Acts 7:52
(52) Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted?--St. Stephen echoes, as it were, our Lord's own words (Matthew 5:12; Luke 13:34). Every witness for the truth had in his day had to suffer. The prophet was not only "without honour," but was exposed to shame, treated as an enemy, condemned to death. 1Thessalonians 2:15, perhaps, reproduces the same fact, but more probably refers to the sufferings of the prophets of the Christian Church who were treated as their predecessors had been.

The coming of the Just One.--The name does not appear to have been one of the received titles of the expected Messiah, but may have been suggested by Isaiah 11:4-5. It seems to have been accepted by the Church of Jerusalem, and in 1John 2:1, and, perhaps, in James 5:6, we find examples of its application. The recent use of it by Pilate's wife (Matthew 27:19) may have helped to give prominence to it. He who had been condemned as a malefactor was emphatically, above all the sons of men, the "righteous," the "Just One."

The betrayers and murderers.--The two words emphasise, the first the act of the Sanhedrin and the people, and secondly, the persistence with which they urged on Pilate the sentence of death, and which made them not merely accessories, but principals in the deed of blood.

Verse 52. - Did not... persecute for have not... persecuted, A.V.; killed for have slain, A.V. ; righteous for just, A.V.; have now become for have been now, A.V.; betrayers for the betrayers, A.V. The close resemblance of Stephen's words to those of our Lord recorded in Luke 13:33, 34; Matthew 5:12; Matthew 23:30, 31, 34-37, lend some support to the tradition that he was one of the seventy, and had heard the Lord speak them. But the resemblance may have arisen from the Spirit by which he spake, "the Spirit of Christ which was in" him.

7:51-53 Stephen was going on, it seems, to show that the temple and the temple service must come to an end, and it would be the glory of both to give way to the worship of the Father in spirit and in truth; but he perceived they would not bear it. Therefore he broke off, and by the Spirit of wisdom, courage, and power, sharply rebuked his persecutors. When plain arguments and truths provoke the opposers of the gospel, they should be shown their guilt and danger. They, like their fathers, were stubborn and wilful. There is that in our sinful hearts, which always resists the Holy Ghost, a flesh that lusts against the Spirit, and wars against his motions; but in the hearts of God's elect, when the fulness of time comes, this resistance is overcome. The gospel was offered now, not by angels, but from the Holy Ghost; yet they did not embrace it, for they were resolved not to comply with God, either in his law or in his gospel. Their guilt stung them to the heart, and they sought relief in murdering their reprover, instead of sorrow and supplication for mercy.Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted?.... Either by reviling and speaking all manner of evil of them, Matthew 5:11 or by killing them, Matthew 23:31 and they have slain them; as Isaiah, Zachariah, and others:

which showed before of the coming of the just one; of Jesus the Messiah, whose character in the prophecies of the Old Testament is righteous servant, righteous branch, just, and having salvation; and whom Stephen styles so partly on account of the holiness of his nature, and the innocence and harmlessness of his life; and partly because he is the author of righteousness, and the end of the law for it to all that believe; of whose coming in the flesh all the prophets more or less spoke: and this being good news, and glad tidings, made the sin of the Jewish fathers the greater, in putting them to death, as the innocent character of Christ was an aggravation of the Jews' sin, in murdering of him, as it follows:

of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers; Judas, one of their nation, betrayed him into the hands of the chief priests and elders; and they betrayed, or delivered him into the hands of Pontius Pilate to be condemned to death, which they greatly importuned, and would not be satisfied without; and therefore are rightly called the murderers, as well as the betrayers of him.

Acts 7:51
Top of Page
Top of Page