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Jehovah’s Witnesses

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New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition)

Acts of Apostles 7:1-60

7  But the high priest said: “Are these things so?”  Stephen replied: “Men, brothers and fathers, listen. The God of glory appeared to our forefather Abraham while he was in Mes·o·po·taʹmi·a, before he took up residence in Haʹran,+  and he said to him: ‘Go out from your land and from your relatives and come into the land that I will show you.’+  Then he went out of the land of the Chal·deʹans and took up residence in Haʹran. And from there, after his father died,+ God caused him to resettle in this land where you now dwell.+  And yet, he did not give him any inheritance in it, no, not even enough to put his foot on; but he promised to give it to him as a possession and after him to his offspring,+ though as yet he had no child.+  Moreover, God told him that his offspring would be foreigners in a land not theirs and that the people would enslave them and afflict* them for 400 years.+  ‘And that nation for which they will slave I will judge,’+ God said, ‘and after these things they will come out and will offer sacred service to me in this place.’+  “He also gave him a covenant of circumcision,+ and he became the father of Isaac+ and circumcised him on the eighth day,+ and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the 12 family heads.  And the family heads became jealous of Joseph+ and sold him into Egypt.+ But God was with him,+ 10  and he rescued him out of all his tribulations+ and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharʹaoh king of Egypt. And he appointed him to govern Egypt and his whole house.+ 11  But a famine came on all of Egypt and Caʹnaan, yes, a great tribulation, and our forefathers could not find anything to eat.+ 12  But Jacob heard that there were food supplies* in Egypt, and he sent our forefathers out the first time.+ 13  During the second time, Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and the family of Joseph became known to Pharʹaoh.+ 14  So Joseph sent a message and called his father Jacob and all his relatives from that place,+ 75 persons in all.+ 15  So Jacob went down into Egypt,+ and he died there,+ and so did our forefathers.+ 16  They were carried to Sheʹchem and were laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver money from the sons of Haʹmor in Sheʹchem.+ 17  “Just as the time was approaching to fulfill the promise that God had announced to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, 18  until there rose a different king over Egypt, one who did not know of Joseph.+ 19  This one dealt cunningly with our race* and wrongfully forced the fathers to abandon* their infants so that they would not be kept alive.+ 20  At that time Moses was born, and he was divinely beautiful. And he was nursed* for three months in his father’s home.+ 21  But when he was abandoned,*+ the daughter of Pharʹaoh took him and brought him up as her own son.+ 22  So Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. In fact, he was powerful in his words and deeds.+ 23  “Now when he reached the age of 40, it came into his heart to make a visit on* his brothers, the sons of Israel.+ 24  When he caught sight of one of them being unjustly treated, he defended him and avenged the one being abused by striking down the Egyptian.+ 25  He thought that his brothers would grasp that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not grasp it. 26  The next day he appeared to them as they were fighting, and he tried to reconcile them in peace, saying: ‘Men, you are brothers. Why do you mistreat each other?’+ 27  But the one who was mistreating his neighbor pushed him away, saying: ‘Who appointed you ruler and judge over us? 28  You do not want to do away with me the way you did away with the Egyptian yesterday, do you?’+ 29  On hearing this, Moses fled and lived as a foreigner in the land of Midʹi·an, where he became the father of two sons.+ 30  “After 40 years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Siʹnai in the flame of a burning thornbush.+ 31  When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight. But as he was approaching to investigate, Jehovah’s voice was heard: 32  ‘I am the God of your forefathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob.’+ Moses started trembling and did not dare to investigate further. 33  Jehovah said to him: ‘Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.+ 34  I have certainly seen the oppression of my people who are in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning,+ and I have come down to rescue them. Now come, I will send you off to Egypt.’+ 35  This same Moses whom they had disowned, saying: ‘Who appointed you ruler and judge?’+ is the very one God sent+ as both ruler and deliverer by means of the angel who appeared to him in the thornbush. 36  This man led them out,+ performing wonders and signs in Egypt+ and at the Red Sea+ and in the wilderness for 40 years.+ 37  “This is the Moses who said to the sons of Israel: ‘God will raise up for you from among your brothers a prophet like me.’+ 38  This is the one who came to be among the congregation in the wilderness with the angel+ who spoke to him+ on Mount Siʹnai and with our forefathers, and he received living sacred pronouncements to give us.+ 39  Our forefathers refused to obey him, but they pushed him aside+ and in their hearts they turned back to Egypt,+ 40  saying to Aaron: ‘Make gods for us to go ahead of us. For we do not know what has happened to this Moses, who led us out of the land of Egypt.’+ 41  So they made a calf in those days and brought a sacrifice to the idol and began to enjoy themselves in the works of their hands.+ 42  So God turned away from them and handed them over to offer sacred service to the army of heaven,+ just as it is written in the book of the Prophets: ‘It was not to me that you made offerings and sacrifices for 40 years in the wilderness, was it, O house of Israel? 43  But it was the tent of Moʹloch+ and the star of the god Reʹphan that you took up, the images that you made to worship them. So I will deport you beyond Babylon.’+ 44  “Our forefathers had the tent of the witness in the wilderness, just as He gave orders when speaking to Moses to make it according to the pattern he had seen.+ 45  And our forefathers received possession of it and brought it in with Joshua into the land possessed by the nations,+ whom God drove out from before our forefathers.+ Here it remained until the days of David. 46  He found favor in the sight of God and asked for the privilege of providing* a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.+ 47  But it was Solʹo·mon who built a house for him.+ 48  However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made with hands,+ just as the prophet says: 49  ‘The heaven is my throne,+ and the earth is my footstool.+ What sort of house will you build for me? Jehovah says. Or where is my resting-place? 50  My hand made all these things, did it not?’+ 51  “Obstinate men and uncircumcised in hearts and ears,+ you are always resisting the holy spirit; as your forefathers did, so you do.+ 52  Which one of the prophets did your forefathers not persecute?+ Yes, they killed those who announced in advance the coming of the righteous one,+ whose betrayers and murderers you have now become,+ 53  you who received the Law as transmitted by angels+ but have not kept it.” 54  Well, at hearing these things, they were infuriated in their hearts and began to grind their teeth at him.+ 55  But he, being full of holy spirit, gazed into heaven and caught sight of God’s glory and of Jesus standing at God’s right hand,+ 56  and he said: “Look! I see the heavens opened up and the Son of man+ standing at God’s right hand.”+ 57  At this they cried out at the top of their voices and put their hands over their ears and rushed at him all together. 58  After throwing him outside the city, they began stoning him.+ The witnesses+ laid down their outer garments at the feet of a young man called Saul.+ 59  As they were stoning Stephen, he made this appeal: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60  Then, kneeling down, he cried out with a strong voice: “Jehovah, do not charge this sin against them.”+ And after saying this, he fell asleep in death.

Footnotes

Or “mistreat.”
Or “there was grain.”
Or “people.”
Or “expose.”
Or “brought up.”
Or “exposed.”
Or “to check the conditions of.”
Or “finding.”

Study Notes

Caiaphas: This high priest, appointed by the Romans, was a skillful diplomat who held office longer than any of his immediate predecessors. He was appointed about 18 C.E. and remained in office until about 36 C.E. He was the one who examined Jesus and handed him over to Pilate. (Mt 26:3, 57; Joh 11:49; 18:13, 14, 24, 28) This is the only time he is mentioned by name in the book of Acts. Elsewhere in Acts he is referred to as “the high priest.”—Ac 5:17, 21, 27; 7:1; 9:1.

the high priest: That is, Caiaphas.—See study note on Ac 4:6.

Go out from your land: When speaking to the Sanhedrin, Stephen says that Abraham was given this command when “the God of glory appeared to our forefather Abraham while he was in Mesopotamia, before he took up residence in Haran.” (Ac 7:2) Abraham (first known as Abram) was originally from the Chaldean city of Ur. As Stephen indicated, that was apparently where Abraham was first told to go out from his land. (Ge 11:28, 29, 31; 15:7; 17:5; Ne 9:7) The account at Ge 11:31–12:3 may give the impression that this command was first given after the death of Abraham’s father, Terah, when Abraham had temporarily settled in Haran. However, in view of that account, taken together with Stephen’s comment here, it is reasonable to conclude that Jehovah gave Abraham this command when he was still in Ur and then repeated the command while Abraham was living in Haran.

God: Lit., “He,” referring to “the God of glory” in verse 2.

offspring: Lit., “seed.”—See App. A2.

offspring: Lit., “seed.”—See App. A2.

afflict them for 400 years: At Ge 15:13, which is quoted here, God told Abram (Abraham) that his descendants would be enslaved and afflicted for 400 years. This period ended when Jehovah freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt on Nisan 14, 1513 B.C.E., so it must have begun in 1913 B.C.E. Bible chronology indicates that in that year, Abraham’s offspring Isaac—who was about five years old at the time—began to be mocked and mistreated by Ishmael, his half brother. Ishmael was born some 19 years earlier to Sarai’s (Sarah’s) Egyptian servant Hagar. Ishmael may have taunted his younger brother because Isaac was to receive the firstborn’s inheritance even though Ishmael was born first. (Ge 16:1-4; 21:8-10) Paul later described Ishmael’s treatment of Isaac as persecution. (Ga 4:29) Apparently, it was severe enough for Jehovah to approve of Sarah’s demand that Abraham drive Ishmael and his mother away. (Ge 21:11-13) So Isaac was the first of Abraham’s offspring to experience the foretold affliction. Therefore, this incident, recorded in detail in the divine record, apparently marks the commencement of the prophesied 400-year period of affliction that would not end until the Exodus.

offer sacred service to me: Or “worship me.” The Greek verb la·treuʹo basically denotes serving but in some contexts may be rendered “to worship.” The second part of the verse alludes to Ex 3:12, where the corresponding Hebrew verb can be rendered “serve” or “worship.” (Ex 3:12; ftn.) In Scriptural usage, the Greek word la·treuʹo generally refers to serving God or to service connected with worship of God (Mt 4:10; Lu 1:74; 2:37; 4:8; Ro 1:9; Php 3:3; 2Ti 1:3; Heb 9:14; 12:28; Re 7:15; 22:3), including service at the sanctuary or temple (Heb 8:5; 9:9; 10:2; 13:10). In a few cases, it refers to false worship—rendering service to, or worshipping, created things.—Ac 7:42; Ro 1:25.

and Isaac became the father of Jacob: The Greek text does not repeat either of the two preceding verbs “became the father of” and “circumcised.” Therefore, either or both of these verbs could be implied in the last part of the verse. Thus, it is also possible to render that part of the verse: “And Isaac did the same with [that is, circumcised] Jacob, and Jacob with the 12 family heads.”

family heads: Or “patriarchs.” The Greek word pa·tri·arʹkhes occurs four times in the Christian Greek Scriptures. Here it refers to Jacob’s 12 sons (Ge 35:23-26), and it is also used with regard to David (Ac 2:29) and Abraham (Heb 7:4).

75 persons in all: Stephen may not be quoting a particular verse from the Hebrew Scriptures when he gives the total number of Jacob’s family in Egypt as 75. This figure is not found in the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Scriptures. Ge 46:26 says: “All those who descended from Jacob and went into Egypt with him, aside from the wives of Jacob’s sons, were 66.” Verse 27 continues: “All the people of the house of Jacob who came into Egypt were 70.” Here the people are counted in two different ways, the first figure apparently including only his natural descendants and the second figure giving the total of those who came into Egypt. The number of Jacob’s descendants is also mentioned at Ex 1:5 and De 10:22, where the figure “70” is given. Stephen apparently gives a third figure that includes more of Jacob’s extended family. Some suggest that it includes sons and grandsons of Joseph’s sons Manasseh and Ephraim, who are mentioned in the Septuagint translation of Ge 46:20. Others suggest that it includes the wives of Jacob’s sons, who are specifically excluded from the figure given at Ge 46:26. So the figure “75” may be a grand total. This figure, though, may have a basis in copies of the Hebrew Scriptures circulating in the first century. For years, scholars have known that “75” was the figure given at Ge 46:27 and Ex 1:5 in the Greek Septuagint. Additionally, in the 20th century, two Dead Sea Scroll fragments of Ex 1:5 in Hebrew were discovered, and they also use the figure “75.” Stephen’s figure may be based on one of those ancient texts. Regardless of which idea is correct, Stephen’s figure simply reflects a different way of counting the total number of Jacob’s descendants.

persons: Or “souls.” The Greek word psy·kheʹ, traditionally rendered “soul,” here refers to a living person.—See Glossary, “Soul,” and App. A2.

divinely beautiful: The Greek expression used here literally means “beautiful to God.” This phrase reflects a Semitic idiom used to refer to what is superlative. In this context, it may convey a dual idea of being “extremely beautiful” and of being “beautiful in the sight of God.” (Compare Ex 2:2.) Some scholars suggest that the expression could refer not only to a person’s physical attributes but also to the inner qualities that God sees in a person. A similar construction occurs at Jon 3:3 where, according to a literal rendering of the Hebrew text, Nineveh is described as “a city great to God,” conveying the idea of “a very large city.”—For other examples, see Ge 23:6; ftn.; Ps 36:6; ftn.

reached the age of 40: Stephen’s speech before the Sanhedrin includes a number of facts concerning Jewish history that are not found in the Hebrew Scriptures. For example, Stephen reveals that Moses was 40 years of age when he fled Egypt. For other details in Stephen’s speech that are not included in the Hebrew Scriptures, see study notes on Ac 7:22, 30, 53.

40 years: The Hebrew Scriptures do not explicitly state how many years Moses stayed in Midian. But here Stephen reveals facts of Jewish history not previously recorded in the Scriptures. He states that Moses was 40 years of age when he fled to Midian (Ex 2:11; Ac 7:23) and that he stayed there until an additional 40 years had passed or were near completion. So the period referred to here apparently runs from 1553 to 1513 B.C.E. Stephen’s account agrees with the statement that Moses was 80 years old when he spoke to Pharaoh (Ex 7:7) and led the people of Israel out of Egypt. It also harmonizes with the statement that Moses was 120 years old when he died after spending 40 years in the wilderness.—De 34:7; Ac 7:36.

as transmitted by angels: Stephen’s account delivered before the Sanhedrin includes a number of facts concerning Jewish history that are not found in the Hebrew Scriptures. One example is the role of angels in giving the Mosaic Law. (Ga 3:19; Heb 2:1, 2) For other details in Stephen’s speech that cannot be found in the Hebrew Scriptures, see study notes on Ac 7:22, 23, 30.

instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians: Stephen’s speech before the Sanhedrin includes a number of facts of Jewish history that are not found in the Hebrew Scriptures. For example, Stephen alone speaks of Moses’ Egyptian education. For other details in Stephen’s talk that are not included in the Hebrew Scriptures, see study notes on Ac 7:23, 30, 53.

instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians: Stephen’s speech before the Sanhedrin includes a number of facts of Jewish history that are not found in the Hebrew Scriptures. For example, Stephen alone speaks of Moses’ Egyptian education. For other details in Stephen’s talk that are not included in the Hebrew Scriptures, see study notes on Ac 7:23, 30, 53.

40 years: The Hebrew Scriptures do not explicitly state how many years Moses stayed in Midian. But here Stephen reveals facts of Jewish history not previously recorded in the Scriptures. He states that Moses was 40 years of age when he fled to Midian (Ex 2:11; Ac 7:23) and that he stayed there until an additional 40 years had passed or were near completion. So the period referred to here apparently runs from 1553 to 1513 B.C.E. Stephen’s account agrees with the statement that Moses was 80 years old when he spoke to Pharaoh (Ex 7:7) and led the people of Israel out of Egypt. It also harmonizes with the statement that Moses was 120 years old when he died after spending 40 years in the wilderness.—De 34:7; Ac 7:36.

as transmitted by angels: Stephen’s account delivered before the Sanhedrin includes a number of facts concerning Jewish history that are not found in the Hebrew Scriptures. One example is the role of angels in giving the Mosaic Law. (Ga 3:19; Heb 2:1, 2) For other details in Stephen’s speech that cannot be found in the Hebrew Scriptures, see study notes on Ac 7:22, 23, 30.

reached the age of 40: Stephen’s speech before the Sanhedrin includes a number of facts concerning Jewish history that are not found in the Hebrew Scriptures. For example, Stephen reveals that Moses was 40 years of age when he fled Egypt. For other details in Stephen’s speech that are not included in the Hebrew Scriptures, see study notes on Ac 7:22, 30, 53.

it came into his heart: Or “the thought came to him; he decided.” This Greek expression reflects a Hebrew idiom.—Compare Isa 65:17; Jer 3:16.

the sons of Israel: Or “people of Israel; the Israelites.”—See Glossary, “Israel.”

40 years: The Hebrew Scriptures do not explicitly state how many years Moses stayed in Midian. But here Stephen reveals facts of Jewish history not previously recorded in the Scriptures. He states that Moses was 40 years of age when he fled to Midian (Ex 2:11; Ac 7:23) and that he stayed there until an additional 40 years had passed or were near completion. So the period referred to here apparently runs from 1553 to 1513 B.C.E. Stephen’s account agrees with the statement that Moses was 80 years old when he spoke to Pharaoh (Ex 7:7) and led the people of Israel out of Egypt. It also harmonizes with the statement that Moses was 120 years old when he died after spending 40 years in the wilderness.—De 34:7; Ac 7:36.

an angel: Stephen is here referring to the account at Ex 3:2, where the original Hebrew text says “Jehovah’s angel.” Most Greek manuscripts read “an angel” here, but a few manuscripts and a few ancient translations into other languages have a reading that can be rendered “an angel of [the] Lord [or, “of Jehovah”].” A number of translations of the Christian Greek Scriptures into Hebrew (referred to as J7, 8, 10-17, 28 in App. C4.) use the Tetragrammaton here and read “Jehovah’s angel.”

Jehovah’s voice: This part of Stephen’s speech (Ac 7:30-33) refers to the account at Ex 3:2-10. In verse 4, “Jehovah” calls out to Moses by means of His angel, and in verse 6, “Jehovah” tells him what is quoted at Ac 7:32. The phrase “the voice of Jehovah” is often found in the Hebrew Scriptures as a combination of the Hebrew word for “voice” and the Tetragrammaton. (Some examples are Ge 3:8; Ex 15:26; De 5:25; 8:20; 15:5; 18:16; 26:14; 27:10; 28:1, 62; Jos 5:6; 1Sa 12:15; 1Ki 20:36; Ps 106:25; Isa 30:31; Jer 3:25; Da 9:10; Zec 6:15.) It is worth noting that when the expression “voice of Jehovah” occurs at De 26:14; 27:10; 28:1, 62 in a first-century B.C.E. fragment of the Septuagint (Papyrus Fouad Inv. 266), the divine name is written in square Hebrew characters within the Greek text. The reasons why the New World Translation uses the expression “Jehovah’s voice” in the main text, although available Greek manuscripts of Ac 7:​31 read “Lord’s voice,” are explained in App. C.

Jehovah said to him: The context of the original account referred to by Stephen is Ex 3:2-10, where it is clear that Jehovah is the one speaking by means of His angel. Although most of the content of this verse is taken from Ex 3:5, an equivalent of the introductory phrase can be found in the original Hebrew text at Ex 3:7, literally reading: “And Jehovah said.”—See App. C.

ransom: The Greek word lyʹtron (from the verb lyʹo, meaning “to let loose; to release”) was used by non-Biblical Greek writers to refer to a price paid to release those under bond or in slavery or to ransom prisoners of war. (Heb 11:35) It occurs twice in the Christian Greek Scriptures, here and at Mr 10:45. The related word an·tiʹly·tron appears at 1Ti 2:6 and is rendered “corresponding ransom.” Other related words are ly·troʹo·mai, meaning “to set free; to ransom” (Tit 2:14; 1Pe 1:18; also ftns.), and a·po·lyʹtro·sis, often rendered “release by ransom” (Eph 1:7; Col 1:14; Heb 9:15; Ro 3:24; 8:23).​—See Glossary.

deliverer: Or “redeemer; liberator.” The Greek word ly·tro·tesʹ comes from the verb ly·troʹo·mai, meaning “to set free; to deliver.” It is also related to the noun lyʹtron, meaning “ransom.” (See study note on Mt 20:28.) The verb form is used with regard to the deliverance granted through Jesus Christ (Lu 24:21; Tit 2:14, ftn.; 1Pe 1:18, ftn.), who was foretold to be a prophet like Moses (De 18:15; Ac 7:37). Just as Moses was the deliverer of the Israelites from Egypt, so Jesus Christ is the Deliverer of all mankind by means of his ransom sacrifice.

wonders: Or “portents.” In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the Greek word teʹras is consistently used in combination with se·meiʹon (“sign”), both terms being used in the plural form. (Mt 24:24; Joh 4:48; Ac 7:36; 14:3; 15:12; 2Co 12:12) Basically, teʹras refers to anything that causes awe or wonderment. When the term clearly refers to something portending what will happen in the future, the alternate rendering “portent” is used in a study note.

wonders: Or “portents.”—See study note on Ac 2:19.

for 40 years: These 40 years run from 1513 B.C.E., the time of the Exodus, to 1473 B.C.E. when the Israelites entered the Promised Land. Before and during these 40 years, Moses performed wonders and signs. For example, when Moses returned to Egypt, he first performed signs before all the Israelite elders. (Ex 4:30, 31) Then, in the time leading up to the Exodus, Moses was instrumental in performing great wonders and signs before Pharaoh and all the people of Egypt. Later, he played a role when Pharaoh and his army were destroyed in the Red Sea. (Ex 14:21-31; 15:4; De 11:2-4) One of the most remarkable signs associated with Moses was the daily provision of manna in the wilderness. This miracle continued for 40 years until the people began eating some of the produce of the land of Canaan, early in the year 1473 B.C.E.—Ex 16:35; Jos 5:10-12.

Jehovah: In this quote from De 18:15, the divine name, represented by four Hebrew consonants (transliterated YHWH), occurs in the original Hebrew text. It is worth noting that when this quote occurs in an early fragment of the Septuagint (Papyrus Fouad Inv. 266), the divine name is written in square Hebrew characters () within the Greek text. This fragment is dated to the first century B.C.E. (See App. A5.) Also a number of translations of the Christian Greek Scriptures into Hebrew (referred to as J7, 8, 10-18, 20, 22-24, 28 in App. C4) use the Tetragrammaton here. So although existing manuscripts of the Christian Greek Scriptures use Kyʹri·os (Lord) here, there are good reasons for using the divine name in the main text.—See App. C.

the sons of Israel: Or “the people of Israel; the Israelites.”—See Glossary, “Israel.”

God: In this quote from De 18:15, the divine name, represented by four Hebrew consonants (transliterated YHWH), occurs in the original Hebrew text, which reads “Jehovah your God.” Stephen’s quote is slightly abbreviated; he uses only the word for “God.” Peter quotes the same verse at Ac 3:22, using the whole expression “Jehovah your God.” (See study note on Ac 3:22.) Some translations of the Christian Greek Scriptures into Hebrew use the divine name here and read “Jehovah your God” (J7, 8, 10-17) or “Jehovah God” (J28). (See App. C4.) A few Greek manuscripts also have readings that can be rendered “the Lord God” or, for the same reasons as presented in App. C, “Jehovah God.” However, the vast majority of Greek manuscripts and translations into other languages simply read “God.”

congregation: This is the first occurrence of the Greek term ek·kle·siʹa. It comes from two Greek words, ek, meaning “out,” and ka·leʹo, meaning “to call.” It refers to a group of people summoned or called together for a particular purpose or activity. (See Glossary.) In this context, Jesus foretells the formation of the Christian congregation, made up of anointed Christians, who as “living stones” are being “built up into a spiritual house.” (1Pe 2:4, 5) This Greek term is frequently used in the Septuagint as an equivalent of the Hebrew term rendered “congregation,” which often refers to the entire nation of God’s people. (De 23:3; 31:30) At Ac 7:38, the Israelites who were called out of Egypt are referred to as a “congregation.” Similarly, Christians who are “called . . . out of darkness” and “chosen . . . out of the world” make up “the congregation of God.”​—1Pe 2:9; Joh 15:19; 1Co 1:2.

congregation: This is the first occurrence of the Greek word ek·kle·siʹa in the book of Acts. The term comes from two Greek words, ek, meaning “out,” and ka·leʹo, meaning “to call.” It refers to a group of people called together for a particular purpose or activity, so the term well describes the newly established Christian congregation. (See Glossary.) The word ek·kle·siʹa is used at Mt 16:18 (see study note), where Jesus foretells the formation of the Christian congregation made up of anointed Christians. They are living stones who are “being built up into a spiritual house.” (1Pe 2:4, 5) In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the term applies not only to the composite group of anointed Christians but also to all Christians living in a geographic area or to Christians making up a local congregation. In the context of Ac 5:11, the term refers to the Christian congregation in Jerusalem.—See study note on Ac 7:38.

the congregation in the wilderness: Here the Israelites who were called out of Egypt are referred to as a “congregation.” In the Hebrew Scriptures, the Hebrew word qa·halʹ, usually rendered “congregation” in the New World Translation, is from a root word meaning “to call together; to congregate.” (Nu 20:8; De 4:10) The word is frequently used to describe the Israelites as an organized body, in such expressions as “congregation of Israel” (Le 16:17; Jos 8:35; 1Ki 8:14), “congregation of the true God” (Ne 13:1), “congregation of Jehovah” (De 23:2, 3; Mic 2:5), and “Jehovah’s congregation” (Nu 20:4; 1Ch 28:8). In the Septuagint, the Hebrew word qa·halʹ is often rendered by the Greek word ek·kle·siʹa (as at Ps 22:22 [21:23, LXX]), which is the expression used in the Christian Greek Scriptures for “congregation.”—See study notes on Mt 16:18; Ac 5:11.

the tent of the witness: Or “the tabernacle of the testimony.” In the Septuagint, which may have influenced Luke’s wording of this verse, this expression is used to render the Hebrew term for “the tent of meeting.” (Ex 27:21; 28:43; Nu 1:1) During Israel’s wilderness trek, this tent was where the ark of the covenant, with its principal contents, the “two tablets of the Testimony,” was kept. In these contexts, the term “Testimony” usually refers to the Ten Commandments as written on stone tablets. (Ex 25:16, 21, 22; 31:18; 32:15) The Hebrew term for “testimony” could also be rendered “reminder.” The ark served as a holy archive for the safekeeping of sacred reminders or testimony.—See Glossary, “Ark of the covenant” and “Most Holy, the.”

pattern: Or “design; type.” The Greek word tyʹpos used here has the same meaning at Heb 8:5 and in the Septuagint at Ex 25:40.

Joshua: Here referring to the leader of Israel who brought the Israelites into the Promised Land. (De 3:28; 31:7; Jos 1:1, 2) The Hebrew name Jehoshua and its shortened form Joshua mean “Jehovah Is Salvation.” Luke here uses its Greek equivalent, I·e·sousʹ. The Latin form of the same name is Jesus (Iesus). (See App. A4. This was a common name among Jews in Bible times. In the Christian Greek Scriptures, four people referred to by the Greek name I·e·sousʹ are mentioned: Joshua, the son of Nun, the successor of Moses (Ac 7:45; Heb 4:8); an ancestor of Jesus Christ (Lu 3:29); Jesus Christ himself (Mt 1:21); and a Christian, evidently Jewish, who was one of Paul’s fellow workers (Col 4:11). Josephus mentions several others, besides those in the Bible record, bearing that name.

houses made with hands: Or “places (things) made with hands.” The Greek word khei·ro·poiʹe·tos is also used at Ac 17:24 (“handmade”) and Heb 9:11, 24 (“made with hands”).

Jehovah: In this quote from Isa 66:1, the divine name, represented by four Hebrew consonants (transliterated YHWH), occurs in the original Hebrew text. The phrase rendered Jehovah says corresponds to a phrase at the beginning of Isa 66:1 (“This is what Jehovah says”) and also to a phrase in the middle of the next verse (“declares Jehovah”).—Isa 66:2; see App. C.

Obstinate: Lit., “Stiff-necked.” The Greek word used here occurs only once in the Christian Greek Scriptures but is used a few times in the Septuagint to render a Hebrew expression with a similar meaning.—Ex 33:3, 5, ftns.; 34:9, ftn.; De 9:6, ftn.; Pr 29:1, ftn.

uncircumcised in hearts and ears: This figurative expression for being stubborn and unresponsive has its background in the Hebrew Scriptures. (Le 26:41, ftn.; Jer 9:​25, 26; Eze 44:​7, 9) At Jer 6:​10 (ftn.), the literal phrase “their ear is uncircumcised” is rendered “their ears are closed.” So hearts and ears that are not sensitive to or responsive to God’s direction are spoken of as being uncircumcised.

instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians: Stephen’s speech before the Sanhedrin includes a number of facts of Jewish history that are not found in the Hebrew Scriptures. For example, Stephen alone speaks of Moses’ Egyptian education. For other details in Stephen’s talk that are not included in the Hebrew Scriptures, see study notes on Ac 7:23, 30, 53.

reached the age of 40: Stephen’s speech before the Sanhedrin includes a number of facts concerning Jewish history that are not found in the Hebrew Scriptures. For example, Stephen reveals that Moses was 40 years of age when he fled Egypt. For other details in Stephen’s speech that are not included in the Hebrew Scriptures, see study notes on Ac 7:22, 30, 53.

40 years: The Hebrew Scriptures do not explicitly state how many years Moses stayed in Midian. But here Stephen reveals facts of Jewish history not previously recorded in the Scriptures. He states that Moses was 40 years of age when he fled to Midian (Ex 2:11; Ac 7:23) and that he stayed there until an additional 40 years had passed or were near completion. So the period referred to here apparently runs from 1553 to 1513 B.C.E. Stephen’s account agrees with the statement that Moses was 80 years old when he spoke to Pharaoh (Ex 7:7) and led the people of Israel out of Egypt. It also harmonizes with the statement that Moses was 120 years old when he died after spending 40 years in the wilderness.—De 34:7; Ac 7:36.

as transmitted by angels: Stephen’s account delivered before the Sanhedrin includes a number of facts concerning Jewish history that are not found in the Hebrew Scriptures. One example is the role of angels in giving the Mosaic Law. (Ga 3:19; Heb 2:1, 2) For other details in Stephen’s speech that cannot be found in the Hebrew Scriptures, see study notes on Ac 7:22, 23, 30.

gnashing of their teeth: Or “grinding (clenching) their teeth.” The expression can include the idea of anguish, despair, and anger, possibly accompanied by bitter words and violent action.

they were infuriated: Or “they felt cut.” The Greek expression occurs only here and at Ac 5:33. It literally means “to be sawn through” but is used figuratively in both occurrences to describe a strong emotional response.

grind their teeth: Or “gnash (clench) their teeth.” The expression can include the idea of anguish, despair, or anger, possibly accompanied by bitter words and violent action. In this context, it obviously refers to furious rage.—Job 16:9; see study note on Mt 8:12.

on his right hand . . . on his left: In some contexts, both positions indicate honor and authority (Mt 20:21, 23), but the place of greatest honor is always on the right (Ps 110:1; Ac 7:55, 56; Ro 8:34). However, here and at Mt 25:34, 41, there is a clear contrast between the place of favor at the King’s right hand and that of disfavor at his left.​—Compare Ec 10:2, ftns.

one at your right hand and one at your left: Here both positions indicate honor and authority, but the place of greatest honor is always on the right.​—Ps 110:1; Ac 7:​55, 56; Ro 8:​34; see study note on Mt 25:33.

at the powerful right hand of God: Or “at the right hand of the power of God.” To be on a ruler’s right hand meant being second in importance only to the ruler himself. (Ps 110:1; Ac 7:55, 56) The Greek expression for “powerful right hand” also appears in the parallel accounts, Mt 26:64 and Mr 14:62, where it is rendered “right hand of power.” That the Son of man is seated “at the powerful right hand of God” implies that Jesus would be infused with power, or authority.—Mr 14:62; see study note on Mt 26:64.

Jesus standing at God’s right hand: Stephen was the first to bear witness that he had seen Jesus in heaven and standing at the right hand of God, as prophesied at Ps 110:1. The right hand was considered to be of great importance symbolically. To be on the right hand of a ruler was to have the second most important position, next to the ruler himself (Ro 8:34; 1Pe 3:22), or to have a position in his favor.—See study notes on Mt 25:33; Mr 10:37; Lu 22:69.

Saul: Meaning “Asked [of God]; Inquired [of God].” Saul, also known by his Roman name Paul, was “of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born from Hebrews.” (Php 3:5) Since Saul was born a Roman citizen (Ac 22:28), it is logical that his Jewish parents may have given him the Roman name Paulus, or Paul, meaning “Little; Small.” From childhood, he likely had both names. His parents may have named him Saul for a number of reasons. Saul was a traditional name of importance among Benjaminites because the first king over all Israel, a Benjaminite, was named Saul. (1Sa 9:2; 10:1; Ac 13:21) Or his parents might have given him the name because of its meaning. Another possibility is that his father’s name was Saul, and according to custom, the son was named after the father. (Compare Lu 1:59.) Whatever the reason, when among fellow Jews—and especially when studying to be a Pharisee and living as one—he would have used his Hebrew name, Saul. (Ac 22:3) And for over a decade after becoming a Christian, he seemed to have been known mostly by his Hebrew name.—Ac 11:25, 30; 12:25; 13:1, 2, 9.

Jehovah: Available Greek manuscripts use the term “Lord” (Kyʹri·os) here. In the Christian Greek Scriptures, this title often refers to Jehovah God or to Jesus Christ, depending on the context. In this case, the reference is apparently to Jehovah God for the following reasons: Stephen here echoes Jesus’ words to his Father at Lu 23:34: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” In Luke’s account of Stephen’s speech, recorded at Ac 7:2-53, the term Kyʹri·os is used three times. All three are quotes from or allusions to the Hebrew Scriptures that clearly refer to God. (See study notes on Ac 7:31, 33, 49.) Many commentators and translators support the view that in these contexts, Kyʹri·os refers to Jehovah. (See App. C.) While the term Kyʹri·os also occurs at Ac 7:59, there Stephen specifically says “Lord Jesus.” However, this statement does not mean, as some claim, that Jesus is the one addressed as Kyʹri·os at Ac 7:60. There is a natural break between Stephen’s words in verse 59 and his words in verse 60. Stephen had been standing, so when he knelt in front of his enemies, it was likely in order to address Jehovah in prayer. (Compare Lu 22:41; Ac 9:40; 20:36; 21:5, where kneeling is connected with prayer to God.) Therefore, it seems that Stephen’s last words were a prayer to the almighty God, Jehovah. In addition, Ac 7:56 says that Stephen saw “the heavens opened up and the Son of man standing at God’s right hand,” so it is understandable that he would address Jesus in verse 59 and then Jehovah in verse 60. A number of translations of the Christian Greek Scriptures into Hebrew (referred to as J17, 18, 22, 23 in App. C4) use the Tetragrammaton here in verse 60 but not in verse 59 when rendering the expression “Lord Jesus.”—See App. C.

he made this appeal: “Lord Jesus”: As mentioned in verses 55 and 56, Stephen had a vision in which he saw “the heavens opened up and the Son of man standing at God’s right hand.” So Stephen clearly distinguished Jesus from Jehovah. Stephen was aware that Jehovah had given Jesus the power to resurrect the dead. It would therefore have been natural for Stephen to speak directly to Jesus, whom he had seen in the vision, and to ask Jesus to safeguard his spirit, or life force. (Joh 5:27-29) Stephen addressed Jesus by using the expression “Lord Jesus [Greek, Kyʹri·e I·e·souʹ].” In the Christian Greek Scriptures, Kyʹri·os can refer to Jehovah God or to Jesus Christ, but here the context clarifies that Kyʹri·os refers to Jesus. The Greek word here rendered “he made this appeal” is not the usual word for “praying” in the Christian Greek Scriptures, but it is rendered “prayed” in many Bible translations, giving the impression that Stephen prayed directly to Jesus. However, reliable reference works state that the Greek word used here (e·pi·ka·leʹo) means “to call on; to invoke; to appeal to an authority,” and it is often rendered that way. (Ac 2:21; 9:14; Ro 10:13; 2Ti 2:22) The same word is used in rendering Paul’s words: “I appeal to Caesar!” (Ac 25:11) Therefore, there is no reason for concluding that Stephen was praying directly to Jesus. Rather, because of this vision, Stephen felt free to make this plea to him.—See study note on Ac 7:60.

Jehovah’s voice: This part of Stephen’s speech (Ac 7:30-33) refers to the account at Ex 3:2-10. In verse 4, “Jehovah” calls out to Moses by means of His angel, and in verse 6, “Jehovah” tells him what is quoted at Ac 7:32. The phrase “the voice of Jehovah” is often found in the Hebrew Scriptures as a combination of the Hebrew word for “voice” and the Tetragrammaton. (Some examples are Ge 3:8; Ex 15:26; De 5:25; 8:20; 15:5; 18:16; 26:14; 27:10; 28:1, 62; Jos 5:6; 1Sa 12:15; 1Ki 20:36; Ps 106:25; Isa 30:31; Jer 3:25; Da 9:10; Zec 6:15.) It is worth noting that when the expression “voice of Jehovah” occurs at De 26:14; 27:10; 28:1, 62 in a first-century B.C.E. fragment of the Septuagint (Papyrus Fouad Inv. 266), the divine name is written in square Hebrew characters within the Greek text. The reasons why the New World Translation uses the expression “Jehovah’s voice” in the main text, although available Greek manuscripts of Ac 7:​31 read “Lord’s voice,” are explained in App. C.

Jehovah said to him: The context of the original account referred to by Stephen is Ex 3:2-10, where it is clear that Jehovah is the one speaking by means of His angel. Although most of the content of this verse is taken from Ex 3:5, an equivalent of the introductory phrase can be found in the original Hebrew text at Ex 3:7, literally reading: “And Jehovah said.”—See App. C.

Jehovah: In this quote from Isa 66:1, the divine name, represented by four Hebrew consonants (transliterated YHWH), occurs in the original Hebrew text. The phrase rendered Jehovah says corresponds to a phrase at the beginning of Isa 66:1 (“This is what Jehovah says”) and also to a phrase in the middle of the next verse (“declares Jehovah”).—Isa 66:2; see App. C.

has not died but is sleeping: In the Bible, death is often likened to sleep. (Ps 13:3; Joh 11:11-​14; Ac 7:​60; 1Co 7:​39; 15:51; 1Th 4:​13) Jesus was going to bring the girl back to life, so he may have said this because he would demonstrate that just as people can be awakened from a deep sleep, they can be brought back from death. Jesus’ power to resurrect the girl came from his Father, “who makes the dead alive and calls the things that are not as though they are.”​—Ro 4:​17.

has fallen asleep: In the Bible, death is often likened to sleep. (Ps 13:3; Mr 5:39; Ac 7:60; 1Co 7:39; 15:51; 1Th 4:13) Jesus was going to bring Lazarus back to life. Therefore, he may have said this to demonstrate that just as people can be awakened from a deep sleep, they can be brought back from death. The power to resurrect Lazarus came from Jesus’ Father, “who makes the dead alive and calls the things that are not as though they are.”—Ro 4:17.

Jehovah: Available Greek manuscripts use the term “Lord” (Kyʹri·os) here. In the Christian Greek Scriptures, this title often refers to Jehovah God or to Jesus Christ, depending on the context. In this case, the reference is apparently to Jehovah God for the following reasons: Stephen here echoes Jesus’ words to his Father at Lu 23:34: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” In Luke’s account of Stephen’s speech, recorded at Ac 7:2-53, the term Kyʹri·os is used three times. All three are quotes from or allusions to the Hebrew Scriptures that clearly refer to God. (See study notes on Ac 7:31, 33, 49.) Many commentators and translators support the view that in these contexts, Kyʹri·os refers to Jehovah. (See App. C.) While the term Kyʹri·os also occurs at Ac 7:59, there Stephen specifically says “Lord Jesus.” However, this statement does not mean, as some claim, that Jesus is the one addressed as Kyʹri·os at Ac 7:60. There is a natural break between Stephen’s words in verse 59 and his words in verse 60. Stephen had been standing, so when he knelt in front of his enemies, it was likely in order to address Jehovah in prayer. (Compare Lu 22:41; Ac 9:40; 20:36; 21:5, where kneeling is connected with prayer to God.) Therefore, it seems that Stephen’s last words were a prayer to the almighty God, Jehovah. In addition, Ac 7:56 says that Stephen saw “the heavens opened up and the Son of man standing at God’s right hand,” so it is understandable that he would address Jesus in verse 59 and then Jehovah in verse 60. A number of translations of the Christian Greek Scriptures into Hebrew (referred to as J17, 18, 22, 23 in App. C4) use the Tetragrammaton here in verse 60 but not in verse 59 when rendering the expression “Lord Jesus.”—See App. C.

he fell asleep in death: The Scriptures use the expressions “sleep” and “fall asleep” to refer both to physical sleep (Mt 28:13; Lu 22:45; Joh 11:12; Ac 12:6) and to the sleep of death (Joh 11:11; Ac 7:60; 13:36; 1Co 7:39; 15:6, 51; 2Pe 3:4). When these expressions are used in contexts that refer to death, Bible translators often use such wording as “fall asleep in death” or simply “died,” which helps the reader avoid confusion. In the figurative sense, the term “asleep” is applied in the Scriptures to those who have died because of the sin and death passed on from Adam.—See study notes on Mr 5:39; Joh 11:11.

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