Acts 7:3 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Acts 7:3, NIV: Leave your country and your people,' God said, 'and go to the land I will show you.'

Acts 7:3, ESV: and said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.’

Acts 7:3, KJV: And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee.

Acts 7:3, NASB: and He said to him, ‘GO FROM YOUR COUNTRY AND YOUR RELATIVES, AND COME TO THE LAND WHICH I WILL SHOW YOU.’

Acts 7:3, NLT: God told him, 'Leave your native land and your relatives, and come into the land that I will show you.'

Acts 7:3, CSB: and said to him: Leave your country and relatives, and come to the land that I will show you.

What does Acts 7:3 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The Jesus-follower Stephen is answering accusations that he disrespects the temple. Stephen is on trial before the Sanhedrin whose members live in and around Jerusalem. But his accusers are from Alexandria, Cyrene, and modern-day Asia Minor (Acts 6:9). These mostly Greek-speaking people are referred to as Hellenists. They have traveled to or moved to Jerusalem, and the city and the temple are precious to them. There is nothing like the temple outside of Jerusalem where God meets with His people…or so they think.

The Jews felt this acutely centuries before. Because of their rebellion and idolatry, God called Nebuchadnezzar to conquer the Jews and exile most of them in Babylon (2 Chronicles 36:1–21). When Stephen's audience would think of Babylon, they would think of their shame, their disconnection from God, and the burned temple left behind (Daniel 9:3–15; Jeremiah 52:12–23). But Stephen reminds them that the great exile was not the first time the Jews were in the area of Babylon.

Stephen is quoting Genesis 12:1. When Abraham heard from God, he lived in places like Ur, on the Euphrates river not far from the Persian Gulf, and Haran, in modern-day Turkey. Babylon sits between these two cities. Stephen is showing that God doesn't need Jerusalem or the temple to speak to His people. First the tabernacle, and then the temple in Jerusalem, are the places God ordained for the Jews to worship Him. But, in Abraham, the Jews first worshiped Him in Ur and Abraham would have passed through Babylon as he followed God's calling.