on Acts 7 :2
Men, brethren, and fathers - Rather, brethren and fathers, for ανδρες should not be translated separately from αδελφοι. Literally it is men-brethren, a very usual form in Greek; for every person knows that ανδρες Αθηναιοι and ανδρες Περσαι should not be translated men-Athenians and men-Persians, but simply Athenians and Persians. See Acts 17:22. So, in Luke 2:15, ανθρωποι ποιμενες should be translated shepherds, not men-shepherds. And ανθρωπος βασιλευς Matthew 18:23, should not be translated man-king, but king, simply. By translating as we do, men, brethren, and fathers, and putting a comma after men, we make Stephen address three classes, when in fact there were but two: the elders and scribes, whom he addressed as fathers; and the common people, whom he calls brethren. See Bp. Pearce, and see Acts 8:27.
The God of glory appeared, etc. - As Stephen was now vindicating himself from the false charges brought against him, he shows that he had uttered no blasphemy, either against God, Moses, or the temple; but states that his accusers, and the Jews in general, were guilty of the faults with which they charged him: that they had from the beginning rejected and despised Moses, and had always violated his laws. He proceeds to state that there is no blasphemy in saying that the temple shall be destroyed: they had been without a temple till the days of David; nor does God ever confine himself to temples built by hands, seeing he fills both heaven and earth; that Jesus is the prophet of whom Moses spoke, and whom they had persecuted, condemned, and at last put to death; that they were wicked and uncircumcised in heart and in ears, and always resisted the Holy Ghost as their fathers did. This is the substance of St. Stephen's defense as far as he was permitted to make it: a defense which they could not confute; containing charges which they most glaringly illustrated and confirmed, by adding the murder of this faithful disciple to that of his all-glorious Master.
Was in Mesopotamia - In that part of it where Ur of the Chaldees was situated, near to Babel, and among the rivers, (Tigris and Euphrates), which gave the name of Mesopotamia to the country. See the note on Genesis 11:31.
Before he dwelt in Charran - This is called Haran in our translation of Genesis 11:31; this place also belonged to Mesopotamia, as well as Ur, but is placed west of it on the maps. It seems most probable that Abraham had two calls, one in Ur, and the other in Haran. He left Ur at the first call, and came to Haran; he left Haran at the second call, and came into the promised land. See these things more particularly stated in the notes on Genesis 12:1 (note).
on Acts 7 :2
Men, brethren, and fathers - These were the usual titles by which the Sanhedrin was addressed. In all this Stephen was perfectly respectful, and showed that he was disposed to render due honor to the institutions of the nation.
The God of glory - This is a Hebrew form of expression denoting "the glorious God." It properly denotes His "majesty, or splendor, or magnificence"; and the word "glory" is often applied to the splendid appearances in which God has manifested Himself to people, Deuteronomy 5:24; Exodus 33:18; Exodus 16:7, Exodus 16:10; Leviticus 9:23; Numbers 14:10. Perhaps Stephen meant to affirm that God appeared to Abraham in some such glorious or splendid manifestation, by which he would know that he was addressed by God. Stephen, moreover, evidently uses the word "glory" to repel the charge of "blasphemy" against God, and to show that he regarded him as worthy of honor and praise.
Appeared ... - In what manner he appeared is not said. In Genesis 12:1, it is simply recorded that God "had said" unto Abraham, etc.
Unto our father - The Jews valued themselves much on being the children of Abraham. See the notes on Matthew 3:9. The expression was therefore well calculated to conciliate their minds.
When he was in Mesopotamia - In Genesis 11:31, it is said that Abraham dwelt "in Ur of the Chaldees." The word "Mesopotamia" properly denotes the region between the two rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris. See notes on Acts 2:9. The name is Greek, and the region had also other names before the Greek name was given to it. In Genesis 11:31; Genesis 15:7, it is called Ur of the Chaldees. Mesopotamia and Chaldea might not exactly coincide; but it is evident that Stephen meant to say that "Ur" was in the country afterward called Mesopotamia. Its precise situation is unknown. A Persian fortress of this name is mentioned by Ammianus Genesis 25:8 between Nisibis and the Tigris.
Before he dwelt in Charran - From Genesis 11:31, it would seem that Terah took his son Abraham of his own accord, and removed to Haran. But from Genesis 12:1; Genesis 15:7, it appears that God had commanded "Abraham" to remove, and so he ordered it in his providence that "Terah" was disposed to remove his family with an intention of going into the land of Canaan. The word "Charran" is the Greek form of the Hebrew "Haran," Genesis 11:31. This place was also in Mesopotamia, in 36 degrees 52 minutes north latitude and 39 degrees 5 minutes east longitude. Here Terah died Genesis 11:32; and to this place Jacob retired when he fled from his brother Esau, Genesis 27:43. It is situated "in a flat and sandy plain, and is inhabited by a few wandering Arabs, who select it for the delicious water which it contains" (Robinson's Calmet).
on Acts 7 :2
7:2 And he said - St. Stephen had been accused of blasphemy against Moses, and even against God; and of speaking against the temple and the law, threatening that Jesus would destroy the one, and change the other. In answer to this accusation, rehearsing as it were the articles of his historical creed, he speaks of God with high reverence, and a grateful sense of a long series of acts of goodness to the Israelites, and of Moses with great respect, on account of his important and honourable employments under God: of the temple with regard, as being built to the honour of God; yet not with such superstition as the Jews; putting them in mind, that no temple could comprehend God. And he was going on, no doubt, when he was interrupted by their clamour, to speak to the last point, the destruction of the temple, and the change of the law by Christ. Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken - The sum of his discourse is this: I acknowledge the glory of God revealed to the fathers, ver. 2; Ac 7:2 the calling of Moses, ver. 34, 7:34 and c; the dignity of the law, verse s 8,38,44 Ac 7:8,38,44; the holiness of this place, verse s 7,45,47. Ac 7:7,45,47 And indeed the law is more ancient than the temple; the promise more ancient than the law. For God showed himself the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their children freely, ver. 2, and c; 9, and c; 17, and c; 32,34,35; Ac 7:2,9,17,32,34,35 and they showed faith and obedience to God, ver. 4, 20, and c, 23, Ac 7:4,20,23 particularly by their regard for the law, ver. 8, Ac 7:8 and the promised land, ver. 16. 7:16 Meantime, God never confined his presence to this one place or to the observers of the law. For he hath been acceptably worshipped before the law was given, or the temple built, and out of this land, ver. 2, 9, 33, 44. Ac 7:2,9,33,44 And that our fathers and their posterity were not tied down to this land, their various sojournings, ver. 4, and c; 14, 29, 44, Ac 7:4,14,29,44 and exile, ver. 43, show. Ac 7:43 But you and your fathers have always been evil, ver. 9; Ac 7:9 have withstood Moses, ver. 25, and c, 39, and c; Ac 7:25,39 have despised the land, ver. 39, Ac 7:39 forsaken God, ver. 40, and c, Ac 7:40 superstitiously honoured the temple, ver. 48, Ac 7:48 resisted God and his Spirit, ver 50, Ac 7:50 killed the prophets and the Messiah himself, ver. 51, Ac 7:51 and kept not the law for which ye contend, ver. 53. Ac 7:53 Therefore God is not bound to you; much less to you alone. And truly this solemn testimony of Stephen is most worthy of his character, as a man full of the Holy Ghost, and of faith and power: in which, though he does not advance so many regular propositions, contradictory to those of his adversaries, yet he closely and nervously answers them all. Nor can we doubt but he would, from these premises, have drawn inferences touching the destruction of the temple, the abrogation of the Mosaic law, the punishment of that rebellious people; and above all, touching Jesus of Nazareth, the true Messiah, had not his discourse been interrupted by the clamours of the multitude, stopping their ears, and rushing upon him. Men, brethren, and fathers - All who are here present, whether ye are my equals in years, or of more advanced age. The word which in this and in many other places is rendered men is a mere expletive. The God of glory - The glorious God, appeared to Abraham before he dwelt in Haran - Therefore Abraham knew God, long before he was in this land. Gen 12:1.