Acts 7:5
And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) And he gave him none inheritance.—The apparent exception of the field and cave of Machpelah (Genesis 23:9-17) was not a real one. That was purchased for a special purpose, not given as an inheritance.

7:1-16 Stephen was charged as a blasphemer of God, and an apostate from the church; therefore he shows that he is a son of Abraham, and values himself on it. The slow steps by which the promise made to Abraham advanced toward performance, plainly show that it had a spiritual meaning, and that the land intended was the heavenly. God owned Joseph in his troubles, and was with him by the power of his Spirit, both on his own mind by giving him comfort, and on those he was concerned with, by giving him favour in their eyes. Stephen reminds the Jews of their mean beginning as a check to priding themselves in the glories of that nation. Likewise of the wickedness of the patriarchs of their tribes, in envying their brother Joseph; and the same spirit was still working in them toward Christ and his ministers. The faith of the patriarchs, in desiring to be buried in the land of Canaan, plainly showed they had regard to the heavenly country. It is well to recur to the first rise of usages, or sentiments, which have been perverted. Would we know the nature and effects of justifying faith, we should study the character of the father of the faithful. His calling shows the power and freeness of Divine grace, and the nature of conversion. Here also we see that outward forms and distinctions are as nothing, compared with separation from the world, and devotedness to God.And he gave him none inheritance - Abraham led a wandering life; and this passage means that he did not himself receive a permanent possession or residence in that land. The only land which he owned was the field which he "purchased" of the children of Heth for a burial place, Genesis 23:As this was obtained by "purchase," and not by the direct gift of God, and as it was not designed for a "residence," it is said that God gave him no "inheritance." It is mentioned as a strong instance of his faith that he should remain there without a permanent residence himself, with only the prospect that his children, at some distant period, would inherit it.

Not so much as to set his foot on - This is a proverbial expression, denoting in an emphatic manner that he had no land, Deuteronomy 2:5.

Would give it to him - Genesis 13:15. Abraham did not himself possess all that land; and the promise is evidently equivalent to saying that it would be conferred on the family of Abraham, or the family of which he was the father, without affirming that "he" would himself personally possess it. It is true, however, that Abraham himself afterward dwelt many years in that land as his home, Genesis 13, etc.

For a possession - To be held as his own property.

When as yet he had no child - When there was no human probability that he would have any posterity. Compare Genesis 15:2-3; Genesis 18:11-12. This is mentioned as a strong instance of his faith; "who against hope believed in hope," Romans 4:18.

4. when his father was dead, he removed into this land—Though Abraham was in Canaan before Terah's death, his settlement in it as the land of promise is here said to be after it, as being in no way dependent on the family movement, but a transaction purely between Jehovah and Abraham himself. He gave him none inheritance in it; it is true that Abraham had a field, and the cave of Mach-pelah, Genesis 23:9; but that was of no use to Abraham whilst alive, but to bury him in when dead; besides, it was not as an inheritance by God’s gift, but it was purchased with his money.

Not so much as to set his foot on; whereby the least parcel of ground is meant: hence St. Stephen would prove, that Abraham’s happiness, and theirs too, if they rightly understood it, did not depend upon the enjoyment of that place and country.

And to his seed after him; faith met with a double difficulty, not only Abraham must believe he should have all that country given him for an inheritance, in which he had not a foot of land, but he must also believe that it should be his seed’s after him, whenas he had no children; but thus faith is

the evidence of things not seen, Hebrews 11:1. And he gave him none inheritance in it,.... To be personally enjoyed by him; and which was a great trial to Abraham's faith, to be brought out of his country, and into another land, and which was promised to him and his; and yet, as not the whole, so not a single part of it was given him to possess:

no, not so much as to set his foot on: so that when Sarah his wife died, he was obliged to buy a piece of ground for a burying place to bury her in: and which could not be said to be given him by the Lord, for he bought it with his money:

yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child; which was another exercise of Abraham's faith, that he should have a whole country promised him and his seed, and yet had no seed given him; see Genesis 12:7.

And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to {c} set his foot on: yet he {d} promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child.

(c) Not enough ground to even set his foot upon.

(d) The promise of the possession was certain, and belonged to Abraham, though it was his posterity that enjoyed it a great while after his death: and this is the figure of speech synecdoche.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 7:5. Κληρονομία, נַחֲלָה, hereditary possession. Hebrews 11:8.

βῆμα ποδός] LXX. Deuteronomy 2:5 (כַּף־רֶגֶל), spatium, quod planta pedis calcatur. Comp. on βῆμα in the sense of vestigium, Hom. H. Merc. 222, 345. On the subject-matter, comp. Hebrews 11:9.

καὶ ἐπηγγείλατο] Genesis 13:15. Καί is the copula. He gave not … and promised (the former he omitted, and the latter he did).

καὶ τᾷ σπέρμ. αὐτοῦ] καί is the simple and, not namely (see Gen. l.c.). The promise primarily concerned Abraham as the participant father of the race himself. Comp. Luke 1:71.

This verse, too, stands apparently at variance with Genesis, where, in chap. 23., we are informed that Abraham purchased a field from the sons of Heth. But only apparently. For the remark οὐκ ἔδωκεν αὐτῷποδός refers only to the first period of Abraham’s residence in Palestine before the institution of circumcision (Acts 7:8), while that purchase of a field falls much later. It was therefore quite superfluous, either (with Drusius, Schoettgen, Bengel) to emphasize the fact that Abraham had not in fact acquired that field by divine direction, but had purchased it, or (with Kuinoel and Olshausen) to have recourse to the erroneous assumption (not to be justified either by John 7:8 or by Mark 11:13) that οὐκ stands for οὔπω.Acts 7:5. κληρονομίαν: the field which Abraham bought, Genesis 23:9-17, could not come under this title—the field was Abraham’s purchase, not God’s gift as κληρονομία (see Meyer-Wendt, and Westcott, Hebrews 6:12, additional note, also Bengel, in loco); Acts 7:16 sufficiently shows that Stephen was fully acquainted with Abraham’s purchase of the field.—οὐδὲ βῆμα ποδός, cf. Deuteronomy 2:5; Deuteronomy 11:24, same Hebrew (cf. Hebrews 11:9), “spatium quod planta pedis calcatur” (Grimm); cf. also its use in Xen. It may have been a kind of proverbial expression, cf. Genesis 8:9 (Schöttgen).—καὶ ἐπηγγείλατο, cf. Genesis 12:7 (Genesis 17:8, Genesis 48:4), so that here again God appeared unto Abraham in what was a strange and heathen land. See also for verb, Jam 1:12; Jam 2:5. On the force of the word see p. 54.—εἰς κατάσχεσιν: “in possession,” R.V., the A.V. renders the word in its secondary or derivative sense, which is found in Acts 7:45.—οὐκ ὄντος αὐτῷ τέκνου: the faith of Abraham “tecte significatur” (Blass), first because nothing was given—there was only a promise—and secondly because the promise was made while yet he had no child.5. And he gave him none inheritance in it] The first settlement of Abraham in Canaan is said (Genesis 12:6) to have been at the place of Sichem [Shechem] at the plain [rather, oak] of Moreh. He next dwelt on the east of Bethel, and in both these places he probably purchased land, for he built an altar at each; and on returning from Egypt (Acts 13:3) he came “to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai,” which he hardly could have done unless the land had been his own, for he “was very rich in cattle.”

no, not so much as to set his foot on] For the land, when God gave it, would be held in very different manner from that in which Abraham held the land which he had bought or hired.

yet he promised] Better, and he promised. The conjunction is the ordinary copulative.

that he would give it to him for a possession] More literally, in possession. The promise “unto thy seed will I give this land” was first made (Genesis 12:7) when Abraham was at the place of Shechem, and in its greater fulness when he returned from Egypt (Acts 13:15-16).

when as yet he had no child] We cannot learn from Holy Writ how long a time Abraham lived after the promise before Isaac was born, but we can see that it was a long period, for when he went down to Egypt Sarah was a fair woman in the prime of her beauty (Genesis 12:14), and she was “waxed old” (Acts 18:12) before her son was born.Acts 7:5. Οὐδὲ βῆμα ποδὸς, not even so much as to set his foot on) That land, concerning which Acts 7:16 treats, Abraham did not receive by the Divine gift, but bought; the very fact of the purchase implying that he was a stranger.—ἐπηγγείλατο, He promised) Genesis 12:7.—αὐτὴν, it) the whole of it.—οὐκ ὄντος αὐτῷ τέκνου, when he had as yet no child) Not even Ishmael as yet was born: nor was there any hope of offspring, on account of the barrenness of Sarah. Both the inheritance and the posterity itself was according to (by) promise. This clause makes an Epitasis (Emphatic addition to what precedes. See Append.), as does that clause, not even so much as to set his foot on.Verse 5. - And for yet, A.V.; in for for a, A.V. He gave him none inheritance, etc. (comp. Hebrews 11:8, 9). Inheritance (κληρονομίαν)

See on 1 Peter 1:4.

Not so much as to set his foot on (οὐδὲ βῆμα ποδός)

Lit., not even the stepping of a foot. From the original meaning, a pace or step, which occurs only here in the New Testament, comes the sense of a step considered as a raised place or seat, and hence a tribune or judgment-seat, which is its meaning in every other passage of the New Testament.

Possession (κατάσχεσιν)

Only here and Acts 7:45. See on keep, Luke 8:15. It denotes a permanent possession.

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