Acts 7

Saw his face, &c. It beamed with an expression of holy peace and joy.

When his father was dead. By a comparison of Gen. 11:26, 11:32, and 12:4, it would seem that Abraham's father must have been alive at this time. There are many such apparent discrepancies between the statements made in this discourse, and those in the books of Genesis and Exodus, of which only conjectural explanations can be given.

Judge; punish.

The patriarchs; Joseph's brethren.

Threescore and fifteen; Moses says seventy. (Gen. 46:27.)

From Gen. 23:16, it would seem that Abraham purchased his burial-field of Ephron. In Gen. 33:18, 19, there is an account of Jacob's buying a burying-places in Sychem, of the sons of Emmor, there called Hamor. This is another of the instances in which Stephen's account appears not to correspond respond with the Mosaic history, and of which no satisfactory explanation has yet been given. The necessity of finding such explanation depends upon the question whether we consider this address of Stephen as divinely inspired. The sacred writers often record the discourse of uninspired men.

The promise; to give the land of Canaan to the descendants of Abraham.

An angel of the Lord. This expression is employed to represent any of the visible forms by which God made communications to men. God himself, being a spirit, is necessarily invisible. See v. 38, where even the voice which held communication with Moses upon Mount Sinai, is represented as that of an angel. (Comp. Ex. 19:18-21.)

Put off thy shoes. To remove the shoes or sandals from the feet, was a token of respect or of reverence.

I have seen. The repetition is to give emphasis to the declaration.

This is he; that is, this Moses is he,—the expression referring to what is said at the commencement of the preceding verse.—The church in the wilderness; the children of Israel—Lively; life-giving.

We wot not; we know not.

Rejoiced; that is, with festivities of religious worship, mentioned, in Ex. 32:6.

There seems to be no account, in the Mosaic history, of the particular forms of idolatrous worship, to which these allusions refer. The passage appears to be a quotation from Amos, 5:25, 26, through the Greek version then in use,—with some differences, however, in the phraseology, which have not been satisfactorily accounted for.

The tabernacle of witness. The tabernacle was the sacred tent, under which the ark containing the covenant made by Jehovah with his people, accompanied by visible tokens of his presence, was received. It was hence called the tabernacle of witness, as containing the testimony or witness of God's promised protection and blessing.

Jesus, Joshua, the successor of Moses. Jesus is the Greek, and Joshua the Hebrew form.—Possession of the Gentiles; Canaan.—Unto the days of David; that is, it was kept until his days.

A tabernacle; another tabernacle, referring to the temple which David desired to build.

Here Stephen's historical narrative suddenly terminates. It is somewhat difficult to say how he considered such a summary of the Jewish history available for the purposes of his defence. Some portions have an indirect bearing upon the circumstances of his case, especially those relating to the Israelites' rebelling against, and rejecting Moses, (v. 39, 40,) from which he may have intended to deduce a warning for his hearers, against rejecting Christ. The general applicability of the discourse, however, is not obvious. To account for the abrupt change which here takes place, from an unfinished historical review to severe reproach and invective, commentators have supposed him to have been interrupted by indications of tumult and violence in the assembly.

Their clothes; that is, such as it was necessary to put off in order to leave the arms free. The throwing of the stones was to be commenced by the witnesses.—Saul; afterwards called Paul. This is the first mention of his name.

Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. The example of Stephen, in addressing his dying prayer to Jesus Christ, has had deservedly great influence, as evidence of the light in which the person of the Redeemer was then regarded.

The book of the Acts has been considered divisible into three parts—the first, containing an account of the doings of the church at Jerusalem after our Savior's ascension; the second, which begins at the eighth chapter, narrating the general history of the church in Judea, after its dispersion from Jerusalem; and the third, from the beginning of the thirteenth chapter to the end of the book, containing the personal history of Paul. This division is convenient for some purposes, though there is no reason to suppose that the author of the book had it, himself, particularly in mind.

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