on Acts 7 :44
Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness - That is, the tabernacle in which the two tables of stone written by the finger of God were laid up, as a testimony that he had delivered these laws to the people, and that they had promised to obey them. As one great design of St. Stephen was to show the Jews that they placed too much dependence on outward privileges, and had not used the law, the tabernacle, the temple, nor the temple service, for the purpose of their institution, he labors to bring them to a due sense of this, that conviction might lead to repentance and conversion. And he farther shows that God did not confine his worship to one place, or form. He was worshipped without any shrine in the times of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc. He was worshipped with a tabernacle, or portable temple, in the wilderness. He was worshipped also in the fixed temple projected by David, but built by Solomon. He asserts farther that his infinite majesty cannot be confined to temples, made by human hands; and where there is neither tabernacle nor temple, (in any part of his vast dominions), he may be worshipped acceptably by the upright in heart. Thus he proves that neither tabernacle nor temple are essentially requisite for the true worship of the true God. Concerning the tabernacle to which St. Stephen here refers, the reader is requested to consult the notes on Exodus 25:8, etc., and the subsequent chapters.
Speaking unto Moses - Ὁ λαλων, Who spake, as in the margin; signifying the angel of God who spake to Moses, or God himself. See Exodus 25:40.
on Acts 7 :44
The tabernacle of witness - The "tent" or "tabernacle" which Moses was commanded to make. It was called a tabernacle of "witness," or of "testimony," because it was the visible witness or proof of God's presence with them; the evidence that he to whom it was devoted was their protector and guide. The name is given either to the "tent," to the two tables of stone, or to the ark; all of which were "witnesses," or "evidences" of God's relation to them as their Lawgiver and guide, Exodus 16:34; Exodus 25:16, Exodus 25:21; Exodus 27:21; Exodus 30:6, Exodus 30:36; Exodus 31:18, etc.; Numbers 1:50, Numbers 1:53. The two charges against Stephen were, that he had spoken blasphemy against Moses or his Law, and against the temple, Acts 6:13-14. In the previous part of this defense he had shown his respect for Moses and his Law. He now proceeds to show that he did not design to speak with disrespect of the temple, or the holy places of their worship. He therefore expresses his belief in the divine appointment of both the tabernacle Acts 7:44-46 and of the temple Acts 7:47.
According to the fashion ... - According to the pattern that was shown to him, by which it was to be made, Exodus 25:9, Exodus 25:40; Exodus 26:30. As God showed him "a pattern," it proved that the tabernacle had his sanction. Against that Stephen did not intend to speak.
on Acts 7 :44
7:44 Our fathers had the tabernacle of the testimony - The testimony was properly the two tables of stone, on which the ten commandments were written. Hence the ark which contained them is frequently called the ark of the testimony; and the whole tabernacle in this place. The tabernacle of the testimony - according to the model which he had seen - When he was caught up in the visions of God on the mount.