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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 7 - Verse 59
Verse 59. Calling upon God. The word God is not in the original, and should not have been in the translation. It is in none of the ancient Mss. or versions. It should have been rendered, "They stoned Stephen, invoking, or calling upon, and saying, Lord Jesus," etc. That is, he was engaged in prayer to the Lord Jesus. The word is used to express prayer in the following, among other places: 2 Co 1:23, "I call God to witness." 1 Pe 1:17, "And if ye call on the Father," etc. Ac 2:21, "Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord," etc.; Ac 9:14; 22:16; Ro 10:12-14.
This was, therefore, an act of worship; a solemn invocation of the Lord Jesus, in the most interesting circumstances in which a man can be placed —in his dying moments. And this shows that it is right to worship the Lord Jesus, and to pray to him. For if Stephen was inspired, it settles the question. The example of an inspired man, in such circumstances, is a safe and correct example. If it should be said that the inspiration of Stephen cannot be made out, yet the inspiration of Luke, who has recorded it, will not be called in question. Then the following circumstances show that he, an inspired man, regarded it as right, and as a proper example to be followed.
(1.) He has recorded it without the slightest expression of an opinion that it was improper. On the contrary, there is every evidence that he regarded the conduct of Stephen in this case as right and praiseworthy. There is, therefore, this attestation to its propriety.
(2.) The Spirit that inspired Luke knew what use would be made of this case. He knew that it would be used as an example, and as an evidence that it was right to worship the Lord Jesus. It is one of the cases which has been used to perpetuate the worship of the Lord Jesus in every age. If it was wrong, it is inconceivable that it should be recorded without some expression of disapprobation.
(3.) The case is strikingly similar to that recorded in Joh 20:28, where Thomas offered worship to the Lord Jesus, as his God, without reproof. If Thomas did it in the presence of the Saviour without reproof, it was right. If Stephen did it without any expression of disapprobation from the inspired historian, it was right.
(4.) These examples were used to encourage Christians and Christian martyrs to offer homage to Christ. Thus Pliny, writing to the emperor Trajan, and giving an account of the Christians in Bithynia, says, that they were accustomed to meet and sing hymns to Christ as to God.-Lardner.
(5.) It is worthy of remark, that Stephen in his death offered the same act of homage to Christ, that Christ himself did to the Father, when he died, Lu 23:46. From all these considerations, it follows that the Lord Jesus is an object of worship; that in most solemn circumstances it is proper to call upon him, to worship him, and to commit our dearest interests to his hands. If this may be done, he is Divine.
Receive my spirit. That is, receive it to thyself; take it to thine abode in heaven.
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