IN A COUNTRY NOT THEIR OWN: Proving the worship of God
was accepted outside Palestine, and without any temple or tabernacle. Joint
quotation of Gen 15:13,14 and Exo 3:1,12.
400 YEARS: Includes only posterity of Abraham ("your
descendants") -- from mocking of Isaac by Ishmael. 430 years includes Abraham's
time spent in Egypt (from approx age 75): Heb 11:9; Gen 15:13n.
AND WORSHIP ME IN THIS PLACE: "This place" = Mt Sinai,
outside Palestine. God may be worshiped in many places besides Jerusalem (Exo
The covenant of circumcision: Rom 4:10-19.
THE PATRIARCHS WERE JEALOUS: God was using the
hardheartedness of the Jews!
THEY SOLD HIM (JOSEPH) AS A SLAVE INTO EGYPT: Joseph
typ Christ, delivered up out of envy (Mat 27:18).
GOD WAS WITH HIM: Again, God remembered His children,
even in Egypt!
A FAMINE STRUCK ALL EGYPT AND CANAAN: "The dearth was
in all lands" (Gen 41:54).
...COULD NOT FIND FOOD: That is, no fodder for
GRAIN IN EGYPT: The gospel of life to be found in lands
HE SENT OUR FATHERS ON THEIR FIRST VISIT: The only hope
for the sons of Jacob was to leave their own land and go to a foreign land,
where they would find their brother and savior Joseph.
ON THEIR SECOND VISIT: "They will look on [ Or to ] me,
the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only
child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son" (Zec
SEVENTY-FIVE IN ALL: "70" in Gen 46:26, but "75" in Gen
46:26 LXX -- including those born in Egypt (outside of covenant-land!) --
agreeing with Exo 1:5.
Jacob was buried in Machpelah near Hebron (Gen 50:12,13).
"They" (Jacob's sons), were buried at Shechem (cf Jos 24:32), on land bought by
Abraham to build an altar (Gen 12:6,7).
HAMOR AT SHECHEM: Not "Hamor the father of Shechem" (as
KJV). Two different Hamors (cp Gen 33:19n).
KNEW NOTHING ABOUT: That is, had no respect
Cp Herod the Great / babies of Bethlehem to Pharaoh / male
children of Israelites.
TO THROW OUT THEIR NEWBORN BABIES: "Cast out their
young children" (KJV). "To expose their infants" (RSV).
// Heb 11:23.
MOSES WAS BORN: Even Moses the giver of the Law, was
born in EGYPT (not land of Canaan)!
NO ORDINARY CHILD: Lit "fair to God": same idiom in Gen
10:9; 30:8; Psa 36:6; 80:10; Jon 3:3.
ALL THE WISDOM OF THE EGYPTIANS: Philosophy, medicine,
astronomy, geometry, engineering.
POWERFUL IN SPEECH AND ACTION: Josephus says that while
he was still in his early manhood the Ethiopians invaded Egypt and threatened
Memphis. Moses was entrusted with the command of the royal troops. He surprised
and defeated the enemy, captured their principal city, Meroe, and returned to
Egypt laden with the spoils of victory.
At 40 ("when he was grown": Exo 2:11), Moses was eloquent, but
God did not use him. At 80, he was no longer eloquent (Exo 4:10-12); NOW God
VISIT: Help or relieve, as in Mat 25:36; Luk 1:68; Jam
1:27. Cp Gen 50:24.
Moses' life consisted of 40 years in Egypt, 40 years in Midian
(v 30), and 40 years in wilderness (v 36). 120 years, but none of it in the Land
HIS OWN PEOPLE WOULD REALIZE... BUT THEY DID NOT: It
was not God's desire that Moses wait another 40 years before bringing
deliverance. It was the people's desire! Cp John 1:11: "He came to that which
was his own, but his own did not receive him."
The following is based on the contrasting viewpoint -- ie,
that Moses should not have acted at all at this time... "There was a great deal
for Moses to learn. In days to come he would learn the ways of the Lord. 'He
made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel' (Psa
103:7) But now he is full of his own ways. In days to come he will be a hand,
nerved, and used and empowered by God Himself. 'Thou leddest thy people like a
flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron' (Psa 77:20). But now he is acting in his
own self-energy -- rash, impetuous, headstrong, girding himself and walking as
he perceives. In days to come he will be the meekest (most humble) and least
obtrusive of men, conscious to a fault of his own weakness, and at every step
looking up for guidance and help; but now he is leaning wholly on his own
understanding and, without counsel of God, he tries to secure the emancipation
of his people by the assertion of his will and his might.
"This is the making of a saint in him; but it will take many a
long year of lonely waiting and trial before this strong and self-reliant nature
could be broken down, shaped into a vessel meet for the Master's use and
prepared for every good work. God's servants must be specially fitted for the
service they are to render. That special adaptation is not natural to any of us,
and can only come after years of deep and searching discipline.
" 'He went out unto his brethren.' Human sympathy will not
serve God. It serves itself. It was a chivalrous act. He meant well. It showed
the strength of the emotions pent up within him; but, after all, the mere
impulse of pity would never have been strong enough to bear him through the
weary years of the desert march. We must distinguish between passion and
principle, between impulse and settled purpose. Missionary enthusiasm is not the
loftiest motive for Christian service, and it certainly is not the most
permanent. After a little while it dies down. When we become the channels
through which the unebbing torrent of Divine pity is flowing, we have secured a
principle of action that will bear us through disappointment, failure and
ingratitude. The way in which men treat us will make no difference to us,
because all is done for Him.
"It was premature. God's time for deliverance of his people
was not due for forty years. Moses education was not complete either. It will
take at least forty years to drain him of his self-will and self-reliance, and
make him a vessel meet for the Master's use. Jesus knew this timing in waiting
upon Father when He said. 'My time is not yet come; but your time is always
ready' (John 7:6). Oh, for the grace to wait and watch with God, even though a
horror of great darkness fall on us, and sleep steals up into our eyes and our
head becomes thickly sown with the gray hair of age. One blow struck when the
time is fulfilled is worth a thousand struck in premature eagerness.
"As Meyer wrote, 'It is not for thee, O my soul, to know the
times and seasons which Father hath put in His own power; wait thou only upon
God; let thy expectation be from Him; wait at the gates of thy Jericho for yet
seven days; utter not a sound till He says, 'Shout': but when He gives the
signal, with the glad cry of victory thou shalt pass over the fallen wall into
the city' " (Veal).
RECONCILE: "Sunelauno" = to drive together. Their
common suffering by hand of others should have kept them from quarreling with
YOU ARE BROTHERS: "For we are brothers" (Gen
The Jews may have been agreeable to being avenged and
redeemed, by the hand of Almighty God, but not to making peace with one another
at the behest of their Saviour!
HE FLED TO MIDIAN: He was not afraid of Pharaoh (Heb
11:27) if his brethren would support him. But when they did not, and realizing
his deeds were known, he had no choice but the leave Egypt.
SINAI: = Horeb (Exo 3:1). The two terms are
interchangeable: cp Deu 4:10; 33:2.
BURNING BUSH: The bush burning but not consumed
typified Israel in Egypt, and Israel in her long period of
Notice that God revealed Himself in a bush in the wilderness,
NOT in a tabernacle or temple!
TAKE OFF YOUR SANDALS: Expressing reverence -- the shoe
was unclean: Exo 3:5; Jos 5:15; Ecc 5:1.
THE PLACE WHERE YOU ARE STANDING IS HOLY GROUND: Notice
that this holy ground was in Midian (not Israel), and apart from any Temple, and
before any Law was given!
"Whom THEY had rejected": The rejection of one (v 27) is seen
as the rejection by all. The great ct: the divine mission of Moses, and his
all-too-human rejection by God's people.
RULER AND DELIVERER: "Redeemer, ransomer" -- as was
THROUGH THE ANGEL WHO APPEARED TO HIM IN THE BUSH: The
angels (ie, messengers) of God speak in His Name (notice "I" in v 32): cp Exo
WONDERS AND MIRACULOUS SIGNS IN EGYPT: Manifestations
of God's power and goodness have not been restricted to Holy Land.
Deu 18:15,18: already applied to Christ by Peter in Act
Notice the general outline, and plain parallels: (1) Land of
Egypt = Law of Moses; (2) Moses = Jesus Christ, the deliverer; and (3) priests
of Zoan = priests of Law (cp 2Ti 3:8).
ASSEMBLY: "Church" (KJV); "congregation"
THE ANGEL WHO SPOKE TO HIM ON MOUNT SINAI: The Law was
given to Moses by the hand of the angel, yet it is said that God spoke to him:
Lev 1:1; Exo 19:3-6; 20:1-6.
LIVING WORDS: Its source: life; its effect: life.
Stephen offered them the true living word (Christ), not dead traditions. Cp Deu
BACK TO EGYPT: Being addicted to their idols (Eze
MADE: Constrained Aaron to make (Exo 32:1-4).
A CALF: Perhaps out of mistaken reverence for cherubim.
Stephen shows how true can be corrupted into idolatry (as they were doing with
A CELEBRATION: A licentious festival (Exo 32:6; 1Co
This abandonment to idolatry occurs later than the time of the
Exodus, but it was the outcome of their attitude there: cp Rom 1:28; 2Th
Vv 42,43: The inspired prophet (Amos, in Amo 5:25-27) had
warned of the imminent destruction of the Temple; Stephen implies the like thing
BEYOND BABYLON: Or Damascus, in Amo 5:27. (1) Perhaps
Stephen is combining Jer 20:4,5 with Amos; or simply (2) see Lesson, Babylon = Assyria.
// Heb 8:5.
IN THE DESERT: An official tabernacle outside of the
AS GOD DIRECTED...: Appointed by God, not by
PATTERN: Gr "tupos": implying a higher reality: Heb
JOSHUA: "Jesus", but wrongly, in KJV.
UNTIL THE TIME OF DAVID: The dispossession of
Canaanites was not completed until days of David -- when Jebusites were defeated
BUT IT WAS SOLOMON WHO BUILT THE HOUSE FOR HIM: God,
not man, chose who may build His "house".
THE MOST HIGH DOES NOT LIVE IN HOUSES MADE BY MEN: Or,
"made by hands". The greatest "house" is the one built "without hands" (ie Dan
2:34), ie Jesus (Gen 3:15). (Cp Paul in Athens: Act 17:24.) Therefore, even if
Herod's temple were destroyed (cp Acts 6:14; John 2:19), God would still have a
"temple" -- ie, Christ and the saints (Eph 2:19-22; 1Pe 2:3-5; Heb 3:6; Rev
// Rom 2:17-19.
Stephen stops his quotation of Isa 66 immediately before the
words: "This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and
trembles at my word" (Isa 66:2). Those who are humbled by the Word of God are
His last, and greatest, "temple" -- in them He will dwell forever!
Stephen stops his quotations before these words, leaving the
erudite Sanhedrin to think of them... then he replaces them with Acts 7:51. What
a blistering indictment!
Instead of continuing the quotation (Isa 66: I will look to
the man who is meek and contrite...), Stephen (knowing they will complete the
quotation in their minds) castigates his listeners for NOT being meek and
contrite and trembling! 'Such a sudden change in tone must have been occasioned
by sighs of impatience and displeasure in the audience.
STIFF-NECKED: Only NT use of a common OT word (as used
UNCIRCUMCISED: Having a covering over heart and ears,
making them impervious to Truth (Lev 26:41; Deu 10:16; Jer 6:10; 9:26; Eze
RESIST: "Antipipto" in Num 27:14 LXX.
Generally, cp Mat 23:29-37; 2Ch 36:16; 1Th 2:15,16.
PERSECUTE: Mat 5:11,12.
THOSE WHO PREDICTED...: "Who showed beforehand) the
coming of..." -- ie, not just by their words, but esp by their actions and their
THE RIGHTEOUS ONE: Designation of Messiah suggested by
Isa 53:11 (cp Act 3:14; 22:14).
BETRAYED: By consorting with Judas.
FURIOUS: Lit "to cut in two": sw Act 5:33.
FULL: Sig a permanent endowment.
LOOKED UP TO HEAVEN: Standing in the temple "heavens",
he gazed up into the true "heavens".
THE SON OF MAN: A title never otherwise given to Christ
by an apostle or evangelist. (Used 82 times by Christ of himself.)
STANDING: Why does Jesus stand here, when elsewhere he
is always sitting? The answer may be found in Paul's last words: "At my first
defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held
against them. But the Lord STOOD at my side and gave me strength, so that
through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear
it. And I was delivered from the lion's mouth. The Lord will rescue me from
every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom" (2Ti
Christ was so involved with the life of his servant Stephen
that he was moved to stand beside him. He tore, as it were, the thin veil
separating us from his sight, rose from his seat, and revealed himself to
Stephen, encouraging him as he himself had been encouraged by an angel at
Jesus is acting as the "Comforter" or "Advocate" -- the Greek
being "Paraklete", which is a legal term for one who is called to stand
alongside, that is, a defense attorney (John 14:16,26; 15:26; 16:7; 1Jo 2:1).
The defense attorney, then as now, stood alongside the accused in the courtroom
and took his part with the Judge.
// Acts 19:29: the madness of the mob at Ephesus.
OUT OF THE CITY: Quite possibly to Golgotha, the place
of his execution -- as that of his Lord. "And so Jesus also suffered outside the
city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him
outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore" (Heb 13:12,13).
TO STONE HIM: The punishment for blasphemy (Lev 24:16).
Notice how they were careful to observe even the forms of the Law (Num 15:35;
THE WITNESSES LAID THEIR CLOTHES AT THE FEET OF A YOUNG MAN
NAMED SAUL: " 'The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be
the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.'
David made this a statute and ordinance for Israel from that day to this" (1Sa
30:24,25). See Paul's later refs to his own role in the persecutions: Acts
22:20; 26:10; 1Co 15:9; Gal 1:13; 1Ti 1:13.
LORD JESUS, RECEIVE MY SPIRIT: Cp the words of Jesus:
"Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" (citing Psa 31:5).
LORD, DO NOT HOLD THIS SIN AGAINST THEM: These words
seem to be the conscious echo of Jesus' dying words in Luke 23:34: "Father,
forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." But there is this
exception: Stephen does not add the last phrase, because they -- Israel's rulers
-- DO know what they are doing! With this final rejection of the word of life by
the leaders of Israel, the way is finally and conclusively opened to the
Gentiles -- to Samaria and beyond.
It has been well said that the church owes Paul to the prayer
of Stephen. This martyr died, but -- in answer to his dying words, the Lord
Jesus Christ sought out Saul of Tarsus -- and Stephen's words, his spirit, and
his mission were destined to live on in the life of his accuser and murderer,
who stood unknowingly there that day -- presiding over his execution.
Likewise, Paul's dying words -- 30 years later -- may be
compared both to those of his Lord and to those of his victim, Stephen: "At my
first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. MAY IT NOT
BE HELD AGAINST THEM" (2Ti 4:16). The spirit of Stephen, and of Christ, had
become his, and the man Paul, knowing that soon he would die, prayed that those
who had turned their backs on him would not be held accountable for that
"They were the spiritual leaders of the people but Stephen's
description of them is much less than flattering. They may have been the
spiritual leaders, but in actual fact they were rogues, power-hungry,
money-hungry and opposed to anyone who got in their way. As Stephen said, they
were just like their fathers who killed the prophets God sent to them -- in fact
even worse -- because they killed the Messiah. 'You stiff necked people, with
uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: you always resist
the Holy Spirit!'
"Now they had turned on Stephen. The more truth they heard,
the more rage they had. And when he said, 'I see heaven open and the Son of Man
standing at the right hand of the throne of God,' they completely lost their
selfcontrol. They dragged Stephen out of the city and began to stone
"But Stephen's last words must have made some of them stop to
think. 'Lord, do not hold this sin against them.' How could Stephen be so
forgiving to these hypocritical wicked people? The answer is because he loved
them and followed the example of Christ. When we are wronged (and usually it is
a lot less than murder), let us do the same and be as forgiving as Stephen"