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The Book of Acts Chapter 7 Acts Chapter 7 Outline Stephen’s speech before the Sanhedrin 7:1-7:8 - God’s promise to Abraham 7:9-7:16 - Joseph in Egypt 7:17-7:22 - Israelites enslaved in Egypt 7:23-7:36 - God sends Moses to free Israel 7:37-7:43 - The Israelites disobey Moses 7:44-7:50 - God’s dwelling place with the Israelites 7:51-8:1 - Stephen accuses the Sanhedrin, they kill him Acts 7:1-8 Then the high priest asked him, "Are these charges true?" 2 To this he replied: "Brothers and fathers, listen to me! • Acts 6:11-15 Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, "We have heard Stephen speak words of blasphemy against Moses and against God." 12 So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, "This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us." 15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel. • Acts 7 is Stephen’s defense against the charges - a history of Israel Abraham • God told him to leave his country and go where he would show him • He left and went to Haran then went to Canaan • He had no inheritance in Canaan • God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land • He had no child at the time • God told him that his descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years • God told him they would come out of Egypt to Canaan • God gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision Joseph • His brothers sold him as a slave into Egypt • God gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh king of Egypt • Pharaoh made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace • Joseph was in charge of distributing food for the famine • Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt and sent his sons • On their second visit, Joseph told his brothers who he was Acts, Chapter 7, Page 2 • Pharaoh learned about Joseph's family • Joseph sent for his father Jacob and his whole family, seventy-five in all • Jacob went down to Egypt Moses • An Egyptian king that did not know Joseph enslaved the Israelites • He forced them to kill their newborn babies • Moses was born • For three months he was cared for in his father's house • Pharaoh's daughter took him and brought him up as her own son • Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action • Moses killed an Egyptian that was mistreating an Israelite • When he found that people knew about it, he fled to Midian • After forty years Moses saw the burning bush • God told Moses He was sending him to set the Israelites free • Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt Acts 7:37-43 • 'God will send you a prophet like me from your own people.' (vs. 37) o Deuteronomy 18:15-19 The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. 16 For this is what you asked of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, "Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die." 17 The LORD said to me: "What they say is good. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. 19 If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account. o Acts 3:22 For Moses said, 'The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. o A prophecy of the Messiah - Christ • He received living words to pass on to us. (vs. 38) o Moses was given the law o Living - useful, powerful, leading to obedience (opposed to dead) o Words - commands, oracles, divine revelation o The Jews held Moses and the law in high esteem • The Israelites did not obey Moses (vs. 39) o Golden calf is one example and the beginning of their disobedience o They were exiled into Babylon (vs. 43) Acts, Chapter 7, Page 3 Acts 7:44-50 "Our forefathers had the tabernacle of the Testimony with them in the desert. It had been made as God directed Moses, according to the pattern he had seen. 45 Having received the tabernacle, our fathers under Joshua brought it with them when they took the land from the nations God drove out before them. It remained in the land until the time of David, 46 who enjoyed God's favor and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. 47 But it was Solomon who built the house for him. 48 "However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men. As the prophet says: 49 "'Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be? 50 Has not my hand made all these things?' • The tabernacle - temporary dwelling place of God in the wilderness and in Canaan • The temple - permanent dwelling place of God in Jerusalem • But God was worshipped by the patriarchs before either of these • Stephen is starting to reach some of the points of what he’s trying to say o Remember that Stephen was charged with saying Jesus would destroy the temple o But God doesn’t really dwell in the temple o 1 Kings 8:27 "But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! o Isaiah 66:1-2 This is what the LORD says: "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? 2 Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?" declares the LORD. "This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word. Acts 7:51-53 "You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him 53 you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it." • Notice the abrupt change in what Stephen is saying? • Did Stephen ever get to finish his lesson? • Are these words prompted by the Sanhedrin’s reaction? • Stiff-necked o Used in the Old Testament in reference to the Israelites o Comes from oxen that won’t be yoked - stubborn • Uncircumcised hearts and ears o Circumcision was God’s covenant with the Jews o While other cultures were also circumcised, it was a sign of the Jews being God’s chosen people o Anyone uncircumcised was considered a heathen - a Gentile o Anyone uncircumcised was unwilling to follow God (uncircumcised hearts) o Uncircumcised ears means unwilling to listen to God • Like your fathers - he had just finished talking about how disobedient their fathers were • Resist the Holy Spirit - unwilling to follow the Spirit of God - disobedient Acts, Chapter 7, Page 4 • Their fathers o Persecuted prophets Jesus talked about this also Matthew 21:33-40 - parable of the tenants Matthew 23:29-31 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30 And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' 31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. o Killed prophets - Isaiah was sawn in two • They are following in their fathers’ footsteps o They betrayed and murdered Christ o They disobeyed the law given to Moses (through angels) Acts 7:54-56 When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 "Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." • Same reaction against Peter and John - Acts 5:33 When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. • Notice the intensity of their rage • Stephen sees the glory of God o Stephen may have realized what was about to happen o This often indicates a visible manifestation o Did Stephen literally see something or is this some kind of vision? • The idea of seeing the “Son of Man” at God’s right hand put the Sanhedrin over the edge o Why? o If Jesus is at the right hand of God that convicts them of killing God’s Son and an innocent man Acts 7:57-8:1 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep. 8:1 And Saul was there, giving approval to his death. • Mob mentality • Covered their ears o They probably considered what Stephen had said as blasphemy o A physical sign that what they were hearing was repulsive to them • Yelling accomplished the same thing - shut out anything else Stephen might say • “They all rushed” - unity, one accord • Is this the Sanhedrin or the people? Acts, Chapter 7, Page 5 • They dragged him out of the city o Stonings did not take place inside the city o Leviticus 24:14 "Take the blasphemer outside the camp. All those who heard him are to lay their hands on his head, and the entire assembly is to stone him. • Saul is introduced in this passage • Stephen prays to Jesus - signifying equality with God • “Do not hold this sin against them” - another similarity to Christ as Stephen is dying • Saul gave approval o Did part of this account come from Saul? o Acts 22:19-20 "'Lord,' I replied, 'these men know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you. 20 And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.'
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