Acts 7:39
To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(39) To whom our fathers would not obey.—The historical parallelism is continued. The people rejected Moses then (the same word is used as in Acts 7:27) as they were rejecting Christ now, even after He had shown Himself to be their redeemer from a worse than Egyptian bondage.

In their hearts turned back again into Egypt.—The sin was one often repeated, but the history referred to is probably that in Exodus 16:3. For a later example see Numbers 11:5.

Acts 7:39-41. Whom our fathers would not obey — Even after all the proofs of his miraculous powers given in Egypt, and at the Red sea; but thrust him from them — Acting a part more stupid and ungrateful than that before mentioned, Acts 7:27; rejecting him a second time, as in contempt of all these wonderful appearances of God by him; and in their hearts — In their affections and intentions; turning back again into Egypt — Preferring their garlick and onions there, before the manna they daily received under the conduct of Moses, and the milk and honey they hoped for in Canaan. They murmured at him, mutinied against him, refused to obey his orders, and sometimes were ready to stone him. Saying unto Aaron — At the very foot of that mountain upon which God had visibly manifested himself to them, while the sound of his voice was, as it were, yet in their ears, and though, but a few days before, they had seen their great leader ascending up to him, by an intimacy of approach allowed to no other mortal: make us gods to go before us — Back into Egypt, or forward to the promised land, and to conduct us in the way thither: for as for this Moses, who, indeed, brought us out of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him — And have not patience to wait for him any longer: therefore make us gods of gold — As if gods of Aaron’s making, though of gold, would be sufficient to supply the place of Moses, or rather, of Jehovah! And they made a calf — In imitation of the Egyptian Apis, to be their saviour and their guide; in those days — Those very days in which they continued encamped in that remarkable situation; and offered sacrifice unto the senseless and dead idol — Which could neither see nor hear, nor take any notice of the worship offered to it; and rejoiced in the work of their own hands — In the god they had made, as if, instead of being a reproach and abomination, it had been an ornament and defence to them. Nay, so proud were they of their new god, that, after they had sat down to eat and drink, they rose up to play (Exodus 32:6) before it, and in honour of it.7:30-41 Men deceive themselves, if they think God cannot do what he sees to be good any where; he can bring his people into a wilderness, and there speak comfortably to them. He appeared to Moses in a flame of fire, yet the bush was not consumed; which represented the state of Israel in Egypt, where, though they were in the fire of affliction, yet they were not consumed. It may also be looked upon as a type of Christ's taking upon him the nature of man, and the union between the Divine and human nature. The death of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, cannot break the covenant relation between God and them. Our Saviour by this proves the future state, Mt 22:31. Abraham is dead, yet God is still his God, therefore Abraham is still alive. Now, this is that life and immortality which are brought to light by the gospel. Stephen here shows that Moses was an eminent type of Christ, as he was Israel's deliverer. God has compassion for the troubles of his church, and the groans of his persecuted people; and their deliverance takes rise from his pity. And that deliverance was typical of what Christ did, when, for us men, and for our salvation, he came down from heaven. This Jesus, whom they now refused, as their fathers did Moses, even this same has God advanced to be a Prince and Saviour. It does not at all take from the just honour of Moses to say, that he was but an instrument, and that he is infinitely outshone by Jesus. In asserting that Jesus should change the customs of the ceremonial law. Stephen was so far from blaspheming Moses, that really he honoured him, by showing how the prophecy of Moses was come to pass, which was so clear. God who gave them those customs by his servant Moses, might, no doubt, change the custom by his Son Jesus. But Israel thrust Moses from them, and would have returned to their bondage; so men in general will not obey Jesus, because they love this present evil world, and rejoice in their own works and devices.Would not obey ... - This refers to what they said of him when he was in the mount, Exodus 32:1, Exodus 32:23.

In their hearts turned ... - They wished to return to Egypt. They regretted that they had come out of Egypt, and desired again the things which they had there, as preferable to what they had in the desert, Numbers 11:5. Perhaps, however, the expression means, not that they desired literally to "return" to Egypt, but that "their hearts inclined to the habits and morals of the Egyptians." They forsook God, and imitated the idolatries of the Egyptians.

39. To whom our fathers would not obey, &c.—Here he shows that the deepest dishonor done to Moses came from the nation that now professed the greatest jealousy for his honor.

in their hearts turned back … into Egypt—"In this Stephen would have his hearers read the downward career on which they were themselves entering."

Their glory being in their fathers, St. Stephen reminds them that many of them rebelled against God and his servant Moses; as they (their posterity) now were rebellions against Christ, who came to save them, as Moses before had done; but from a greater bondage, and by more valuable means.

In their hearts turned back again into Egypt; not so much towards that country, or food they had there, (garlick and onions), as towards their idolatry and superstition; as in the following verse appears. To whom our fathers would not obey,.... But often murmured against him, and were disobedient to him, and to the oracles he delivered to them, and so to God, whose oracles they were:

but thrust him from them; as one of the two Hebrews did, when he interposed to make up the difference between them; and which was an emblem and presage of what that people would afterwards do; Acts 7:27

and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt; they wished themselves there again, they lusted after the fish, the cucumbers, the melons, leeks, onions, and garlic there; and went so far as to move for a captain, and even to appoint one to lead them back thither again.

To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 7:39-40. They turned with their hearts to Egypt, i.e. they directed their desires again to the mode of life pursued in Egypt, particularly, as is evident from the context (Acts 7:40), to the Egyptian idolatry. Exodus 20:7-8; Exodus 20:24. Others (including Cornelius a Lapide, Morus, Rosenmüller): they wished to return lack to Egypt. But the οἱ προπορεύσονται ἡμῶν in Acts 7:40 would then have to be taken as: “who shall go before us on our return,”—which is just as much at variance with the historical position at Exodus 32:1 as with Exodus 32:4, 1 Kings 12:28, and Nehemiah 9:18, where the golden bull appears as a symbol of the God who has led the Israelites out of Egypt.

θεούς] the plural, after Exodus 32:1, denotes the category (see on Matthew 2:20), without reference to the numerical relation. That Aaron made only one idol, was the result of the universally expressed demand; and in accord with this universal demand is also the expression in Exodus 32:4.

οἱ προπορ.] borne before our line of march, as the symbols, to be revered by us, of the present Jehovah.

ὁ γὰρ Μ. οὗτος] γάρ gives the motive of the demand. Moses, hitherto our leader, has in fact disappeared, so that we need another guidance representative of God.

οὗτος] spoken contemptuously. See on Acts 6:14.

The nominative absolute is designedly chosen, in order to concentrate the whole attention on the conception. Comp. on Matthew 7:24; Buttm. neut. Gr. p. 325 [E. T. 379]; Valck. Schol. p. 429. For this Moses … we know not what has happened to him (since he returns not from the mount).Acts 7:39. ἐστράφησαν, i.e., in their desires after the Egyptian gods, cf. Acts 7:40, not “turned back again,” but simply “turned” (Rendall, in loco). The words cannot be taken literally (as Corn. à Lap. and others), or we should have to render “who may go before us in our return to Egypt,” which not only is unsupported by the Greek, but cf. Exodus 32:4, 1 Kings 12:28; see also on this verse, Exodus 16:3, Numbers 11:4-5, but the desires there expressed marked a later date.39. to whom our fathers would not obey [be obedient], but thrust him from them] For they said (Numbers 14:4), “Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.” This was after the return of the spies, when the people became discontented with the leadership of Moses and Aaron.

and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt] As is told, Exodus 16:3, Numbers 11:4-5, in which passages the desires of the people are all represented as turned to the good things which they had enjoyed in the land of their slavery.Acts 7:39. Γένεσθαι, to become obedient) for then especially was the time of submitting themselves.—ἀπώσαντο, thrust him from them) viz. Moses, along with the law.Verse 39. - Obedient for obey, A.V.; turned back in their hearts unto Egypt for in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, A.V. Our fathers would not be obedient, though God had bestowed such signal marks of favor upon them. Turned back in their hearts. A striking instance of their rejection of God's chiefest mercies. Turned back in their hearts

Not desiring to go back, but longing for the idolatries of Egypt.

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