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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 7 - Verse 8

Verse 8. And he gave him. That is, God appointed, or commanded this, Ge 17:9-13.

The covenant. The word covenant denotes, properly, a compact or agreement between two or more persons, usually attended with seals, or pledges, or sanctions. In Ge 17:7, and elsewhere: it is said that God would establish his covenant with Abraham; that is, he made him certain definite promises, attended with pledges and seals, etc. The idea of a strict compact or agreement between God and man, as between equal parties, is not found in the Bible. It is commonly used, as here, to denote a promise on the part of God, attended with pledges, and demanding, on the part of man, in order to avail himself of its benefits, a stipulated course of conduct. The covenant is therefore another name for denoting two things on the part of God:

(1.) A command, which man is not at liberty to reject, as he would be if a literal covenant; and,

(2.) a promise, which is to be fulfilled only on the condition of obedience. The covenant with Abraham was simply a promise to give him the land, and to make him a great nation, etc. It was never proposed to Abraham with the supposition that he was at liberty to reject it, or to refuse to comply with its conditions. Circumcision was appointed as the mark or indication that Abraham and those thus designated were the persons included in the gracious purpose and promise. It served to separate them as a peculiar people; a people whose peculiar characteristic it was, that they obeyed and served the God who had made the promise to Abraham. The phrase, "covenant of circumcision," means, therefore, the covenant or promise which God made to Abraham, of which circumcision was the distinguishing mark or sign.

The twelve patriarchs. The word patriarch properly denotes the father and ruler of a family. But it is commonly applied, by way of eminence, to the progenitors of the Jewish race, particularly to the twelve sons of Jacob. See Barnes "Ac 2:29".


{b} "he gave him the covenant" Ge 17:9-11 {c} "so Abraham" Ge 21:1-4 {d} "Isaac begat" Ge 25:26 {e} "Jacob begat twelve patriarchs" Ge 29:32

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