Acts 8:2
And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) And devout men carried Stephen to his burial.—It has sometimes been asserted, as e.g. by Renan (Les Apôtres, p. 145), that these were proselytes. St. Luke, however, always uses a different word to describe that class (comp. Acts 13:43; Acts 13:50; Acts 16:14; Acts 17:4; Acts 17:17), and the word used here is applied by him to Simeon (Luke 2:25), to the multitude of Jews present on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:5), to Ananias as devout according to the Law (Acts 22:12). This notion must accordingly be rejected as against evidence. On the other hand, had they been members of the Church they would naturally, though perhaps not necessarily, have been described as “brethren” or “disciples.” We are left therefore to the conclusion that they were Jews who had been kindled into admiration and half-conviction by the calm heroism of the martyr, and who, without committing themselves to more than that admiration, acted in his case as Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathæa had acted after the Crucifixion. They would show honour to the memory of the dead, though they had not had the courage to defend the preacher of the truth while he was yet with them. In the legend or tradition as to the death of Stephen, reported and accepted by Augustine (De Civ: Dei. xvii. 8; Serm. 318, 319; Tract. In Joann., 120), Gamaliel and Nicodemus are named as actually taking part in the entombment, and as afterwards laid in the same sepulchre, on which his name appeared in Aramaic characters as Chaliel (= garland), the equivalent in that language of the Greek Stephanos. The translation of the martyr’s relics to Ancona, Minorca, and to Uzalis, and other towns in Africa, made a deep impression on Augustine, and gave occasion to some of his most eloquent sermons. Oratories were dedicated to his memory, and miraculous cures effected by prayers addressed to him. (See Butler’s Lives of the Saints, Aug. 3rd.)

And made great lamentation over him.—The act was every way significant. Commonly, one who had been stoned to death on the charge of blasphemy would have had no funereal honours. He would have been buried “with the burial of an ass” (Jeremiah 22:19). The public lamentation on the part of men conspicuous for their devout zeal for the Law, was therefore of the nature of a protest, probably on the part of the more moderate section of the Pharisees, such as Joseph, Nicodemus, and Gamaliel, against what would seem to them the unnatural coalition between the Sadducean priesthood and the ultra-zealot section of their own party.

8:1-4 Though persecution must not drive us from our work, yet it may send us to work elsewhere. Wherever the established believer is driven, he carries the knowledge of the gospel, and makes known the preciousness of Christ in every place. Where a simple desire of doing good influences the heart, it will be found impossible to shut a man out from all opportunities of usefulness.And devout men - Religious men. The word used here does not imply of necessity that they were Christians. There might have been Jews who did not approve of the popular tumult, and the murder of Stephen, who gave him a decent burial. Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus, both Jews, thus gave to the Lord Jesus a decent burial, John 19:38-39.

Carried Stephen - The word translated "carried" means properly to "collect," as fruits, etc. Then it is applied to all the preparations necessary for fitting a dead body for burial, as "collecting," or confining it by bandages, with spices, etc.

And made great lamentation - This was usual among the Jews at a funeral. See the notes on Matthew 9:23.

2. and devout men—pious Jews, probably, impressed with admiration for Stephen and secretly inclined to Christianity, but not yet openly declared. It was an argument that they were devout (religious) indeed, that they durst, amongst such a multitude of persecutors and furious zealots, own their esteem for St. Stephen. It was piacular amongst the Jews, to touch the dead corpse of such a one as was put to death for blasphemy; and these perform such funeral rites for him, as were used for such only as were of note and eminency.

Made great lamentation over him; as the Jews were wont to do at the funeral especially of eminent persons: thus it was done at Jacob’s interment, Genesis 50:10; and thus had been done more lately at Lazarus’s funeral, John 11:1-44, even by our Saviour himself, Acts 8:35: which lamentation was the greater, because of the church’s loss at such a time. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial,.... These men were not Jewish proselytes, but members of the Christian church; who were eminent for their religion and piety, and who had courage enough, amidst this persecution, to show a respect to the dead body of this holy martyr; which they took from under the stones, washed it, and wound it up in linen clothes, and put it into a coffin, or on a bier: they did everything preparatory to the funeral, which, is chiefly designed by the word here used, rather than the carrying of him out to his grave; though this also they did, and buried him: and to bear a corpse and follow it to the grave, and bury it, were with the Jews (x) reckoned among acts of kindness, mercy, and piety, and which would not fail of a reward; they have a saying (y), that

"he that mourns, they shall mourn for him; and he that buries, they shalt bury him and he that lifts up (his voice in weeping lamentation), they shall lift up for him; he that accompanies (a dead corpse), they shall accompany him; he that "carries", they shall carry him;''

as these devout men did, who would not suffer Stephen to be buried in the common burying place of malefactors, but interred him elsewhere, in a more decent manner: but whether they had leave from the sanhedrim so to do, or whether they did this of themselves, is not certain; if the latter, which seems most likely, it is an instance of great boldness and resolution, and especially at this time; for

"they did not bury one that was stoned in the sepulchres of his fathers, but there were two burying places appointed by the sanhedrim, one for those that are stoned and burnt, and another for those that are slain with the sword and strangled (z).''

So that, they acted contrary to the Jewish canon, as they also did in what follows:

and made great lamentation over him; though they did not sorrow as those without hope, yet they did not put on a stoical apathy; but as men sensible of the loss the church of Christ had sustained, by the death of a person so eminent for his gifts and grace, they mourned over him in a becoming manner: in this they went contrary to the Jewish rule, which forbids lamentation for those that died as malefactors, and runs thus (a).

"they do not mourn, but they grieve; for grief is only in the heart;''

their reason for this was, as the commentators say (b), because they thought that

"their disgrace was an atonement for their sin:''

but these devout men knew that Stephen needed no such atonement, and that his sins were atoned for another way: otherwise the Jews looked upon mourning for the dead to be to the honour of him; hence they say (c), that mourning

"is the glory of the dead--whoever is backward to the mourning of a wise man shall not prolong his days; and whoever is sluggish in mourning for a good man, ought to be buried alive; and whoever causes tears to descend for a good man, lo, his reward is reserved for him with the holy blessed God.''

(x) Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Peah, c. 1. sect. 1.((y) T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 72. 1. & Moed Katon, fol. 28. 2.((z) Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 6. sect. 5. (a) Misn. Sanhedrin, sect. 6. (b) Jarchi & Bartenora in ib. (c) Maimon. Hilch. Ebel, c. 12. sect. 1, 2.

{2} And devout men {a} carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.

(2) The godly mourn for Steven after his death, and bury him, showing in this an example of singular faith and charity: but no man prays to him.

(a) Amongst all the duties of charity which the godly perform, there is no mention made of enshrining relics.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 8:2-3. The connection of Acts 8:1-3 depends on the double contrast, that in spite of the outbreak of persecution which took place on that day, the dead body of the martyr was nevertheless honoured by pious Jews; and that on the other hand, the persecuting zeal of Saul stood in stern opposition thereto. On that day arose a great persecution (Acts 8:1). This, however, prevented not pious men from burying and lamenting Stephen (Acts 8:2); but Saul laid waste, in that persecution which arose, the church (of Jerusalem, Acts 8:3). The common opinion is accordingly erroneous, that there prevails here a lack of connection (Acts 8:2 is a supplementary addition, according to de Wette), which is either (Olshausen, Bleek) to be explained by the insertion of extracts from different sources, or (Ziegler in Gabler’s Journ.f. theol. Lit., I. p. 155) betokens that ἐγένετο δὲἀποστόλων is an interpolation, or (Heinrichs, Kuinoel) at least makes it necessary to hold these words as transposed, so that they had originally stood after Acts 8:2.[218]

συγκομίζειν] to carry together, then, used of the dead who are carried to the other dead bodies at the burial-place, and generally: to bury. Soph. Aj. 1048; Plut. Sull. 38. According to the Scholiast on Soph. l.c. and Phavorinus, the expression is derived from gathering the fruits of harvest. Comp. Job 5:26.

The ἄνδρες εὐλαβεῖς are not (in opposition to Heinrichs and Ewald) Christians, but, as the connection requires, religious Jews who, in their pious conscientiousness (comp. Acts 2:5), and with a secret inclination to Christianity (comp. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus), had the courage to honour the innocence of him who had been stoned. Christians would probably have been prevented from doing so, and Luke would have designated them more distinctly.

κοπετός: θρῆνος μετὰ ψοφοῦ χειρῶν, Hesychius. See Genesis 50:10; 1Ma 2:70; Nicarch. 30; Plut. Fab. 17; Heyne, Obss. in Tibull. p. 71.

ἐλυμαίνετο] he laid waste, comp. Acts 9:21; Galatians 1:13. The following sentence informs us how he proceeded in doing so; therefore a colon is to be placed after τ. ἐκκλ.

κατὰ τοὺς οἰκ. εἰσπορ.] entering by houses (house by house, Matthew 24:7; Winer, p. 374 [E. T. 500]).

σύρων] dragging. See Tittmann, Synon. N. T. p. 57 f., and Wetstein. Comp. Acts 14:19, Acts 17:3. Arrian. Epict. 1:29.

[218] According to Schwanbeck, p. 325, ver. 1 is to be regarded as an insertion from the biography of Peter.Acts 8:2. Spitta connects Acts 8:2 with Acts 11:19-21, and all the intermediate section, Acts 8:5 to Acts 11:19; forms part of his source (so also Sorof, Clemen, who joins his H.H., Acts 8:1 to Acts 11:19; but on the other hand see Hilgenfeld, Zeitschrift für wissenschaft. Theol., p. 501 (1895), and Jüngst, Apostelgeschichte, p. 79). According to Spitta the whole narrative of Philip’s ministry in 8 ought not to be connected so closely with the death of Stephen, but should fall after Acts 9:31. The only reason for its earlier insertion is the desire to connect the second deacon with the first (but Hilgenfeld, u. s., pp. 413, 414 (1895), as against both Spitta and Clemen, regards the account of Philip and that of Stephen as inseparable). Spitta strongly maintains that Philip the Apostle, and not the deacon, is meant; and if this be so, he would no doubt help us to answer the objection that in Acts 8:14-17, and indeed in the whole section 9–24 we have an addition of the sub-Apostolic age inserted to show that the Apostles alone could bestow the Holy Spirit. But it cannot be said that Spitta’s attempt at the identification of Philip in 8 with the Apostle is in any way convincing, see, e.g., Zöckler, Apostelgeschichte, p. 212; Hilgenfeld, u. s., p. 416 (note), and Jüngst, u. s., p. 81. Feine’s objection to Acts 8:14-17 leads him, whilst he admits that the meeting with Simon Magus is historical, to regard the conversion of the sorcerer as doubtful, because the whole passage presupposes (Acts 8:18-24) that the laying on of the Apostles’ hands bestowed the Spirit; so Clemen refers the whole representation in its present form of the communication of the Spirit, not through Baptism, but through the laying on of the Apostles’ hands, to his Redactor Antijudaicus (cf. Acts 19:6), and to the same hand he attributes the πλὴν τῶν ἀποστόλων, Acts 8:1, and cf. Acts 8:25, introduced for the purpose of showing that the Apostles Peter and John sanctioned the Samaritan mission from the central home of the Christian Church.—συνεκόμισαν: in its primary sense the verb means to carry or bring together, of harvest; to gather in, to house it; so also in LXX, Job 5:26; in a secondary sense, to help in burying; so Soph., Ajax, 1048; Plut., Sull., 38. The meaning is not “carried to his burial,” as in A.V., but rather as R.V., “buried,” for, although the Greek is properly “joined in carrying,” the word includes the whole ceremony of burial—it is used only here in the N.T., and in LXX only in l. c.εὐλαβεῖς: only found in St. Luke in N.T., and used by him four times, once in Luke 2:25, and in Acts 2:5; Acts 22:12 (εὐσεβής, T.R.). The primary thought underlying the word is that of one who handles carefully and cautiously, and so it bears the meaning of cautious, circumspect. Although εὐλάβεια and εὐλαβεῖσθαι are both used in the sense of caution and reverence towards the gods in classical Greek, the adjective is never expressly so used. But Plato connects it closely with δίκαιος (cf. Luke 2:25), Polit. 311 A and 311 [214] (so εὐσεβῶς and εὐλαβῶς are used together by Demosthenes). In the LXX all three words are found to express reverent fear of, or piety towards, God; εὐλαβεῖσθαι, frequently, εὐλάβεια in Proverbs 28:14, where σκληρὸς τὴν καρδίαν in the second part of the verse seems to point to the religious character of the εὐλαβ., whilst εὐλαβής is found in Micah 7:2 as a rendering of חסיד (cf. Psalms of Solomon, p. 36, Ryle and James’ edition); cf. also Sir 11:17 (but see for both passages, Hatch and Redpath); in Leviticus 15:31 we find the word εὐλαβεῖς ποιήσετε τοὺς υἱοὺς Ἰ. ἀπὸ τῶν ἀκαθαρσιῶν αὐτῶν, נָוַר hi. The adverb εὐλαβῶς is found once, 2Ma 6:11. St. Luke uses the word chiefly at all events of O.T. piety. In Luke 2:45 it is used of Simeon, in Acts 2:5 of the Jews who came up to worship at the feasts in Jerusalem, and in Acts 22:12, although Ananias was a Christian, yet the qualifying words εὐλ. κατὰ τὸν νόμον point again to a devout observance of the Jewish law. Trench, N. T. Synonyms, i., pp. 38, 198 ff.; Westcott, Hebrews, on Acts 5:7; Grimm-Thayer, sub v., and sub v. δειλία.—ἄνδρες εὐλ.: much discussion has arisen as to whether they were Jews or Christians. They may have been Christians who like the Apostles themselves were still Jews, attending the temple services and hours of prayer, some of whom were doubtless left in the city. But these would have been described more probably as ἀδελφοί or μαθηταί (so Felten, Page, Hackett). Or they may have been devout Jews like Nicodemus, or Joseph of Arimathea, who would show their respect for Stephen, as Nicodemus and Joseph for Jesus (so Holtzmann, Zöckler). Wetstein (so too Renan and Blass) explains of Gentile proselytes, men like Cornelius, who rendered the last offices to Stephen out of natural respect for the dead, and who stood outside the jurisdiction of the Sanhedrim, so that the funeral rites need not have been performed in secret. But St. Luke as a rule uses other words to denote Gentile proselytes, and the Sanhedrim would probably not have interfered with the burial, not only on account of the known Jewish care for the dead, but also because devout Jews would not have been obnoxious in their eyes to the charges brought against Stephen, Acts 6:14 (so Nösgen). The word might therefore include both devout Jews and Jewish Christians who joined together in burying Stephen.—κοπετὸν μέγαν, from κόπτω, κόπτομαι, cf. planctus from plango, to beat the breast or head in lamentation. Not used elsewhere in N.T., but frequent in LXX; cf., e.g., Genesis 1:10, 1Ma 2:70; 1Ma 4:39; 1Ma 9:20; 1Ma 13:26, for the same allocation as here, and for ποιῆσαι κοπετόν, Jeremiah 6:26, Micah 1:8, and cf. also Zechariah 12:10. In classical Greek κομμός is found, but see Plut., Fab., 17, and Kennedy, Sources of N. T. Greek, p. 74, for reference to the comic poet Eupolis (cf. also Blass), and Grimm-Thayer, sub v. For the Jewish customs of mourning cf. Matthew 9:23, Hamburger, Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums, i., 7, 996, “Trauer”; Edersheim, Jesus the Messiah, i., p. 616, and Sketches of Jewish Social Life, p. 172 ff. If the mourners included Jews as well as Jewish Christians, it may well have been that the lamentation was not only a token of sorrow and respect, but also in the nature of a protest on the part of the more moderate section of the Pharisees (see also Trench’s remarks, u. s., p. 198). According to the tradition accepted by St. Augustine, it is said that both Gamaliel and Nicodemus took part in the burial of Stephen, and were afterwards laid in the same grave (Felten, Apostelgeschichte, p. 167, and Plumptre in loco).

[214] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.2. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial] On devout, see Acts 2:5 note.

The verb often means “to prepare a dead body for burial,” but in Thuc. vi. 72 it is found exactly as used here.

The Jews paid great attention to funeral rites. Cp. Midrash Rabbah on Genesis 47:29 (par. 96), “Deal kindly and truly with me,” literally, “Do with me kindness and truth.” Is there then a kindness of falsehood, that he says, kindness and truth? How is this? There is a common proverb which says, “Is the son of thy friend dead?” Put on the load (i.e. bear the burden with him). Is thy friend himself dead? Put off the load (his survivors will not requite you for your sympathy). Therefore he says to him, “If thou wilt do me a kindness after my death, that is a kindness of truth.” And in all Ashkenazic prayer-books it is said: “These are the works of which a man reaps the interest in this world, and the capital endures in the world to come; the honouring of father and mother, the doing of acts of mercy, … the bearing forth the dead, the reconciliation of a man to his neighbour, but the study of the Torah is above them all.” Cp. Mishna Peah i. 1 for a part of this.

and made great lamentation over him] The word expresses the beating on the breast which is one of the outward expressions of great sorrow. The Hebrew word for mourning (Genesis 23:2; 2 Samuel 3:31, &c.) has the same sense. It must have needed no little courage at such a time to perform the funeral rites for one who had fallen as Stephen had, by the fury of the whole people.Acts 8:2. Συνεκόμισαν, attended to the burial of) A holy office. Comp. ch. Acts 9:37 (Tabitha or Dorcas).—εὐλαβεῖς, devout) who feared GOD more than men, although those men were persecutors.Verse 2. - Buried for carried to his burial (the last three words in italics), A.V. Devout men; ἀνδρες αὐλαβεῖς. This word is applied to Simeon (Luke 2:25), and to the Jews who were assembled at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:5), and, according to the R.T., to Ananias (Acts 22:12); but occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It is not certain, therefore, that these men were Christians, though they might be. If not, they were pious Jews, men who feared God, and still loved Stephen as being himself a devout Jew though he was a disciple. Buried. Συγκομίζω occurs only here in the New Testament; but its common use for carrying corn to a barn or granary seems to indicate that "carrying to his burial" of the A.V. is the most exact rendering. The word is said also to be applied to the acts preparatory to burial - closing the eyes, washing, anointing the body, and so on; but this meaning is less certain than that of "carrying." Devout

See on Luke 2:25.

Carried to his burial (συνεκόμισαν)

Only here in New Testament. Lit., to carry together; hence, either to assist in burying or, better, to bring the dead to the company (σύν) of the other dead. The word is used of bringing in harvest.

Stephen (Στέφανον)

Meaning crown. He was the first who received the martyr's crown.

Lamentation (κοπετὸν)

Lit., beating (of the breast). Only here in New Testament.

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