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51. Ye stiff-necked 8 and uncircumcised nation could receive. The Just One.- The Mesin heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy siah. See Note, chap. iii. 14. Of whom ye, &c.-
You thus show that you resemble those who reGhost : as your fathers did, so do ye.
jected and put to death the prophets. You have Exod. xxxii. 9. Isa. xlviii. 4.
even gone beyond them in guilt, because you Lev. xxvi. 41. Jer. ix. 26. Rom. ii. 28, 29. have put the Messiah himself to death. The
betrayers.— They are called betrayers here beYe stiff-necked.—The discourse of Stephen has
cause they employed Judas to betray him-agreeevery appearance of having been interrupted by able to the maxim in law, "he who does any the clamours and opposition of the sanhedrim. thing by another, is held to have done it himself.” This verse has no immediate connexion with that which precedes ; and appears to have been Ver. 53. Who have received the law by k the I spoken in the midst of much opposition and
disposition of angels, and have not kept it. clamour. If we may conjecture in this case, it would seem that the Jews saw the drift of his
k Gal. iii. 19. argument; that they interrupted him; and that
Who have received the law. The law of Moses, when the tumult had somewhat subsided, he ad- I given on monn
| given on mount Sinai. By the disposition of dressed them in the language of this verse, show
angels.—There has been much diversity of opinion ing them that they sustained a character precisely in regard to this phrase, siç olarayàç ayyélwy. similar to their rebellious fathers. The word | The word trans
The word translated “disposition " does not elsestiff-necked is often used in the Old Testament.
where occur in the New Testament. It properly (Exod. xxxii. 9; xxxiii. 3, 5; xxxiv. 9. Deut.
| means the constituting or arranging of an army; ir. 6. 13: x. 16. &c.) It is a figurative expres- | disposing it into ranks and proper divisions. sion taken from oxen that were refractory, and
Hence it has been supposed to mean that the law that would not submit to be yoked. Applied to
was given amidst the various ranks of angels, men, it means that they were stubborn, contuma being present to witness its promulgation. Others cious, and unwilling to submit to the restraints
suppose that the angels were employed as agents of law, Uncircumcised in heart.-- Circumcision or instruments to communicate the law. All that was a sign of being a Jew-of acknowledging
| the expression fairly implies is the former ; that the authority of the laws of Moses. It was also
the law was given amidst the attending ranks of emblematical of purity, and of submission to the
angels, as if they were summoned to witness the law of God. The expression, "uncircumcised in
pomp and ceremony of giving law to an entire beart," denotes those who were not willing to
people, and through them to an entire world. It acknowledge that law, and submit to it. They | should be added, moreover, that the Jews applied bad hearts filled with vicious and unsubdued at
the word “angels ” to any of the messengers of fections and desires. And ears.-- That is, who
God; to fire, and tempest, and wind, &c. And are unwilling to hear what God says. Comp. all that Stephen means here, may be to express Lxv. xxvi. 41. Jer. ix. 26. Notes on Rom. ii. the common
the common Jewish opinion, that God was at28, 29. Resist the Holy Ghost.--You oppose the tended on this occasion by the heavenly hosts ; message which is brought to you by the authority and by the symbols of his presence, the fire, and of God, and the inspiration of his Spirit. The smoke an
smoke, and tempest. Comp. Psa. civ. 4 ; lxviii. message brought by Moses ; by the prophets; 17. Other places declare that the law was spoken by the Saviour; and by the apostles-all by the by an ano
by an angel, one eminent above all attending infallible direction of the Holy Ghost--they and
angels, the peculiar messenger of God. See Note their fathers opposed. As your fathers did, &c.
on ver. 38. It is plain that Stephen spoke only As he had specified in ver. 27, 35, 39 – 43. the common sentiment of the Jews. Thus Herod
is introduced by Josephus (Antiq. b. xv. chap. v. FEB. 52. Which of the prophets have not your sec. 3) as saying, “We have learned from God
the most excellent of our doctrines, and the most fathers persecuted? and they have slain them
holy part of our law by angels,” &c. In the eyes #bich showed before of the coming of the of the Jews, it justly gave increased majesty and Just i One, of whom ye have been now the solemnity to the law, that it had been given in betrayers and murderers.
so grand and imposing circumstances. And it
greatly aggravated their guilt, that notwithstand2 Chron. xxxvi. 16. 1 Thess. ii. 15. j Chap. iii. 14. | ing this, they had not kept it.
Which of the prophets, &c.— The interrogative Ver. 54. When they heard these things,' they form here is a strong mode of saying that they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on Lad persecuted all the prophets. It was the cha
him with their teeth. racteristic of the nation to persecute the messengers of God. This is not to be taken as literally
1 Chap. v. 33. and universally true; but it was a general truth; It was the general characteristic. See Notes, They were cut to the heart. They were ex. : Matt. xxi. 33-40; xxii. 29- 35. And they have ceedingly enraged and indignant. The whole
mua them, &c.- That is, they have slain the course of the speech had been such as to excite' i prophets, whose main message was that the Mes- iheir anger, and now they could restrain them
s.ah was to come. It was a great aggravation o selves no longer. They ynashed on him, &c.their offence, that they put to death the messen- | Expressive of the bitterness and malignity of gers which foretold the greatest blessing that the their feeling.
VER. 55. But he, being " full of the Holy Ghost, VER. 58. And cast p him out of the city, and
looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the stoned him: and the witnesses laid down! glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right their clothes at a young man's feet, whose hand of God,
name was "Saul. m Chap. vi. 5.
p Luke iv. 29. Heb. xiii. 12, 13. Chap. vi. 13.
Chap. viii. 1, 3; xxii. 20.
And cast him out of the city. This was in acheaven. Foreseeing his danger ; and the effect
cordance with the usual custom. In Lev. xxiv. his speech had produced-seeing that there was
14, it was directed to bring forth him that had no safety in the great council of the nation, and
cursed without the camp; and it was not usual, i no prospect of justice at their hands, he cast his
the Jewish writers inform us, to stone in the preeyes to heaven and sought protection there.
sence of the sanhedrim. Though this was a When dangers threaten us, our hope of safety
popular tumult, and Stephen was condemned lies in heaven. When men threaten our persons,
without the regular process of trial, yet some of
trie forms of law were observed, and he was reputation, or lives, it becomes us to fix our eyes on the heavenly world; and we shall not look in
stoned in the manner directed in the case of vain. And saw the glory of God. This phrase
blasphemers. And stoned him.- This was the is commonly used to denote the visible symbols
punishment appointed in the case of blasphemy, of God. It means some magnificent representa
(Lev. xxiv. 16. Note, John x. 31.) And the tion ; a splendour, or light, that is the appropriate
witnesses. That is, the false witnesses who bore exhibition of the presence of God. (Matt. xvi.
testimony against him. (Chap. vi. 13.) It was
directed in the law (Dent. xvii. 7) that the wit27 ; xxiv. 30. Note, Luke ii. 9.) In the case of Stephen there is every indication of a vision, or
nesses in the case should be first in executing the supernatural representation of the heavenly ob
sentence of the law. This was done to prevent jects ; something in advance of mere faith, such
| false accusations by the prospect that they must as dying Christians now have. What was its
be employed as executioners. After they had
commenced the process of execution, all the peoprecise nature, we have no means of ascertaining. Ohjects were often represented to prophets by
| ple joined in it. (Deut. xvii. 7. Lev. xxiv. 16.) visions; and probably something similar is in
Laid down their clothes. Their outer garments. tended here. It was such an elevation of view,
They were accustomed to lay these aside when such a representation of truth, and of the glory of
they ran or worked. Note, Matt. v. 40. Ata God, as to be denoted by the word “see;" though
young mian's feet, &c.—That is, they procured him it is not to be maintained that Stephen really
to take care of their garments. This is mentioned saw the Saviour with the bodily eye. On the
solely because Saul, or Paul, afterwards became right hand of God.—That is, exalted to a place of
so celebrated, first as a persecutor, and then an honour and power in the heavens. Note, Matt.
apostle. His whole heart was in this persecution xxvi. 64. Acts ii. 25.
of Stephen ; and he himself afterwards alluded to this circumstance as an evidence of his sinful
ness in persecuting the Lord Jesus. (Acts xxii. VER. 56. And said, Behold, I see the " heavens 20.)
opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
Ver. 59. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon
God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my n Ezek. i. 1. Dan. vii. 13.
spirit. I see the heavens opened.- A figurative ex
Psa. xxxi. 5. Luke xxiii. 46. pression, denoting that he was permitted to see into heaven, or to see what was there, as if the Calling upon God.- The word “God” is not firmament was divided, and the eye was per in the original, and should not have been in the mitted to penetrate the eternal world. Comp. translation. It is in none of the ancient MSS. or Ezek. i. 1.
versions. It should have been rendered, "they
stoned Stephen, invoking, or calling upon, and Ver. 57. Then they cried out with a loud voice,
saying, Lord Jesus," &c. That is, he was en
gaged in prayer to the Lord Jesus. The word is and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with
used to express prayer in the following, among one accord,
other places : 2 Cor. i. 23, “ I call God to wit.
ness." 1 Pet. i. 17, “And if ye call on the Then they cried out. That is, probably, the Father,” &c. Acts i. 21, “ Whosoever shall call people, not the members of the council. It is on the name of the Lord,” &c. (ix. 14 ; xxii. 16. ' evident he was put to death in a popular tumult. | Rom. x. 12-14.) This was, therefore, an act of They had charged him with blasphemy; and worship; a solemn invocation of the Lord Jesus, they regarded what he bad now said as full proof | in the most interesting circumstances in which a of it. And stopped their ears. That they might | man can be placed--in his dying moments. And hear no more blasphemy. With one accord.--- In this shows that it is right to worship the Lord a tumult; unitedly.
Jesus, and to pray to him. For if Stephen was inspired, it settles the question. The example of
1 an inspired man in such circumstances, is a safe | the duties and enjoyments of life. See John xi.
and correct example. If it should be said that 11, 12, 1 Cor. xi. 30; xv. 51. i Thess. iv, 14; the inspiration of Stephen cannot be made out, / v. 10. Matt. ix. 24. yet the inspiration of Luke, who has recorded it, In view of the death of this first Christian will not be called in question. Then the follow- | martyr, we may remark,
ing circumstances show that he, an inspired man, 1. That it is right to address to the Lord Jesus I regarded it as right, and as a proper example to the language of prayer.
be followed. (L.) He has recorded it without 2. It is peculiarly proper to do it in afflictions, the slightest expression of an opinion that it was and in the prospect of death. (Heb. iv. 15.) improper. On the contrary, there is every evi 3. Sustaining grace will be derived in trials dence that he regarded the conduct of Stephen in chiefly from a view of the Lord Jesus. If we this case as right and praiseworthy. There is, can look to him as our Saviour, see him to be therefore, this attestation to its propriety. (2.) exalted to deliver us, and truly commit our souls The Spirit that inspired Luke knew what use to him, we shall find the grace which we shall would be made of this case. He knew that it | need in our afflictions. would be used as an example, and as an evidence | 4. We should have such confidence in him, as
that it was right to worship the Lord Jesus. It to enable us to commit ourselves to him at any I is one of the cases which has been used to per- | time. To do this, we should live a life of faith.
petuate the worship of the Lord Jesus in every | In health, and youth, and strength, we shoul! age. If it was wrong, it is inconceivable that it seek him as our first and best friend. should be recorded without some expression of 5. While we are in health, we should prepare disapprobation. (3.) The case is strikingly sim- to die. What an unfit place for preparation for ilar to that recorded in John xx. 28, where Tho- death would have been the situation of Stephen! mas offered worship to the Lord Jesus, as his How impossible then would it have been to have God, without reproof. If Thomas did it in the made preparation! Yet the dying bed is often a presence of the Saviour without reproof, it was place as unfit to prepare as were the circumright. If Stephen did it without any expression stances of Stephen. When racked with pain, 1 of disapprobation from the inspired historian, it when faint and feeble, when the mind is indis
was right. (4.) These examples were used to posed to thought, or when it raves in the wildencourage Christians and Christian martyrs to ness of delirium, what an unfit place is this to offer homage to Jesus Christ. Thus Pliny, writ- prepare to die. I have seen many dying beds; I ing to the emperor Trajan, and giving an account | have seen many in all stages of their last sickof the Christians in Bithynia, says. that they ness: but never have I vet seen a dving bed were accustomed to meet and sing hymns to which seemed to me to be a proper place to make Christ as to God.-- Lardner. (5.) It is worthy preparation for eternity. of remark, that Stephen in his death offered the 6. How peaceful and calm is a death like that samne act of homage to Christ, that Christ himself of Stephen, when compared with the alarms and did to the Father when he died. (Luke xxiii. anguish of a sinner! One moment of such peace 46.) From all these considerations, it follows in that trying time, is better than all the pleathat the Lord Jesus is an object of worship ; that sures and honours which the world can bestow. in most solemn circumstances it is proper to call | And to obtain such peace, the dying sinner would upon him, to worship him, and to commit our be willing to give all the wealth of the Indies, dearest interests to his hands. If this may be and all the crowns of the earth. So may I diedone, be is divine. Receive my spirit.—That is, and so may all my readers-enabled, like this receive it to thyself; take it to thine abode in dying martyr, to commit my departing spirit to hearen,
the sure keeping of the great Redeemer! When
we take a parting view of the world: when our VER. 60. And he kneeled down, and cried with eyes shall be turned for the last time to take a a loud voice, Lord, lay' not this sin to their
look of friends and relatives; and when the dark
ness of death shall begin to come around us; then charge. And when he had said this, he fell
may we be enabled to cast the eye of faith to the
heavens, and say, Lord Jesus, receive our spiMatt. v. 44. Luke xxiii. 34.
rits;' and thus fall asleep, peaceful in death, in
the hope of the resurrection of the just. And he kneeled down.—This seems to have been a roluntary kneeling; a placing himself in this prosition for the purpose of prayer, choosing to die in this attitude. Lord. That is, Lord Jesus. Se, chap. i. 24. Lay not, &c.--Forgive them.
CHAPTER VIII. Th's passage strikingly resembles the dying pover of the Lord Jesus. (Luke xxiii. 34.) VER. 1. And Saul « was consenting unto his Jothing but the Christian religion will enable a death. And at that time there was a great man to utter this passage in his dying moments. He fell asleep.---This is the usual mode of ex
persecution against the church which was at pressing the death of saints in the Bible. It is
Jerusalem ; and they were all scattered ! an expression indicating. (1.) The peacefulness abroad throughout the regions of Judea and of their death, compared with the alarm of sin- | Samaria, except the apostles. ders; (2.) The hope of a resurrection; as we refire to sleep with the hope of again awaking to
Chapvii. 58. 6 Chap. xi. 19.
And Saul was consenting, &c.—Was pleased the preparations necessary for fitting a dead body with his being put to death, and approved it. for burial, as collecting, or confining it by band. Comp. chap. xxii. 20. This part of the verse | ages, with spices, &c. And made great lamont. should have been connected with the previous ation. - This was usual among the Jews at a chapter. At that time.—That is, immediately funeral. See Note, Matt. ix. 23. following the death of Stephen. The persecution arose on account of Stephen. (Chap. xi. 19.) | Ver. 3. As for Saul, hec made havoc of the i The tumult did not subside when Stephen was
church, entering into every house ; and haling killed. Their anger continued to be excited against all Christians. They had become so men and women, committed them to prison. embittered by the zeal and success of the apos
c Chap. xxvi. 10, 11. Gal. i. 13. tles, and by their frequent charges of murder in putting the Son of God to death, that they re As for Saul.-But Saul. He had no concern solved at once to put a period to their progress
in the pious attentions shown to Stephen, but enand success. This was the first persecution
gaged with zeal in the work of persecution. He against Christians; the first in a series that ter
male havoc, Aulaiveto.--This word is commonminated only when the religion which they
| ly applied to wild beasts, to lions, wolves, &c., | wished to destroy was fully established on the
| and denotes the devastations which they commit. ! ruins of both Judaism and Paganism. The
Saul raged against the church like a wild beastchurch.-- The collection of Christians which were
a strong expression, denoting the zeal and fury now organized into a church. The church at
with which he engaged in persecution. Entering Jerusalem was the first that was collected. All
into every house.-- To search for those who were scutlered.--That is, the great mass of Christians.
suspected of being Christians. Haling.-Drag. The regions of Judea, &c.-See Note, Matt. ii.
ging, or compelling them. Committed them to 22. Except the apostles.- Probably the other
prison. — The sanhedrim had not power to put Christians fled from tear. Why the apostles,
them to death. (John xviii. 31.) But they had who were particularly in danger, did not flee
power to imprison; and they resolved, it seems, also, is not stated by the historian. Having been,
to exercise this power to the utmost. Paul frehowever, more fully instructed than the others,
quently refers to his zeal in persecuting the and having been taught their duty by the exam
church. (Acts xxvi. 10, 11. Gal. i. 13.) It may ple and teaching of the Saviour, they resolved,
be remarked here, that there never was a perseit seems, to remain and brave the fury of the
cution commenced with more flattering prospects persecutors. For them to have fled then would
to the persecutors. Saul, the principal agent, was have exposed them, as leaders and founders of
young, zealous, learned, and clothed with power. the new religion, to the charge of timidity and He showed afterwards that he had talents fitted weakness. They therefore resolved to remain i
emain | for any station; and zeal that tired with no exerin the midst of their persecutors; and a merciful
tion, and that was appalled by no obstacle. With Providence watched over them, and defended
this talent he entered on his work. Christians
this them from harm. The dispersion extended not
were few and feeble. They were scattered and only to Judea and Samaria, but those who fled
unarmed. They were unprotected by any civil carried the gospel also to Phenice, and Cyprus,
power, and exposed, therefore, to the full blaze and Antioch. (Chap. xi. 19.) There was
and rage of persecution. That the church was a reason why this was permitted. The early
not destroyed, was owing to the protection of converts were Jews. They had strong feelings
God-a protection that not only secured its exof attachment to the city of Jerusalem, to the
istence, but which extended its influence and temple, and to the land of their fathers. Yet it
power, by means of this very persecution, far was the design of the Lord Jesus that the gospel
abroad on the earth. should be preached every where. To accomplish this, he suffered a persecution to rage; and they were scattered abroad, and bore his gospel to VER. 4. Therefore they that were scattered other cities and lands. Good thus came out of abroad went every where preaching the word. evil; and the first persecution resulted, as all others have done, in advancing the cause which Went every where. That is, they travelled was intended to be destroyed.
through the various regions where they were
scattered. In all places to which they came, Ver. 2. And devout men carried Stephen to his
they preached the word. Preaching the woril.- i
Greek, “evangelizing,” or announcing the good burial, and made great lamentation over him.
news of the message of mercy, or the word of
God. It is not the usual word which is rendered And devout men.- Religious men. The word
“preach,” but means simply announcing the good used here does not imply of necessity that they news of salvation. There is no evidence, nor is were Christians. There might have been Jews | there any probability, that all these persons were
ho did not approve the popular tumult, and the ordained to preach. They were manifestly commurder of Stephen, and who gave him a decent mon Christians who were scattered by the perburial. Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus, secution ; and the meaning is, that they com
oth Jews, thus gave to the Lord Jesus a decent municated to their fellow-men in conversation, burial. (John xix. 38, 39.) Carried Stephen.- | wherever they met them; and probably in the The word translated “carried," means properly synagogues, where all Jews had a right to speak, to collect, as fruits, &c. Then it is applied to all the glad tidings that the Messiah had come. It
is not said that they set themselves up for public ix. 27; xv. 12. 2 Tim. iv. 2.) It has been arteachers; or that they administered baptism; orgued that because Philip is said thus to have that they founded churches: but they proclaimed preached to the Samaritans, that therefore all every where the news that a Saviour had come. deacons have a right to preach, or that they are, Their hearts were full of it. Out of the abun | under the New Testament economy, an order of dance of the heart the mouth speaks; and they ministers. But this is by no means clear. For, made the truth known to all whom they met. (1.) It is not evident, nor can it be shown, that We may learn from this, (1.) That persecution the other deacons (chap. vi.) ever preached.
tends to promote the very thing which it would There is no record of their doing so; and the || destroy. (2.) That one of the best means to carrative would lead us to suppose that they did make Christians active and zealous is to perse not. (2.) They were appointed for a very dircute them. (3.) That it is right for all Chris. ferent purpose, (chap. vi. 1–5;) and it is fair to tians to make known the truths of the gos- suppose that as deacons, they confined themselves pel. When the heart is full, the lips will speak; to the design of their appointment. (3.) It is and there is no more impropriety in their speak not said that Philip preached in virtue of his ing of redemption than of any thing else. (4.) being a deacon. From any thing in this place, It should be the great object of all Christians to it would seem that he preached as the other make the Saviour known “every where." By | Christians did- wherever he was. (4.) But their lives, conversation, and pious exhortations elsewhere an express distinction is made between ' and entreaties, they should beseech dying sinners Philip and the others. A new appellation is 1 to be reconciled to God. And especially should given him, and he is expressly called the Evan
this be done when they are travelling. Chris gelist. (Acts xxi. 8.) From this, it seems that tians when away from home seem almost to ima he preached, not because he was a deacon, but gine that they lay aside the obligations of religion. because he had received a special appointment to But the example of Christ and his early disciples this business as an evangelist. (5.) This same has taught us that this is the very time to attempt office, or rank of Christian teachers, is expressly to do good.
recognised elsewhere. (Eph. iv. 11.) All these
considerations show that there is not in the saVer. 5. Then Philip went down to the city of cred Scriptures an order of ministers appointed Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
to preach as deacons.
6 Chap. vi. 5.
VER. 6. And the people with one accordo gave ! Then Philip.-One of the seven deacons.
heed unto those things which Philip spake, (Chap. vi. 5.) He is afterward called the Evan- !
hearing, and seeing the miracles which he gelist. (Acts xxi. 8.) The city of Samaria. did. This does not mean a city whose name was Samaria, for no such city at that time existed.
e 2 Chron. xxx, 12. John iv. 41, 42. Samaria was a region. (Matt. ii. 22.) The ancient city Samaria, the capital of that region, had
With one accord.—Unitedly, or with one mind. been destroyed by Hyrcanus, so completely as to
| Great multitudes of them did it. Gave hecd.
Paid attention to; embraced. Hearing. - Hearleave no restige of it reinaining; and he “ took
ing what he said. away," says Josephus, "the very marks that there had ever been such a city there." (Antiq. b. xiii. chap. x. 3.) Herod the Great after VER. 7. For 8 unclean spirits, crying with loud wards built a city on this site, and called it Se voice, came out of many that were possessed baste, i. e. Augusta, in honour of the emperor
with them : and many taken with palsies," and Augustus. (Jos. Antiq. b. xv. chap. viii. § 5.) Perhaps this city is intended, as being the prin
that were lame,' were healed. cipal city of Samaria ; or possibly Sychar, ano g Mark xvi. 17. h Mark ii. 3-11. Chap. ix. 33, 34. ther city where the gospel had been before
i Matt. xi. 5. preached by the Saviour himself. (John iv.) And preached Christ.- Preached that the Mes For unclean spirits.-- Note, Matt. iv. 24. Crysiah had come, and made known his doctrines. I ing with loud voice.-Note, Mark i. 26. Palsies. The same truths had been before stated in Sama- | -Note, Matt. iv. 24. ria by the Saviour himself, John iv.; and this was doubtless one of the reasons why they so VER. 8. And there was great joy in that city.
gladly now received the word of God. The · Beld had been prepared by the Lord Jesus ; and And there was great joy.-- This joy arose, (1.) he had said that it was white for the harvest, From the fact that so many persons, before sick John ir. 35; and into that field Philip now en and afflicted, were restored to health. (2.) From tered, and was signally blessed. His coming was the conversion of individuals to Christ. The attended with a remarkable revival of religion. tendency of religion is to produce joy. (3.) The word translated * preach” here is not that | From the mutual joy of families and friends, which is used in the previous verse. This de | that their friends were converted. The tendency Dotes to proclaim as a crier, and is commonly | of a revival of religion is thus to produce great et ployed to denote the preaching of the gospel, Ijoy. $) called. (Mark v. 20; vii. 36. Luke viii. 39. Mart. xxiv, 14. Acts x. 42. Rom. x. 15. 1 Cor. | VER. 9. But there was a certain man called