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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 7 - Verse 53

Verse 53. Who have received the law. The law of Moses given on Mount Sinai.

By the disposition of angels. There has been much diversity of opinion in regard to this phrase, eiv diatagav aggelwn. The word translated disposition does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. It properly means the constituting or arranging of an army; disposing it into ranks and proper divisions. Hence it has been supposed to mean that the law was given amidst the various ranks of angels, being present to witness its promulgation. Others suppose that the angels were employed as agents or instruments to communicate the law. All that the expression fairly implies is the former; that the law was given amidst the attending ranks of angels, as if they were summoned to witness the pomp and ceremony of giving law to an entire people, and through them to an entire world. It should be added, moreover, that the Jews applied the word angels to any of the messengers of God; to fire, and tempest, and wind, etc. And all that Stephen means here may be to express the common Jewish opinion, that God was attended on this occasion by the heavenly hosts; and by the symbols of his presence, the fire, and smoke, and tempest. Comp. Ps 104:4; 68:17. Other places declare that the law was spoken by an angel, one eminent above all attending angels, the peculiar messenger of God. See Barnes "Ac 7:38".

It is plain that Stephen spoke only the common sentiment of the Jews, Thus Herod is introduced by Josephus, (Antiq. b. xv. chap. v. & 3,) as saying, "We have learned from God the most excellent of our doctrines, and the most holy part of our law by angels," etc. In the eyes of the Jews, it justly gave increased majesty and solemnity to the law, that it had been given in so grand and imposing circumstances. And it greatly aggravated their guilt, that, notwithstanding this, they had not kept it.

{e} "law by the disposition of angels" Ga 3:19

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