Acts 7:40 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Acts 7:40, NIV: They told Aaron, 'Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who led us out of Egypt--we don't know what has happened to him!'

Acts 7:40, ESV: saying to Aaron, ‘Make for us gods who will go before us. As for this Moses who led us out from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’

Acts 7:40, KJV: Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

Acts 7:40, NASB: saying to Aaron, ‘MAKE US A GOD WHO WILL GO BEFORE US; FOR THIS MOSES WHO LED US OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT—WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM.’

Acts 7:40, NLT: They told Aaron, 'Make us some gods who can lead us, for we don't know what has become of this Moses, who brought us out of Egypt.'

Acts 7:40, CSB: They told Aaron: Make us gods who will go before us. As for this Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we don't know what's happened to him.

What does Acts 7:40 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Stephen has been accused of rejecting Moses and his Law. In truth, the charges are intentional falsehoods, created by Jews from northern Africa and modern-day Asia Minor who have come to Jerusalem to worship (Acts 6:8–15). The Jews have heard a little about Jesus but don't have the patience, the understanding, or the faith in God to accept that Jesus is their Messiah. Stephen compares them to the Israelites in Moses' day.

After the escape from Egypt, God led the Israelites to Mount Sinai in the Sinai Peninsula (Exodus 19:1–3). God revealed Himself to the Israelites with thunder, lightning, a thick cloud, and a sound like a trumpet blast. In fear, the people begged Moses to be the liaison between themselves and God; he agreed and climbed the top of the mountain where God gave him the laws for the people (Exodus 20:18–21).

The first law God gave the Israelites, while in their hearing, was "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:2–3). The very first law God gave Moses on Mount Sinai was the command to not make idols of silver and gold, but to make an altar to sacrifice only to God (Exodus 20:22–26). God gave a few more laws, then requested Aaron, his sons, and the seventy elders of Israel to affirm the people's covenant with Him. God then called Moses to the mountain top for forty days to receive more of the Law (Exodus 24).

At the very moment God was giving Moses instructions on the tabernacle, the consecration of the priests, and the proper way to worship Him, the people were at the base of the mountain pushing Aaron to "make us gods who shall go before us" (Exodus 32:1). They didn't have the patience to wait forty days for Moses to return. Aaron requested their gold jewelry and made an idol of a calf out of it, possibly similar to the Egyptian fertility god Apis or other bull gods of the surrounding cultures. The people credited it as the gods who brought them out of Egypt. The people didn't have the understanding that when God told them not to make idols of gold, that meant don't make idols of gold. And they didn't have the faith to reject the gods of their enslavers and return to the God of their forefather Abraham, the God who rescued them from slavery.

The parallel Stephen is making to his audience is striking. Even as Aaron, the high priest, made the golden calf, so the high priest stands before Stephen (Acts 7:1), rejecting the very prophet Moses promised (Acts 7:37). Stephen proves that their faith in Moses, the Law, and the temple suffer from the same idolatry as the Israelites and the calf.