Acts 7:2 “…Brethren and fathers, listen…”
God has filled Stephen with His Spirit and given him an opportunity to share the truth with the religious leaders. The message Stephen will share is not just the Good News, it is tailor-made for this audience. Everything he will share will be things these men should not only know, but should be practicing. His message will go directly to the heart of their problem. After this, they will have no excuse.
2 “…Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia…”
He’s recounting the history of the Jewish people from the beginning, including the promises to Abraham. Interesting to see how the Jews viewed the history we have from the Old Testament.
5 “…God gave him no inheritance in it…”
Abraham never owned much of the actual land, just the field he purchased for a burial site. But God had promised him the whole land as an everlasting possession, so it was his.
16 “…they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb…”
Genesis doesn’t record that any other son of Jacob’s was carried back to Canaan other than Joseph. But it’s not inconceivable that they were. Jewish tradition may have it that they were all taken back, which does make sense since Joseph was.
16 “…Abraham bought for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem”
This caused quite a stir. This note as it reads is a direct contradiction of Genesis. Abraham bought the field of Ephron at Machpelah in the presence of the sons of Heth. Jacob purchased the land at Shechem from the sons of Hamor. Read some ideas from the commentaries. No definitive suggestion, but an agreement with the idea that the scripture is true, we just need to find out how. Possibility that Stephen may have said father purchased and some scribe down through the ages inserted Abraham instead of Jacob. Another possibility is that tradition holds that Abraham originally built an altar on that piece of land which Jacob later actually purchased. From a Jewish mindset, Abraham would have been the first to use it as a possession and thus acquired it, later to be paid for by Jacob. That makes sense to me when I consider how this information is being related to us, by the recitation of a Jewish young man, who, by the way, is being led by the Holy Spirit. Regardless of our speculation, I still am convinced of what my Bible teacher used to tell us regarding the scripture of Almighty God. It is just what He wanted, all that He wanted, and only what He wanted. We can trust that He is able to keep it the way He wants. We just have to continue to search and pray to find His truth.
33 “Then the LORD said…”
First time Stephen referred to God by His name rather than God. Of course, he is at the point in the story where God reveals His name to Moses.
35 “This Moses whom they rejected…is the one God sent to be a ruler and a deliverer…”
Not unlike Christ. God sent Him to be the ruler and deliverer, but He was rejected by His own.
51-53 “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.”
Wow. He has outlined the whole story of redemption and included the disobedience of the Jewish people in responding to it. He includes the current leaders and lowers the boom on them. He’s made his case very well. They will have no argument against him which will leave them with only one recourse, murder him as they have all the others.
58 “…they cast him out of the city and stoned him…”
So great was their anger, nothing could stop them this time. They didn’t even concern themselves with the Romans.
58 “…a young man named Saul”
Enter Saul who would become the Apostle Paul. Began on the wrong side.
60 “…Lord, do not charge them with this sin…”
So committed to Christ, he was able to forgive his murderers even as they killed him.
60 “…he fell asleep”
I’ve wondered about this. Is this only a reference to the death of a righteous man, or is there more? Was Stephen’s death so peaceful in the midst of such violence that it could only be the result of God taking Him at that moment? Certainly for Stephen, the hope of being with Christ and of future resurrection allowed him to not fear death. Perhaps his peaceful transition during the chaos was also another witness to the power of God for those who watched.
I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word. May it accomplish what He desires. Please feel free to comment or post questions. Thanks for reading!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.