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ACTS
The continued Life of Jesus through the Apostles

CHAPTER SIX

"Widows Woes"
Key Verse = Acts 6:4

  1. Division in the Church
  2. Seven chosen to serve
  3. Stephen Accused of Blasphemy


DIVISION  IN  THE  CHURCH

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Acts 6:1
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(1)  Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.

And in those days, when the number of the disciples had increased, the Hellenist converts murmured against the Hebrew converts because their widows were discriminated against in the daily distribution.


Division - The 5th Attempt of Satan to Destroy the Church

This is the 2nd attempt of Satan to destroy the Church from within:  the first was in 5:1-9 when Ananias and Sapphira lied about the money they received for the land they sold.

Complaint
goggusmos (NT:1112) grumbling
A muttering,  murmuring,  low and suppressed discourse;  the expression of secret and sullen discontent,  murmuring,  complaint,  grumbling.

Hellenists
Hellenistes (NT:1675) a Hellenist or Greek-speaking Jew
1. Greek speaking
2. Of the Dispersion
3. The word is used in the LXX
4. Jews sojourning in Jerusalem waiting for Messiah
5. Interpreted the scriptures through the LXX

Hebrews
1. Spoke Aramaic - only the very educated priests and scribes spoke actual Hebrew
2. Resided in Palestine, Syria, and some on the Tigris & Euphrates
3. Interpreted the Scriptures through the Chaldee Paraphrase (Targums)

Their widows
One of the ministries of the synagogue (and the church) was to provide food and assistance to those widows and children not supported by their relatives.  The migration of elderly Jewish couples to Palestine seems to have increased at this time.  Women were outliving their husbands,  and they had no close relatives who would support them.  Thus they fell within the care of the church.
(from Holman Bible Handbook. (c) Copyright 1992 by Holman Bible Publishers. All rights reserved.)

Were neglected
paretheooroúnto (NT:3865) to overlook or disregard
Imperfect passive - were being neglected
They did not merely think they were being neglected.
They did not just imagine they were being neglected.
They WERE being neglected.
And it was not a one-time occurrence - they were being neglected - daily.

This could have come about by:
Language The Hellenistic widows spoke Greek, but those who were distributing relief most likely spoke Aramaic.
Racism Strife between the  “Hellenists”  and  “Hebrews”  in the Jewish worlds had been a common occurrence for at least two centuries,  and this tension survived between members of the two groups who had acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah and had been incorporated in the new “Messianic” or “Christian” community.

Distribution
diakonia (NT:1248) attendance (as a servant)
In the NT this first means "waiting at table,"  "providing for physical sustenance," or "supervising meals" (Luke 10:40; Acts 6:1).
A wider meaning is "the discharge of a loving service."
It is linked with works, faith, love, and patience in Revelation 2:19  ("I know your works, love, service").
(from Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, abridged edition, Copyright © 1985 by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. All rights reserved.)

From the Amplified Bible
(1)  Now about this time, when the number of the disciples was greatly increasing, complaint was made by the Hellenists (the Greek-speaking Jews) against the [native] Hebrews because their widows were being overlooked and neglected in the daily ministration (distribution of relief).



SEVEN  CHOSEN  TO  SERVE

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Acts 6:2
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(2)  Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, "It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.

So the twelve apostles called the whole multitude of the converts and said to them, It is not good that we should leave the word of God and serve food.


The twelve
That is,  the apostles.  Matthias had been added to them after the apostasy of Judas, which had completed the original number.

Desirable
Arestós  (NT:701)   "acceptable" or "pleasing,"  and denoting in the LXX what God (or a person) accepts as pleasing,  this word is used for "pleasing"
to God John 8:29; Acts 6:2
to the Jews Acts 12:3
"things pleasing to God" 1 John 3:22
(from Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, abridged edition, Copyright © 1985 by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. All rights reserved.)

Should leave
Kataleipo  (NT:2641)   to leave down, i.e. behind; by implication, to abandon, have remaining:
(Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

Serve tables
Supervise the tables where collections were received and distributions to the people were made.

The apostles were dedicated to the ministry of the word and teaching the multitude of new believers.  It was not conceivable that they be drawn away from this important task to which God had called them in order to monitor the daily distribution and insure all was done fairly and impartially.

From the Amplified Bible
(2)   So the Twelve [apostles] convened the multitude of the disciples and said, It is not seemly or desirable or right that we should have to give up or neglect [preaching] the Word of God in order to attend to serving at tables and superintending the distribution of food.

Acts 6:3
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(3)  Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business;

Wherefore, brethren, examine and select from among you seven men of good repute who are full of the Spirit of the Lord and of wisdom, so that we may appoint them to this task.


Among you
From among the Grecians and Hebrews,  that there may be justice done,  and no further cause of complaint.

Seven men
The number "seven" represents Spiritual Perfection.
It is the hallmark of the Holy Spirit's work.
It represents fullness, perfection, completion.
It is the sacred number of the covenant between God and man.

Also, it may be that the seven men were to take each his day to supervise the distribution.

These men must be:
Of Good Reputation
Men free from scandal,  that were looked upon by their neighbors as men of integrity.
Faithful men, well attested,  as men that might be trusted,  not under a blemish for any vice,  but,  on the contrary,  well spoken of for every thing that is virtuous and praiseworthy.
Men that can produce good testimonials concerning their conversation.
Men of honest report,  of a blameless and admirable character,  which is requisite not only to the credit of their office,  but to the due discharge of it.
Full of the Holy Spirit
Filled with those gifts and graces of the Holy Ghost which were necessary to the right management of this trust.
They must be men of ability and men of courage.
They must be able men,  fearing God.
Men of truth, and hating covetousness.
Full of Wisdom
It was not enough that they were honest, good men, but they must be discreet,  judicious men,  that could not be imposed upon,  and would order things for the best,  and with consideration.
Those must be full of wisdom who are entrusted with public money,  that it may be disposed of,  not only with fidelity,  but with frugality.
(from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

From the Amplified Bible
(3)  Therefore select out from among yourselves, brethren, seven men of good and attested character and repute, full of the [Holy] Spirit and wisdom, whom we may assign to look after this business and duty.

Acts 6:4
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(4)  but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word."

And we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.


We will give ourselves continually
This phrase is from one Greek word:  proskartereesomen - to be earnest towards,  to persevere,  be constantly diligent.

Intense and persevering.

To Prayer
Both public and private.

Ministry of the Word
Verse 1 "distribution" diakonía = service
Verse 2 "serve" diakoneín = serve
Verse 4 "ministry" diakonía = service

The word "ministry"  (diakonia)  properly denotes the employment of a "servant,"  and is given to the preachers of the gospel because they are employed in this as the "servants" of God and of the church - not masters of men.  We have here a view of what the apostles thought to be the proper work of the ministry.  They were set apart (dedicated)  to this work.  It was their main, their only employment.

They had:
The Ministry of the Table
The Ministry of the Word

From the Amplified Bible
(4)  But we will continue to devote ourselves steadfastly to prayer and the ministry of the Word.

Acts 6:5
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(5)  And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch,

This suggestion pleased the whole people, so they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip and Prochorus and Nicanor and Timon and Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte of Antioch.


And they chose
All 7 were identified by their Greek name.  It was common for Jews of the dispersion to have 2 names:  their Hebrew name and a Greek name.

Of the 7 -
6 were Jews of the dispersion
1 was A Gentile
They were all identified by their Greek names, which was fitting since the division arose because of the neglect of the Grecian widows.

Steven
A Hebrew of the dispersion
He was full of grace and power and performed great wonders and miracles (Acts 6:8)
The first believer to lay down his life for his faith in Jesus  (Acts 6:10-7:60)

Philip
A Hebrew of the dispersion
Lived at Caesarea
Had 4 daughters who were virgins and prophetesses
Paul's companions stayed at Philip's home at the end of his 3rd missionary journey  (Acts 21:8-10)

Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon and Parmenas
All we know of these four is that they were Hebrews of the dispersion.

Nicolas
A Gentile
He was from Antioch
A proselyte - He had previously been converted from paganism to Judaism

From the Amplified Bible
(5)  And the suggestion pleased the whole assembly, and they selected Stephen, a man full of faith (a strong and welcome belief that Jesus is the Messiah) and full of and controlled by the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte (convert) from Antioch.

Acts 6:6 & 7
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(6)  whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.

These men stood before the apostles, who, as they prayed, laid their hands on them.

(7)  Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.

And the word of God spread; and the number of the converts in Jerusalem increased greatly; and many people of Jewish faith became converts.


When they had prayed
Invoking in this manner both the approval and the blessing of God to attend them in the discharge of the duties of their office.

Laid hands on them
Among the Jews it was customary to lay hands on the head of a person who was set apart to any particular office.  The laying on of hands in this instance was not to impart the Holy Spirit or some gift.  They already had the Holy Ghost,  faith,  power,  and wisdom (vs 3).  Laying on hands was to designate them for an office, as Moses did Joshua (Numbers 27:18-23).
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)
Numbers 27:22-23
"So Moses did as Yahweh commanded him. He took Joshua and set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation.  And he laid his hands on him and inaugurated him, just as Yahweh commanded by the hand of Moses."

Chrysostom - Homily 14
Observe how he avoids all that is superfluous: he does not tell in what way it was done, but that they were ordained with prayer: for this is the meaning of "putting forth the hand," or ordination: the hand of the man is laid upon (the person,) but the whole work is of God, and it is His hand which toucheth the head of the one ordained, if he be duly ordained.
(from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series 1, Volume 11, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

The "Laying on of hands" served 4 main purposes:
  1. Atonement  (1st Covenant only - this is superseded by the blood of Jesus in the 2nd Covenant)
The law orders that the hand be laid on the heads of various animals at offerings (Leviticus 1:4;  4:4;  8:22).
The high priest on the Day of Atonement puts his hand on the scapegoat and drives it into the desert (16:21).
In the case of the offerings, the thought seems to be one of identification, in the case of the scapegoat it is one of transfer.
  2. Healing
As in the healings of antiquity,  New Testament healing often involves the laying on of hands.
Jesus laid His hand on the woman  (Luke 13:13).
Jesus laid His hand on the sick people  (Mark 6:5).
Jesus promised that they who believe will lay hands on the sick and the sick would recover  (Mark 16:18).
Paul laid his hands on the father of Publius  (Acts 28:8).
If power is thus transferred by contact,  there is no magical practice,  for the decisive elements are the mighty word of Jesus and the faith that is put in him.  The word is not tied to the means of transfer (Matthew 8:8,13  "The centurion answered and said, "Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.").
  3. Blessing
Israel (Jacob) laid his hands on the sons of Joseph when he blessed them  (Genesis 48:14).
Jesus laid His hands on the children  (Matthew 19:13).
Laying on of hands serves as a visible sign of the imparting of the Spirit at baptism  (Acts 8:17).
Only with their acceptance by the apostles do Samaritan believers become full members of the one church  (Acts 19:6).
  4. Ordination
The ordination of Joshua  (Numbers 27:23)
The ordination of the Seven  (Acts 6:6).
The commissioning of Paul and Barnabas  (Acts 13:3).
The ordination of Timothy (1 Timothy 1:18; 4:14).
The apostle seems to ordain along with presbyter assistants.
There is no reference to a consecrating power placed in the hands of individuals.
God's will and call govern the ordination by which authorization and equipment come.  Timothy himself must assume responsibility for further ordinations.  The warning in 1 Timothy 5:22 is directed against overhasty ordinations,  unless the reception of penitent sinners is the issue.
(from Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, abridged edition, Copyright © 1985 by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. All rights reserved.)

A great many of the priests
This is recorded justly as a remarkable instance of the power of the gospel.  How great this company was is not mentioned,  but the number of the priests in Jerusalem was very great;  and their conversion was a striking proof of the power of truth.  It is probable that they had been opposed to the gospel with quite as much hostility as any other class of the Jews.  And it is now mentioned,  as worthy of special record,  that the gospel was sufficiently mighty to humble even the proud,  and haughty,  and selfish,  and envious priests to the foot of the cross.

Luke describes the climax of the ministry in Jerusalem,  for the persecution following Stephen's death will take the Gospel to the Samaritans and then to the Gentiles.  It has been estimated that there were 8,000 Jewish priests attached to the temple ministry in Jerusalem, and "a great company" of them trusted Jesus Christ as Savior!
(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

This marks the beginning of the great persecution of the believers in Jesus Christ.
When the Jews realized that by allowing the apostles to go free, a great number of the priests were converted to Christianity, they could no longer stand by and allow this to happen.  What they did not realize was that
by pouring the "water" of persecution on the "oil fire" of the Holy Spirit,
their actions would only assist to ignite the worldwide spread of the good news of Jesus Christ!!!

From the Amplified Bible
(6)  These they presented to the apostles, who after prayer laid their hands on them.
(7)  And the message of God kept on spreading, and the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem; and [besides] a large number of the priests were obedient to the faith [in Jesus as the Messiah, through Whom is obtained eternal salvation in the kingdom of God].



STEVEN  ACCUSED  OF  BLASPHEMY

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Acts 6:8
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(8)  And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.

Now Stephen was full of grace and power, and did great wonders and miracles among the people.


Full of faith
The word translated "faith" here is "cháritos" = grace.  Here and in verse 5, Steven was called:
Full of Faith
  The Holy Spirit
  Grace
  Power

Did great wonders and signs
"Did" = epoíei (NT:4160) Imperfect active -  repeatedly performed

Wuest translates it:
"And Stephen, full of grace and of power, was constantly performing great miracles among the people that aroused wonder and amazement, and miracles that had for their purpose the attestation of the message of the one performing the miracle as one that was inspired of God."
(from The New Testament: An Expanded Translation by Kenneth S. Wuest Copyright © 1961 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. All rights reserved.)

From the Amplified Bible
(8)  Now Stephen, full of grace (divine blessing and favor) and power (strength and ability) worked great wonders and signs (miracles) among the people.

Acts 6:9
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(9)  Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen.

Then there arose certain men of the synagogue which is called the synagogue of the Libertines and Cyrenians and Alexandrians and Cilicians and some persons from Asia Minor, and they debated with Stephen.


Synagogue of the Freedmen
The Jews were scattered in all parts of the world.  In every place they would have synagogues.   According to Talmudic tradition, there were 480 synagogues in Jerusalem.

The word "Freedmen" is "Libertinos," of Latin origin.  They were:
1. Slaves freed from Rome  (during the Civil Wars many Jews had been enslaved,  and afterwards set free by their masters,  and left Rome about 20 A.D. when Tiberius expelled all Jews from Rome – they were called “libertines”).
Pompey the Great, when he subjugated Judea, sent large numbers of the Jews to Rome. These Jews were set at liberty at Rome, and assigned a place beyond the Tiber for a residence.  These persons are by Philo called "libertines," or "freedmen" (Kuinoel, in loco).
2. Jews from Libertina in Africa.  Many Jews were also conveyed as captives by Ptolemy I. to Egypt, and obtained a residence in that country and the vicinity.

Cyrenians
Jews who dwelt at "Cyrene" in Africa.  See the notes on Matt 27:32.

Alexandrians
Inhabitants of Alexandria in Egypt.  That city was founded by Alexander the Great, 332 BC, and was populated by colonies of Greeks and Jews.  It was much celebrated, and contained not less than 300,000 free citizens, and as many slaves.  The city was the residence of many Jews.  Josephus says that Alexander himself assigned to them a particular quarter of the city, and allowed them equal privileges with the Greeks (Antiq., 14:7, 2; Against Apion, 2:4).

Philo affirms that of five parts of the city, the Jews inhabited two.  According to his statement, there dwelt in his time at Alexandria and the other Egyptian cities not less than "ten hundred thousand Jews."  Amron, the general of Omar, when he took the city, said that it contained 40,000 tributary Jews.  At this place the famous version of the Old Testament called the "Septuagint," or the Alexandrian version, was made.

Cilicia
This was a province of Asia Minor, on the seacoast, at the north of Cyprus. The capital of this province was Tarsus, the native place of Saul (Paul), Acts 9:11. As Paul was of this place, and belonged doubtless to this synagogue, it is probable that he was one who was engaged in this dispute with Stephen  (Acts 7:58).

Asia
See the notes on Acts 2:9.

Disputing
From suzeteo (NT:4802) - to express forceful differences of opinion without necessarily having a presumed goal of seeking a solution
(from Greek-English Lexicon Based on Semantic Domain. Copyright © 1988 United Bible Societies, New York. Used by permission.)

From the Amplified Bible
(9)  However, some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (freed Jewish slaves), as it was called, and [of the synagogues] of the Cyrenians and of the Alexandrians and of those from Cilicia and [the province of] Asia, arose [and undertook] to debate and dispute with Stephen.

Acts 6:10 & 11
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(10)  And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke.

But they were unable to stand up against the wisdom and the spirit by which he spoke.

(11)  Then they secretly induced men to say, "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God."

Then they sent men and instructed them to say, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.


They were not able to resist
He was wise, well exercised and experienced, in divine things; and, as appears by his defense, in the following chapter, well versed in the Jewish history.  The spirit by which he spake was the Holy Spirit, and its power was irresistible.  They were obliged either
to yield to its teachings,
or were confounded by its truth.
(from Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1996, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Secretly induced men
To suborn in law means to procure a person to take such a false oath as constitutes perjury (Webster).  It has substantially this sense here.  It means that they induced them to declare what was false, or to bring a false accusation against him. This was done, not by declaring a palpable and open falsehood, but by "perverting" his doctrines, and by stating their own "inferences" as what he had actually maintained - the common way in which people oppose doctrines from which they differ. The Syriac reads this place, "Then they sent certain men, and instructed them that they should say, etc."  This was repeating an artifice which they had before practiced so successfully in relation to the Lord Jesus Christ. See Matt 26:59-61.

Blasphemous
In the LXX blasphemos has no fixed Hebrew original. It always has reference to God, e.g.,
(2 Kings 19:4) Disputing His Power
(Isaiah 52:5) Desecrating His Name
(Ezekiel 35:12) Violating His Glory
(Isaiah 66:3) Wicked Speech
(Leviticus 24:11) Human Arrogance
For the rabbis speaking impudently about the law, idolatry, and shaming God's name are blasphemy.
(from Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, abridged edition, Copyright © 1985 by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. All rights reserved.)

The penalty for blasphemy against God was stoning to death.

Four Accusations of Blasphemy against Steven:
1. (6:11, 14) That he blasphemed MOSES by making Christ greater than Moses
2. (6:11, 14) That he blasphemed GOD by exalting Jesus greater than the Temple & Law
3. (6:14) That he blasphemed THE TEMPLE by saying Jesus will destroy it
4. (6:14) That he blasphemed THE LAW by saying Jesus abolished it and made a new covenant

Against Moses
Moses was regarded with profound reverence.  His laws they held to be unchangeable.  Any intimation, therefore, that there was a greater Lawgiver than he, or that his institutions were mere shadows and types, and were no longer binding, would be regarded as blasphemy, even though it should be spoken with the highest professed respect for Moses.  That the Mosaic institutions were to be changed, and give place to another and a better dispensation, all the Christian teachers would affirm; but this was not said with a design to blaspheme or revile Moses.

For more information on this subject, please read Jeremiah 31:31 and our study on Hebrews.
Paul the Learner
Jeremiah 31:31-33
The LORD says, "The time is coming when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.  It will not be like the old covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of Egypt. Although I was like a husband to them, they did not keep that covenant.  The new covenant that I will make with the people of Israel will be this: I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.    (TEV)

From the Amplified Bible
(10)  But they were not able to resist the intelligence and the wisdom and [the inspiration of] the Spirit with which and by Whom he spoke.
(11)  So they [secretly] instigated and instructed men to say, We have heard this man speak, using slanderous and abusive and blasphemous language against Moses and God.

Acts 6:12-15
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(12)  And they stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; and they came upon him, seized him, and brought him to the council.

And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they rose up against him and seized him and brought him into the midst of the council.

(13)  They also set up false witnesses who said, "This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law;

And they appointed false witnesses who said, This man does not cease to speak against the law and against this holy place;

(14)  for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us."

For we have heard him say that Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this country and shall change the customs which Moses entrusted to you.

(15)  And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel.

Then all who were seated at the council looked at him and saw that his face was like the face of an angel.


Stirred up the people
They "excited" the people, or alarmed their fears, as had been done before when they sought to put the Lord Jesus to death, Matt 27:20.

Set up false witnesses
It has been made a question why these persons are called "false" witnesses, since it is supposed by many that they reported merely the "words" of Stephen. It may be replied that IF they did report merely his "words"; if Stephen had actually said what they affirmed, yet they perverted his meaning. They accused him of "blasphemy"; that is, of calumnious and reproachful words against Moses and against God. That Stephen had spoken in such a manner, or had designed to "reproach" Moses, there is no evidence.

This holy place and the law
The temple and the law of Moses.
What was said in the mildest manner, and in the way of cool argument, might easily be perverted so as in "their view" to amount to blasphemy. And remember - these were false witnesses - which means they were not giving true testimony about what Steven said.  There is no evidence whatever that Stephen had ever USED these words on any occasion, and it is altogether improbable that he ever did, for the following reasons:
(1) The Temple
Jesus himself never affirmed that HE would destroy that place. He uniformly taught that it would be done by the "Gentiles," Matt 24. It is altogether improbable; therefore, that Stephen should declare any such thing.
(2) The Law
It was expected that in the days of the Messiah they should be changed,  and that the shadows should be done away when the substance was come.  Christ came, not to destroy, but to fulfill, the law.

The face of an angel
They had falsely accused him of blaspheming Moses and the law, and thereby blaspheming God.  Here God gives them evidence that he was not guilty of any of those charges.  Even as when Moses came down from Mount Sinai, it is said that the skin of his face shone so that the children of Israel were afraid to come near him, Ex 34:29-30; 2 Cor 3:7, 13.  The expression is used to denote the impression produced on the countenance by communion with God; the calm serenity and composure which follow a confident committing of all into his hands.

And all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel - a play of heavenly radiance attesting to all who beheld his countenance the divine calm of the spirit within - the fruit of the felt presence of his glorified Lord. This shining countenance (says Chrysostom) was the glory of Moses too; and Humphry well observes that, as if in refutation of the charge of hostility to Moses, he receives the same mark of divine favor which had been vouchsafed to Moses (Exodus 34:30) - "And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid, to come nigh him."
(from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

God permitted His glory to shine through the face of Stephen to convince all the people that what he had said was the truth.  Thus everything in the establishment of the church was miraculous.  It had to be, for everything that could prevent the establishment of the church was brought to bear against it.  The men used in establishing it had neither might nor power except what came from God.

From the Amplified Bible
(12)  [Thus] they incited the people as well as the elders and the scribes, and they came upon Stephen and arrested him and took him before the council (Sanhedrin).
(13)  And they brought forward false witnesses who asserted, This man never stops making statements against this sacred place and the Law [of Moses];
(14)  For we have heard him say that this Jesus the Nazarene will tear down and destroy this place, and will alter the institutions and usages which Moses transmitted to us.
(15)  Then all who sat in the council (Sanhedrin), as they gazed intently at Stephen, saw that his face had the appearance of the face of an angel.



(End of Chapter Six)

 

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