy concluding "that both totals are correct, though they were calculated differently. Jacob's own sons numbered twelve; his grandsons by them numbered fifty-two; there were already four great-grandsons born in Canaan by the time of the migration, for a total of sixty-six. Manasseh and Ephraim, born in Egypt, increased the total to sixty-eight; Jacob and his wife whichever she was brought it up to seventy. But the Septuagint added the seven grandsons of the prime minister [Joseph] and omitted Jacob and his wife from the tally.
This brings us to the result that Stephen correctly reported the number seventy-five, according to the Septuagint in Genesis and Exodus Likewise, Genesis , Exodus , and Deuteronomy in the Masoretic text are correct with their total of seventy. Either figure is correct, depending on whether Joseph's grandchildren are included. Four great-grandchildren of Jacob were included even in the Masoretic text tally of seventy. All the 12 patriarchs died far from the land of promise.
This paragraph will allude to the Scriptures that are recorded below for reference. Joseph also requested to be buried in the land promised to Abraham see below - Ge , but he did not specify burial in the same place as the three patriarchs.
Joshua records that Joseph was in fact buried at Shechem. Now think about this for a moment. First, Stephen says nothing about Jacob being buried in the cave facing Mamre in Hebron. So by deduction who is THEY? The short answer is BOTH! Yet there is a good possibility that what Jacob did when he made that purchase was to obtain once again for his family that which had originally been bought by Abraham.
Quite similar is the case of the well of Beersheba. But later on, owing to the nomadic habits of Abraham and his family, the property rights he had legally acquired became ignored; and the tract on which the well was located fell back into the possession of the local inhabitants.
It was not until many years later that Isaac, having reopened the well to care for his livestock, found it expedient to secure the ownership by paying for it once more, rather than to assert his legal title to it by means of a range war. He therefore gave an oath of friendship and nonaggression to King Abimelech probably a son or grandson of the same name as the Abimelech with whom Abraham had dealt many years before and held a covenant-sealing sacrifice and banquet Gen.
Here then was a case where both Abraham and his descendant purchased the same ground. Genesis records Jacob's desire to be buried in the promised land Genesis records Jacob's dying instructions which were fully carried out Lenski notes that "The Old Testament reports nothing in regard to the brothers of Joseph.
It is Stephen who here tells us that they, too, were buried in Shechem together with Joseph. Rex A. Koivisto elaborates on why Stephen may have mentioned Abraham's purchase at Shechem.
Stephen asserts that Abraham purchased a tomb not at revered Hebron, but at despised Shechem. It is thus not without significance that Luke follows this speech with a narrative of the evangelization of that same Samaritan territory Acts — Remember that Stephen's goal is less about defending himself, and more about accusing his accusers of rejecting the Righteous One Acts The Israelites had become content in Egypt and showed no interest of claiming God's promise to Abraham.
So God begins to move and in His sovereignty, He uses their growth to cause them to return to the land that had been promised to Abraham.
He does things according to set times and never forgets a date or misses an appointment. There are set times, predetermined in heaven, at which God acts. The Scriptures may be studied profitably from that standpoint.
A vast wealth of evidence proves it so. Exploring Acts Ed: Beloved have you not had this same experience in your life? You thought something should have occurred at a certain time and it did not, even though you prayed for it. But later, as you look back on that time you can see that God had allowed it to be that way to achieve His purposes in your life. Stephen is alluding to the fact that the fourth generation of Israel would return to the promised land , for the iniquity of the Amorite was now complete.
David Thompson summarizes Stephen's illustration using the life of Moses. Acts Now Stephen has been charged with speaking against the O. The title "Acts of the Apostles" Praxeis Apostolon would seem to identify it with the genre telling of the deeds and achievements of great men praxeis , but it was not the title given by the author.
It lacks exact analogies in Hellenistic or Jewish literature. The author may have taken as his model the works of Dionysius of Halicarnassus , who wrote a well-known history of Rome, or the Jewish historian Josephus , author of a history of the Jews. Acts was read as a reliable history of the early church well into the post-Reformation era, but by the 17th century biblical scholars began to notice that it was incomplete and tendentious—its picture of a harmonious church is quite at odds with that given by Paul's letters, and it omits important events such as the deaths of both Peter and Paul.
The midth-century scholar Ferdinand Baur suggested that the author had re-written history to present a united Peter and Paul and advance a single orthodoxy against the Marcionites Marcion was a 2nd-century heretic who wished to cut Christianity off entirely from the Jews ; Baur continues to have enormous influence, but today there is less interest in determining the historical accuracy of Acts although this has never died out than in understanding the author's theological program.
Luke was written to be read aloud to a group of Jesus-followers gathered in a house to share the Lord's supper. Acts , informing him of his intention to provide an "ordered account" of events which will lead his reader to "certainty". Acts or Luke—Acts is intended as a work of "edification," meaning "the empirical demonstration that virtue is superior to vice.
The answer is ambiguous. Acts has two key structural principles. The first is the geographic movement from Jerusalem, centre of God's Covenantal people, the Jews, to Rome, centre of the Gentile world. This structure reaches back to the author's preceding work, the Gospel of Luke , and is signaled by parallel scenes such as Paul's utterance in Acts , which echoes Jesus's words in Luke Paul has Rome as his destination, as Jesus had Jerusalem.
The second key element is the roles of Peter and Paul, the first representing the Jewish Christian church, the second the mission to the Gentiles. The Gospel of Luke began with a prologue addressed to Theophilus; Acts likewise opens with an address to Theophilus and refers to "my earlier book", almost certainly the gospel. The apostles and other followers of Jesus meet and elect Matthias to replace Judas as a member of The Twelve.
On Pentecost , the Holy Spirit descends and confers God's power on them, and Peter and John preach to many in Jerusalem and perform healings, casting out of evil spirits , and raising of the dead. The first believers share all property in common , eat in each other's homes, and worship together. At first many Jews follow Christ and are baptized, but the followers of Jesus begin to be increasingly persecuted by other Jews.
Stephen is accused of blasphemy and stoned. Stephen's death marks a major turning point: the Jews have rejected the message, and henceforth it will be taken to the Gentiles. The death of Stephen initiates persecution, and many followers of Jesus leave Jerusalem.
The message is taken to the Samaritans, a people rejected by Jews, and to the Gentiles. Saul of Tarsus , one of the Jews who persecuted the followers of Jesus, is converted by a vision to become a follower of Christ an event which Luke regards as so important that he relates it three times.
Peter, directed by a series of visions, preaches to Cornelius the Centurion , a Gentile God-fearer, who becomes a follower of Christ. The Holy Spirit descends on Cornelius and his guests, thus confirming that the message of eternal life in Christ is for all mankind. The Gentile church is established in Antioch north-western Syria, the third-largest city of the empire , and here Christ's followers are first called Christians. The mission to the Gentiles is promoted from Antioch and confirmed at a meeting in Jerusalem between Paul and the leadership of the Jerusalem church.
Paul spends the next few years traveling through western Asia Minor and the Aegean, preaching, converting, and founding new churches. On a visit to Jerusalem he is set on by a Jewish mob. Saved by the Roman commander, he is accused by the Jews of being a revolutionary , the "ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes", and imprisoned.
Later, Paul asserts his right as a Roman citizen, to be tried in Rome and is sent by sea to Rome, where he spends another two years under house arrest, proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching freely about "the Lord Jesus Christ".
Acts ends abruptly without recording the outcome of Paul's legal troubles. Prior to the s, Luke—Acts was seen as a historical work, written to defend Christianity before the Romans or Paul against his detractors; since then the tendency has been to see the work as primarily theological. Luke—Acts is an attempt to answer a theological problem, namely how the Messiah, promised to the Jews, came to have an overwhelmingly non-Jewish church; the answer it provides, and its central theme, is that the message of Christ was sent to the Gentiles because the Jews rejected it.
For Luke, the Holy Spirit is the driving force behind the spread of the Christian message, and he places more emphasis on it than do any of the other evangelists. The Spirit is "poured out" at Pentecost on the first Samaritan and Gentile believers and on disciples who had been baptised only by John the Baptist , each time as a sign of God's approval. The Holy Spirit represents God's power At his ascension, Jesus tells his followers, "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you" : through it the disciples are given speech to convert thousands in Jerusalem, forming the first church the term is used for the first time in Acts 5.
One issue debated by scholars is Luke's political vision regarding the relationship between the early church and the Roman Empire. On the one hand, Luke generally does not portray this interaction as one of direct conflict. Rather, there are ways in which each may have considered having a relationship with the other rather advantageous to its own cause. For example, early Christians may have appreciated hearing about the protection Paul received from Roman officials against Gentile rioters in Philippi Acts —40 and Ephesus Acts —41 , and against Jewish rioters on two occasions Acts —17; Acts — Meanwhile, Roman readers may have approved of Paul's censure of the illegal practice of magic Acts —19 as well as the amicability of his rapport with Roman officials such as Sergius Paulus Acts —12 and Festus Acts — Furthermore, Acts does not include any account of a struggle between Christians and the Roman government as a result of the latter's imperial cult.
Thus Paul is depicted as a moderating presence between the church and the Roman Empire. On the other hand, events such as the imprisonment of Paul at the hands of the empire Acts 22—28 as well as several encounters that reflect negatively on Roman officials for instance, Felix's desire for a bribe from Paul in Acts function as concrete points of conflict between Rome and the early church.
Major turning points in the structure of Acts, for example, find parallels in Luke: the presentation of the child Jesus in the Temple parallels the opening of Acts in the Temple, Jesus's forty days of testing in the wilderness prior to his mission parallel the forty days prior to his Ascension in Acts, the mission of Jesus in Samaria and the Decapolis the lands of the Samaritans and Gentiles parallels the missions of the Apostles in Samaria and the Gentile lands, and so on see Gospel of Luke.
These parallels continue through both books. There are also differences between Luke and Acts, amounting at times to outright contradiction. For example, the gospel seems to place the Ascension on Easter Sunday , immediately after the Resurrection , while Acts 1 puts it forty days later. Acts agrees with Paul's letters on the major outline of Paul's career: he is converted and becomes a Christian missionary and apostle, establishing new churches in Asia Minor and the Aegean and struggling to free Gentile Christians from the Jewish Law.
There are also agreements on many incidents, such as Paul's escape from Damascus, where he is lowered down the walls in a basket.