2. The gospel spreads into Palestine, 6:1-12:25

iii] Stephen's speech to the Sanhedrin


With a charge of blasphemy laid against Stephen, the high priest asks him to give an answer. Stephen sets out to relate Israel's story in order to draw out the people's failure, both to hear God's prophets and to offer true worship. Stephen concludes by proclaiming the glorification of Christ, the Son of Man.


The theological basis for the Gentile mission:

iThe divine presence is not confined to a place, but is evident in his gathered people wherever they may be;

iInstitutional Israel has rejected their messiah and therefore the promised blessings of the covenant may rightly be possessed by the Gentile world;


i] Context: See 6:1-7.


ii] Background: See The theological structure of the gospel message; 3:11-26.


iii] Structure: Stephen's speech to the Sanhedrin:

Stephen's gospel sermon


The promise to Abraham, v1-8;

The promise to Joseph, v9-16:

The promise to Moses, v17-43;

Tent and temple, v44-50;

The time is fulfilled

Rebellion and lawlessness, v51-53.

The kingdom of God is at hand

The Son of Man is glorified, v54-56

Stephen's martyrdom, v57-60


iv] Interpretation:

The nature of a community can be explained by their story, their history, and so it is that Stephen sets out to tell Israel's story, and in the telling, by his selection of events, he lays down a critique of Israel's religious life. As Dunn explains, Stephen tells the story in such a way as to draw out two major points.

First, Israel has continually rejected God's messengers, culminating in the rejection of his Righteous One, namely Jesus - "you have betrayed and murdered him."

Second, Israel's worship of God is flawed:

Israel's focus on the temple in Jerusalem fails to recognise that God's presence in the midst of his people is not confined to a single place or a single building; "a promised land or sacred site is not necessary to ensure the presence of God with his people", Dunn.

Israel's worship of God from the golden calf to the heavenly host in Babylon has constantly been tainted with idolatry; "Israel's worship has always been flawed", Dunn. Israel's temple-worship "is a little short of idolatrous", Dunn


When it comes to the speech itself, Stephen does not directly defend the charge that he spoke "against the law." Nor is there a critique of Israel's graceless version of the Mosaic Law, nor any attempt to differentiate between moral law (camel law, Matt.23:24) and tradition / cultic law (gnat law). The transition from graceless-law to a Pauline law/grace dichotomy is nowhere to be seen. Stephen's point is simple; it is religious Israel who have disobeyed God's law.

As for Stephen himself, the use of the word ta eqh, "customs", when referring to nomoV, "law", may indicate that the criticism against Stephen is more related to his disrespect to Israel's religious traditions, rather than the Mosaic Law as such. Bruce argues that Stephen is criticising "the transitory character of the Mosaic ceremonial", Bruce Gk.

Stephen's speech certainly addresses the charge that he has spoken against the temple. He addresses the charge by clarifying his critique; he certainly is not calling for the literal destruction of the temple, but he is highly critical of the institution as such. For Stephen, God has always been present when his people gather, as was the case in their wilderness journey. The problem with Israel's temple-worship is that it is tainted, if not idolatrous.

None-the-less, Stephen's address is not primarily a defence of charges brought against him. "The main intention of this prophetic-type utterance is to turn the tables on his opponents by presenting an extensive indictment against them." "A terrible pattern of resisting God's prophets and disobeying his law has culminated in the betrayal and murder of the Righteous one", Peterson D.

In overall terms, Stephen's speech affirms the foundations of Israel's religious life, "he holds fast to the God of the Fathers; the new faith is the fulfilment of all that the old, represented by Abraham and Moses, rightly stood for, but it is a fulfilment so radical that it finally disintegrates the institutionalism that had for so long been the people's temptation", Barrett. As such "it places the new people of God in its true salvation-historical context", Secombe, The New People of God, and more importantly, it begins the process of covenant extension to the Gentiles which will involve a radical transition from temple to church.

Although not widely accepted, it does seem that this speech is formed on the structure of the gospel. Unlike other gospel presentations in Acts, this one has an expansive introduction where Stephen prosecutes the case for Israel's state of sin, v1-50. Stephen then announces that the time is fulfilled in the murder of the Righteous One in accord with prophetic expectation, an expectation ignored by Israel, so confirming her state of sin, v51-53. Finally, Stephen announces that the kingdom of God is at hand; Jesus the Righteous One, the Son of Man, now stands glorified at the right hand of God. The call to repent and believe is unstated, but certainly implied - the violent reaction of the members of the Sanhedrin brings Stephen's address to an abrupt end.


The source of this example of judicial rhetoric has prompted numerous theories. Weiser in his commentary, 1981, proposes three possible sources: a) it was taken directly from Hellenistic Judaism; b) it was taken from Hellenistic Judaism and then modified by Hellenistic Jewish Christians before Luke got to see it; c) it had its roots in Samaritan traditions. We should add that it may well represent an account of what Stephen actually said. We know that some members of the Sanhedrin were secretly of the new faith. If there is any consensus among commentators, it is that it likely existed as a documented speech which Luke has adapted. The subject matter, the method used to expound the OT, ....., indicate an original source. Its length indicates the importance it held for the early church as well as for Luke himself.


v] Homiletics: The Great Southern Land

[Map] Australia's story is like the story of every nation, a mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly. There is a tendency today to focus on the ugly, but the story of The Great Southern Land is a good story; it is the story of a people overcoming the brutality of a penal colony in a harsh environment, to create a stable and successful democracy favoured by immigrants from around the world. We are a people who ride together in the front seat of the taxi and have little time for those who claim the privilege to ride in the back. Sadly, our forefathers had not acted kindly toward our native Aboriginals, so in 1976 we overwhelmingly decided to move our Koori friends from the boot into the front seat with the rest of us, and that's where we all sit.

On the first Sunday after reaching landfall in 1786, Admiral Arthur Phillip and the soldiers, sailors and convicts of the 11 ships of the first fleet, met under a large gum tree to hold a religious service led by the Rev. Richard Johnson, a service conducted from the English Prayer Book. So began Christian civilisation in Australia - the civilising of a penal colony with the truth that every person, convict or free, rich or poor, is eternally loved by God. The church's association with the established order in the eighteenth and nineteenth century gave it an important part in the life of the new nation, but secularism has slowly had it's way.

There have been no great revivals in Australia. A small one in the early 1900's on the South coast of New South Wales, and that's about it. Yet Australians are not an irreligious people. In the 1950's over 80% claimed to believe in God and over 70% said they believed in Jesus. Yet, the sexual revolution in the 1960's prompted an inevitable disengagement between Christianity and normal everyday Australians - the church and its message increasingly became irrelevant to the lives of ordinary Australians. Philosophically, Australians moved from Jesus to Marx, from freedom to equity.

Although we live in the lucky country, we have abandoned the faith of our forefathers, and in so doing, we have not only undermined the very building-blocks of our nation, we have undermined our place with the glorified Jesus, the one who now reigns at the right hand of God. We have become a people who no longer knows its creator, nor itself.


Image: Sydney Cove, Port Jackson 1788, State Library of NSW.

Text - 7:1

Stephen's speech to the Sanhedrin, v1-56: i] The promise to Abraham, v1-8. Stephen begins his account of Israel's dealings with God by outlining the life of Abraham. He draws out the fact that Abraham was a tent-dweller with no place of his own and yet God related intimately with him. For Stephen, Abraham's homeland is ultimately a heavenly one, an inheritance in Christ, cf., Heb.11:13-16.

The speech presents us with some historical issues on Abraham. Genesis has Abraham leaving Ur with his father Terah and settling in Haran. It is there that the Lord instructs him to go "to the land I will show you." So he leaves Haran and moves to Canaan and it is there that the Lord appears to him. Stephen has God appearing to Abraham in Ur and it is there that he is instructed to go to the promised land. Stephen is probably providing us with little more than a precis of Abraham's early life, possibly from a contemporary Targum, ie., a translation from Hebrew into Aramaic of OT texts with commentary for local synagogue use.

de "then" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative.

ei "-" - [the high priest said] if. Here used to introduce a direct question.

ou{twV exei "are [these charges] true?" - it is thus [these things]? An idiomatic expression favoured by Luke in Acts, which is formed by the present singular verb ecein plus the demonstrative adverb ou{twV; on one occasion with pwV. Paul uses the construction four times. Barrett translates the construction as "Are the facts stated in the accusation true?", "Do you admit the charge?"


Abraham's story begins with a theophany, a manifestation of God's presence. Usually referred to as "the glory of Lord", evident, or otherwise, rather than "God of glory / the all-glorious one", as here.

adelfoi (oV) voc. "brothers" - [and he said, men] brothers [and fathers, hear me]. As with "fathers", vocative, standing in apposition to "men".

thV dixhV (a) gen. "[the God] of glory" - [the god] of glory. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting "God". The title is only found one other time in the scriptures, Ps.29:3. "The glorious God", "the God of all majesty", but possibly with the sense "a manifestation of God's glory ....."

tw/ patri (hr roV) dat. "[our] father" - [appeared to] the father [of us, abraham]. Dative of direct object after the passive form of the verb "to see."

onti (eimi) dat. pres. part. "while he was" - being [in mesopotamia]. Although anarthrous, the participle is dative, limiting the dative "Abraham", so adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic / temporal, "when he was still in Mesopotamia", Cassirer.

prin h] + inf. "before" - before [he lived in haran]. This construction, prin h] / prin + inf., introduces a temporal clause, subsequent time.


Genesis 12:1, cf., Heb.11:8.

proV + acc. "-" - [and he said] toward [him]. The preposition is used here instead of a dative of indirect object.

ek + gen. "[leave]" - [depart] from [the land of you and] from [the kindred of you and come into the land]. Expressing source / origin.

h}n a[n + subj. "[I will show you]" - [and come into the land] whatever [i may show you]. This construction introduces an indefinite relative clause, given that "the specific land is not yet indicated", Kellum, "whatever land I show you", Moffatt, although Culy suggests that it is "analogous to a future indicative verb", as NIV.


Building on Genesis 12:5.

tote adv. "so" - then. Temporal adverb.

exelqwn (exercomai) aor. part. "he left" - having departed. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to settle, dwell."

Xaldaiwn (oV) gen. "of the Chaldeans" - [from the land] of the chaldeans [he settled in haran]. The genitive is adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic / identification, "the land known as the Chaldeans."

kakeiqen "-" - and from there. Crasis kai + the adverb of place ekeiqen.

meta to + inf. "after the [death]" - after the [to die the father of him]. This construction, the preposition meta + an articular infinitive, introduces a temporal clause, antecedent time.

metwkisen (metoikizw) aor. "God sent [him]" - he moved, sent = resettled [him into this land into which we now are living]. The subject of this verb is presumably "God", as NIV; "God removed him from there", Barclay.


Developing Genesis 15:7, Stephen notes that Abraham's promised-inheritance is unrealised; not even the length of one foot is possessed - the inheritance rests on a divine promise. The linkage between the noun kathronomia, "inheritance", and the verb epaggelomai, "to promise", is prominent in the NT, and central to the argument here. Interestingly, the linkage is not prominent in the LXX, other than in 2Macc.2:17-18.

autw/ dat. pro. "[he gave] him" - [he gave] to him. Dative of indirect object.

kai ouk ....., oude ......, kai "no [inheritance here,] not even ....... but ..." - and not [he did give to him an inheritance in it] nor [a step of a foot] and = but. As Culy notes, we have here an unusual counterpoint construction, "not ....., but .....", where kai is used instead of alla.

podoV (ouV odoV) gen. "[enough ground to set his] foot [on]" - [step] of a foot. The genitive is adjectival, epexegetic, specifying "the foot", "consisting of a step." The phrase "a step of a foot" is idiomatic for a very small space. "Not so much as a foothold", Peterson.

dounai (didwmi) aor. inf. "[promised him] that ..." - [but he promised] to give [it]. Kellum suggests that the infinitive is complementary, but best treated as introducing an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what God promised, as NIV.

eiV + acc. "[would possess]" - into = for, as [a possession]. This construction, the preposition eiV with the accusative noun "possession", is adjectival, predicative, limiting "it", ie., the land, Zerwick. A Semitic construction expressing equivalence, so Culy. "to give it to him as a permanent possession"

autw/ dat. pro. "-" - to him. As also tw/ spermati, "to the seed [of him]", dative of indirect object after the infinitive "to give."

ontoV (eimi) gen. pres. part. "even though at that time [Abraham] had" - [and to the seed of him after him, a child not] being. The genitive participle and its genitive subject "child" forms a genitive absolute construction, usually translated as concessive, as NIV; "though he had no child", ESV. Temporal is possible; "This promise was made at a time when he had no child."

autw/ dat. pro. "Abraham" - to him. Dative of possession.


We have here a rough citation of Genesis 15:13-14, v6-7a, with 7b from 3:12. The quote refers to Israel's enslavement in Egypt, with the promise of deliverance and the opportunity to worship God. "The pilgrim character of the people of God is stressed again", Peterson D. Exodus 12:40 refers to the sojourn as 430 years, but rabbinic exegesis of Gen.15:13 has 400 from the birth of Isaac to the exodus.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating the next step in the speech.

ou{twV adv "in this way" - [god spoke] thus. Culy suggests that this demonstrative adverb is backward referencing and not forward referencing, as if introducing a direct quotation, as NIV. So rather than "God spoke as follows", Stephen probably intends "God spoke that way regarding the promised inheritance because ....."

oJti "-" - that / because [the seed of him will be a stranger in another's land and they will enslave it (the seed) and they will mistreat it four hundred years]. Possibly introducing a direct quote, but if ou{twV is backward referencing, then it is likely causal, explaining why God told Abraham that he would not possess the land.


w|/ ean + subj. / fut. "[serve as slaves]" - [and i will judge the nation] for which [they may serve / will serve as slaves, said god]. Here the relative pronoun with the indefinite particle serves to introduce an indefinite attributive modifier of the object "nation"; "I will judge the nation that they serve", ESV. The verb "to serve as a slave" takes a dative of direct object / dative of persons, as here. In this construction, the verb would properly be subjunctive, but the use of the future tense is a post-classical development.

meta + acc. "[and] afterward" - [and] after [these things they will come out]. Adverbial use of the preposition, temporal.

moi dat. pro. "[and worship] me" - [and will give service to] me [in this place]. Dative of direct object after the verb "to give service to." The verb latreuw is best understood as "to serve" rather than "to worship." The verb proskunew is more often used to express the sense of doing adoration, ie., "to worship." "After that, they shall come forth and serve me in this place", Phillips.


Stephen moves quickly from Abraham, through his descendants, to Joseph. He notes the sign of the covenant (God's agreement with Abraham - the promise of a land, people and blessing), namely circumcision. The rather strange expression, "covenant of circumcision", is nothing more than an example of short-talk (semantic density).

autw/ dat. pro. "-" - [and he gave] to him. Dative of indirect object.

peritomhV (h) gen. "of circumcision" - [a covenant] of circumcision. The genitive is adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic, limiting "circumcision", "a covenant which is made evident by the sign of circumcision." Barrett suggests that it is epexegetic, but both Culy and Kellum opt for descriptive.

ou{twV adv. "-" - [and] thus [he became the father of isaac]. Here backward referencing, drawing a logical conclusion / inference from the establishment of the "covenant of circumcision."

th/ hJmera/ (a) dat. "[eight] days after his birth" - [and circumcised him] on the [eighth] day, [and isaac became the father of jacob, and jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs]. The dative is adverbial, temporal, as NIV.


ii] The promise to Joseph, v9-16. Stephen's speech continues to underline the idea that God was present and involved with his people long before they came to the promised land, and long before they built the temple. He was even with them in their time of slavery. Stephen also adds a new point to his argument, namely that Israel evidences a pattern of rejecting those whom God has raised up for their deliverance. Joseph serves as an example of this rejection of God's deliverer, a rejection played-out throughout the history of Israel, culminating in the rejection of God's "Righteous One", Jesus.

zhlwsanteV (zhlow) aor. part. "because [the patriarchs] were jealous" - [and] having been jealous of [joseph, the patriarchs sold him into egypt and (and yet) god was with him]. The participle is adverbial, best treated as causal, explaining why Joseph's brothers sold him as a slave. "But God was on his side", Cassirer.


Stephen reduces the story somewhat, but draws out Joseph's deliverance at the hand of God; his "favour and wisdom" gifted by God - he is "prudent and understanding", Johnson, Gen.39:4, cf., Gen.41:33, 38-39; his authority and rule, Gen.41:40-41.

ek + gen. "from" - [and he delivered him] from [all the tribulations of him]. Expressing source / origin.

autw/ dat. pro. "-" - [and gave grace and wisdom] to him [before, in the presence of pharaoh]. Dative of indirect object; "God made him so wise", CEV.

Aiguptou (oV) gen. "[king] of Egypt" - [king] of egypt. The genitive is adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic / subordination, "king over Egypt."

hJgoumenon (hJgeomai) pres. part. "ruler" - [and he appointed him] the one ruling [upon = over egypt and upon = over the whole house of him]. The participle serves as a substantive, accusative complement of the direct object "him", standing in a double accusative construction and asserting a fact about the object "him". "Pharaoh made Joseph governor over the whole country and the royal household", TEV.


hJmwn gen. pro. "our [ancestors]" - [but/and a famine came upon all egypt and canaan and great tribulation and the fathers] of us [were not finding food]. The genitive is adjectival, relational.


akousaV (akouw) aor. part. "When [Jacob] heard" - [but/and jacob] having heard. The participle is adverbial, possibly temporal, as NIV, so Kellum, or even causal, "because". Culy, following Rogers Gk. suggests either.

onta (eimi) pres. part. "that there was [grain in Egypt]" - [grain] being [into egypt, he sent out first the father of us]. The NIV, as with most translations, treats the participle as introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what Jacob heard. Culy points out that technically it serves as the accusative complement of the direct object "grain", standing in a double accusative construction and asserting a fact about the object.


en + dat. "on [their second visit]" - [and] in [the second time they visited]. Temporal use of the preposition, as NIV.

toiV adelfoiV (oV) dat. "brothers" - [joseph was made known] to the brothers [of him]. Dative of indirect object.

tw/ Faraw dat. "Pharaoh" - [and the family of joseph became known] to pharaoh. Dative of indirect object / interest, advantage.


Stephen increasingly condenses the patriarchal narrative.

de "after this" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the discourse to the next point.

aposteilaV (apostellw) aor. part. "[Joseph] sent for" - having sent [joseph called jacob and all the family]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to call"; "Joseph sent and invited Jacob his father and the whole clan", Barclay.

en + dat. "[seventy-five] in [all]" - in [souls, seventy five]. Culy suggests that the preposition here is adverbial, reference / respect; "with reference to souls, seventy-five", although Barrett, Haenchen, etc., opt for a dative of measure, "in all, amounting to seventy-five persons." "About seventy-five people in all."


hJmwn gen. pro. "our [ancestors]" - [and jacob came down into egypt and he died, and (as well as) the fathers] of us. The genitive is adjectival, relational, as NIV.


Stephen's speech continues condensing the patriarchal narrative, so causing some factual difficulties. Both Abraham and Jacob purchased separate burial plots in Canaan, but according to Genesis 50:13, Jacob requested to be buried in Abraham's plot at Hebron. Joshua 24:32 has Joseph buried in the plot (cave) Jacob purchased (not Abraham) at Shechem, although Jacob's bones had been moved to Abraham's plot. The confusion is caused by conflating the events. At any rate, the family's desire to be buried in the promised land says something of their faith in God's promises, but not necessarily a belief that God's presence is somehow more evident in Canaan.

w|/ dat. pro. "that [Abraham had bought]" - [and they were removed into shechem and were placed in the tomb] which [abraham bought]. The relative pronoun serves as the direct object of the verb "to buy", dative by attraction to "tomb"

para + gen. "from" - from [the sons of hamor in shechem]. Here expressing source / origin.

timhV (h) gen. "for a certain sum" - of an amount. The genitive is adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic / price; "bought for a certain amount / price of silver."

arguriou (on) gen. "of money" - of silver. The genitive is probably best treated as epexegetic, specifying the amount / price paid, in this case, using silver; "for a certain amount / price consisting of silver." Of course, the sense of the two genitives is simply "bought with silver", Phillips.


iii] The promise to Moses, v17-43. Stephen was specifically charged with speaking against Moses, and he certainly addresses this charge in this section of his speech. He makes the point that Moses was a man "powerful in words and deeds", a man asteioV tw/ qew/, "beautiful to God", or as the NIV has it, "he was no ordinary child." Yet, defending himself is not Stephen's focus, rather, he sets out to expand on the two points he has made so far:

First, all the blessings that flowed to Moses and to the people of Israel, occurred outside the promised land; God was with his people in a foreign land and in the wilderness.

Second, the people of Israel constantly rejected Moses, their deliverer. Under Moses, the people had before them the covenant promises, a land, people and blessing, but being faithless to the core, the promise eluded them.

By the conclusion of the speech, Stephen will have applied these two points to the members of the Sanhedrin: first, their improper, if not idolatrous, confining of the divine presence to the temple, and second, their rejection of God's Righteous One, Jesus.

The speech proceeds by outlining the key moments in Moses' life:

First 40 years in Egypt, v17-29;

Second 40 years in Midian, v30-34;

Last 40 years in the wilderness, v35-43;


a) Moses' first 40 years in Egypt, v17-29. He grew to be a man "powerful in his words and deeds", blessed and protected by God. Note how Luke uses this description of Jesus, 24:19. Cf., Exodus 1:7. But then, his life as an Egyptian nobleman fell apart when he sought to intervene on behalf of the people of Israel.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative.

kaqwV "as" - as, like. Usually treated here as temporal, although as Zerwick notes, this is a rare usage. Culy opts for its usual sense indicating similarity, the point being that "the increase in population was in accord with the imminent fulfilment of the promise."

thV epaggeliaV (a) gen. "to fulfil his promise" - [the time] of the promise [was drawing near]. The genitive is adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic / temporal, limiting "time"; "the time when the promise will be fulfilled was drawing near." Culy suggests that the genitive is ablative, reference / respect.

h\V gen. pro. "-" - which. Direct object of the verb "to promise", genitive by attraction.

tw/ Abraam dat. "to Abrham" - [god promised] to abraham, [the people grew and were multiplied in egypt]. Dative of indirect object.


Cf., Exodus 1:8-11.

acri ou| "then" - until [another king arose upon = over egypt who had not known joseph]. The adverb acri + the gen. pro. ou| serves as a temporal preposition expressing future time. This idiomatic phrase is drawn from something like, acri tou cronou en w|/, "until the time in which = when", so Culy.


Cf., Exodus 1:17, 22. Pharaoh instituted a pogrom of racial purification by forcing Jewish parents to "leave their babies outside, so they would die", CEV.

katasofisamenoV (katasofizomai) aor. part. "he dealt treacherously with" - [this one] having tricked [the nation of us, afflicted the fathers of us]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to afflict, do harm to, do evil to"; "He dealt shrewdly with our race and forced our fathers to expose their infants", ESV.

tou + inf. "[by forcing them]" - of the [to make the infants of them]. The NIV, as with most translations, treats this genitive articular infinitive as epexegetic; "He used craft against our people and dealt cruelly with our forefathers, making them expose their children", Cassirer. Of course, it may be final, expressing purpose, "in order to make the infants of them exposed." Bruce Gk. calls it "an explanatory phrase with some idea of purpose."

ekqeta (oV) acc. "to throw out" - exposed. Accusative complement of the direct object "infants", standing in a double accusative construction and asserting a fact about the object "infants."

eiV to + inf. "so that" - into the [not to keep alive the infants]. This preposition + the accusative articular infinitive, introduces a final clause expressing purpose, "in order to ...."; "so that the children would never live to grow up", Barclay.


Cf., Exodus 2:2-4.

en + dat. "at [that time]" - in [which time, moses was born]. Temporal use of the preposition. The relative phrase "in which time" is equivalent to the adverbial phrase "at that time", ie., "at the time appointed by God", Kellum.

asteioV adj. "no ordinary child" - [and he was] beautiful [to god, who was raised three months in the house of the = his father]. The sense of this predicate adjective is disputed. The word would be used of a mother for her child and it is interesting that it is used here of God toward the infant Moses - note the use of a dative of feeling (ethical dative) for tw/ qew/, "God". Some translations stay with "beautiful", ESV, TEV, ...., while others opt for a less emotional sense: "pleasing in the sight of God", Cassirer; "a child of quite exceptional beauty", Barclay; "very handsome", Bruce Gk.; "a divinely beautiful child", Moffatt; "finding favour with God", Knox; "well-bred", BDAG.


Cf., Exodus 2:5, 10. The Western text has "he was placed outside in/by the river."

ekteqentoV (ektiqhmi) gen. aor. pas. part. "when he was placed outside" - [but/and him] having been exposed. The genitive participle and its genitive subject "him" forms a genitive absolute construction, best treated as temporal, as NIV.

aneilato (anairew) aor. "took [him]" - [the daughter of pharaoh] carried off, took [him]. The sense of the verb here is disputed. The NIV is to be preferred, in line with Exodus 2:5, but Barrett and others argue strongly for "Pharaoh's daughter adopted him", ESV, so also TEV, REB, NRSV, Phillips, JB, ...... The following phrase, "raised him as her own son", carries the sense of adoption.

eiV "as" - [and she raised him] into [a son]. The preposition here may serve to introduce a predicate nominative, as NIV, and most translations, cf., Wallace p.47. Barrett sides with Moulton who argued that the use of this preposition in such expressions is simply developing the idea of destination; "brought him up to be her own son", Berkeley.

eJauth/ pro. "her own [son]" - to = for herself. Reflective pronoun, dative of interest, advantage.


Stephen presents a positive overview of Moses' character, but compare Exodus 4:10.

en + dat. "in" - [and moses was instructed] in [all wisdom of egyptians, and he was powerful] in [words and deeds of him]. Culy suggests that both uses of this preposition are adverbial, reference / respect. The first use is a variant, although the dative "all wisdom" would carry the same sense. The genitive Aiguptiwn, "Egyptians", is adjectival, possessive, expressing the possession of a derivative characteristic, although Culy classifies it as a genitive of source. "Moses was educated in the best schools in Egypt. He was equally impressive as a thinker and an athlete", Peterson.


The turning point in Moses' life, v30-34. Moses seeks to episkeptomai, "to visit, care for, intervene for", possibly extending to "deliver" (used of divine visitations, so also Luke 1:68) the people of Israel, but his intervention on their behalf is rejected. The two men, representatives of God's people Israel, ou sunhkan, "did not understand", just like Joseph's brothers. They accuse Moses of making himself their self-appointed ruler and judge, ie., their God-appointed deliverer. The pattern of the people's rejection of God's appointed deliverer continues with Moses.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating the next step in the speech.

wJV "when" - as. This comparative conjunction is usually treated as temporal here, as NIV, although its particular function at this point is to identify the next 40-year unit in Moses' life. In v17 kaqwV identifies the first forty years, and in v30, kai, "and then, after forty years had passed", identifies the third.

autw/ dat. pro. "-" - [forty years time was fulfilled] in = for him. Dative of interest, advantage.

epi + acc. "[he decided]" - [it arose] upon [the heart of him]. Local, expressing space, metaphorical.

episkeyasqai (episkeptomai) aor. inf. "to visit" - to visit [the brothers of him]. The infinitive introduces an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what "arose in his heart"; "he wanted to help the Israelites", CEV.

touV uiJouV (oV) "[the Israelites]" - the sons [of israel]. Accusative standing in apposition to "brothers." The proper genitive "Israel" is adjectival, relational.


Cf., Exodus 2:11-12.

idwn (oJraw) aor. part. "he saw" - [and] having seen. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal; "And it happened that when one day he saw one of them being ill-treated, he came to the rescue", Cassirer.

adikoumenon (adikew) pres. mid. part. "[one of them] being mistreated" - [a certain one] being harmed. The NIV treats the participle as the accusative complement of the direct object "a certain one", standing in a double accusative construction and asserting a fact about the object. Of course, it may be treated as adjectival, attributive, limiting "a certain one", "He went to help one of them who was being unjustly treated."

tw/ kataponoumenw/ (kataponew) dat. pres. mid. part. "[he went to] his [defence]" - [he defended and did vengeance = justice] to = for the one being oppressed. The participle serves as a substantive, dative of interest, advantage.

pataxaV (patassw) aor. part. "by killing" - having struck [the egyptian]. The participle is adverbial, best treated as instrumental, expressing means; "by slaying the Egyptian", Berkeley.


This statement is not drawn from the Exodus account, but serves as an interpretive comment. As with the Joseph story, there is a failure of recognition on the part of Israel; "they do not understand."

sunienai (sunihmi) pres. inf,. "would realise" - [but/and he was thinking the brothers of him] to understand. The infinitive introduces an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what Moses was thinking. The accusative subject of the infinitive is touV adelfouV, "the brothers."

oJti "that" - that [god]. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what the brothers failed to understand, namely, "God is giving salvation to them by his hand"; that they would "see him as an instrument of God to deliver them", Peterson.

dia + gen. "[was using him]" - through, by means of [the hand of him]. Instrumental, expressing means, "through him", Barclay. The phrase dia ceiroV, "by the hand of", is probably a Semitism for "directly", but see Barrett 2:23.

autoiV dat. pro. "them" - [is giving salvation] to them. Dative of indirect object.

oiJ de "but they" - but/and they [they did not understand]. Transitional construction, indicating a change in subject from Moses to "the brothers."


Cf., Exodus 2:13-14. Moses, the mediator, seeks to do justice. Here, the two men are fighting; in Exodus, one has set upon the other, as in v27.

te "-" - and. It is likely that Luke is again using this conjunction to correlate elements. So, rather than de, he uses te here to link this sentence with the next sentence introduced by de, namely v27-28.

epioush/ dat. pres. part. "[the] next [day]" - [in = on the day] remaining = next. The participle is adjectival, attributive, "on the day which is next"; the dative is temporal.

autoiV dat. pro. "[came upon] two Israelites" - [he appeared to] them. Dative of direct object of the passive verb "to appear to."

macomenoiV (macomai) dat. pres. part. "who were fighting" - quarrelling, fighting. The NIV treats the participle as adjectival, attributive. Other translations opt for adverbial, temporal, the subject "them" being dative in this case, "when two of them were quarrelling", Knox, "as they were fighting", ESV, NAB, ....., so Kellum. Others treat it as the dative complement of the dative of direct object "them" standing in a double dative construction and asserting a fact about the object, "Next day he came upon two of them fighting", Moffatt. Taking the participle as a substantive, Culy simply classifies it as standing in apposition to "them", "he unexpectedly came upon them - men who were fighting - and he tried to make peace."

sunhllassen (sunallassw) imperf. "he tried to reconcile" - [and] he was reconciling [them]. The NIV treats this imperfect verb as conative / tendential where the action is attempted; "he was attempting to reconcile them."

eiV "-" - into [peace]. The preposition may carry its primary sense here by indicating the direction of the action and/or arrival at, so "he tried to get them to come to terms", Zerwick; "talk them into making peace", Cassirer. It may be best to follow Kellum who suggests that we have here an adverbial use of the preposition, so "he tried to reconcile them peacefully", NAB. Culy suggests purpose, "and he tried to make peace between them"

eipwn (legw) aor. part. "by saying" - having said. The NIV treats this participle as adverbial, instrumental, expressing means. Rogers Gk. suggests manner.

iJnati adv. "why" - [men, you are brothers], why [are you harming one another]? Interrogative adverb, a contraction of iJna tiv, "to / for what, why?" The question in the LXX is dia tiv.


oJ de "but the man" - but/and he. Transitional construction, indicating a change in subject from Moses to the aggressive "neighbour".

oJ ... adikwn (adikew) pres. part. "the man who was mistreating [the other]" - the one harming [the = his neighbour]. The participle serves as a substantive, nominative subject of the verb "to push back."

eipwn (legw) aor. part. "and said" - [pushed back him] having said. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to push back"; "The man who started the fight pushed Moses aside and asked", CEV.

arconta (wn ontoV) acc. "ruler" - [who appointed you] ruler [and judge]. As with "judge", "ruler" serves as the accusative complement of the direct object "you" standing in a double accusative construction and asserting a fact about the object "you". The question, introduced by the interrogative tivV, is rhetorical, giving the sense, "no one appointed you ......", Kellum. The term "judge" is used of one exercising authority, so it takes much the same sense as "ruler", but of course, it carries weight due to its use in the OT. So the sense is, "Who put you in charge of us?", Peterson.

ef (epi) gen. "over [us]?" - upon [us]? Here expressing subordination.


mh "[are you]" - not. This negation, when used in a question, expects the negative answer "no". The question is rhetorical, and threatening, cf., Ex.2:14.

anelein (anairew) aor. inf. "[thinking] of killing" - [wish] to kill [me]. The infinitive is usually classified as complementary, completing the sense of the verb "to wish, will." By modifying a cognitive verb, it may also be viewed as forming a dependent statement of perception expressing what is "willed, wished", namely "to kill."

o}n tropon "as" - which way = in the same way as [you killed the egyptian yesterday]? Idiomatic adverbial expression of manner / comparison, modifying the infinitive "to kill"; "Do you want to kill me in the same way you murdered the Egyptian yesterday?", Barclay.


The rebuke causes Moses to fear that Pharaoh will get word of what has happened. When Pharaoh does get to hear what has happened, Moses is forced "to flee to Midian, probably on the east coast of the Gulf of Aqaba, south of Edom", Bock.

en + dat. "[when Moses heard this]" - [but/and moses fled] in [the word, and became a stranger in land of midian where he became father of two sons]. The preposition here is local, expressing context / circumstance / occasion, or possibly "cause", Zerwick, Bruce Gk. So, en logw/ = faced with the situation where the knowledge of his killing of the Egyptian is likely to get out, "Moses fled". The proper genitive Madiam, "Midian", is adjectival, idiomatic / identification, "the land known as Midian."


b) Moses' second 40 years in Midian, v30-34. The speech skips the intervening years and focuses on Moses' final year in Midian, and the appearance of God (aggeloV, "an angel) to him at the burning bush. In a wilderness place, apart from the promised land, Jerusalem, and the temple, the Lord speaks to Moses. Stephen's false witnesses may refer to the temple as "this holy place", but here in a foreign land there is a holy place, a place made holy by God's presence. And that, in the end, is what makes a place holy. Ultimately, it is the two or three who meet in Jesus' name who are honoured by God's presence, Matt.18:26. Buildings cannot confine the divine presence; Jerusalem and the temple will not be a perpetual religious centre for the people of the new covenant.

plhrwqentwn (plhrow) aor. pas. part. "after [forty years] had passed" - [and forty years] having been fulfilled. The genitive participle and its genitive subject "forty years" forms a genitive absolute construction, best treated as temporal.

aggeloV (oV) "an angel" - an angel. The Western text adds "of the Lord." Referred to in Exodus 3:2, but then it is the Lord who actually speaks to Moses from the burning bush, 3:4. Given this fact, it is obvious that the word "angel" is used as a euphemism for the divine name. It is interesting to note that Stephen doesn't say "the Lord appeared to Moses", or more correctly "the Lord spoke to Moses ......" Stephen is possibly intent on maintaining a respectful avoidance of the divine name.

autw/ dat. pro. "to Moses" - [appeared] to him. Dative of direct object after the passive verb "to appear to."

tou orouV Sina gen. "near Mount Sinai" - [in the desert] of mountain of sinai. The genitive "mountain", and the genitive proper "Sinai", are adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic. "Mountain" is probably locative, "the desert which is located near the mountain", and "Sinai" is probably identification, "the mountain which is known as / called Sinai." "The desert close to Mount Sinai", Cassirer.

puroV (r roV) gen. "of a burning [bush]" - [in flame of thorn bush] of fire. The NIV treats this genitive as adjectival, attributive, limiting "thorn bush"; "a burning thorn bush." The genitive "of thorn bush" is also adjectival, best treated as verbal, subjective, limiting "flames", "the flames which are produced by a burning bush", although Culy suggests source / origin; "from a burning bush."


Cf., Exodus 3:3, although, Moses' emotional response is not recorded.

idwn (oJraw) aor. part. "when he saw this" - [and moses] having seen, [was marvelling at the vision]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the main verb "to marvel, wonder, be amazed, astonished"; "Moses saw it and was astonished at the sight", Knox. The NIV, as with most translations, treat it as adverbial, temporal.

prosercomenou (prosercomai) gen. pres. part. "as he went over" - [but/and he] coming to, approaching the bush. The genitive participle and its genitive subject autou, "he", forms a genitive absolute construction, best treated as temporal; "when he sought to draw near", Cassirer.

katanohsai (katanoew) aor. inf. "to get a closer look" - to understand = observe. The infinitive is adverbial, final, expressing purpose, "in order to understand what was happening"; "for a closer look", Cassirer.

kuriou (oV) "the Lord" - [he heard the voice] of the lord. The genitive is adjectival, expressing the possession of a dependent status, "belonging to the Lord."


The quote is a mixed citation, mainly from Exodus 3:6.

paterwn (hr roV) gen. "[your] fathers" - [i am the god] of the fathers [of you, the god of abraham and isaac and jacob]. As with "Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob", the genitive is adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic / subordination; "God over your fathers."

genomenoV (ginomai) aor. part. "[Moses] trembled [with fear]" - [but/and, moses] having become [trembling]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to dare." Rogers Gk., suggests it may be adverbial, causal; "because he was so terrified, he did not dare ....." The participle is limited / completed by the predicate adjective entromoV, "trembling", "Moses became terrified"

katanohsai (katanoew) aor. inf. "to look" - [was not daring] to understand, consider. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "to dare." "Moses shut his eyes and turned away", Peterson.


Cf., Genesis 3:5-6. In his selection of the patriarchal story, Stephen identifies a "holy place" beyond the temple, in a foreign land. A holy place is a place where God is present, and for Stephen and his fellow believers, God is present with them in the Spirit.

autw/ dat. pro. "to him" - [but/and the lord said] to him. Dative of indirect object.

twn podwn (ouV odoV) gen. "-" - [loosen the sandal] of the feet [of you]. The genitive may be adjectival, limiting "sandal", possibly possessive, identifying the possession of a derivative characteristic, "the sandal pertaining to your feet", although probably better taken as ablative, expressing separation, "away from"; "Take off your sandals."

gar "for" - because [the place upon which you have stood]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Moses should take off his sandals.

gh (h) "[holy] ground" - [is holy] ground. Predicate nominative of the verb to-be limited by the attributive adjective "holy".


Cf., Genesis 3:7, 8, 10.

idwn ei\don "I have indeed seen" - having seen i saw. This rather strange construction, a participle with a finite verb, is a translation of the Hebrew of the absolute infinitive with the finite verb to express emphasis, so Bruce Gk. "I have certainly seen", Kellum.

tou laou (oV) gen. "of [my] people" - [the harm, hurt, injury] of the people [of me in egypt]. The genitive is adjectival, verbal, objective; "I have seen the injury which is inflicted upon my people in Egypt." "I have seen the oppression suffered by my people in Egypt", Cassirer.

stenagmou (oV) gen. "groaning" - [and i heard] the groaning [of them]. Genitive of direct object after the verb "to hear, obey."

exelesqai (exairew) aor. mid. inf. "to set [them] free" - [and i came down] to deliver [them]. The infinitive is adverbial, final, expressing purpose, "in order to deliver them." The use of the middle voice may imply some self-interest, although Culy suggests it highlights "God's initiative."

aposteilw (apostellw) aor. subj. "I will send you back" - [and now come,] i may / will send [you into egypt]. The subjunctive may be hortatory, "let me send you back to Egypt", so Hamilton, although Bruce Gk., says it is simply the futuristic use of the subjunctive, as NIV.


c) Moses' last 40 years in the wilderness, 35-43. In describing Moses' return to Egypt to set God's people free, Stephen describes the man in terms that can properly be applied to Jesus. By God's hand, Moses is not just "ruler and judge" of the people of Israel, but also their "redeemer" and "prophet" - he delivers God's people from their bondage, and at Mount Sinai, they receive God's "living oracles" from him Yet, the response of Israel to Moses is one of rejection; they constantly reject their ruler, redeemer and prophet - they are "unwilling to be obedient" to him. Yet, the disobedience of the people runs far deeper than just rejecting Moses, for they end up rejecting their God. They reject their redemption by wanting to return to Egypt, and worse, they turn to gods of their own making. The divine response to this disobedience is judgment.

Stephen draws on Amos 5:25-27 to develop a stinging assessment of God's covenant people. Waters identifies four salient points:

iIsrael may have performed their ritual requirements in the Tabernacle, but their offerings were not acceptable. "The Tabernacle (and Temple) systems were no guarantee ex opere operato, of divine blessing to all worshippers alike."

iIsrael's sacrifices were not acceptable because they worshipped other gods.

iIsrael's idolatry "stubbornly adhered to subsequent generations all the way down to Amos' day" and beyond.

iThe punishment for Israel's idolatry is exile. So it was for Amos' generation, and so it will be for this generation.

eiponteV (legw) aor. part. "with the words" - this moses, whom you denied] having said. The participle is adverbial, either temporal, "when they said", Moffatt, or modal, "saying", Williams, or instrumental, "by saying", Berkeley, or causal, "because they said."

arconta (wn ontoV) acc. "[their] ruler" - [who made you] ruler [and judge]? Along with dikasthn, "judge", this noun serves as the accusative complement of the direct object se, "you", standing in a double accusative construction and asserting a fact about the object.

touton "-" - [god has sent] this one. The demonstrative pronoun, accusative object of the verb "to send", is backward referencing to "this Moses."

arconta (wn ontoV) acc. "to be their ruler [and deliverer]" - ruler [and redeemer]. Along with "redeemer", this noun serves as the accusative complement of the direct object touton, "this one", standing in a double accusative construction and asserting a fact about the object; "him God sent for both ruler and redeemer", Berkeley.

sun + dat. "through [the angel]" - with [hand of angel]. Expressing association / accompaniment. The anthropomorphic use of "hand" expresses the expenditure of effort by the angel, "with the help of the angel that appeared to him in the bush", Berkeley. The genitive "angel" is adjectival, possessive.

tou ofqentoV (oJraw) gen. aor. pas. part. "who appeared to [him]" - the one having appeared to [him in the thorn bush]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "angel", as NIV. The passive verb "to appear to" takes a dative of persons, as here with autw/, "him", dative of direct object.


Moses exercised his prophetic ministry with signs and wonders throughout his time with the people of Israel.

poihsaV (poiew) aor. part. "and performed" - [this one led out them] having done [wonders and signs]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to lead out", as NIV, but possibly adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of their being led out, "he it was who led them forth performing wonders and signs", Moffatt, or even instrumental, expressing means, "by performing wonders and signs."

gh/ Aiguptw/ dat. "in [Egypt]" - [in] land egypt [and in red sea and in the desert forty years]. Hebraism, so Barrett. The dative gh/, "land", is a variant, probably dropped given the dative "Egypt", none-the-less, the sense is as NIV, ESV, ..... "in Egypt." A genitive proper "[in land] of Egypt" would be adjectival, idiomatic / identification, "the land known as Egypt."


Stephen draws on Deuteronomy 18:15 to remind his hearers that Moses told the people of the raising up (appointment), by God, of a prophet like Moses. This is an obvious allusion to Jesus, although many of his hearers would have identified this person with Joshua, even though there are none who equal Moses, cf., Deut.34:10.

ou|toV "this [is Moses]" - this [is the moses]. This demonstrative pronoun is backward referencing, emphatic by use.

oJ eipaV (legw) aor. part. "who told" - the one having said. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "Moses."

toiV uiJoiV (oV) dat. "the Israelites" - to the sons [of israel]. Dative of indirect object after the participle "having said." The genitive "of Israel" is adjectival, relational.

uJmin dat. pro. "for you" - [god will raise up] to you. Dative of indirect object / interest, advantage, as NIV.

wJV "like [me]" - [a prophet] as, like [me]. Comparative; presumably "a prophet like me", as NIV, but as Culy notes, possibly "like he raised up me."

ek + gen. "from" - from [the brothers of you]. Expressing source / origin.


Moses' prophetic function is to mediate God's word ("living words" = laws that give direction for life) to the ekklhsia, "assembly, congregation" (a word used of the Christian congregation in Acts, ie., "church"). Stephen's description of Moses continues to be positive, while at the same time hinting that the "congregation" of believers is more inclined to honour Moses than his opponents, given that his opponents align with the generation that rejected Moses during the wilderness journey. Note again the respectful distancing of Moses from God with an angelic intermediary, an idea likely drawn from Jubilees 1:27, 2:1.

oJ genomenoV (ginomai) "-" - [this is] the one having been [in the congregation in the desert]. The participle serves as a substantive, predicate nominative of the verb to-be.

meta + gen. "with [the angel]" - with [the angel]. Expressing association / accompaniment, although Zerwick draws out the sense "as mediator between the angel ....... and our fathers."

tou lalountoV (lalew) gen. pres. part. "who spoke" - speaking. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "angel", as NIV.

autw/ dat. pro. "to him" - to him [in = at sinai mountain and in = with the fathers of us]. Dative of indirect object.

dounai (didwmi) aor. inf. "to pass on" - [who received living words] to give. The infinitive is adverbial, final, expressing purpose, "in order to give ...."

hJmin dat. pro. "to us" - to us. Dative of indirect object. Variant uJmin, "to you" is strongly attested. "To us" is likely, given that Stephen would want to identify himself and his fellow believers with Moses at this point, although not with the generation that refused "to obey him", v39, even though "your father" there is not as strongly attested.


In v39-43 Stephen outlines Israel's pattern of rejection of their prophets, as evident in their treatment of Moses. In this verse, Stephen summarises the constant complaining of the people of Israel - life would be better back in Egypt, cf., Numbers 14:3 (although note that this event took place after the Golden Calf incident, v40-41).

genesqai (ginomai) aor. inf. "refused [to obey]" - [the fathers of us did not want] to become [obedient to whom (Moses)]. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "to will, want." It functions as a verb with uJphkooi, "obedient", its predicate adjective, giving the sense "to become obedient" = "to obey", with the dative relative pronoun w|/, "to whom", serving as its dative direct object.

alla "instead" - but [they rejected him and turned in the hearts of them into egypt]. Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction; "not ........ but ....." The sense of "turned in the hearts of them into Egypt" is disputed. "They wished they could go back to Egypt", TEV, is the most natural translation; "They hankered secretly after Egypt", Moffatt. A second possibility posited by Kellum is "they had made the decision to turn around and return to Egypt."


The incident of the Golden Calf is found in Exodus 32. This verse draws on Exodus 32:1, 23.

eiponteV (legw) aor. part. "they told [Aaron]" - having said [to aaron]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to reject", v39. The dative tw/ Aarwn, "to Aaron", is a dative of indirect object.

hJmin dat. pro. "[make] us [gods]" - [make] to = for us [gods who will go before us]. Dative of interest, advantage.

oJ ... MwushV (hV ou) "as for [this fellow] Moses" - [this] moses [who led out us from]. This pendent nominative (hanging nominative) introduces a clause independent to the main clause "make for us Gods who will go before us, for we do not know what happened to him." It relates to the main clause through the dative pronoun "to him", ie., "this Moses who led us out of the land of Egypt."

Aiguptou (oV) "of Egypt" - [land] of egypt. The genitive is adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic / identification; "from the land known as Egypt."

gar "-" - for, because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why the people want Aaron to lead them out of Egypt.

tiv "what" - [we do not know, what became = happened]. Interrogative pronoun, nominative subject of the verb "to become." Representing the form of the original question asked by the people.

autw/ dat. pro. "to him" - to him. Dative of indirect object / interest, disadvantage (Kellum) / reference (Culy).


Dunn notes that Stephen's critique would not be regarded as unjustified. For Israel, this act of idolatry was viewed as equivalent to the sin of Adam.

en + dat. "[that was the time]" - [and they made a calf] in [those days]. Temporal use of the preposition, as NIV.

tw/ eidwlw/ (on) dat. "[they brought sacrifices] to it" - [and they brought an offering] to the idol. Dative of indirect object.

en + dat. "[revelled] in" - [and they rejoiced] in [the works of the hands of them]. Local, expressing the context or circumstance within which they rejoiced; "held high revelry to celebrate what their hands had made", Barclay.


Stephen now links Israel's apostasy under Moses with the apostasy referred to by Amos and Jeremiah, an apostasy which brought upon the nation divine judgment ending in exile, v42-43; cf., Amos 5:25-27.

estreyen (strefw) aor. "turned away from them" - [but/and, god] turned. The NIV treats the verb as transitive, but it can also be intransitive here, "then God turned", NAB, ie., "changed his attitude to the Israelites", Barrett.

latreuein (latreuw) pres. inf. "to the worship of" - [and delivered over them] to worship, to do obeisance to. The infinitive is verbal, final, expressing purpose, although a final sense very easily drifts toward a consecutive sense in the NT such that Israel's idolatry becomes a consequence of their sin - they turned from God and he turned from them such that he "delivered them over" to the consequence of their sin, namely, idolatry.

th/ stratia/ (a) dat. "[the sun, moon and stars]" - the army [of heaven]. Dative of direct object after the verb "to do obeisance to." The genitive tou ouranou, "of heaven", is adjectival, probably attributive, "the heavenly army." The Host of Heaven refers to heavenly bodies, as NIV, with the sin being their worship as deities.

kaqwV adv. "this agrees with" - as, just as [it has been written]. This adverb expresses both manner and comparison, "in like manner to", but here with gegraptai, "it has been written", it is used to introduce a Biblical citation.

twn profhtwn (hV ou) gen. "[the book] of the prophets" - [in book] of the prophets. The genitive is adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic, limiting "book"; "in the book which contains the words of the prophets." "It stands written somewhere in the prophetic books", Cassirer.

mh "-" - not. This negation, when used in a question, as here, expects a negative answer.

moi dat. pro. "[did you bring] me" - [did you bring sacrifices and offerings] to me. Dative of indirect object of the verb "to bring."

en + dat. "in" - in [the desert]. Local, but possibly temporal, "while in the desert forty years."

Israhl gen. proper "[people] of Israel" - [house] israel. Treated as a proper genitive, adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic / identification, limiting "house (family, people)", "the house known as Israel."


Those who rejected the prophets and followed after other gods found themselves rejected and, as a consequence, exiled, cf., Amos 5:27.

uJmwn gen. pro. "your [god Rephan]" - [and you took up the tent of moloch, and the star of the god] of you, [rephan]. The genitive is adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic / subordination, "the god over you." The genitive proper Paifan, "Rephan", stands in apposition to the possessive genitive "[the tent] of (belonging to) god." "Did you bring offerings to me ......... Hardly. You were too busy building shrines to war gods and sex goddesses", Peterson.

proskunein (proskunew) pres. inf. "to worship" - [the images which you made] to worship, to do obeisance to [them]. The infinitive is adverbial, final, expressing purpose, "in order to worship them." The dative pronoun autoiV, "them", is a dative of direct object after the verb "to worship."

kai "therefore" - and [i will move = deport you beyond babylon]. The NIV takes kai here as inferential, drawing a logical conclusion, "So I will banish you to a faraway place, well beyond Babylonia." The LXX has "Damascus", but Stephen is reflecting the historical experience of the people of Israel.


iv] Tent and temple, v44-50. Stephen's speech now focuses on the tent of testimony and the temple. Stephen does not denounce the institutions, but he weighs the tent in the wilderness equally with the temple in the promised land, and goes on to make the point that God is not confined to these structures in the same way pagan gods are confined to their temples; "Heaven is my throne .....", Isaiah 66:1-2. As Bock notes, Stephen criticises the temple, "not for what it is; rather ....... with how it is viewed." Although Stephen doesn't go on to draw out the issue of fulfilment as he did with Moses (the raising up of prophet like Moses), the implication of Isaiah's prophecy that "the Most High does not dwell in structures made by hands" is that there is a greater temple to come, so Waters, Peterson, Marshall ......

tou marturiou (on) gen. "[the tabernacle] of the covenant law" - [the tent, tabernacle] of the witness, testimony [was to the fathers of us in the desert, wilderness]. The genitive is adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic, "the tent in which is housed the arc containing the tablets giving testimony / witness to the agreement between God and his people." The dative toiV patrasin, "the fathers, patriarchs", is best treated as possessive, as NIV, "our ancestors had."

kaqwV adv. "as" - just as. Expressing both manner and comparison, "in like manner to."

oJ lalwn (lalew) pres. part. "God [directed]" - the one speaking [commanded, gave instructions to moses]. The participle serves as a substantive, nominative subject of the verb "to command." The dative Mwush/, "Moses", is a dative of direct object after the verb "to give instructions to."

poihsai (poiew) aor. inf. "it had been made" - to make [it]. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what God commanded Moses, "He who spoke to Moses told him that he should make it after the pattern he had seen."

kata + acc. "according to" - according to [the pattern which he had seen]. Expressing a standard.


Cf., Joshua 3:14.

diadexamenoi (diadecomai) aor. part. "after receiving" - [and the fathers of us brought in which = it (skhnh, "the tent", v44)] having received it in turn [with joshua]. Hapax legomenon (once only use in the NT). The sense is something like "to receive in turn", cf., Barrett. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal, "when they received it in turn along with Joshua." "And having received it in their turn, our father brought it in ....", NASB.

en + dat. "when [they took]" - in [taking possession]. Temporal use of the preposition, as NIV.

twn eqnwn (oV) gen. "the land from the nations" - the land of the nations, gentiles. An example of short-talk / semantic density where a genitive of direct object "the land" after the kata prefix verb "to take possession of" is assumed. The NIV treats the genitive "the nations" as descriptive, idiomatic / source, "from the nations", but it may also be adjectival, possessive, "of = belonging to the nations / Gentiles."

apo + gen. "-" - [god drove out whom] from. Expressing separation, "away from"; "whom God drove out from before our forefathers", Cassirer. Note that the pronoun w|n, "whom", direct object of the verb "to drive out", is a genitive by attraction to "the nations."

twn paterwn (hr roV) gen. "them" - [the face, presence] of the fathers [of us]. The phrase apo proswpou twn paterwn, "from the presence of the fathers" is a Semitism, taking the sense of "away from the fathers", or simply "from them", cf., 5:41. The genitive is adjectival, limiting "face, presence", probably best classified as idiomatic, "the face / presence which represents the fathers."

eJwV + gen. "it remained in the land until [the time of David]" - until [the days of david]. Temporal preposition expressing time up to a point. Given the compact nature of the account, Bruce Gk., suggests that the temporal construction better modifies diadexamenoi, "having received in turn", rather than exwsen, "drove out", but technically it modifies the verb "to drive out." The point being made is that "successive generations received the tent until David's time, after which it was replaced by Solomon's temple", Bruce Gk.


euJrein (euJriskw) aor. inf. "that he might find" - [who found grace before god, and he asked] to find. The infinitive introduces an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what David asked of God.

tw/ oikw/ Iakwb dat. "for the God of Jacob" - [a tent, dwelling place] to = for the house of jacob. Dative of interest, advantage. Given Psalm 132:5, "until I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the God of Jacob", we obviously have another example of short-talk, or more likely a textual problem. The variant qeoV, "God", instead of oikoV, "house", is not well attested, but the sense is surely "a dwelling place for the God of Jacob", ESV, given v47. The proper genitive "of Jacob" would then be classified as adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic / subordination, limiting "God", "for the God who exercises authority over (the house of) Jacob."


Cf., I Kings 5:1-7:51.

autw/ dat. pro. "for him" - [but/and solomon built a house] to = for him. Dative of interest, advantage. Technically, the antecedent is "the house of Jacob", but surely Luke intends "the God (of the house) of Jacob."


Stephen now brings a prophetic perspective to bear on this dwelling place for God, v48-50. As with Luke's record of Paul's address to a pagan audience in 17:24, "This Lord who is ruler of heaven and earth does not dwell in temples made by hands." Although the temple serves as a focus for the Lord's presence with his people, the prophets constantly reminded them that the temple cult, rather than obedience, would not secure their survival, cf., Isa.1:12-17, Jer.7:1-34, Amos 5:25-27.

en + dat. "in [houses]" - [but the most high does not dwell] in [a house handmade]. Local, expressing space. The attributive adjective "handmade" limits the assumed noun "house", "a handmade house"; "The Most High does not live in a man-made house", Barclay.

kaqwV adv. "as" - just as, as [the prophet says]. This adverb expresses both manner and comparison, "in like manner to", but here with legei, "says", to introduce a Biblical citation.


Cf., Isaiah 66:1. The point of the citation is that "You cannot build a suitable house for me", Kellum.

moi dat. pro. "my [throne]" - [heaven is a throne] to me. The dative here is usually treated as possessive, as NIV.

twn podwn (ouV odoV) gen. "[earth is my footstool]" - [and the earth is a footstool] of the feet [of me]. The genitive is adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic, "a footstool (which is) under my feet", Knox. Culy suggests that it is a genitive of reference / respect, "a footstool for my feet", Williams.

moi dat. pro. "for me" - [what kind of house will you build] to me? Dative of interest, advantage, as NIV.

mou gen. pro. "my [resting place]" - [or what place of rest is] of me? The genitive is adjectival, possessive, identifying the possession of a derivative characteristic, "What is a place of rest that pertains to me"; "On what spot could I settle?", Moffatt. The genitive thV katapausewV, "of rest", is adjectival, attributive, limiting the noun "place", "What is my resting-place?", Berkeley, as NIV.


ouci "-" - not [the hand of me do = make all these things]? This negation is used in a question expecting a positive answer; "Is it not my hand which has made everything?", Barclay.


v] Rebellion and lawlessness, v51-53: From the point of view of a legal defence, Stephen draws a conclusion from his exegesis of scripture that charges his opponents with the same charge they laid against him. They, like their forefathers, are a "stiff-necked" people, "uncircumcised in heart." "They have disobeyed the Law they profess to uphold. They have not understood the very Temple that God instituted in Israel", Waters. Like their forefathers who resisted God's Spirit in Moses and the prophets, they have not only rejected God's "Righteous One", but they have murdered him.

As already noted, the frame for Stephen's defence is the gospel, and so, at this point, the application of his exegetical discourse serves as an announcement that the time is fulfilled. God's righteous servant has suffered and died at the hands of his own people, as prophesied, therefore the kingdom of God is at hand. Although the Sanhedrin erupts in violence, Stephen is still able to proclaim the coming kingdom in the terms of Christ's enthronement as the coming Son of Man - Jesus is Lord, v54-56.

kardiaiV (a) dat. "[your] hearts" - [stubborn, stiff-necked people and uncircumcised] in heart [and in ears]. As with "in ears", the dative is adverbial, reference / respect, "as for your heart and ears, you are ....."; "You obstinate people, heathen in your thinking", Phillips.

wJV "[you are] just like" - like, as [the fathers of you do, and = also you do]. Comparative; "You are just like your ancestors", Peterson.

uJmeiV pro. "you" - you [always you resist]. Emphatic by position and use. Strengthened by the adverb aei, "always", "YOU ALWAYS resist."

tw/ pneumati (a atoV) dat. "the [Holy] Spirit" - the [holy] spirit. Dative of direct object after anti prefix verb "to resist."


The generational guilt of "the fathers", in persecuting and murdering the prophets, is an issue similarly pursued by Jesus, cf., Lk.6:23, 26, 11:47-48.

twn profhtwn (hV ou) gen. "a prophet" - [the fathers of you did not persecute which] of the prophets? = [which] of the prophets [did not the fathers of you persecute]? The genitive is adjectival, partitive, limiting the interrogative pronoun tivna, "which", object of the verb "to persecute".

kai "[they] even [killed]" - and [they killed]. The NIV takes the conjunction here as ascensive, but, at this point, it could serve an epexegetic function.

touV proskataggelantaV (proskataggellw) aor. part. "those who predicted" - the ones having announced beforehand. The participle serves as a substantive, accusative object of the verb "to kill."

peri + gen. "-" - about. Expressing reference / respect, "concerning, about, with reference to."

tou kidaiou gen. adj. "the Righteous One" - [the coming] of the righteous, just one. The adjective serves as a substantive, the genitive usually taken to be adjectival, verbal, subjective, where the genitive "of the righteous / just one" performs the action of the verbal noun "coming." Note how Cassirer opts for an assumed verbal genitive "of the one" with an attributive "of the righteous"; "the coming of the one who is truly righteous." Bruce Gk, 3:14, argues that it is likely that the term is a messianic title, "The Righteous / Just One", as NIV, etc.

uJmeiV pro. "[and now] you" - [now] you, [you have become]. Emphatic by position and use; "And now, as for YOU LOT, you have become his betrayers and murmurers."

ou| pro. "[you have betrayed and murdered] him" - [betrayers and murderers] of whom. The genitive relative pronoun is adjectival, verbal, objective, limiting the nouns " betrayers" and "murderers". Modern translations often treat a verbal noun, whose action is received by an objective genitive, as if they were verbs, as NIV.


Again, we have a deferential reference to Angels acting on God's behalf, rather than God himself acting. The NT reflects this view, Gal.3:19, Heb.2:2, a point of view held in late Judaism, cf., The Book of Jubilees, 1:29.

oi{tineV pro. "you who" - whoever = who [received the law]. This indefinite relative pronoun serves as the subject of the verb "to receive"; "You who received the law", ESV. As Kellum notes, it is used instead of the definite pronoun oi{ "who", which, due to the lack of accents at the time, would be easily confused with the article oiJ; "You are the very people who received the law .....", so Zerwick.

eiV + acc. "that [was given]" - into [ordinances, decrees, directions]. The NIV treats the eiV + acc. construction as a predicate modifier, here of ton nomon, "the law", so Culy (a Semitic construction). It is also possible that the preposition eiV is being used instead of en, "in", in which case, an instrumental sense may be intended, expressing means, so Zerwick, Haenchen, "You have received the law by the ordinances of angels", Bruce Gk.

aggelwn (oV) gen. "through angels" - of angels [and = but you did not keep, guard it]. The genitive is adjectival, probably verbal, subjective; "who received the law, (that was) transmitted to you by angels", Barclay, as NIV.


vi] The stoning of Stephen, v54-60: a) The Sanhedrin reacts with anger, v54. Under Roman law, an affront to the Temple was one crime the Jews could settle themselves by summary execution, by stoning, although only by due process at law. It was the very charge they used against Jesus, but failed because the witnesses gave contradictory evidence. Stephen has just questioned the spiritual value of this building of stone, and so, as far as the Sanhedrin is concerned, he is showing contempt for the Shekinah glory of God (God's very presence).

akouonteV (akouw) pres. part. "when they heard / when the members of the Sanhedrin heard" - [but/and] hearing [these things]. The participle is adverbial, probably temporal, introducing a temporal clause, as NIV.

dieprionto (diapriw) imperf. ind. pas. "they were furious" - they were cut through. This, and the following verb, is imperfect, possibly durative, expressing the extent of the rage, or inceptive, emphasizing its commencement, "they became enraged", Barrett. "They were angry", CEV.

taiV kardiaiV (a) "-" - in the hearts [of them]. The dative is local, expressing space, metaphorical. The phrase "they were cut through in their hearts" expresses deep emotion.

ebrucon (brucw) imperf. "gnash [the teeth]" - [and] they were grinding [the = their teeth]. A way of expressing violent rage. Some suggest it involved a kind of chattering of the teeth, gnashing. In a fit of rage, people tense their face and show their teeth, usually with numerous expletives. This is probably what was happening. They were "furious", CEV.

ep (epi) + acc. "at" - upon [him]. Here expressing reference / respect; "with respect to him / concerning him / about him."


b) Stephen's final words, v55-56. In the midst of uproar, Stephen proclaims the central proposition of the gospel - the kingdom of God is at hand; Jesus is Lord. As far as Luke is concerned, Stephen does actually see a vision. It is the fulfillment of Jesus' words in Mark 14:62, where he says "you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of the Almighty, and coming with the clouds of heaven." The "one like unto the Son of Man" is prophesied by Daniel, Dan.7:13f. He comes to the Ancient of Days and receives an everlasting kingdom. He is also spoken of in the Psalms, Ps.110, where he approaches the throne of God and is invited to sit at his right hand - a position of rule and authority. This then is Stephen's vision. Jesus has entered the throne-room of the living God and received eternal rule and authority. Therefore, the new age of eternity has begun and "all peoples, nations and languages should serve him." By implication, the exclusive Temple-worship of the Jews is now redundant. Note how Luke has Jesus standing at God's right hand, rather than sitting. Is Jesus standing to welcome Stephen the martyr, or is he standing as advocate before God on Stephen's behalf? In the end, we don't know, but the image is an interesting one.

uJparcwn (uJparcw) pres. part. "[Stephen]" - [but/and] being. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb eiden, "he saw." Possibly adverbial, causal, so Culy; "but since he was full of the Holy Spirit."

pneumatoV (a atoV) gen. "of the [Holy] Spirit" - [full] of the [holy] spirit. The genitive is adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic / content. This Lukan term often reflects Old Testament usage where a person is spiritually inspired by the divine to perform some action, often related to prophecy / revelation, here the proclamation of Christ's enthronement as Lord.

atenisaV (atenizw) aor. part. "looked up" - having focused stare, gaze. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the main verb "he saw", as NIV; "he gazed into heaven and saw."

eiV "to [heaven]" - to, into [heaven]. Possibly just meaning that Stephen looked heavenward, up into the sky, "fixed his gaze on the sky", rather than actually "gazed up into heaven", Barclay.

qeou (oV) gen. "[the glory] of God" - [he saw the glory] of god. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, but possibly attributive, "the glorious God", Culy. The divine presence, the shekinah glory, usually associated with the divine presence in the temple, but here in heaven.

eJstwta (iJsthmi) perf. act. part. "standing" - [and jesus] having stood. This accusative participle serves as the complement of the direct object "Jesus" standing in a double accusative construction and asserting a fact about the object, namely that "Jesus" was "standing".

ek + gen. "at [the right hand]" - from [the right hand of god]. Here technically expressing separation, "away from", but expressed as a locative; "at". The genitive "of God" is adjectival, possessive.


idou "Look" - [and he said] behold, pay attention, look, take note of this.

dihvoigmenous (dianoigw) perf. pas. part. "open" - [i see the heavens] having been opened up [and the son of man having stood]. This participle, with the conjoined participle eJstwta "standing", both serve as object complements, as with "standing" in v55; "I see (verb) the heavens (object) having been opened (object complement) and I see (verb) the Son of Man (object) having stood (object complement)". Stephen witnesses to the realization of Jesus' claim that he fulfills Daniel's prophecy concerning the eternal authority of the Son of Man, Dan.13:7. Jesus is the one who comes to the Ancient of Days in the clouds of heaven and takes up his throne beside him, Mk.14:62. So, Stephen proclaims the gospel, he proclaims the enthronement of Jesus, Lord of heaven and earth. Stephen's testimony is blasphemy if not true, but if it is true, then let every knee bow before the universal lordship of Christ. For "Son of Man" see the notes on oJ uiJoV tou anqrwpou, Luke 5:24a.

ek + gen. "at" - from [right of god]. The preposition ek taking a locative sense here, "at"; as above. Describing a position of authority.


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