Acts 7

Listen to Acts 7

Stephen's Speech

1 And the high priest said, "Are these things so?"
2 And Stephen said: 1"Brothers and fathers, hear me. 2The God 3of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, 4before he lived in Haran,
3 and said to him, 5'Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.'
4 6Then he went out from the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran. And 7after his father died, 8God removed him from there into this land in which you are now living.
5 Yet he gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot's length, but promised 9to give it to him as a possession and to his offspring after him, 10though he had no child.
6 And God spoke to this effect--that 11his offspring would 12be sojourners in a land belonging to others, who would enslave them and afflict them 13four hundred years.
7 'But 14I will judge the nation that they serve,' said God, 'and after that they shall come out 15and worship me in this place.'
8 And 16he gave him the covenant of circumcision. And 17so Abraham became the father of Isaac, and 18circumcised him on the eighth day, and 19Isaac became the father of Jacob, and 20Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.
9 "And the patriarchs, 21jealous of Joseph, 22sold him into Egypt; but 23God was with him
10 and rescued him out of all his afflictions and 24gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, 25who made him ruler over Egypt and over all his household.
11 Now 26there came a famine throughout all Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction, and our fathers could find no food.
12 27But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent out our fathers on their first visit.
13 And 28on the second visit 29Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and 30Joseph's family became known to Pharaoh.
14 And 31Joseph sent and summoned Jacob his father and all his kindred, 32seventy-five persons in all.
15 And 33Jacob went down into Egypt, and 34he died, he 35and our fathers,
16 and 36they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that 37Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.
17 "But 38as the time of the promise drew near, which God had granted to Abraham, 39the people increased and multiplied in Egypt
18 until there arose over Egypt another king 40who did not know Joseph.
19 41He dealt shrewdly with our race and forced our fathers to expose their infants, 42so that they would not be kept alive.
20 43At this time Moses was born; and he was beautiful in God's sight. And he was brought up for three months in his father's house,
21 and 44when he was exposed, Pharaoh's daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son.
22 And Moses 45was instructed in 46all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was 47mighty in his words and deeds.
23 "When he was forty years old, it came into his heart 48to visit his brothers, the children of Israel.
24 And seeing one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian.
25 He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand.
26 49And on the following day he appeared to them as they were quarreling and tried to reconcile them, saying, 'Men, you are brothers. Why do you wrong each other?'
27 But the man who was wronging his neighbor thrust him aside, saying, 50'Who made you a ruler and a judge over us?
28 Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?'
29 At this retort 51Moses fled and became an exile in the land of Midian, 52where he became the father of two sons.
30 "Now when forty years had passed, 53an angel appeared to him 54in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush.
31 When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight, and as he drew near to look, there came the voice of the Lord:
32 55'I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob.' And Moses trembled and did not dare to look.
33 Then the Lord said to him, 56'Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.
34 57I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and 58have heard their groaning, and 59I have come down to deliver them. 60And now come, I will send you to Egypt.'
35 "This Moses, whom they rejected, 61saying, 'Who made you a ruler and a judge?'--this man God sent as both ruler and redeemer 62by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush.
36 63This man led them out, performing 64wonders and signs 65in Egypt and 66at the Red Sea and 67in the wilderness for 68forty years.
37 This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, 'God will raise up for you 69a prophet like me from your brothers.'
38 This is the one 70who was in the congregation in the wilderness with 71the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. 72He received 73living 74oracles to give to us.
39 Our fathers refused to obey him, but thrust him aside, and 75in their hearts they turned to Egypt,
40 saying to Aaron, 76'Make for us gods who will go before us. As for this Moses who led us out from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.'
41 And 77they made a calf in those days, and offered a sacrifice to the idol and 78were rejoicing in 79the works of their hands.
42 But 80God turned away and 81gave them over to worship 82the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets: 83"'Did you bring to me slain beasts and sacrifices, 84during the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel?
43 You took up the tent of 85Moloch and the star of your god Rephan, the images that you made to worship; and I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.'
44 "Our fathers had 86the tent of witness in the wilderness, just as he who spoke to Moses 87directed him to make it, according to the pattern that he had seen.
45 Our fathers in turn 88brought it in with Joshua when they 89dispossessed the nations 90that God drove out before our fathers. So it was 91until the days of David,
46 92who found favor in the sight of God and 93asked to find a dwelling place for 94the God of Jacob.[a]
47 But it was 95Solomon who built a house for him.
48 96Yet the Most High does not dwell 97in houses made by hands, as the prophet says,
49 98"'Heaven is my throne, 99and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest?
50 Did not my hand make all these things?'
51 100"You stiff-necked people, 101uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. 102As your fathers did, so do you.
52 103Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of 104the Righteous One, 105whom you have now betrayed and murdered,
53 you who received the law 106as delivered by angels and 107did not keep it."

The Stoning of Stephen

54 Now when they heard these things 108they were enraged, and they 109ground their teeth at him.
55 But he, 110full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw 111the glory of God, and Jesus standing 112at the right hand of God.
56 And he said, "Behold, I see 113the heavens opened, and 114the Son of Man standing 115at the right hand of God."
57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together[b] at him.
58 Then 116they cast him out of the city and 117stoned him. And 118the witnesses laid down their garments 119at the feet of a young man named Saul.
59 And as they were stoning Stephen, 120he called out, "Lord Jesus, 121receive my spirit."
60 And 122falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, 123"Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, 124he fell asleep.

Acts 7 Commentary

Chapter 7

Stephen's defence. (1-50) Stephen reproves the Jews for the death of Christ. (51-53) The martyrdom of Stephen. (54-60)

Verses 1-16 Stephen was charged as a blasphemer of God, and an apostate from the church; therefore he shows that he is a son of Abraham, and values himself on it. The slow steps by which the promise made to Abraham advanced toward performance, plainly show that it had a spiritual meaning, and that the land intended was the heavenly. God owned Joseph in his troubles, and was with him by the power of his Spirit, both on his own mind by giving him comfort, and on those he was concerned with, by giving him favour in their eyes. Stephen reminds the Jews of their mean beginning as a check to priding themselves in the glories of that nation. Likewise of the wickedness of the patriarchs of their tribes, in envying their brother Joseph; and the same spirit was still working in them toward Christ and his ministers. The faith of the patriarchs, in desiring to be buried in the land of Canaan, plainly showed they had regard to the heavenly country. It is well to recur to the first rise of usages, or sentiments, which have been perverted. Would we know the nature and effects of justifying faith, we should study the character of the father of the faithful. His calling shows the power and freeness of Divine grace, and the nature of conversion. Here also we see that outward forms and distinctions are as nothing, compared with separation from the world, and devotedness to God.

Verses 17-29 Let us not be discouraged at the slowness of the fulfilling of God's promises. Suffering times often are growing times with the church. God is preparing for his people's deliverance, when their day is darkest, and their distress deepest. Moses was exceeding fair, "fair toward God;" it is the beauty of holiness which is in God's sight of great price. He was wonderfully preserved in his infancy; for God will take special care of those of whom he designs to make special use. And did he thus protect the child Moses? Much more will he secure the interests of his holy child Jesus, from the enemies who are gathered together against him. They persecuted Stephen for disputing in defence of Christ and his gospel: in opposition to these they set up Moses and his law. They may understand, if they do not wilfully shut their eyes against the light, that God will, by this Jesus, deliver them out of a worse slavery than that of Egypt. Although men prolong their own miseries, yet the Lord will take care of his servants, and effect his own designs of mercy.

Verses 30-41 Men deceive themselves, if they think God cannot do what he sees to be good any where; he can bring his people into a wilderness, and there speak comfortably to them. He appeared to Moses in a flame of fire, yet the bush was not consumed; which represented the state of Israel in Egypt, where, though they were in the fire of affliction, yet they were not consumed. It may also be looked upon as a type of Christ's taking upon him the nature of man, and the union between the Divine and human nature. The death of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, cannot break the covenant relation between God and them. Our Saviour by this proves the future state, ( Matthew 22:31 ) . Abraham is dead, yet God is still his God, therefore Abraham is still alive. Now, this is that life and immortality which are brought to light by the gospel. Stephen here shows that Moses was an eminent type of Christ, as he was Israel's deliverer. God has compassion for the troubles of his church, and the groans of his persecuted people; and their deliverance takes rise from his pity. And that deliverance was typical of what Christ did, when, for us men, and for our salvation, he came down from heaven. This Jesus, whom they now refused, as their fathers did Moses, even this same has God advanced to be a Prince and Saviour. It does not at all take from the just honour of Moses to say, that he was but an instrument, and that he is infinitely outshone by Jesus. In asserting that Jesus should change the customs of the ceremonial law. Stephen was so far from blaspheming Moses, that really he honoured him, by showing how the prophecy of Moses was come to pass, which was so clear. God who gave them those customs by his servant Moses, might, no doubt, change the custom by his Son Jesus. But Israel thrust Moses from them, and would have returned to their bondage; so men in general will not obey Jesus, because they love this present evil world, and rejoice in their own works and devices.

Verses 42-50 Stephen upbraids the Jews with the idolatry of their fathers, to which God gave them up as a punishment for their early forsaking him. It was no dishonour, but an honour to God, that the tabernacle gave way to the temple; so it is now, that the earthly temple gives way to the spiritual one; and so it will be when, at last, the spiritual shall give way to the eternal one. The whole world is God's temple, in which he is every where present, and fills it with his glory; what occasion has he then for a temple to manifest himself in? And these things show his eternal power and Godhead. But as heaven is his throne, and the earth his footstool, so none of our services can profit Him who made all things. Next to the human nature of Christ, the broken and spiritual heart is his most valued temple.

Verses 51-53 Stephen was going on, it seems, to show that the temple and the temple service must come to an end, and it would be the glory of both to give way to the worship of the Father in spirit and in truth; but he perceived they would not bear it. Therefore he broke off, and by the Spirit of wisdom, courage, and power, sharply rebuked his persecutors. When plain arguments and truths provoke the opposers of the gospel, they should be shown their guilt and danger. They, like their fathers, were stubborn and wilful. There is that in our sinful hearts, which always resists the Holy Ghost, a flesh that lusts against the Spirit, and wars against his motions; but in the hearts of God's elect, when the fulness of time comes, this resistance is overcome. The gospel was offered now, not by angels, but from the Holy Ghost; yet they did not embrace it, for they were resolved not to comply with God, either in his law or in his gospel. Their guilt stung them to the heart, and they sought relief in murdering their reprover, instead of sorrow and supplication for mercy.

Verses 54-60 Nothing is so comfortable to dying saints, or so encouraging to suffering saints, as to see Jesus at the right hand of God: blessed be God, by faith we may see him there. Stephen offered up two short prayers in his dying moments. Our Lord Jesus is God, to whom we are to seek, and in whom we are to trust and comfort ourselves, living and dying. And if this has been our care while we live, it will be our comfort when we die. Here is a prayer for his persecutors. Though the sin was very great, yet if they would lay it to their hearts, God would not lay it to their charge. Stephen died as much in a hurry as ever any man did, yet, when he died, the words used are, he fell asleep; he applied himself to his dying work with as much composure as if he had been going to sleep. He shall awake again in the morning of the resurrection, to be received into the presence of the Lord, where is fulness of joy, and to share the pleasures that are at his right hand, for evermore.

Cross References 124

  • 1. Acts 22:1
  • 2. [Genesis 15:7; Joshua 24:3; Nehemiah 9:7]
  • 3. Psalms 29:3; [1 Corinthians 2:8; James 2:1]
  • 4. Genesis 11:31
  • 5. Cited from Genesis 12:1
  • 6. [See ver. 2 above]
  • 7. Genesis 11:32
  • 8. Genesis 12:4, 5
  • 9. Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:15; Genesis 15:18; Genesis 17:8; Genesis 48:4; Hebrews 11:8, 9
  • 10. Genesis 15:3; Genesis 18:10
  • 11. Cited from Genesis 15:13, 14
  • 12. [Exodus 2:22; Hebrews 11:9]
  • 13. ver. 17; See Exodus 12:40
  • 14. [Jeremiah 25:12; Jeremiah 30:20]
  • 15. [Exodus 3:12]
  • 16. Genesis 17:9-12
  • 17. Genesis 21:2-4
  • 18. See Luke 1:59
  • 19. Genesis 25:26
  • 20. Genesis 29:31-35; Genesis 30:5-24; Genesis 35:18, 23-26
  • 21. Genesis 37:11
  • 22. Genesis 37:28; Genesis 45:4; Psalms 105:17
  • 23. Gen. 39:2, 21, 23
  • 24. Genesis 41:37-40
  • 25. Gen. 41:41, 43, 46; Genesis 42:6; Psalms 105:21
  • 26. Genesis 41:54, 55; Genesis 42:5; Psalms 105:16
  • 27. Genesis 42:1-3
  • 28. Genesis 43:2-15
  • 29. Genesis 45:1-4
  • 30. Genesis 45:16
  • 31. Gen. 45:9, 10, 27
  • 32. [Genesis 46:26, 27; Exodus 1:5; Deuteronomy 10:22]
  • 33. Genesis 46:5, 28; Psalms 105:23
  • 34. Genesis 49:33
  • 35. Exodus 1:6
  • 36. Genesis 50:25; Exodus 13:19; Joshua 24:32
  • 37. [Gen. 23:16 with Gen. 33:19; Joshua 24:32]
  • 38. ver. 5-7
  • 39. Acts 13:17; Exodus 1:7, 12; Psalms 105:24
  • 40. Cited from Exodus 1:8
  • 41. Exodus 1:9, 10; Psalms 105:25
  • 42. Ex. 1:16-18, 22
  • 43. Exodus 2:2; Hebrews 11:23
  • 44. Exodus 2:3-10
  • 45. [Daniel 1:4, 17]
  • 46. 1 Kings 4:30; [Isaiah 19:11]
  • 47. [Luke 24:19]
  • 48. Exodus 2:11, 12
  • 49. Exodus 2:13, 14
  • 50. ver. 35; [Luke 12:14]
  • 51. Exodus 2:15
  • 52. Exodus 2:22; Exodus 18:3, 4
  • 53. Exodus 3:2
  • 54. [Exodus 3:1]
  • 55. Cited from Exodus 3:6
  • 56. Exodus 3:5; Joshua 5:15
  • 57. Exodus 3:7
  • 58. Exodus 2:24
  • 59. Exodus 3:8
  • 60. Exodus 3:10
  • 61. ver. 27
  • 62. [Exodus 3:2; Exodus 14:19; Exodus 23:20; Numbers 20:16]
  • 63. Exodus 12:41; Exodus 33:1; Hebrews 8:9
  • 64. Exodus 7:3
  • 65. Ex. 7-12; Psalms 78:43-51; Psalms 105:27-36
  • 66. Ex. 14:21, 27-31; Psalms 78:53; Psalms 106:9
  • 67. Exodus 16:1, 35; Exodus 17:1-6; Psalms 78:15
  • 68. ver. 42; Acts 13:18; Exodus 16:35; Numbers 14:33, 34; Psalms 95:10; Hebrews 3:10, 17
  • 69. Acts 3:22; Cited from Deuteronomy 18:15
  • 70. Ex. 19:3, 17, 18
  • 71. [ver. 53; Isaiah 63:9]
  • 72. Deuteronomy 5:27, 31; Deuteronomy 33:4; See John 1:17
  • 73. [Deuteronomy 32:47]
  • 74. Romans 3:2; Hebrews 5:12; 1 Peter 4:11
  • 75. Exodus 16:3; Numbers 11:4, 5; Numbers 14:3, 4; Ezekiel 20:8, 24
  • 76. Cited from Exodus 32:1, 23
  • 77. Ex. 32:4-6, 35; Deuteronomy 9:16; Psalms 106:19
  • 78. Amos 6:13
  • 79. Isaiah 2:8; Jeremiah 1:16; Jeremiah 25:6, 7
  • 80. [Joshua 24:20; Isaiah 63:10]
  • 81. Psalms 81:12; Ezekiel 20:39; Romans 1:28
  • 82. Deuteronomy 4:19; 2 Kings 17:16; 2 Kings 21:3; 2 Kings 23:5; Jeremiah 19:13; Zephaniah 1:5
  • 83. Cited from Amos 5:25-27
  • 84. See ver. 36
  • 85. See 1 Kings 11:7
  • 86. Revelation 15:5; See Exodus 38:21
  • 87. See Exodus 25:40
  • 88. Joshua 3:14-17
  • 89. Numbers 32:5; Deuteronomy 32:49
  • 90. Acts 13:19; Joshua 3:10; Joshua 23:9; Joshua 24:18; 2 Chronicles 20:7
  • 91. 2 Samuel 7:1
  • 92. Acts 13:22; 1 Samuel 16:1; Psalms 89:19
  • 93. 1 Kings 8:17; 1 Chronicles 22:7; Psalms 132:5
  • 94. [Genesis 49:24; Isaiah 49:26]
  • 95. 2 Samuel 7:13; 1 Kings 6:1, 2; 1 Kings 8:20; 2 Chronicles 3:1
  • 96. [1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chronicles 2:6]
  • 97. Acts 17:24
  • 98. [Psalms 11:4]
  • 99. Matthew 5:34, 35; Cited from Isaiah 66:1, 2
  • 100. Deuteronomy 10:16; See Exodus 32:9
  • 101. Leviticus 26:41; Jeremiah 6:10; Jeremiah 9:26; Ezekiel 44:7, 9
  • 102. Malachi 3:7
  • 103. 1 Kings 19:10; 2 Chronicles 36:16; Jeremiah 2:30; Matthew 23:31, 37; See Matthew 5:12; Matthew 21:35
  • 104. See Acts 3:14
  • 105. See Acts 5:28
  • 106. Galatians 3:19; Hebrews 2:2; [ver. 38; Deuteronomy 33:2]
  • 107. John 7:19
  • 108. Acts 5:33; [Acts 2:37]
  • 109. Job 16:9; Psalms 35:16; Psalms 37:12
  • 110. Acts 6:5
  • 111. Exodus 24:16; Luke 2:9; John 12:41
  • 112. Psalms 110:1; See Mark 16:19
  • 113. See John 1:51
  • 114. See Daniel 7:13
  • 115. [See ver. 55 above]
  • 116. Leviticus 24:14-16; Numbers 15:35; 1 Kings 21:13; [Luke 4:29; Hebrews 13:12]
  • 117. Matthew 21:35; Matthew 23:37; Hebrews 11:37
  • 118. Acts 6:13; [Deuteronomy 13:9, 10; Deuteronomy 17:7]
  • 119. Acts 8:1; Acts 22:20; [Acts 22:4]
  • 120. Acts 9:14
  • 121. Psalms 31:5; Luke 23:46
  • 122. Acts 9:40; Acts 20:36; Acts 21:5; Luke 22:41; Ephesians 3:14
  • 123. See Matthew 5:44
  • 124. See Matthew 27:52

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Some manuscripts for the house of Jacob
  • [b]. Or rushed with one mind

Acts 7 Commentaries