Stephen’s Defense Before the Council
1 Then the high priest said, “Are these things true?”#tn Grk “If it is so concerning these things” (see BDAG 422 s.v. ἔχω 10.a for this use). 2 So he replied,#tn Grk “said.” “Brothers and fathers, listen to me. The God of glory appeared to our forefather#tn Or “ancestor”; Grk “father.” Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he settled in Haran, 3 and said to him, ‘Go out from your country and from your relatives, and come to the land I will show you.’#sn A quotation from Gen 12:1. 4 Then he went out from the country of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After his father died, God#tn Grk “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity. made him move#tn The translation “made him move” for the verb μετοικίζω (metoikizw) is given by L&N 85.83. The verb has the idea of “resettling” someone (BDAG 643 s.v.); see v. 43, where it reappears. to this country where you now live. 5 He#tn Grk “And he.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here. did not give any of it to him for an inheritance,#tn Grk “He did not give him an inheritance in it.” This could be understood to mean that God did not give something else to Abraham as an inheritance while he was living there. The point of the text is that God did not give any of the land to him as an inheritance, and the translation makes this clear. not even a foot of ground,#tn Grk “a step of a foot” (cf. Deut 2:5). yet God#tn Grk “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity. promised to give it to him as his possession, and to his descendants after him,#sn An allusion to Gen 12:7; 13:15; 15:2, 18; 17:8; 24:7; 48:4. On the theological importance of the promise and to his descendants after him, see Rom 4 and Gal 3. even though Abraham#tn Grk “he”; the referent (Abraham) has been specified in the translation for clarity. as yet had no child. 6 But God spoke as follows: ‘Your#tn Grk “that his”; the discourse switches from indirect to direct with the following verbs. For consistency the entire quotation is treated as second person direct discourse in the translation. descendants will be foreigners#tn Or “will be strangers,” that is, one who lives as a noncitizen of a foreign country. in a foreign country, whose citizens will enslave them and mistreat them for four hundred years.#sn A quotation from Gen 15:13. Exod 12:40 specifies the sojourn as 430 years. 7 But I will punish#tn BDAG 568 s.v. κρίνω 5.b.α states, “Oft. the emphasis is unmistakably laid upon that which follows the Divine Judge’s verdict, upon the condemnation or punishment: condemn, punish …Ac 7:7 (Gen 15:14).” the nation they serve as slaves,’ said God, ‘and after these things they will come out of there#tn The words “of there” are not in the Greek text, but are implied.sn A quotation from Gen 15:14. and worship#tn Or “and serve,” but with religious/cultic overtones (BDAG 587 s.v. λατρεύω). me in this place.’#sn An allusion to Exod 3:12. 8 Then God#tn Grk “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity. gave Abraham#tn Grk “him”; the referent (Abraham) has been specified in the translation for clarity. the covenant#sn God gave…the covenant. Note how the covenant of promise came before Abraham’s entry into the land and before the building of the temple. of circumcision, and so he became the father of Isaac and circumcised him when he was eight days old,#tn Grk “circumcised him on the eighth day,” but many modern readers will not understand that this procedure was done on the eighth day after birth. The temporal clause “when he was eight days old” conveys this idea more clearly. See Gen 17:11-12. and Isaac became the father of#tn The words “became the father of” are not in the Greek text due to an ellipsis, but must be supplied for the English translation. The ellipsis picks up the verb from the previous clause describing how Abraham fathered Isaac. Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.#sn The twelve patriarchs refers to the twelve sons of Jacob, the famous ancestors of the Jewish race (see Gen 35:23-26). 9 The#tn Grk “And the.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here. patriarchs, because they were jealous of Joseph, sold#tn The meaning “sell” for the middle voice of ἀποδίδωμι (apodidwmi) is given by BDAG 110 s.v. 5.a. See Gen 37:12-36, esp. v. 28. him into Egypt. But#tn Though the Greek term here is καί (kai), in context this remark is clearly contrastive: Despite the malicious act, God was present and protected Joseph. God was with him, 10 and rescued him from all his troubles, and granted him favor and wisdom in the presence of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made#tn Or “appointed.” See Gen 41:41-43. him ruler over Egypt and over all his household. 11 Then a famine occurred throughout#tn Grk “came upon all Egypt.” Egypt and Canaan, causing#tn Grk “and,” but logically causal. great suffering, and our#sn Our. Stephen spoke of “our” ancestors (Grk “fathers”) in an inclusive sense throughout the speech until his rebuke in v. 51, where the nation does what “your” ancestors did, at which point an exclusive pronoun is used. This serves to emphasize the rebuke. ancestors#tn Or “forefathers”; Grk “fathers.” could not find food. 12 So when Jacob heard that there was grain#tn Or possibly “food,” since in a number of extrabiblical contexts the phrase σιτία καὶ ποτά (sitia kai pota) means “food and drink,” where solid food is contrasted with liquid nourishment (L&N 3.42). in Egypt, he sent our ancestors#tn Or “forefathers”; Grk “fathers.” there#tn The word “there” is not in the Greek text. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context, but must be supplied for the modern English reader. the first time. 13 On their second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers again, and Joseph’s family#tn BDAG 194 s.v. γένος 2. gives “family, relatives” here; another alternative is “race” (see v. 19). became known to Pharaoh. 14 So Joseph sent a message#tn The words “a message” are not in the Greek text, but are implied. and invited#tn Or “Joseph had his father summoned” (BDAG 121 s.v. ἀποστέλλω 2.b). his father Jacob and all his relatives to come, seventy-five people#tn Grk “souls” (here an idiom for the whole person). in all. 15 So Jacob went down to Egypt and died there,#tn The word “there” is not in the Greek text. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context, but must be supplied for the modern English reader. along with our ancestors,#tn Or “forefathers”; Grk “fathers.” 16 and their bones#tn “and they.” were later moved to Shechem and placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a certain sum of money#sn See Gen 49:29-32. from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.
17 “But as the time drew near for God to fulfill the promise he had declared to Abraham,#tn Grk “But as the time for the fulfillment of the promise drew near that God had declared to Abraham.” The order of the clauses has been rearranged to improve English style. See vv. 6-7 above. the people increased greatly in number#tn Grk “the people increased and multiplied.” in Egypt, 18 until another king who did not know about#tn Or simply “did not know.” However, in this context the point is that the new king knew nothing about Joseph, not whether he had known him personally (which is the way “did not know Joseph” could be understood). Joseph ruled#tn Grk “arose,” but in this context it clearly refers to a king assuming power. over Egypt.#sn A quotation from Exod 1:8. 19 This was the one who exploited#tn According to L&N 88.147 it is also possible to translate κατασοφισάμενος (katasofisameno") as “took advantage by clever words” or “persuaded by sweet talk.” our people#tn Or “race.” and was cruel to our ancestors,#tn Or “forefathers”; Grk “fathers.” forcing them to abandon#tn Or “expose” (BDAG 303 s.v. ἔκθετος). their infants so they would die.#tn Grk “so that they could not be kept alive,” but in this context the phrase may be translated either “so that they would not continue to live,” or “so that they would die” (L&N 23.89). 20 At that time Moses was born, and he was beautiful#tn Or “was well-formed before God,” or “was well-pleasing to God” (BDAG 145 s.v. ἀστεῖος suggests the meaning is more like “well-bred” as far as God was concerned; see Exod 2:2). to God. For#tn Grk “who was brought up for three months.” The continuation of the sentence as a relative clause is awkward in English, so a new sentence was started in the translation by changing the relative pronoun to a regular pronoun (“he”). three months he was brought up in his father’s house, 21 and when he had been abandoned,#tn Or “exposed” (see v. 19). Pharaoh’s daughter adopted#tn Grk “Pharaoh’s daughter took him up for herself.” According to BDAG 64 s.v. ἀναιρέω, “The pap. exx. involve exposed children taken up and reared as slaves…The rendering ‘adopt’ lacks philological precision and can be used only in a loose sense (as NRSV), esp. when Gr-Rom. terminology relating to adoption procedures is taken into account.” In this instance both the immediate context and the OT account (Exod 2:3-10) do support the normal sense of the English word “adopt,” although it should not be understood to refer to a technical, legal event. him and brought him up#tn Or “and reared him” (BDAG 74 s.v. ἀνατρέφω b). as her own son. 22 So Moses was trained#tn Or “instructed.” in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful#tn Or “was able” (BDAG 264 s.v. δυνατός 1.b.α). in his words and deeds. 23 But when he was about forty years old, it entered his mind#tn Grk “heart.” to visit his fellow countrymen#tn Grk “brothers.” The translation “compatriot” is given by BDAG 18-19 s.v. ἀδελφός 2.b. the Israelites.#tn Grk “the sons of Israel.” 24 When#tn Grk “And when.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here. he saw one of them being hurt unfairly,#tn “Hurt unfairly” conveys a better sense of the seriousness of the offense against the Israelite than “treated unfairly,” which can sometimes refer to slight offenses, or “wronged,” which can refer to offenses that do not involve personal violence, as this one probably did. Moses#tn Grk “he”; the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity. came to his defense#tn Or “he defended,” “he retaliated” (BDAG 55 s.v. ἀμύνομαι). and avenged the person who was mistreated by striking down the Egyptian. 25 He thought his own people#tn Grk “his brothers.” would understand that God was delivering them#tn Grk “was granting them deliverance.” The narrator explains that this act pictured what Moses could do for his people. through him,#tn Grk “by his hand,” where the hand is a metaphor for the entire person. but they did not understand.#sn They did not understand. Here is the theme of the speech. The people did not understand what God was doing through those he chose. They made the same mistake with Joseph at first. See Acts 3:17; 13:27. There is good precedent for this kind of challenging review of history in the ancient scriptures: Ps 106:6-46; Ezek 20; and Neh 9:6-38. 26 The next day Moses#tn Grk “he”; the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity. saw two men#tn Grk “saw them”; the context makes clear that two individuals were involved (v. 27). fighting, and tried to make peace between#tn Or “tried to reconcile” (BDAG 964-65 s.v. συναλλάσσω). them, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers; why are you hurting one another?’ 27 But the man who was unfairly hurting his neighbor pushed#tn Or “repudiated Moses,” “rejected Moses” (BDAG 126-27 s.v. ἀπωθέω 2). Moses#tn Grk “him”; the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity. aside, saying, ‘Who made#tn Or “appointed.” you a ruler and judge over us? 28 You don’t want to kill me the way you killed the Egyptian yesterday, do you?’#tn The Greek construction anticipates a negative reply which is indicated in the translation by the ‘tag’ at the end, “do you?” sn A quotation from Exod 2:14. Even though a negative reply was expected, the question still frightened Moses enough to flee, because he knew his deed had become known. This understanding is based on the Greek text, not the Hebrew of the original setting. Yet the negative here expresses the fact that Moses did not want to kill the other man. Once again the people have badly misunderstood the situation. 29 When the man said this,#tn Grk “At this word,” which could be translated either “when the man said this” or “when Moses heard this.” Since λόγος (logos) refers to the remark made by the Israelite, this translation has followed the first option. Moses fled and became a foreigner#tn Or “resident alien.” Traditionally πάροικος (paroiko") has been translated “stranger” or “alien,” but the level of specificity employed with “foreigner” or “resident alien” is now necessary in contemporary English because a “stranger” is a person not acquainted with someone, while an “alien” can suggest science fiction imagery. in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons.
30 “After#tn Grk “And after.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and contemporary English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here. forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the desert#tn Or “wilderness.” of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning bush.#sn An allusion to Exod 3:2. 31 When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight, and when he approached to investigate, there came the voice of the Lord, 32 ‘I am the God of your forefathers,#tn Or “ancestors”; Grk “fathers.” the God of Abraham, Isaac,#tn Grk “and Isaac,” but καί (kai) has not been translated since English normally uses a coordinating conjunction only between the last two elements in a series of three or more. and Jacob.’#sn A quotation from Exod 3:6. The phrase suggests the God of promise, the God of the nation. Moses began to tremble and did not dare to look more closely.#tn Or “to investigate,” “to contemplate” (BDAG 522 s.v. κατανοέω 2). 33 But the Lord said to him, ‘Take the sandals off your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.#sn A quotation from Exod 3:5. The phrase holy ground points to the fact that God is not limited to a particular locale. The place where he is active in revealing himself is a holy place. 34 I have certainly seen the suffering#tn Or “mistreatment.” of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to rescue them.#tn Or “to set them free.” Now#tn Grk “And now.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here. come, I will send you to Egypt.’#sn A quotation from Exod 3:7-8, 10. 35 This same#sn This same. The reference to “this one” occurs five times in this speech. It is the way the other speeches in Acts refer to Jesus (e.g., Acts 2:23). Moses they had rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and judge?’#sn A quotation from Exod 2:14 (see Acts 7:27). God saw Moses very differently than the people of the nation did. The reference to a ruler and a judge suggests that Stephen set up a comparison between Moses and Jesus, but he never finished his speech to make the point. The reader of Acts, however, knowing the other sermons in the book, recognizes that the rejection of Jesus is the counterpoint. God sent as both ruler and deliverer#tn Or “liberator.” The meaning “liberator” for λυτρωτήν (lutrwthn) is given in L&N 37.129: “a person who liberates or releases others.” through the hand of the angel#tn Or simply “through the angel.” Here the “hand” could be understood as a figure for the person or the power of the angel himself. The remark about the angel appearing fits the first century Jewish view that God appears to no one (John 1:14-18; Gal 3:19; Deut 33:2 LXX). who appeared to him in the bush. 36 This man led them out, performing wonders and miraculous signs#tn Here the context indicates the miraculous nature of the signs mentioned.sn Performing wonders and miraculous signs. Again Moses acted like Jesus. The phrase appears 9 times in Acts (2:19, 22, 43; 4:30; 5:12; 6:8; 7:36; 14:3; 15:12). in the land of Egypt,#tn Or simply “in Egypt.” The phrase “the land of” could be omitted as unnecessary or redundant. at#tn Grk “and at,” but καί (kai) has not been translated since English normally uses a coordinating conjunction only between the last two elements in a series of three or more. the Red Sea, and in the wilderness#tn Or “desert.” for forty years. 37 This is the Moses who said to the Israelites,#tn Grk “to the sons of Israel.” ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers.’#sn A quotation from Deut 18:15. This quotation sets up Jesus as the “leader-prophet” like Moses (Acts 3:22; Luke 9:35). 38 This is the man who was in the congregation#tn This term, ἐκκλησία (ekklhsia), is a secular use of the term that came to mean “church” in the epistles. Here a reference to an assembly is all that is intended. in the wilderness#tn Or “desert.” with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors,#tn Or “forefathers”; Grk “fathers.” and he#tn Grk “fathers, who.” The relative pronoun was replaced by the pronoun “he” and a new clause introduced by “and” was begun in the translation at this point to improve the English style. received living oracles#tn Or “messages.” This is an allusion to the law given to Moses. to give to you.#tc ‡ The first person pronoun ἡμῖν (Jhmin, “to us”) is read by A C D E Ψ 33 1739 Ï lat sy, while the second person pronoun ὑμῖν (Jumin, “to you”) is read by Ì74 א B 36 453 al co. The second person pronoun thus has significantly better external support. As well, ὑμῖν is a harder reading in this context, both because it is surrounded by first person pronouns and because Stephen perhaps “does not wish to disassociate himself from those who received God’s revelation in the past, but only from those who misinterpreted and disobeyed that revelation” (TCGNT 307). At the same time, Stephen does associate himself to some degree with his disobedient ancestors in v. 39, suggesting that the decisive break does not really come until v. 51 (where both his present audience and their ancestors are viewed as rebellious). Thus, both externally and internally ὑμῖν is the preferred reading. 39 Our#tn Grk “whom our.” The continuation of the sentence as a relative clause is awkward in English, so a new sentence was started in the translation at this point. ancestors#tn Or “forefathers”; Grk “fathers.” were unwilling to obey#sn To obey. Again the theme of the speech is noted. The nation disobeyed the way of God and opted for Egypt over the promised land. him, but pushed him aside#sn Pushed him aside. This is the second time Moses is “pushed aside” in Stephen’s account (see v. 27). and turned back to Egypt in their hearts, 40 saying to Aaron, ‘Make us gods who will go in front of us, for this Moses, who led us out of the land of Egypt#tn Or simply “of Egypt.” The phrase “the land of” could be omitted as unnecessary or redundant. – we do not know what has happened to him!’#sn A quotation from Exod 32:1, 23. Doubt (we do not know what has happened to him) expresses itself in unfaithful action. The act is in contrast to God’s promise in Exod 23:20. 41 At#tn Grk “And.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here. that time#tn Grk “In those days.” they made an idol in the form of a calf,#tn Or “a bull calf” (see Exod 32:4-6). The term μοσχοποιέω (moscopoiew) occurs only in Christian writings according to BDAG 660 s.v. brought#tn Grk “and brought,” but καί (kai) has not been translated since English normally uses a coordinating conjunction only between the last two elements in a series of three or more. a sacrifice to the idol, and began rejoicing#tn The imperfect verb εὐφραίνοντο (eufrainonto) has been translated ingressively. See BDAG 414-15 s.v. εὐφραίνω 2. in the works of their hands.#tn Or “in what they had done.” 42 But God turned away from them and gave them over#sn The expression and gave them over suggests similarities to the judgment on the nations described by Paul in Rom 1:18-32. to worship the host#tn Or “stars.”sn To worship the hosts of heaven. Their action violated Deut 4:19; 17:2-5. See Ps 106:36-43. of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets: ‘It was not to me that you offered slain animals and sacrifices#tn The two terms for sacrifices “semantically reinforce one another and are here combined essentially for emphasis” (L&N 53.20). forty years in the wilderness, was it,#tn The Greek construction anticipates a negative reply which is indicated in the translation by the ‘tag’ question, “was it?” house of Israel? 43 But you took along the tabernacle#tn Or “tent.”sn A tabernacle was a tent used to house religious objects or a shrine (i.e., a portable sanctuary). of Moloch#sn Moloch was a Canaanite deity who was believed to be the god of the sky and the sun. and the star of the#tc ‡ Most mss, including several important ones (Ì74 א A C E Ψ 33 1739 Ï h p vg syh mae bo Cyr), have ὑμῶν (Jumwn, “your”) here, in conformity with the LXX of Amos 5:26. But other significant and diverse witnesses lack the pronoun: The lack of ὑμῶν in B D 36 453 gig syp sa Irlat Or is difficult to explain if it is not the original wording here. NA27 has the word in brackets, indicating some doubt as to its authenticity. god Rephan,#sn Rephan (῾Ραιφάν, RJaifan) was a pagan deity. The term was a name for Saturn. It was variously spelled in the mss (BDAG 903 s.v. has Rompha as an alternate spelling). The references cover a range of deities and a history of unfaithfulness. the images you made to worship, but I will deport#tn Or “I will make you move.” you beyond Babylon.’#sn A quotation from Amos 5:25-27. This constituted a prediction of the exile. 44 Our ancestors#tn Or “forefathers”; Grk “fathers.” had the tabernacle#tn Or “tent.”sn The tabernacle was the tent used to house the ark of the covenant before the construction of Solomon’s temple. This is where God was believed to reside, yet the people were still unfaithful. of testimony in the wilderness,#tn Or “desert.” just as God#tn Grk “the one”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity. who spoke to Moses ordered him#tn The word “him” is not in the Greek text, but is implied. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context, but must be supplied for the modern English reader. to make it according to the design he had seen. 45 Our#tn Grk “And.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here. ancestors#tn Or “forefathers”; Grk “fathers.” received possession of it and brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our ancestors,#tn Or “forefathers”; Grk “fathers.”sn Before our ancestors. Stephen has backtracked here to point out how faithful God had been before the constant move to idolatry just noted. until the time#tn Grk “In those days.” of David. 46 He#tn Grk “David, who” The relative pronoun was replaced by the pronoun “he” and a new sentence was begun in the translation at this point to improve the English style. found favor#tn Or “grace.” with#tn Grk “before,” “in the presence of.” God and asked that he could#tn The words “that he could” are not in the Greek text, but are implied as the (understood) subject of the infinitive εὑρεῖν (Jeurein). This understands David’s request as asking that he might find the dwelling place. The other possibility would be to supply “that God” as the subject of the infinitive: “and asked that God find a dwelling place.” Unfortunately this problem is complicated by the extremely difficult problem with the Greek text in the following phrase (“house of Jacob” vs. “God of Jacob”). find a dwelling place#tn On this term see BDAG 929 s.v. σκήνωμα a (Ps 132:5). for the house#tc Some mss read θεῷ (qew, “God”) here, a variant much easier to understand in the context. The reading “God” is supported by א2 A C E Ψ 33 1739 Ï lat sy co. The more difficult οἴκῳ (oikw, “house”) is supported by Ì74 א* B D H 049 pc. Thus the second reading is preferred both externally because of better ms evidence and internally because it is hard to see how a copyist finding the reading “God” would change it to “house,” while it is easy to see how (given the LXX of Ps 132:5) a copyist might assimilate the reading and change “house” to “God.” However, some scholars think the reading “house” is so difficult as to be unacceptable. Others (like Lachmann and Hort) resorted to conjectural emendation at this point. Others (Ropes) sought an answer in an underlying Aramaic expression. Not everyone thinks the reading “house” is too difficult to be accepted as original (see Lake and Cadbury). A. F. J. Klijn, “Stephen’s Speech – Acts vii.2-53,” NTS 4 (1957): 25-31, compared the idea of a “house within the house of Israel” with the Manual of Discipline from Qumran, a possible parallel that seems to support the reading “house” as authentic. (For the more detailed discussion from which this note was derived, see TCGNT 308-9.) of Jacob. 47 But Solomon built a house#sn See 1 Kgs 8:1-21. for him. 48 Yet the Most High#sn The title the Most High points to God’s majesty (Heb 7:1; Luke 1:32, 35; Acts 16:7). does not live in houses made by human hands,#sn The phrase made by human hands is negative in the NT: Mark 14:58; Acts 17:24; Eph 2:11; Heb 9:11, 24. It suggests “man-made” or “impermanent.” The rebuke is like parts of the Hebrew scripture where the rebuke is not of the temple, but for making too much of it (1 Kgs 8:27; Isa 57:15; 1 Chr 6:8; Jer 7:1-34). as the prophet says,
49 ‘Heaven is my throne,
and earth is the footstool for my feet.
What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord,
or what is my resting place?#sn What kind…resting place? The rhetorical questions suggest mere human beings cannot build a house to contain God.
50 Did my hand#tn Or “Did I.” The phrase “my hand” is ultimately a metaphor for God himself. not make all these things?’#tn The question in Greek introduced with οὐχί (ouci) expects a positive reply.sn A quotation from Isa 66:1-2. If God made the heavens, how can a human building contain him?
51 “You stubborn#sn Traditionally, “stiff-necked people.” Now the critique begins in earnest. people, with uncircumcised#tn The term ἀπερίτμητοι (aperitmhtoi, “uncircumcised”) is a NT hapax legomenon (occurs only once). See BDAG 101-2 s.v. ἀπερίτμητος and Isa 52:1. hearts and ears!#tn Or “You stubborn and obstinate people!” (The phrase “uncircumcised hearts and ears” is another figure for stubbornness.) You are always resisting the Holy Spirit, like your ancestors#tn Or “forefathers”; Grk “fathers.” did! 52 Which of the prophets did your ancestors#tn Or “forefathers”; Grk “fathers.” not persecute?#sn Which…persecute. The rhetorical question suggests they persecuted them all. They#tn Grk “And they.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here. killed those who foretold long ago the coming of the Righteous One,#sn The Righteous One is a reference to Jesus Christ. whose betrayers and murderers you have now become!#sn Whose betrayers and murderers you have now become. The harsh critique has OT precedent (1 Kgs 19:10-14; Neh 9:26; 2 Chr 36:16). 53 You#tn Grk “whose betrayers and murderers you have now become, who received the law” The two consecutive relative clauses make for awkward English style, so the second was begun as a new sentence with the pronoun “You” supplied in place of the Greek relative pronoun to make a complete sentence in English. received the law by decrees given by angels,#tn Traditionally, “as ordained by angels,” but εἰς (eis) with the accusative here should be understood as instrumental (a substitute for ἐν [en]); so BDAG 291 s.v. εἰς 9, BDF §206. Thus the phrase literally means “received the law by the decrees [orders] of angels” with the genitive understood as a subjective genitive, that is, the angels gave the decrees.sn Decrees given by angels. According to Jewish traditions in the first century, the law of Moses was mediated through angels. See also the note on “angel” in 7:35. but you did not obey#tn The Greek word φυλάσσω (fulassw, traditionally translated “keep”) in this context connotes preservation of and devotion to an object as well as obedience. it.”#tn Or “did not obey it.”
Stephen is Killed
54 When they heard these things, they became furious#tn This verb, which also occurs in Acts 5:33, means “cut to the quick” or “deeply infuriated” (BDAG 235 s.v. διαπρίω). and ground their teeth#tn Or “they gnashed their teeth.” This idiom is a picture of violent rage (BDAG 184 s.v. βρύχω). See also Ps 35:16. at him. 55 But Stephen,#tn Grk “he”; the referent (Stephen) has been specified in the translation for clarity. full#tn Grk “being full,” but the participle ὑπάρχων (Juparcwn) has not been translated since it would be redundant in English. of the Holy Spirit, looked intently#tn Grk “looking intently toward heaven, saw.” The participle ἀτενίσας (atenisa") has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style. toward heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing#sn The picture of Jesus standing (rather than seated) probably indicates his rising to receive his child. By announcing his vision, Stephen thoroughly offended his audience, who believed no one could share God’s place in heaven. The phrase is a variation on Ps 110:1. at the right hand of God. 56 “Look!” he said.#tn Grk “And he said, ‘Look!’” Because of the length of the Greek sentence and the tendency of contemporary English style to use shorter sentences, καί (kai) has not been translated here; a new sentence is begun instead. “I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” 57 But they covered their ears,#sn They covered their ears to avoid hearing what they considered to be blasphemy. shouting out with a loud voice, and rushed at him with one intent. 58 When#tn Grk “And when.” Because of the length of the Greek sentence and the tendency of contemporary English style to use shorter sentences, καί (kai) has not been translated here; a new sentence is begun instead. they had driven him out of the city, they began to stone him,#sn They began to stone him. The irony of the scene is that the people do exactly what the speech complains about in v. 52. and the witnesses laid their cloaks#tn Or “outer garments.”sn Laid their cloaks. The outer garment, or cloak, was taken off and laid aside to leave the arms free (in this case for throwing stones). at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 They#tn Grk “And they.” Because of the length of the Greek sentence and the tendency of contemporary English style to use shorter sentences, καί (kai) has not been translated here; a new sentence is begun instead. continued to stone Stephen while he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 60 Then he fell#tn Grk “Then falling to his knees he cried out.” The participle θείς (qeis) has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style. to his knees and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!”#sn The remarks Lord Jesus, receive my spirit and Lord, do not hold this sin against them recall statements Jesus made on the cross (Luke 23:34, 46). When#tn Grk “And when.” Because of the length of the Greek sentence and the tendency of contemporary English style to use shorter sentences, καί (kai) has not been translated here; a new sentence is begun instead. he had said this, he died.#tn The verb κοιμάω (koimaw) literally means “sleep,” but it is often used in the Bible as a euphemism for the death of a believer.