Stephen's Self-defense


Acts 7:1

Stephen's enemies hired witnesses to testify falsely against him, accusing him of saying that Jesus would destroy the Temple and change the customs based on the law of Moses. The high priest asked Stephen whether the charges were true. Under the Jewish system of justice, he was allowed to speak in his own defense (Deut. 19:15–19; 1:17; John 7:51).1 What he said illustrates why he outmatched his enemies in debate. His speech was eloquent, logical, and compelling.

A casual reader easily misses the point. His speech appears on the surface to be no more than a history lesson irrelevant to the charges. But in fact, he was proving his case by drawing evidence from the experience of Israel long ago. As stated in his summation, his case was, "Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye" (v. 51).

Stephen highlighted two examples of the nation’s rebellious tendencies. His purpose was to show that the Jews treated Christ in exactly the same way that their forefathers had in times past treated other deliverers sent by God.


Rejection of Joseph


Acts 7:2-16

The first deliverer that Stephen urged the Sanhedrin to remember was Joseph, who succeeded his father, Jacob, in the lineage of Abraham and Isaac. Jacob had twelve sons altogether. In tribute to their role as founders of the twelve tribes of Israel, they were known as "the patriarchs." The ten eldest hated the eleventh, Joseph, because he was their father’s favorite. Out of envy, they sold him to slave traders, who carried him away to Egypt. Yet this brother that they rejected was the one God intended to be their deliverer.

Years later, a severe famine struck Egypt and Palestine. Because Joseph had warned Pharaoh of the coming disaster, Pharaoh raised him to second place in the kingdom and gave him authority to store up grain for the time of shortage. As a result, there was grain available in Egypt all through the famine. But soon in Palestine there was none. Faced with possible starvation, Jacob had no choice but to send his sons into Egypt to buy grain from its storehouses. They came before Joseph himself, because he was supervising trade with outsiders, and bowed before him, not recognizing who he was. But he recognized them. At this moment when a turn of events gave him power of life or death over men who had done him great harm, he declined to take revenge. Instead, after satisfying himself that they now regretted their past wickedness, he not only forgave them; he even invited them and their families, together with his father, to relocate within the safety of Egypt. He delivered all their lives from death, even though his brothers had once thrown away his life as worthless.



Delving Deeper


The charge of inaccuracy

Many commentators fuss at Stephen for distorting Scripture. In verses 2–16, for example, he supposedly makes seven mistakes.2 If examine his actual words, we find that in every instance he is giving a truthful summary or elaboration of the facts. A summary or elaboration is not a false statement.

Yet we cannot deny that many of his statements appear, on the surface, to be problematic. Luke's willingness to report them anyway shows his unrelenting policy of putting down the exact truth. But after all, why would he wish to edit Stephen's words? The man's shining face as he spoke established beyond doubt that he was Spirit-filled. Thus, his words could be received as inerrant divine revelation.


Delving Still Deeper


Stephen's statements properly interpreted

The mistakes charged to Stephen are as follows:

  1. He implies that God's direction to seek a new country came to Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia (vv. 2–3), whereas the Book of Genesis says that this direction came later, while he was in Haran (Gen. 12:1–3). Yet the KJV legitimately employs the past perfect tense in Genesis 12:1.3 The meaning is that Abraham chose to leave Haran because he still felt under obligation to fulfill God's words in the past: specifically, His command to search for a new home. The account does not suggest that God spoke audibly to him again, but Abraham surely realized that Haran was not the land God promised to show him. God had done nothing to point out Haran as his intended heritage. Also, Abraham had not yet departed from his relatives, as the Lord had commanded him to do.
  2. Stephen says that Abraham left Haran when his father, Terah, was dead (v. 4). But the Book of Genesis says that Abraham was seventy-five years old when he left Haran (Gen. 12:4) and that Terah lived to the age of 205 years (Gen. 11:32), having begotten his sons Abraham, Nahor, and Haran when he was seventy (Gen. 11:26). Therefore, it is alleged, Terah must have still been alive when Abraham set out for Canaan. But Abraham's appearance first in the list of Terah's sons simply anticipates that he will be the chief subject of the following narrative. In fact, either Nahor or Haran may have been the oldest. Haran was the first to die (Gen. 11:28). If Abraham was not born until his father was 130, Stephen's comment does not stray into any contradiction of ancient Scripture.4 Before Terah's death, a sense of filial obligation may well have hampered Abraham from leaving his father's side and pursuing his own purpose in life. Besides, God never told him to leave his father, only his father's household (Gen. 12:1). This instruction may have alerted Abraham that his father's death would be the signal to leave.
  3. Stephen claims that God gave Abraham no inheritance in Canaan, not even a foothold, as it were (v. 5). His words appear borrowed from Deuteronomy 2:5, speaking of God's exclusion of Israel from Mt. Seir in Edom. Here is no inaccuracy. Although Abraham pitched his tent at many places in Canaan, God always told him that inheritance of the whole land was a promise to be fulfilled in the future (Gen. 15:7–21). It would be inherited by Abraham himself only in the sense that he would be embodied in his seed.
  4. Stephen measures Israel's bondage in Egypt as four hundred years (v. 6), whereas it actually lasted 430 years (Exod. 12:40). But he is merely giving a rounded number. Since his hearers could be expected to recognize it as a convenient approximation, it was not in any sense an error.
  5. Stephen states that seventy-five members of Jacob's family migrated to Egypt (v. 14). The number reported in Genesis is sixty-six (Gen. 46:26). But the latter figure gives the number of Jacob's offspring excluding Joseph and his sons (Gen. 46:27). Adding Joseph and his sons along with Jacob himself, while omitting all the wives, yields a total of seventy. It seems that Stephen derived the number "seventy-five" from the Greek translation of the Old Testament, known as the Septuagint (symbolized LXX). This would have been the version familiar to a Grecian Jew like Stephen. Twice, the Septuagint states that Jacob's family in Egypt amounted to seventy-five souls (LXX Gen. 46:27; Exod. 1:5). Yet we need not suppose that the Septuagint is in error, for it attaches an explanation for the discrepancy. In Genesis, it first replicates the Hebrew text by giving the number as sixty-six (Gen. 46:26), but in the next verse enlarges the number to seventy-five, explaining that it is now including all nine sons of Joseph. It is evidently relying on a tradition that the Holy Spirit ratified when He inspired Stephen to quote the Septuagint's exact words. We conclude that Joseph indeed had nine sons (that is, seven grandsons besides two sons).
  6. Stephen remembers that "Jacob . . . died, he, and our fathers, and were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem [Shechem]" (vv. 15–16). But actually, the site Abraham purchased for a tomb was a cave in Hebron, the seller being Ephron the Hittite (Gen. 23:3–20). The site Stephen mentions was purchased by Jacob (Gen. 33:18–20). A probable explanation for Stephen's words follows from a fuller look at Abraham's life. When he left Haran and entered Canaan, he settled in Shechem and built an altar there (Gen. 12:6–7). Since it was in the midst of territory occupied by Canaanites, we may surmise that to avoid conflict, he purchased the plot of ground where it stood. Jacob's return to Shechem was at least 145 years later (Gen. 21:5; 25:26; 26:34; 31:38; 33:18–20). By this time the site purchased by Abraham had no doubt reverted to the original owners, the sons of Emmor, so Jacob could not use it for a new altar until he had repurchased it.5 Yet from the divine perspective articulated by Stephen, the site still belonged to Abraham's family.
  7. Stephen's words might be understood to mean that all twelve sons of Jacob as well as Jacob himself were buried in Shechem, but of these thirteen, the only one that Scripture names as buried there is Joseph (Josh. 24:32). It says explicitly that Jacob was buried in Hebron (Gen. 50:7–13). But when giving his defense before the Sanhedrin, Stephen is speaking as much as possible without hesitation, which would invite interruption. Therefore, he runs his statements together and hurries them as much as possible. His statement "died, he, and our fathers, and were carried" is an elliptical substitute for "died, he and our fathers. And our fathers were carried." A learned man like Stephen (Acts 6:10) surely knew Jacob's burial place. Stephen did, however, leave the clear impression that Shechem was the resting place of all Jacob's sons. Here perhaps is new revelation. It makes sense to suppose that when the Israelites removed Joseph's body from its tomb and prepared it for transport, they treated the bones of his brothers in the same manner. Each tribe would naturally wish to honor its forefather by giving him the final resting place that he would have preferred, in the Land of Promise. Recent archaeological discoveries indicate that all twelve tombs of Jacob's sons were located near each other, in a yard adjacent to an elegant dwelling that likely belonged to Joseph.6

Rejection of Moses


Acts 7:17-41

In his survey of national history, Stephen now moved ahead several centuries to the time of Moses. God raised up Moses to save Israel after the Egyptians enslaved them. But again, the nation rejected the man that God intended as their deliverer.

In his youth, Moses killed an Egyptian who was oppressing a fellow Israelite. Instead of rallying behind him, his brothers in Israel scorned his leadership and forced him to flee. Years later, when he returned to Egypt and led the nation out of bondage, they gave him obedience for a while, but at first opportunity, they returned to the idolatry of Egypt. A few days after he left them to receive the law of God, they made and worshiped a golden calf (v. 41). They continued to resist him throughout the whole time of their wandering in the wilderness.

Why did Stephen give the greatest portion of his defense to the nation’s shameful treatment of Moses? Because the high priest and the other leading members of the Sanhedrin were now accusing Stephen of siding with those seeking to "change the customs which Moses delivered us" (Acts 6:14). Thus, they were claiming to be Moses’ loyal followers. In reality, they were the official representatives of a nation that had been conspicuously disloyal to Moses.


Delving Deeper


Moses' youth

Stephen provides information about Moses that we do not find in the Old Testament. He says, "And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds" (v. 22). He seems to be citing the same tradition remembered by Josephus. We read in Antiquities that as a child, Moses distinguished himself as a student, and that as a young man, he became a military commander who led a successful campaign against the Ethiopians.7 Many details in what Josephus says about Moses’ early life appear fanciful, but we should not dismiss his account as mere legend. Rather, it is legend with some basis in fact. Stephen’s speech under the inspiration of the Spirit verifies that the youthful Moses was indeed outstanding in his accomplishments.

God's Judgment on Idolatry


Acts 7:42-43

After coming into possession of the Promised Land, they did not build the kind of God-fearing nation that God intended when He gave the law to Moses. Instead, throughout most of their history, they preferred the gods of other nations to their own God. They chose to wallow in the wickedness of paganism rather than follow the righteousness of the law. Rather than worship the creator of the heavens, they worshiped the heavenly sun and stars (v. 42). By quoting Amos 5:25–27 (vv. 42–43), Stephen cast shame on the nation for preferring such defiled deities as Molech and Remphan (probably a reference to the god identified with the planet Saturn).8 At last, because of their habitual contempt for the religious and moral principles handed down by Moses, God let them be carried into captivity.


Stephen’s Answer to the First Charge


Acts 7:44-50

Stephen concluded his defense by answering the specific charges brought against him. The first charge was that in his public witness for Jesus, he portrayed Him as someday emerging to destroy the Temple. Notice that Stephen did not bother to deny the charge. He opted rather to make the more important point that the Temple was not as valuable as the Jews thought. He reminded them that God did not dwell in a man-made building, but in heaven. They could not make any house for Him that He had not already made, for He made all things.


Stephen’s Answer to the Second Charge


Acts 7:51-53

The second charge was that Stephen portrayed his leader, Jesus, as a great force in history who would change the customs handed down by Moses. Stephen’s reply was, in essence, "What hypocrisy!" He confronted them with the grave accusation that the nation had always blocked out the sound of God’s voice within them. Their heart and ears were uncircumcised; that is, their heart was as hard and their ears as closed as any heathen’s. It was they who had treated the laws and customs of Moses with contempt.

Moreover, the people of Israel had persecuted all the prophets that God sent to deliver them from their sinful ways and to announce the future coming of a Just One. Then the nation shamefully mistreated the Just One Himself. When He appeared to them recently, they refused to accept Him as their deliverer from sin, just as they had rejected Joseph and Moses and every other deliverer sent by God. Instead of receiving the Just One’s words that had power to heal and restore their hearts, they betrayed Him and put Him to death. Stephen was, of course, speaking of Jesus.

In summation, he specifically replied to the accusation that he had spoken "blasphemous words against . . . the law" (Acts 6:13). No, it was the nation of Israel who "received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it."


Delving Deeper


The disposition of angels

It was widely believed by the Jews in Stephen’s day that the law was conveyed to Moses not by God Himself, but by angelic intermediaries.9 Paul himself endorses this belief (Gal. 3:19), as does the writer of Hebrews (Heb. 2:2). Although the Old Testament places angels on the mount when God delivered the law (Deut. 33:2–3, esp. LXX; Ps. 68:17),10 commentators in general protest that it does not represent them as actual law-givers.11

The long-held understanding that angels mediated the law rests on a literal translation of Deuteronomy 33:2. "Jehovah . . . shone forth from Mount Paran, and He came. From the myriads of holy ones, from His right hand, a law of fire [went] to them." The usual translation rearranges the punctuation as follows: "Jehovah . . . shone forth from Mount Paran, and He came from the myriads of holy ones. From His right hand a law of fire [went] to them."12 But in Hebrew there is no punctuation, so we may place it where it seems best. Our revision is best, or at least better, because it does not represent Jehovah as leaving the angelic host in order to meet Moses. In fact, the holy ones are always in attendance upon Him.

In this text the precise role of the angels when Moses received the law is left vague, but we gain insight from the parallel experience of Daniel. In his final vision recorded in chapters 10 through 12 of his book, he beheld the preincarnate Christ Himself (Dan. 10:5–9), yet the being who restored Daniel to his feet after he had been overwhelmed by divine glory and who gave him a detailed account of future events (Dan. 10:10–12:4) was an angelic messenger, presumably Gabriel.13 Much of what the angel said was taken directly from a heavenly document called the "scripture of truth" (Dan. 10:21).

We might well imagine that Moses received the law in much the same way. Jehovah was present in the background during the whole historic convergence of two worlds, heavenly and earthly, but the being who read and conveyed the law to Moses was an angel, whose words may well have been echoed or even sung by other angels. Here we enter a realm of possibility inaccessible to the minds of scholars with earthbound imagination.

The document these angels presented was another scripture of truth, as it were, but far more concise, holding only the Ten Commandments. The actual writing on the tables of the law was divine, however (Exod. 32:15–16).

The First Martyr


Acts 7:54-60

Stephen’s powerful words had the same effect on the Sanhedrin as on the synagogues where he spoke. They brought conviction of sin, but no repentance. The truth was a sharp knife cutting conscience so deeply that the Sanhedrin "gnashed on him with their teeth," showing that to hear him was sheer torment. Yet he drove the knife still deeper. As he looked up to heaven, he reported to them all that he saw Jesus standing on the right hand of God.


Pondering a Question


Why was Jesus standing and not sitting?

This text has provoked much variance of opinion. One stream of commentators follows Albert Barnes, who said, "It is not to be maintained that Stephen really saw the Saviour with the bodily eye."14 Within this stream, some interpretations assume that Stephen's vision was, at best, a humanized description of a heavenly world seen dimly with spiritual eyes; others, that it was only a desperate fantasy. Were Stephen’s bodily eyes his instruments of sight? Why not? The privilege of looking upon a spectacle so distant, complex, and brilliant was possible by miraculous divine control of sensation and response. By God's grace, he could have seen heaven with his bodily eyes though they were blind to this world.15

One writer in the rationalistic tradition insists that "standing" is merely an acceptable translation of "sit" in Psalm 110:1. He argues that it is appropriate to render both the Hebrew and Greek words as "having been set" or something similar.16 But the vast majority of commentators are content to assign the Greek word its usual sense, which is "standing."

In every other text speaking of Jesus’ place at the throne of heaven, He is pictured as seated at the Father’s right hand (Ps. 110:1; Matt. 26:64; Mark 14:62; Luke 22:69; Eph. 1:20; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2). Here only do we find Him standing, not sitting. This posture is a visible sign rich in meaning.

  1. It is an affirmation by Stephen's divine advocate in the Father's court of justice that His client is innocent.17 The standing suggests that He has risen to speak more intimately with the Father.
  2. Even more, the sign is a declaration of Jesus' true identity, which He announced earlier to the same Sanhedrin now arrayed against Stephen (Matt. 26:64; Mark 14:62; Luke 22:69). What Stephen said as he looked upward was a baleful message to his bigoted murderers that Jesus' words had come to pass. The Son of man had, as He said He would, taken an exalted place at the right hand of God.18
  3. As we do, most other commentators with a high view of Scripture suppose that Christ's main purpose in standing and, presumably, in reaching forward was to comfort the suffering martyr and to welcome him home.19 The image presented to Stephen’s eyes was therefore a gesture of greeting and sympathy, both expressing Christ’s love.

Now the agony of conviction that he had brought to their souls exploded in anger. With one voice they cried out in protest and together they rushed upon him to drag him away. In their own hearts they justified themselves by viewing the man as the worst of blasphemers. They proceeded to execute him in the manner dictated by Mosaic law for a teacher of false religion (Deut. 13:6–11; 17:2–7). They hurried Stephen to a place outside the city, threw him into a pit, and cast stones upon him to deal deadly blows. The law required the first stones to be hurled by witnesses to the crime; then all the rest of the people could throw more stones onto the burial pile. In Stephen’s case, the witnesses were the men who heard his words before the Sanhedrin. Doubtless most if not all were ruling elders. Before these assassins undertook their murderous task, they laid their outer garments at the feet of a young man named Saul.


Pondering a Question


Who was Saul?

If you had attended a session of the Sanhedrin during the year of Stephen’s martyrdom, you would have noticed a certain young leader who was high-born and well educated. Instead of hovering in the background with the other young men, he boldly took his place in the forefront. He was a strict Pharisee who zealously defended law and tradition against anything he perceived as compromise.

This was Saul of Tarsus, better known to history by the name he took later—Paul. Before he became a follower of Christ, Saul was generally recognized as one of the future leaders of his nation. No one had better credentials. He later said of himself that he was "circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; . . . touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless" (Phil. 3:5–6). Later in this commentary, we will bring forward texts showing that he came from a well-to-do family in Tarsus, a commercial center in Asia Minor; that unlike most Jews, he was a Roman citizen by birth; and that he had been a pupil, doubtless a star pupil, of Gamaliel, still remembered by Jews today as one of the greatest teachers of the law.20

As a young man, Saul rose to a prominent place in public life. At the martyrdom of Stephen, it seems unlikely that his executioners would have laid their garments at Saul’s feet unless they viewed Saul as an ally and an equal. He was evidently among those most zealous to see Stephen dead. Luke tells us specifically that Paul consented to Stephen’s death (Acts 8:1). He must mean that Saul was a party to the Sanhedrin’s decision. It therefore appears that he was already a member of the highest ruling body in the nation.

We find further evidence of his importance as a political figure in his testimony many years later before Agrippa. He confessed, "Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities" (Acts 26:10–11). The phrase "gave my voice," like "consenting" in Acts 8:1, points to an official role in the judicial process.21 Also, in his persecution of the church, he worked under the direct command of the high priests as their personal agent, a standing that would most naturally be attained by a man already in a position of leadership.

Nowhere in the New Testament do we find evidence contradicting our conclusion that Saul belonged to the Sanhedrin. Yet some commentators have doubted that he was so highly placed.22 Two main arguments have been offered to justify doubt.

  1. When in his writings and recorded speeches Paul defends himself from the charge that he has betrayed his Jewish heritage, he often recites his credentials as a good Jew (Acts 22:3; 26:4–7; 2 Cor. 11:12–22; Phil. 3:4–6). Never does he mention past membership in the Sanhedrin, even though, if true, this item of resumé would seem to strengthen his case.23 Yet the exact question at issue when he recalls his background is never his former place in Jewish society. Rather, it is his fidelity to the religious traditions of his people, which he proves by showing that formerly he was "taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God" (Acts 22:3).
  2. At the time of Stephen's death, Saul was too young to be a member of the Sanhedrin. But the standard of eligibility found in the Talmud—that a judge must be at least thirty years old and have children—may not have existed in the first century.24 In any case, Paul referred to himself as "the aged" (Philem. 9) in about AD 60 according to our scheme of chronology (see Appendix 1), so his age at the time of Stephen's death, which we have set in AD 33, might easily have exceeded thirty years. It is very improbable that he had children, however.

The Sanhedrin’s care to follow Jewish law when they stoned Stephen was hypocritical. The Romans forbade them to impose capital punishment on anyone without consent of the Roman governor.25 It appears that the Jewish leaders were too enraged to feel bound by legal technicalities—that in their fervor to kill a man they condemned as a lawbreaker, they did not scruple to break Roman law.

In his death Stephen gave the crowning proof to all his enemies that he was a man of God, for he showed neither fear nor hatred. He calmly knelt and asked God to receive his spirit. His last words, projected with a loud voice so that all his executioners could hear him, were a petition to God. He asked, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge."

In the chronology we have accepted for the Book of Acts, Stephen's death falls in late AD 33, about half a year after Pentecost (see Appendix 1). Pilate was still the Roman procurator of Judea, where he remained in office until AD 36.26 The Sanhedrin’s mob action against Stephen and Saul’s subsequent campaign against the church raise the strong possibility that Pilate, probably for the same reasons he acquiesced in the crucifixion of Christ, gave Jewish leaders a free hand in dealing with Christ’s followers. As a result, they considered any formal proceedings in Pilate’s hall to be unnecessary.


Pondering a Question


Was Stephen's prayer answered?

At least one of his enemies was a beneficiary. It was Saul. Later, the Lord forgave Saul for all his wickedness in persecuting believers and made him a mighty tool for evangelism.


Getting Practical


Stephen's example

Stephen was the first after Christ to die for his faith. The Book of Acts devotes a lengthy passage to the story of his martyrdom because his conduct was an example for countless others who would someday follow in his footsteps. We who have enjoyed religious freedom sometimes forget that the nor-mal lot of Christians is to suffer great persecution. Probably no year in church history has lacked a martyr for Christ. In many years there have been many martyrs, even multiplied thousands of martyrs. The Fascist and Communist regimes of the twentieth century added far more names to the roll of martyrs than we realize.27

But a believer who faces the ultimate test of his faith need not fear that God will forsake him. Far from it. God will pour out upon him extra grace. Indeed, He will fill him with the Holy Spirit as He filled Stephen. Because Stephen was buoyed up and carried along by the Holy Spirit, he showed exactly how a believer going through such an ordeal should act.

  1. Jesus taught His disciples that when they went before magistrates, they should not prepare a defense. Rather, they should allow the Holy Spirit to speak through them (Matt. 10:19-20). Stephen heeded the Lord's instruction. When he presented his case, he did not rely on his own cleverness, but made himself a mouthpiece of the Holy Spirit.
  2. Under the Spirit's influence, he said little more than what Scripture itself has to say. His defense was the Word of God.
  3. His object was to bring his accusers and judges under conviction of sin. He did not mince words. He boldly charged them with great wickedness. But his motive was not spite. It was concern for their souls.
  4. He let his enemies see that his hard words proceeded from love, for in the moment of his death, he granted them forgiveness. He died as Christ had died, with words of blessing for his enemies upon his lips. Christ had said as He hung on a cross, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).

Footnotes

  1. F. F. Bruce, The Acts of the Apostles: The Greek Text with Introduction and Commentary, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990), 190.
  2. Richard N. Longenecker, The Acts of the Apostles, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 9 (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 340–341.
  3. Jay P. Green, Sr., The Interlinear Bible: Hebrew/English, 3 vols. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1983), 1.27.
  4. James Ussher, The Annals of the World, 58.
  5. Gleason L. Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids, Mich.: The Zondervan Corporation, 1982), 379–381.
  6. Thinking Man Films, Patterns of Evidence: Exodus (St. Louis Park, Minn.: Patterns of Evidence, 2015).
  7. Jos. Ant. 2.9.6–2.11.1.
  8. Bruce, Acts, 3rd ed., 204.
  9. Jos. Ant. 15.5.3; Jubilees 1.27–29.
  10. Robert Govett, Govett on Galatians (1872; repr. Miami Springs, Fla.: Conley & Schoettle Publishing Co., 1981), 91; Thomas Walker, Acts of the Apostles (Chicago: Moody Press, 1965; repr. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1984), 206; Bruce, Acts, 3rd ed., 209; Darrell L. Bock, Acts (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2007), 306.
  11. Bruce, Acts, 3rd ed., 209; I. Howard Marshall, Acts, vol. 5 of Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 1980), 156.
  12. Green, 553.
  13. Ed Rickard, Daniel Explained, 3rd ed. (n.p.: The Moorings Press, 2017), 308–312.
  14. Albert Barnes, The Acts of the Apostles, in Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament, complete and unabridged in one volume (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1962), 1588.
  15. G. T. Stokes, The Acts of the Apostles, in The Expositor’s Bible, ed. W. Robertson Nicoll (New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1900), 336–338; P. C. Barker, homily, in A. C. Hervey, The Acts of the Apostles: Vol. 1, a volume of The Pulpit Commentary, ed. H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, n.d.), 243.
  16. See Longenecker’s discussion of Dalman; Longenecker, 350.
  17. Bock, 311–312; Bruce, Acts, 3rd ed., 210; Marshall, 158; Longenecker, 350; Barker, 243; Henry Morris, "The Acts of the Apostles," in The Henry Morris Study Bible, King James Version (Green Forest, Ariz.: Master Books, 2012), 1645.
  18. Longenecker, 350; Bock, 311–312; Adam Clarke, The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: The Text, with a Commentary and Exegetical Notes, vol. 1 (Baltimore: The Book Company of the Methodist Protestant Church, 1835), 744; J. Rawson Lumby, The Acts of the Apostles, in Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges, ed. J. J. S. Perowne (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1885), 174; Morris, 1645; John Phillips, Exploring Acts: The Expository Commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1986), 143-144.
  19. Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible. complete and unabridged in one vol. (repr. Peabody Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991), 2094; Walker, 207; Rudolf Stier, The Words of the Apostles, 2nd ed., trans. G. H. Venables (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1869; repr. Minneapolis, Minn.: Klock & Klock Christian Publishers, Inc., 1981), 137; Ellen M. Knox, The Acts of the Apostles (London: Macmillan and Co., Limited, 1908), 109–110; Arno C. Gaebelein, The Acts of the Apostles: An Exposition (n.p.; Our Hope Press, 1912; repr., Neptune, N.J.: Loizeaux Brothers, 1977), 137; William Robertson, Studies in the Acts of the Apostles (n.p., 1901; repr., Old Tappan, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1978), 53; Marshall, 158; Longenecker, 350; Bruce, Acts, 3rd ed., 210; Joseph S. Exell, The Acts: Vol. I, vol. 44-1 of The Biblical Illustrator (New York: Anson D. F. Randolph & Company, n.d.), 608; Lumby, 174; Alexander MacLaren, The Acts of the Apostles, 2 vols. (New York: A. C. Armstrong and Son, 1907), 1.216; H. A. Ironside, Lectures on the Book of Acts (1943; repr., New Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers, 1988), 174–175.
  20. Mish. Sotah 9.15 (TB Sota 49a); Schechter and Bacher.
  21. Marshall, 159, 413.
  22. John B. Polhill, Paul and His Letters (Nashville, Tenn.: B & H Publishing Group, 1999), 37; Bruce, Acts, 3rd ed., 214, 500; Longenecker, 352, 552.
  23. Polhill, 37.
  24. Ibid., 42.
  25. A. N. Sherwin-White, Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1963; repr., Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1978), 1–12, 22–23, 42 , 64–65; Erich H. Kiehl, The Passion of Our Lord (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1990), 101.
  26. Jack Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology, revised ed. (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1998), 362.
  27. R. J. Rummel, Death by Government (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1994), 3, 71.

Further Reading


This lesson appears in Ed Rickard's In Perils Abounding: Commentary on Acts 1-14. For further information, click here.