Acts 7:8 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Acts 7:8, NIV: Then he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. And Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him eight days after his birth. Later Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs.

Acts 7:8, ESV: And he gave him the covenant of circumcision. And so Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day, and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.

Acts 7:8, KJV: And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs.

Acts 7:8, NASB: And He gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so Abraham fathered Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac fathered Jacob, and Jacob, the twelve patriarchs.

Acts 7:8, NLT: 'God also gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision at that time. So when Abraham became the father of Isaac, he circumcised him on the eighth day. And the practice was continued when Isaac became the father of Jacob, and when Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs of the Israelite nation.

Acts 7:8, CSB: And so he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. After this, he fathered Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day. Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs.

What does Acts 7:8 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Stephen the Jesus-follower continues his defense that true God-worship does not require the Mosaic law or the temple. He does so by reciting the history of Israel, pointing out that through Abraham, the Jews have worshiped God since long before God gave them the Law.

The temple in Jerusalem had become a defining emblem of the united Jewish people. They rejoiced when it was built (1 Kings 8:62–66), mourned deeply when the Babylonians destroyed it (Jeremiah 52:17–23), and worked hard to build it again (Ezra 3). The presence of the temple, even without the ark of the covenant, represented the fact that God still blessed His people, even through the Roman occupation.

To speak against the temple, as Stephen is accused of doing (Acts 6:13), is to deny the special and holy relationship the Jews have with God. But Stephen reminds his audience that in the time of their forefathers, including Abraham, the twelve patriarchs, and the Jews who spent four hundred years in Egyptian slavery, the temple didn't exist. The defining symbol of the Jews' separateness from the world was always circumcision (Genesis 17:9–14). The tabernacle and the temple came later, to confine the worship of God in a way meant to exclude any pagan practices. But circumcision was a mark on the Jewish men that was meant to be universal and personal.

Soon, the Jews will understand this more thoroughly. In only a few decades, in AD 70, the Roman army will destroy Jerusalem, burn the temple, and send the Jews into an exile they will not return from until 1948. Even now, as of this writing, the temple is not rebuilt. Nearly two thousand years after the temple was last destroyed, the identifying mark of a Jewish male is still circumcision.

With this verse, Stephen concludes the account of God's interaction with Abraham and begins to give an account of the patriarchs and the conditions that led to the sojourn to Egypt.