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Acts 7:17-43 – Stephen and the OT Saviors

The first theme of Stephen’s speech was that God spoke to the patriarchs and to Moses outside the land – God has never been localized in the temple nor is revelation bound to the temple.

The second theme has to do with how Israel related to their past saviors. In Acts 7:9-10, Stephen refers to Joseph – his brothers were jealous of him and sold him to Egypt, but God was with him and rescued him out of all his afflictions ultimately Joseph being made ruler. This parallels how the Sanhedrin was jealous of Jesus, handed him over to the Romans, but God was with him and delivered him from his afflictions and making him ruler. Stephen’s point is that as Israel treated Joseph ignorant of God’s plan, so the Sanhedrin has rejected Jesus.

Likewise, Stephen notes that the Israelites in Egypt did not understand that God was giving them salvation by the hand of Jesus. He recalls how one Israelite said to Moses, “Who made you a ruler and a judge over us?” Stephen later says that they rejected Moses whom God had sent as both ruler and redeemer and who performed signs and wonders (as did Jesus). In fact, Stephen says they thrust Moses aside desiring servitude to Egypt rather than the salvation of God (as the Sanhedrin had preferred servitude to Caesar rather than Jesus as king).

Rather than Stephen being the one who overthrows Moses, it is the Sanhedrin who do this by rejecting Jesus in the same manner as their fathers had rejected Moses. It is Stephen who is consistent with Moses. Moses had said that ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me.’ Moses had received living oracles to give to us the prophet like Moses who gives living words is the Jesus that Stephen proclaims!