Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Acts 7:38

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

With the angel which spake to him - Stephen shows that Moses received the law by the ministry of angels; and that he was only a mediator between the angel of God and them.

The lively oracles - Λογια ζωντα, The living oracles. The doctrines of life, those doctrines - obedience to which entitled them, by the promise of God, to a long life upon earth, which spoke to them of that spiritual life which every true believer has in union with his God, and promised that eternal life which those who are faithful unto death shall enjoy with him in the realms of glory.

The Greek word λογιον, which we translate oracle, signifies a Divine revelation, a communication from God himself, and is here applied to the Mosaic law; to the Old Testament in general, Romans 3:2; Hebrews 5:12; and to Divine revelation in general, 1 Peter 4:11.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

In the church - The word “church” means literally “the people called out,” and is applied with great propriety to the assembly or multitude called out of Egypt, and separated from the world. It has not, however, of necessity our idea of a church, but means the “assembly,” or people called out of Egypt and placed under the conduct of Moses.

With the angel - In this place there is undoubted reference to the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai. Yet that was done by God himself, Acts 7:53; Hebrews 2:2. The essential idea is, that God did it by a messenger, or by mediators. The “character” and “rank” of the messengers, or of the “principal” messenger, must be learned by looking at all the circumstances of the case.

The lively oracles - See Romans 3:2. The word “oracles” here means “commands” or “laws” of God. The word “lively,” or “living” ζῶντα zōntastands in opposition to what is dead, or useless, and means what is vigorous, efficacious; and in this place it means that the commands were of such a nature, and given in such circumstances, as to secure attention; to produce obedience; to excite them to act for God - in opposition to laws which would fall powerless, and produce no effect.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Men deceive themselves, if they think God cannot do what he sees to be good any where; he can bring his people into a wilderness, and there speak comfortably to them. He appeared to Moses in a flame of fire, yet the bush was not consumed; which represented the state of Israel in Egypt, where, though they were in the fire of affliction, yet they were not consumed. It may also be looked upon as a type of Christ's taking upon him the nature of man, and the union between the Divine and human nature. The death of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, cannot break the covenant relation between God and them. Our Saviour by this proves the future state, Mt 22:31. Abraham is dead, yet God is still his God, therefore Abraham is still alive. Now, this is that life and immortality which are brought to light by the gospel. Stephen here shows that Moses was an eminent type of Christ, as he was Israel's deliverer. God has compassion for the troubles of his church, and the groans of his persecuted people; and their deliverance takes rise from his pity. And that deliverance was typical of what Christ did, when, for us men, and for our salvation, he came down from heaven. This Jesus, whom they now refused, as their fathers did Moses, even this same has God advanced to be a Prince and Saviour. It does not at all take from the just honour of Moses to say, that he was but an instrument, and that he is infinitely outshone by Jesus. In asserting that Jesus should change the customs of the ceremonial law. Stephen was so far from blaspheming Moses, that really he honoured him, by showing how the prophecy of Moses was come to pass, which was so clear. God who gave them those customs by his servant Moses, might, no doubt, change the custom by his Son Jesus. But Israel thrust Moses from them, and would have returned to their bondage; so men in general will not obey Jesus, because they love this present evil world, and rejoice in their own works and devices.
Ellen G. White
Patriarchs and Prophets, 366

In all these revelations of the divine presence the glory of God was manifested through Christ. Not alone at the Saviour's advent, but through all the ages after the Fall and the promise of redemption, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.” 2 Corinthians 5:19. Christ was the foundation and center of the sacrificial system in both the patriarchal and the Jewish age. Since the sin of our first parents there has been no direct communication between God and man. The Father has given the world into the hands of Christ, that through His mediatorial work He may redeem man and vindicate the authority and holiness of the law of God. All the communion between heaven and the fallen race has been through Christ. It was the Son of God that gave to our first parents the promise of redemption. It was He who revealed Himself to the patriarchs. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses understood the gospel. They looked for salvation through man's Substitute and Surety. These holy men of old held communion with the Saviour who was to come to our world in human flesh; and some of them talked with Christ and heavenly angels face to face. PP 366.1

Christ was not only the leader of the Hebrews in the wilderness—the Angel in whom was the name of Jehovah, and who, veiled in the cloudy pillar, went before the host—but it was He who gave the law to Israel. [See Appendix, note 7.] Amid the awful glory of Sinai, Christ declared in the hearing of all the people the ten precepts of His Father's law. It was He who gave to Moses the law engraved upon the tables of stone. PP 366.2

It was Christ that spoke to His people through the prophets. The apostle Peter, writing to the Christian church, says that the prophets “prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow.” 1 Peter 1:10, 11. It is the voice of Christ that speaks to us through the Old Testament. “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:10. PP 366.3

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 3, 169.1

The Mystery of Godliness—The standard by which to measure character is the royal law. The law is the sin detector. By the law is the knowledge of sin. But the sinner is constantly being drawn to Jesus by the wonderful manifestation of His love in that He humiliated Himself to die a shameful death upon the cross. What a study is this! Angels have striven, earnestly longed, to look into the wonderful mystery. It is a study that can tax the highest human intelligence, that man, fallen, deceived by Satan, taking Satan's side of the question, can be conformed to the image of the Son of the infinite God. That man shall be like Him, that, because of the righteousness of Christ given to man, God will love man—fallen but redeemed—even as He loved His Son. Read it right out of the living oracles. 3SM 169.1

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 3, 170.3

Grateful That Minds Were Stirred by God's Spirit—We felt deeply and solemnly grateful to God that minds were being stirred by the Spirit of God to see Christ in the living oracles and to represent Him to the world, but not in words merely. They see the Scripture requirements that all who claim to be followers of Christ are under obligation to walk in His footsteps, to be imbued with His Spirit, and thus to present to the world Jesus Christ, who came to our world to represent the Father. 3SM 170.3

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Ellen G. White
That I May Know Him, 129.3

Are those who know the truth for this time anchored in Bible doctrines? Are our weapons, “Thus saith the Lord,” “It is written”? Is our anchor cast within the vail? Are we individually rooted and grounded in gospel truth so that we may be established, strengthened, and settled in the faith? Are we, as those who have the knowledge of the mysteries of God, those to whom God has committed the living oracles, loyal and true to our stewardship? Those who are truly converted will reveal, as missionaries for God, what the truth means to them in its transforming efficiency and sanctifying power. TMK 129.3

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