SUMMARY.--Stephen Outlines God's Dealings with Abraham. The Christ Promised. Abraham a Man of Faith Before Circumcision Was Appointed. The Patriarchs Sell Joseph into Bondage, Ignorant of the Counsels of God. The Israelites in Egypt First Reject Moses Their Deliverer. The Rejected Moses Is Their Savior. He Predicted a Prophet Like Unto Himself. The Tabernacle and Temple Built, Though God Dwells Not in. Temples Made with Hands. The Jews of Stephen's Time Were Like Their Fathers in Resisting God. Had Slain the Holy One and Had Not Kept the Law. The Outburst of Rage. Stephen Stoned by the Mob.
30-34. For the call of Moses, see Exod. 3:1-10 .
35, 36. This Moses whom they refused. With great force Stephen makes his application. This Moses they refused, but God sent him as their ruler and deliverer. If his hearers failed to see the point, the next verse makes it clear.
37. This is that Moses, which said. This rejected Moses who was chosen by God to be a prince and a savior hath said, A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up . . . like unto me. Like me, "of your brethren;" like me, rejected and despised by Israel; like me, exalted to be a Prince and a Savior by God. See Deut. 18:15-19 .
38. This is he. Moses. That was in the church in the wilderness. The congregation of Israel, the typical church. Moses was its mediator. With the angel. The angel of the Covenant, who communicated the law to Moses in Sinai. See verse 53 and Exod. 23:20 Exodus 23:20 Exodus 23:23 . Lively oracles. The Word of life.
39-42. These verses summarize the unbelief, disbelief and waywardness of Israel under Moses. The point is to show that the rejection of Christ harmonizes with their past history. See Exodus 16:3 Exodus 17:4 Exodus 32:1-14 17:4 . Did ye offer unto me slain beasts and sacrifices? This passage is quoted from Amos 5:25-27 . The emphasis is on me. Did ye not offer them to false gods also? The next verse gives the reply.
43. Ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch. Israel turned to the abominable worship of Moloch and other false gods, and hence shall be carried into Captivity. Moloch, a god of the Amorites, worshiped by human sacrifices. Remphan. Some planet worshiped as a god. Beyond Babylon. A punishment brought on all Israel for its sins, predicted by Amos. Observe still his point of showing their national sinfulness.
44-50. Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness. The tabernacle built at Sinai, a witness of the Covenant ( Num. 18:2 ), and of the good things to come ( Heb. 8:5 ). This tabernacle, built by God's command, according to his pattern ( Exodus 25:9 Exodus 25:40 ), they had rejected for "the tabernacle of Moloch" ( verse 43 ). Which also our fathers . . . brought in with Jesus. Joshua, the Hebrew form for Jesus. He and the later generations of Jews brought this tabernacle into Canaan when they conquered it. Desired to find a tabernacle. David, who sought to build a permanent temple ( 2 Samuel 7:2 2 Samuel 7:1 1 Chron. 22:7 ). He was restrained from building the temple, and it was erected by Solomon ( 2 Chronicles 6:7 2 Chronicles 6:8 ). 48. Howbeit the Most High dwelleth not. See 2 Chron. 6:18 . The argument is that the tabernacle was laid aside for the temple by God's command; that God does not confine himself in any house made with hands, and hence the temple also might be laid aside. God's real temple was greater than the building they reverenced so superstitiously. See Isaiah 66:1 Isaiah 66:2 .
51. Ye stiffnecked. Stubborn, like the ox which refuses to bend its neck for the yoke. Stephen now makes his direct application. Uncircumcised. Aliens in heart from God. The uncircumcised were aliens from Israel. Stephen told them that spiritually they were heathen. They, like their fathers, resist the Holy Ghost. The will of God.
52, 53. Which of the prophets, etc.? Their fathers habitually persecuted the prophets and slew some of them who predicted Christ (see lives of Isaiah and Jeremiah). Now they, his hearers, were murderers of the Just One. Received the law by the disposition of angels. Through the ministration of angels. See Deut. 29:29 . Have not kept it. Pretending to be very scrupulous observers of the law, they were wicked law-breakers.
54. They were cut to the heart. Convulsed with rage. Stephen's speech was now violently interrupted. Their rage is shown by their gnashing their teeth.
55. Looked up stedfastly into heaven. The Lord who had promised his presence was with him. His faith was so strengthened that, by faith, he saw the Savior in Heaven, through the opened heavens. The scene was revealed to his soul, instead of his eyes.
57. Cried out with a loud voice. They cried, closed their ears to what they called blasphemy, then, in a tumult, without a vote on his guilt or innocence, rushed upon him to slay him, though yet uncondemned legally.
58. Cast him out of the city. See Lev. 24:14 . Though committing murder, they were scrupulous to comply with their custom of execution outside of the city. And stoned him. Jesus was crucified, because the Romans put him to death; Stephen was stoned, because Jesus slew him. Stoning was their usual method of execution. The witnesses. The witnesses had to cast the first stones ( Deuteronomy 13:10 Deuteronomy 17:7 ). Though doing all in a tumult, without the consent of the Roman governor, the forms of the law were observed. At a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. Chrysostom says that this young man, who was to become so celebrated, was now about thirty-five. Hackett thinks we was about thirty. For a fuller account of him, see Acts 9:1 , note.
59, 60. Stoned Stephen. Repeated to show that in the storm of stones he committed himself to Jesus. Kneeled down. Either voluntarily, or brought to his knees by the cruel blows. The point is that in his sufferings, like his Master, he prayed for his enemies. Saul, no doubt, noted this, and it had its effect. He fell asleep. To wake again at his Savior's voice. The death of Stephen was a murder, instead of an execution, because (1) no vote of the Sanhedrim was taken, and (2) the consent of the Roman governor, requisite to capital punishment, was not obtained. Consult John 18:32 , note.