Acts 7:53 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Acts 7:53, NIV: you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.'

Acts 7:53, ESV: you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”

Acts 7:53, KJV: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.

Acts 7:53, NASB: you who received the Law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it.'

Acts 7:53, NLT: You deliberately disobeyed God's law, even though you received it from the hands of angels.'

Acts 7:53, CSB: You received the law under the direction of angels and yet have not kept it."

What does Acts 7:53 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This completes Stephen's defense with a strong accusation. He is charged with blasphemy against God, Moses, the Mosaic law, and the temple (Acts 6:8–15). His accusers bring him before the high priest for trial. Stephen takes them through a history lesson of Israel. He shows them that the patriarchs didn't need the temple or the Law. He demonstrates that Moses wasn't always worth following, but when he was the Israelites rebelled against Moses and his God. Stephen recounts how God didn't ask for the temple, but when He accepted and sanctified it, He proved it could not contain Him. Stephen finishes his defense by claiming that his accusers are no better than their forefathers who killed and persecuted the prophets who taught them about God and His Messiah. In fact, they had "betrayed and murdered" the Messiah.

Now, Stephen accuses his accusers and the Sanhedrin of rejecting the very Law God gave them.

Moses received the Law from God on Mount Sinai. The involvement of the angels is incidental; as God's representatives, they would have acted with His authority, so there's no contradiction if another passage says God gave Moses the Law directly. Galatians 3:19 and Hebrews 2:2 confirm angels had a part. It would be like saying a friend gave you a letter when it was the postal worker who put it in your box.

The point here isn't the angels. The point is that God called the Jews apart to be dedicated to Him. In return, He promised to bless them, and bless the world through them. But they have followed the tradition started by the Israelites at the base of Mount Sinai who grew impatient of Moses and transferred their affections to a golden calf.

This is a significant moment in the history of the church. Stephen's defense is over. He has condemned the Jews of working against God. Now, the mob will lay their coats at Saul's feet and kill Stephen (Acts 7:54–60). Saul will start a systematic assault on the Jesus-followers. But his efforts will serve to spread Jesus' message all over Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Then, Saul will meet Jesus, assume the Greek form of his name (Paul), and accept the role of missionary and martyr for the Savior he once persecuted (Acts 9).

It's unknown if anyone else in the mob accepted Christ, but Stephen's sacrifice was not in vain.