“This is the Moses who said to the sons of Israel, ‘GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN.’
A prophet like me refers to Jesus.
Moses was the free man who delivered a nation of slaves. He understood that he was a type of the coming Deliverer who would free the whole world (Acts 3:22). When Philip found Nathanael he told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law” (John 1:45). As Jesus said to the Jews, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me” (John 5:46).
“You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.
Always resisting the Holy Spirit. In the new covenant, faith is described as a rest (Rom. 4:5, Heb. 4:3), while unbelief is described as in terms of actions and verbs.
Unbelief is a dead work. Unbelief is resisting the Holy Spirit and clinging to worthless idols (Acts 7:51, 14:15). Unbelief is rejecting Jesus (John 3:36) and denying the Lord (Jude 1:4). It’s thrusting away the word of God and judging yourself unworthy of life (Acts 13:46). It’s suppressing the truth (Rom. 1:18) and delighting in wickedness (2 Th. 2:12). It’s turning away (Heb. 12:25), going astray (2 Pet. 2:15), and trampling the Son of God underfoot (Heb. 10:29).
“Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become;
Righteous One. Jesus Christ is the Righteous One and the Righteous Branch spoken of by the prophets (Is. 24:16, 53:11, Jer. 23:5, 33:15). Just as Jesus is the Word made flesh, the living Truth, and the personification of the Father’s grace (John 1:14, 14:6), he is the embodiment of God’s righteousness.
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him.
(a) They were cut. In the parable of the unfaithful servant, Jesus said the unfaithful servant (representing the religious leaders) would persecute the other servants (the apostles; see Matt. 24:45–51). Jesus said the unfaithful servant would be cut and the Sanhedrin were cut by Stephen’s words.
(b) Gnashing their teeth. Jesus said the evil servant would gnash his teeth, and the Sanhedrin gnashed theirs. To gnash one’s teeth is to snarl and growl. It’s to be murderously angry, as the Sanhedrin were, yelling and shouting at the tops of their voices (see Acts 7:57).
Rage is the fruit of religion. Cain’s religion made him mad enough to kill his brother, and the religious Jews were mad enough to kill God’s Son. They told themselves they were waiting for the Messiah but their actions said otherwise. When their Master showed up they were verbally cut to pieces and assigned a place with the hypocrites. They lived out their days raging and gnashing their teeth. But not all of them. Some of them repented and were numbered with the ready (Acts 6:7).
But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God;
Standing at the right hand of God; see next verse.
and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
(a) The Son of Man. Although Jesus often referred to himself as the Son of Man (see entry for Matt. 8:20), almost no one else did. Stephen was an exception.
(b) Right hand of God. Jesus is seen sitting at the right hand of God consistently throughout the New Testament (see entry for Matt. 22:44). But he stood to welcome his faithful servant Stephen into eternity.
But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse.
Loud voice. The men of the Sanhedrin were murderously angry, yelling and shouting at the tops of their voices. This wasn’t the first time they had acted like a pack of snarling dogs (see Acts 5:33).
When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.
(a) Stoning him. The Sanhedrin had the authority to put people to death for religious crimes. They stoned Stephen (Acts 7:58), they discussed stoning a woman caught in adultery (John 8:5), and they had tried before to stone Jesus (John 10:31).
(b) A young man. The word for young can mean anyone under the age of 40. Saul was probably in his thirties.
(c) Saul. This is the first mention of the most influential apostle in the New Testament. Before he became known as Paul the church-planting writer of epistles, Saul was a zealous Pharisee who hunted Christians (Acts 22:4). Saul was an extremely dangerous religious terrorist who “persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison” (Acts 22:4).
After his dramatic conversion, this champion sinner became a champion of the gospel. Paul and four other authors collectively wrote almost half of the entire Bible. (The others are Moses, Ezra, Luke, and Jeremiah.)
Saul did not change his name to Paul but was rather known by both names. “Saul, who was also known as Paul” (Acts 13:9). As a zealous Jew he went by his Hebrew name Saul; as an apostle to the Gentiles he went by his Roman name Paul.
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