Act 7:1 ¶ Then said the high priest, Are these things so?
COMMENT: Stephen needed no invitation to
preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that is obviously what he
intended to do if he could get their attention.
Stephen gives a historical message to the rulers of the people
reminding them along the way of some of the backslidings of
their nation, then he too introduces Christ to them through
the prophecy of Moses and their responsibility for his murder.
But the greatest provocation of all is his statement that they
the rulers, teachers, examples and enforcers of the law were not
keeping the law. This proves to be an open invitation by Stephen
for them to martyr him, and the rulers in a rage do execute him
according to the practices of the Jewish nation by stoning him.
There were no appeals to give them time for their tempers to cool,
no long waits on death row; but a mob of angry Jewish rulers
murdered their holy Jewish brother. This forever branded them
in the Ages to come while Stephen set the example so few Christians
understand today; and that is the need to die a perfect death
to be a martyr. And this can only be done in the power of the Spirit
by those few who attain to the anointing of Christ.
Act 7:2 And he said, "Men, brethren, and fathers,
hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father
Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelled in Charran,
Act 7:3 And said unto him, "Get thee out of thy country,
and from your kindred, and come into the land which I shall
Act 7:4 Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans,
and dwelled in Charran: and from there, when his father was
dead, he removed him into this land, wherein you now dwell.
Act 7:5 And he gave him none inheritance in it, no,
not [so much as] to set his foot on: yet he promised
that he would give it to him for a possession, and to
his seed after him, when [as yet] he had no child.
Act 7:6 And God spake on this wise, That his seed
should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should
bring them into bondage, and entreat [them] evil four
Act 7:7 And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage
will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth,
and serve me in this place.
Act 7:8 And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and
so [Abraham] begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day;
and Isaac [begat] Jacob; and Jacob [begat] the twelve patriarchs.
Act 7:9 ¶ And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph
into Egypt: but God was with him,
Act 7:10 And delivered him out of all his afflictions,
and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king
of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.
Act 7:11 Now there came a dearth over all the land of
Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers
found no sustenance.
Act 7:12 But when Jacob heard that there was corn in
Egypt, he sent out our fathers first.
Act 7:13 And at the second [time] Joseph was made
known to his brethren; and Joseph's kindred was made
known unto Pharaoh.
Act 7:14 Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob
to [him], and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls.
Act 7:15 So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he,
and our fathers,
Act 7:16 And were carried over into Sychem, and
laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum
of money of the sons of Emmor [the father] of Sychem.
Act 7:17 ¶ But when the time of the promise drew nigh,
which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and
multiplied in Egypt,
Act 7:18 Till another king arose, which knew not Joseph.
Act 7:19 The same dealt subtilly with our kindred,
and evil entreated our fathers, so that they cast out
their young children, to the end they might not live.
Act 7:20 In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding
fair, and nourished up in his father's house three months:
Act 7:21 And when he was cast out, Pharaoh's daughter took
him up, and nourished him for her own son.
Act 7:22 And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the
Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.
COMMENT: How little we know of Moses
in Egypt from the Scriptures.
But Flavious Josephus tells of him in THE WARS OF THE JEWS,
saying Moses was the General who defended Egypt against
a great army of Ethiopians. The Jewish take on Josephus is that
he was a traitor to them; but the truth is he believed in Jesus
Christ; and was a man of truth who turned the Light on Israel's
sins in the 1st Century when the wrath of God came upon them
to disperse them into all the world and take away their land from
them. Josephus may be the greatest of all historians from
antiquity. Now we return to Stephen's message as he spoke
angelically to the Council of Moses.
Act 7:23 "And when he was full forty years old,
it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel.
COMMENT: You will notice the life of Moses moved in
segments of forty years. At the end of his first forty years he
tries to make himself the deliverer of the Jews from their bondage
in Egypt but they have no ears to hear in those days. He flees
Egypt and forty years later is visited by the angel of the Lord
in the burning bush who sends him back to Egypt to rescue Israel.
Then at the end of forty years of wandering in the Sinai desert,
Moses climbs the mountain to depart from this world. Now Stephen
continues to tell of Moses.
Act 7:24 "And seeing one [of them] suffer wrong, he defended
[him], and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian:
Act 7:25 For he supposed his brethren would have understood
how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.
Act 7:26 And the next day he showed himself unto them as
they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying,
Sirs, you are brethren; why do you wrong one to another?
Act 7:27 But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust
him away, saying, Who made you a ruler and a judge over us?
Act 7:28 Will you kill me, as you did the Egyptian yesterday?
COMMENT: Moses perceived in the trecherous
answer from the Jewish man that he was no longer safe in Egypt.
Instead of being grateful for deliverance, the Jewish man
openly despised Moses and for that reason he knew his secret would
not remain a secret from the authrities for very long.
Act 7:29 Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a
stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons.
Act 7:30 And when forty years were expired, there
appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an
angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush.
Act 7:31 When Moses saw [it], he wondered at the sight:
and as he drew near to behold [it], the voice of the
Lord came unto him,
Act 7:32 [Saying], I [am] the God of your fathers,
the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of
Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and dared not behold.
COMMENT: Moses at first was attracted to the
what appeared to be a phenomenon, but as soon as the voice came out
of the bush introducing himself as God; Moses being a mighty humble
and wise man knew better than to stare out of curiosity any further
at the sight.
Act 7:33 Then said the Lord to him, "Put off your shoes
from your feet: for the place where you are standing is holy ground.
Act 7:34 "I have seen, I have seen the affliction of
my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning,
and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will
send thee into Egypt.
COMMENT: In the Old Testament the angel of
the Lord is not identified as Christ. The New Testament writers
do make the identification for us. Get to know the Scriptures
better and you will get to know Christ better and will develop
a greater appreciation for him. Stephen went on to say to the
Act 7:35 "This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made you
a ruler and a judge? the same did God send [to be] a ruler and
a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in
Act 7:36 He brought them out, after he showed
signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea,
and in the wilderness forty years.
Act 7:37 ¶ This is that Moses, who said unto the children
of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto
you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall you hear.
COMMENT: Stephen is quoting the
prophecy of Moses pointing to Christ as Israel's Messiah.
Act 7:38 This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness
with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and
[with] our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:
COMMENT: Here in his message to the
Council, Stephen is quoted as identifying
Christ as the angel of the Lord in the New Testament looking
back to the visitation Moses received in Mount Sinai at
the burning bush.
Act 7:39 To whom our fathers would not obey,
but thrust [him] from them, and in their hearts turned
back again into Egypt,
COMMENT: Stephen is showing the Council
of seventy we know as the Sanhedrin that not only did Israel
openly disobey Moses but also Christ Jesus whom Moses foretold
would come. Now Stephen shows the wickedness of Israel in
rejecting Moses as the people,....
Act 7:40 Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us:
for [as for] this Moses, which brought us out of the land of
Egypt, we know not what is become of him.
COMMENT: Israel gave Aaron gold
jewelry for him to make them gods of gold to worship while
Moses tarried on the mountain top with God.
Act 7:41 And they made a calf in those days, and offered
sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their
Act 7:42 Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host
of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O you
house of Israel, have you offered to me slain beasts and
sacrifices forty years in the wilderness?
COMMENT: The host of heaven in the Old
Testament are the same as "the powers of the Prince of the air"
in the New Testament. When 33% of the angels in heaven rebelled
with the Devil, he in the form of a red dragon gathered them up
in his tail and cast them down to the earth where they inhabit
the atmosphere above the world population like vultures looking
for opportunities to turn good to evil and evil into wickedness
and in doing so; they inhabit false religions like Hinduism,
Buddhism, and Islam to receive the worship of their adherents.
When Israel made golden idols to worship. The question of whether
Israel offered animal sacrifices forty years in the desert seems
somewhat mute since the Sinai desert was not exactly grazing land
for the good of raising animals. But Israel backslid again in
the Sinai as you might expect; looking for some god to rescue them
out of that burning hot furnance of a desert.
Act 7:43 Yea, you took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and
the star of your god Remphan, figures which you made to
worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.
COMMENT: Moloch is mentioned as far back
in the Scriptures as Leviticus. Apparently Israel had an
inclination to carry the tabernacle of Moloch. (Amos 5;26)
Israel also made idols to worship of Remphan.
Act 7:44 ¶ Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the
wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses,
that he should make it according to the fashion that he
Act 7:45 Which also our fathers that came after brought
in with Joshua into the possession of the Gentiles,
whom God drave out before the face of our fathers,
unto the days of David;
COMMENT: The name of Jesus refers to
Joshua, the Prophet who led Israel into the promised land.
Act 7:46 Who found favour before God, and desired to find
a tabernacle for the God of Jacob.
Act 7:47 But Solomon built him an house.
COMMENT: The glorious temple of Solomon
which was located on the temple Mount where the Mosque of Omar,
the Muslim temple stands as of this writing; but not for long.
Act 7:48 Howbeit the most High dwells not in temples
made with hands; as says the prophet,
Act 7:49 "Heaven [is] my throne, and earth [is] my footstool:
what house will you build me? says the Lord: or what [is] the
place of my rest?
Act 7:50 "Has not my hand made all these things?
Act 7:51 ¶ You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears,
you do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers [did],
so [do] you.
COMMENT: Stephen's case against the Council
was very clearly made as he summed up the history of Israel.
To call them uncircumcised in heart and ears was in provocative
language they could not fail to understand, for the Israelities
required their boys to be circumcised soon after childbirth.
So the lack of circumcision of their hearts and ears showed them
to be in violation of the laws of Moses.
And once again, New
Testament language helps us understand the Old Testament, for
the "Holy Ghost" is not mentioned in those words in the Old
Testament. Now, Stephen continues to heap up accusations in
truth against the Sanhedrin sitting in judgment over him,
saying to them.
Act 7:52 "Which of the prophets have not your fathers
persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before of
the coming of the Just One; of whom you have been now
the betrayers and murderers:
Act 7:53 "Who have received the law by the disposition of
angels, and have not kept [it].
COMMENT: Here is the final insult to the pride
of the rulers. Stephen has made his case clear that they have
betrayed and killed the Lord whom Moses promised, and have not
kept the law of Moses they say they represent to the people.
They have no choice but to execute him or repent.
Act 7:54 ¶ When they heard these things, they were
cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with [their] teeth.
COMMENT: We don't have the quotes of
what they said to Stephen as he stood there before the Council,
for they would be too vulgar and foul to print in the holy
Book; so we are told "they gnashed on him with their teeth"
which means they were snarling words at him in a rage, and
not just one of them; for the Council had become an angry
Act 7:55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost,
looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of
God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
COMMENT: Remember, Stephen came into the
Council chambers in the shining Light of the anointing in
Christ Jesus. Now he is seeing into the unseen realm of
the Spirit. It is of great importance to realize his
"CONVERSATION WAS IN HEAVEN" this whole time he was
preaching to the Sanhedrin. The vision of Christ standing
on the right hand of God the Father in his throne means
he was with Stephen in this rebuke of the Sanhedrin
Act 7:56 And said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened,
and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
COMMENT: The murderers of Christ found
this report even more intolerable than the Scriptural message
Stephen had just delivered into their ears in the power of
the Spirit. Stephen was telling them the man they turned
over to Pilate to be crucified was alive! He was standing
at the right hand of God! But they couldn't see in the
unseen! Their positions as rulers of the people were threatened,
their prestige, their authority, their wealth!
Act 7:57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and
stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,
COMMENT: Here we see the Sanhedrin turns into
a raging mob.
Act 7:58 And cast [him] out of the city, and
stoned [him]: and the witnesses laid down their
clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.
COMMENT: Saul who became the Apostle Paul
was there. He was ranked in those days high among the
Pharisees and according to the custom of Israel in executions
by stonings, they "laid down their clothes" at his feet.
This made him the identifier of the witnesses against Stephen
were anyone to inquire concerning the execution which
had degenerated into murder.
Act 7:59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon [God], and
saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
COMMENT: Stephen called upon God, saying
"Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." In doing so, he leaves a final
witness behind in this world showing all who have ears to hear,
that Christ is God.
Act 7:60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud
voice, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." And when
he had said this, he fell asleep.
COMMENT: Here is the power of the Spirit
in a dying Saint. We see a similar occurrence in the deaths
of Jacob and of Moses. Jacob speaking with strength on the
day of his death. Moses marching up to a mountain top to die.
Stephen crying out with a loud voice in his Martyr's prayer,
which was Christ in him praying through him to Himself saying,
"Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." We see this hard
to comprehend precept in Saint Paul's writings where he
said: "I AM CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST: NEVETHELESS I LIVE;
YET NOT I, BUT CHRIST LIVES IN ME:" (Galatians 2:20a)
It was Christ in Stephen preaching to the Sanhedrin and while
Stephen was dying, it was Christ in him praying, "Lord, lay not this
sin to their charge."
Too many presume dying for their faith
in the Lord is martyrdom, but the word "martyr" in the Greek
was attributed to the Apostles on the Mount of Olives when Christ
last spoke to them saying they would be witnesses (martyr or martus
in the Greek) to all the world. (Acts 1:8) Martyrdom is not
a death anyone other than a Saint full of the Holy Ghost and
faith like Stephen could expect to do. For those who can receive it;
it was Christ in Stephen interceding to God for Stephen's
murderers and you shall see after the Resurrection, that Christ
does not pray in vain.
This is "THE GREAT MYSTERY OF GODLINESS" then, that you as a believer
can study to show yourself approved of God to go on to Sainthood,
and when death of self is attained so Christ can preach, and
praise and pray through you; then you too can avail yourself of
death where you like Stephen would be of one mind with Christ
to pray for his murderers. And in martyrdom we are told the enmity
within us in the flesh toward God is slain,
(Ephsians 2:15/16) so in the
world to come; martyrs no longer have to endure
flesh contrary to the Spirit as we do in this world in spiritual
warfare both interiorly and exteriorly.
Now we will read of the persecution that arose in Jerusalem
against the movement of God there as might be expected once
the Sanhedrin became the roaring Lion seeking whom he may devour!