Acts 7:1

Are these things so? (ei tauta outw ecei). On this use of ei in a direct question see on Acts 1:6 . Literally "Do these things hold thus?" A formal question by the high priest like our "Do you plead guilty, or not guilty?" (Furneaux). The abrupt question of the high priest would serve to break the evident spell of the angelic look on Stephen's face. Two charges had been made against Stephen (1) speaking against the holy temple, (2) changing the customs which Moses had delivered. Stephen could not give a yes or no answer to these two charges. There was an element of truth in each of them and a large amount of error all mixed together. So he undertakes to explain his real position by the historical method, that is to say, by a rapid survey of God's dealing with the people of Israel and the Gentiles. It is the same method adopted by Paul in Pisidian Antioch ( Acts 13:16 ) after he had become the successor of Stephen in his interpretation of the universal mission of Christianity. If one is disposed to say that Luke made up this speech to suit Stephen's predicament, he has to explain how the style is less Lukan than the narrative portions of Acts with knowledge of Jewish traditions that a Greek would not be likely to know. Precisely how Luke obtained the data for the speech we do not know, but Saul heard it and Philip, one of the seven, almost certainly. Both could have given Luke help about it. It is even possible that some one took notes of this important address. We are to remember also that the speech was interrupted at the end and may not include all that Stephen meant to say. But enough is given to give us a good idea of how Stephen met the first charge "by showing that the worship of God is not confined to Jerusalem or the Jewish temple" (Page). Then he answers the second charge by proving that God had many dealings with their fathers before Moses came and that Moses foretold the coming of the Messiah who is now known to be Jesus. It is at this point (verse Acts 51 ) that Stephen becomes passionate and so powerful that the wolves in the Sanhedrin lose all self-control. It is a great and masterful exposition of the worldwide mission of the gospel of Christ in full harmony with the Great Commission of Christ. The apostles had been so busy answering the Sadducees concerning the Resurrection of Christ and maintaining their freedom to teach and preach that they had not pushed the world-wide propaganda of the gospel as Jesus had commanded after they had received the Promise of the Father. But Stephen had proclaimed the same message of Christ and was now facing the same fate. Peter's mind had been enlightened by the Holy Spirit so that he could rightly interpret Joel and David in the light of Pentecost. "So Stephen read the history of the Old Testament with new eyes in the light of the life and death of Jesus" (Furneaux).