Acts chapter 7

English Standard Version

New International Version

New American Standard Bible

17But as the time of the promise which God had assured to Abraham was approaching, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt, 18until ANOTHER KING AROSE OVER EGYPT WHO DID NOT KNOW JOSEPH. 19It was he who shrewdly took advantage of our nation and mistreated our fathers in order that they would abandon their infants in the Nile, so that they would not survive. 20At this time Moses was born; and he was beautiful to God. He was nurtured for three months in his father’s home. 21And after he had been put outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him away and nurtured him as her own son. 22Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was proficient in speaking and action. 23But when he was approaching the age of forty, it entered his mind to visit his countrymen, the sons of Israel. 24And when he saw one of them being treated unjustly, he defended and took vengeance for the oppressed man by fatally striking the Egyptian. 25And he thought that his brothers understood that God was granting them deliverance through him; but they did not understand. 26And on the following day he appeared to them as they were fighting each other, and he tried to reconcile them to peace, by saying, ‘Men, you are brothers, why are you injuring each other?’ 27But the one who was injuring his neighbor pushed him away, saying, ‘WHO MADE YOU A RULER AND JUDGE OVER US? 28YOU DO NOT INTEND TO KILL ME AS YOU KILLED THE EGYPTIAN YESTERDAY, DO YOU?’ 29At this remark, MOSES FLED AND BECAME A STRANGER IN THE LAND OF MIDIAN, where he fathered two sons.
Christian Standard Bible

New Living Translation

King James Version

30And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sinai an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush. 31When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him, 32Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold. 33Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground. 34I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt. 35This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush. 36He brought them out, after that he had showed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years. 37This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. 38This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sinai, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us: 39To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, 40Saying 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. 41And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. 42Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? 43Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.
New King James Version

What does Acts chapter 7 mean?

In Acts 6:12–14, Jews accused a Jesus-follower named Stephen of speaking against the temple, Moses, and the Law. Acts 7 is Stephen's defense. It can be difficult for modern readers to follow because he intermingles truth about the Mosaic law, the prophets of Israel, and the role of the temple in and around Old Testament Jewish history. Ultimately, he explains that God never asked for the temple, and the Israelites didn't need one to follow Him; Moses wasn't always perfect; the Israelites never properly followed Moses or the Law; and in fact, they killed the very prophets who told them how to recognize the Messiah.

First, Stephen sets the stage. He talks about how God called Abraham out of Mesopotamia and eventually sent him to Canaan. There, God promised Abraham that his descendants would own the land, though he himself would not. As a sign of promise, God told Abraham to circumcise the males in his clan. God called Abraham and gave him the rite of circumcision—the identifying mark of God's people—long before He gave the Mosaic law or allowed the temple to be built (Acts 7:1–8).

Next is the description of how the Israelites came to Egypt and were enslaved for four hundred years. They went to Egypt to escape a famine and grew into a nation while in slavery. For four hundred years, the Israelites had no law, no temple, and no freedom to worship God as they should, but they were still God's chosen people (Acts 7:9–19).

Stephen then references Moses. The great prophet who spoke to God as a friend, gave the Israelites their identifying law, and led the people from slavery to the gate of the Promised Land, started as a murderer. And yet, God was still with him and His people (Acts 7:20–29).

The powerful defense of Jesus' role as Messiah then turns to God's call to Moses. As God called Abraham in Mesopotamia and Haran, He called Moses in Midian. God is not limited by geography (Acts 7:30–34).

God empowered Moses to lead His people out of Egypt to Mt. Sinai where God gave the Israelites the Law. Stephen subtly points out that the Israelites didn't revere Moses, they rebelled against him. And, again, God is not bound by place; He gave His people the Law in the middle of the wilderness between Egypt and the Promised Land (In Acts 7:35–43).

At this point, Stephen somewhat shifts the attention from the Law to the temple. God didn't ask Moses to build a temple, He asked him to build a tabernacle or tent. This tabernacle and its successors served the Israelites into the Promised Land, throughout their campaign, past the time of the judges, and throughout the reigns of King Saul and King David. In fact, the tabernacle didn't even dwell in Jerusalem until David's reign (Acts 7:44–46).

In an important point, Stephen shows proper perspective regarding the temple. God didn't ask for it, David asked to build it. David, Israel's most beloved king, didn't build it, his son Solomon did. And as Solomon dedicated it, he fully acknowledged it could not contain God. The temple is sacred because God allowed and blessed it, not because it is necessary (Acts 7:47–50).

Possibly sensing that the crowd is turning violent and that he's running out of time, Stephen rapidly pulls everything together and relates the main point to his audience. His opponents rejected Jesus, Moses' promised prophet. They killed Jesus, just like their forefathers killed the prophets God sent throughout history. Stephen doesn't want to see the temple destroyed, but anyone who values the temple over the Messiah is an idolater (Acts 7:51–53).

Stephen's opponents respond by dragging him from the temple courtyard and stoning him. As he dies, he sees Jesus standing at God's right hand. In the crowd is a young Pharisee named Saul. Soon, Saul will be the greatest persecutor of Christians in Jerusalem. But not long after, he will be the greatest Christian missionary in history (Acts 7:54–60).
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