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Studies in The Book of Acts – Chapter 7 Stephen Gives the Sanhedrin A History Lesson THE LIFE OF ABRAHAM: ACTS 7:1-8

by Larry Miles

      Stephen’s sermon or history lesson is the longest recorded message in the Book of Acts. Verse 1 finds Stephen being tried by the Sanhedrin on the trumped-up charge of blasphemy. The high priest wanted to know if the charges against Stephen were true. He asked Stephen that question in Acts 7:1. As Stephen begins his defense in verse 2, we see him take a fairly different approach than most. Here, Stephen was on trial for his life, and instead of trying to defend himself, we see him, in a sense, putting the Sanhedrin on trial. He then proceeds to give them a history lesson based on their past. Starting in verse 2 he opens with the life of Abraham.

     In the Gospels we have two genealogies given of the Lord Jesus Christ. The one in Matthew’s account, which was written to Jews, goes back only as far as Abraham. The one in Luke, written to Gentiles goes back to Adam and then to God Himself. When the Jews traced their history as a people, they went back to the father of their nation, Abraham.

     In verse 2 Stephen tells us that the glory of God appeared to Abraham and in verse 3 told him to leave his homeland and “come into a land that I will show you.” Verse 4 informs us that Abraham left his home in the land of the Chaldeans. Abraham did not know where he was going but was willing to trust God. The Hebrew writer in Heb. 11:8 alludes to this fact. “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.” In verse 5 we are told that Abraham did not receive any of the land of Canaan for his own ownership. The only land that he owned was a field with a cave he purchased for a burial place (Gen. 23:Iff). The land was promised for his offspring. When the promise was made, Abraham had no children. But he believed God’s promise.

     In verse 6 God told Abraham that his offspring would be enslaved in a foreign land for 400 years. This is the prophecy of the bondage in Egypt. Verse 7 says that the nation they would be in bondage to would be judged by God. After the judgment of Egypt, the Children of Israel were to serve God in Canaan. Verse 8 tells us of the covenant of circumcision. It also introduces us to the patriarchs.

      This section shows us that Abraham was a man of hope. He was always willing to look to God to keep His word. He was always looking forward to be ready to do God’s will. He was not like the Sanhedrin, living in the past and clinging to the past. He was always ready to answer God’s call.

Larry Miles is Co-Editor of Word & Work and attends Cherry St. Church of Christ in New Albany, In.

 




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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

2 corinthians 1:3-4