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Acts 7:51-57

Context

7:51 “You stubborn 1  people, with uncircumcised 2  hearts and ears! 3  You are always resisting the Holy Spirit, like your ancestors 4  did! 7:52 Which of the prophets did your ancestors 5  not persecute? 6  They 7  killed those who foretold long ago the coming of the Righteous One, 8  whose betrayers and murderers you have now become! 9  7:53 You 10  received the law by decrees given by angels, 11  but you did not obey 12  it.” 13 

Stephen is Killed

7:54 When they heard these things, they became furious 14  and ground their teeth 15  at him. 7:55 But Stephen, 16  full 17  of the Holy Spirit, looked intently 18  toward heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing 19  at the right hand of God. 7:56 “Look!” he said. 20  “I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” 7:57 But they covered their ears, 21  shouting out with a loud voice, and rushed at him with one intent.

1 sn Traditionally, “stiff-necked people.” Now the critique begins in earnest.

2 tn The term ἀπερίτμητοι (aperitmhtoi, “uncircumcised”) is a NT hapax legomenon (occurs only once). See BDAG 101-2 s.v. ἀπερίτμητος and Isa 52:1.

3 tn Or “You stubborn and obstinate people!” (The phrase “uncircumcised hearts and ears” is another figure for stubbornness.)

4 tn Or “forefathers”; Grk “fathers.”

5 tn Or “forefathers”; Grk “fathers.”

6 sn Which…persecute. The rhetorical question suggests they persecuted them all.

7 tn Grk “And they.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here.

8 sn The Righteous One is a reference to Jesus Christ.

9 sn Whose betrayers and murderers you have now become. The harsh critique has OT precedent (1 Kgs 19:10-14; Neh 9:26; 2 Chr 36:16).

10 tn Grk “whose betrayers and murderers you have now become, who received the law” The two consecutive relative clauses make for awkward English style, so the second was begun as a new sentence with the pronoun “You” supplied in place of the Greek relative pronoun to make a complete sentence in English.

11 tn Traditionally, “as ordained by angels,” but εἰς (eis) with the accusative here should be understood as instrumental (a substitute for ἐν [en]); so BDAG 291 s.v. εἰς 9, BDF §206. Thus the phrase literally means “received the law by the decrees [orders] of angels” with the genitive understood as a subjective genitive, that is, the angels gave the decrees.

sn Decrees given by angels. According to Jewish traditions in the first century, the law of Moses was mediated through angels. See also the note on “angel” in 7:35.

12 tn The Greek word φυλάσσω (fulassw, traditionally translated “keep”) in this context connotes preservation of and devotion to an object as well as obedience.

13 tn Or “did not obey it.”

14 tn This verb, which also occurs in Acts 5:33, means “cut to the quick” or “deeply infuriated” (BDAG 235 s.v. διαπρίω).

15 tn Or “they gnashed their teeth.” This idiom is a picture of violent rage (BDAG 184 s.v. βρύχω). See also Ps 35:16.

16 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Stephen) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

17 tn Grk “being full,” but the participle ὑπάρχων (Juparcwn) has not been translated since it would be redundant in English.

18 tn Grk “looking intently toward heaven, saw.” The participle ἀτενίσας (atenisa") has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

19 sn The picture of Jesus standing (rather than seated) probably indicates his rising to receive his child. By announcing his vision, Stephen thoroughly offended his audience, who believed no one could share God’s place in heaven. The phrase is a variation on Ps 110:1.

20 tn Grk “And he said, ‘Look!’” Because of the length of the Greek sentence and the tendency of contemporary English style to use shorter sentences, καί (kai) has not been translated here; a new sentence is begun instead.

21 sn They covered their ears to avoid hearing what they considered to be blasphemy.



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