Acts 7:44 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Acts 7:44, NIV: Our ancestors had the tabernacle of the covenant law with them in the wilderness. It had been made as God directed Moses, according to the pattern he had seen.

Acts 7:44, ESV: “Our fathers had the tent of witness in the wilderness, just as he who spoke to Moses directed him to make it, according to the pattern that he had seen.

Acts 7:44, KJV: Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen.

Acts 7:44, NASB: 'Our fathers had the tabernacle of testimony in the wilderness, just as He who spoke to Moses directed him to make it according to the pattern which he had seen.

Acts 7:44, NLT: 'Our ancestors carried the Tabernacle with them through the wilderness. It was constructed according to the plan God had shown to Moses.

Acts 7:44, CSB: "Our ancestors had the tabernacle of the testimony in the wilderness, just as he who spoke to Moses commanded him to make it according to the pattern he had seen.

What does Acts 7:44 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The "tent of witness," or tabernacle, was a large tent in a courtyard that housed the smaller items of worship, such as the lampstand, the holy bread, and the altar of incense, as well as the ark of the covenant. In front of the tent was the altar where the Israelites gave their sacrifices. When the Israelites were at Mount Sinai, shortly after their escape from Egypt, Moses would go to the top of the mountain and speak with God. God ordained that Moses would supervise the building of the tabernacle and gave him specific plans to follow (Exodus 25—27). The plans ensured the people only sacrificed to God and excluded worship of goat demons and other Egyptian gods. Moses built the tabernacle according to the plans (Exodus 38—40) and ordained his brother Aaron and Aaron's sons as the priests who performed the sacrifices and the rituals inside.

The tabernacle was a "tent of witness" or "testimony" because it provided proof God was with the Israelites. While at Mount Sinai, Moses spoke to God on Mount Sinai, but once the Israelites left, God spoke to him in the tent of meeting (Exodus 33:11). The tabernacle and its successors served as the legitimate home of the ark of the covenant and the sacrifices until Solomon built the temple, almost five hundred years later (1 Kings 6).

Stephen is laying down his defense against the Jews who claim he disrespects the temple: God didn't ask for the temple and He had no problem speaking to the priests in a tent. The building is not sacred unless God's presence is actually there.