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

Acts 7:7, NIV: But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves,' God said, 'and afterward they will come out of that country and worship me in this place.'

Acts 7:7, ESV: ‘But I will judge the nation that they serve,’ said God, ‘and after that they shall come out and worship me in this place.’

Acts 7:7, KJV: And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place.

Acts 7:7, NASB: ‘AND WHATEVER NATION TO WHICH THEY ARE ENSLAVED I MYSELF WILL JUDGE,’ said God, ‘AND AFTER THAT THEY WILL COME OUT AND SERVE ME IN THIS PLACE.’

Acts 7:7, NLT: 'But I will punish the nation that enslaves them,' God said, 'and in the end they will come out and worship me here in this place.'

Acts 7:7, CSB: I will judge the nation that they will serve as slaves, God said. After this, they will come out and worship me in this place.

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

Jews from Libya, Egypt, and modern-day Asia Minor have charged Stephen with speaking against the temple and the Mosaic law (Acts 6:13). Here, he continues his defense, reminding them that for centuries the patriarchs of the Jewish people didn't have land, the Mosaic law, or the temple to worship in. In fact, the Egyptians enslaved them for four hundred years. If God still considered them chosen people, then it follows that as important as the Law and the temple are, they are not required to follow God.

Stephen is reciting God's promises to Abraham. God would give Abraham's descendants the land of Canaan but not until after his people had been enslaved for four hundred years (Genesis 15:13–14). At the end of that time, God would judge His people's enslavers (Exodus 7:14—12:32), the Egyptians, and Abraham's descendants would return to Canaan to worship Him.

God did, indeed, judge Egypt. When Pharaoh continually refused to let the Israelites go, God inflicted ten plagues on the Egyptians. Some think each plague specifically attacked the "power" of one or more Egyptian god. After the last affliction, the deaths of the first-borns, the Israelites escaped and eventually made it back to Canaan. There, Joshua led them in battle—they "inherited" the land because God fought for them; they didn't purchase it.

And the Israelites did worship God in "this place" of Canaan, but they did not initially worship God in Jerusalem. For many generations, the Israelites worshiped and sacrificed to God in Shiloh, north of Jerusalem (Joshua 18:1). The Israelites didn't make Jerusalem their capital until seven and a half years into David's reign (2 Samuel 5:5). And even when David built a tent for the ark of the covenant on the temple Mount (2 Samuel 6:17), the priestly sacrifices continued in Shiloh until Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem.

This is consistent with what Jesus explained to the Samaritan woman. She asked where she should worship God, in Jerusalem or on the mountain where Samaritans traditionally worshiped (John 4:20). Jesus responded, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father…God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:21, 24). Stephen is preparing the Jews for a radical departure from their manmade traditions, and it will not end well.