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53You are the ones that received the law as ordained by angels, and yet you have not kept it.”

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53. Who have received the law. They called that fury wherewith they raged against Stephen zeal of the law, as if he had been a forsaker of the law, and a revolt 470470     “Apostata,” an apostate. and had enforced others to fall away in like sort. Although he was determined to clear himself of this false accusation, yet he did not go through with his answer. For he could not be heard, and it was to no end to speak to deaf men. Therefore, he is content, at a word, to take from them their false color and pretense. It is evident, saith he, that you lie, when you pretend the zeal of the law, which you transgress and break without ceasing; and as he objected unto them in the words next going before, the treacherous murder of the Just, so now he upbraideth unto them their revolting from the law. Some man will say that Stephen’s cause is no whit bettered hereby, because the Jews break the law. But as we have already said, Stephen doth not so chide them, as if his defense did principally consist in this issue, but that they may not flatter themselves in their false boasting. For hypocrites must be handled thus, who will, notwithstanding, seem to be most earnest defenders of God’s glory, though indeed they condemn him carelessly. And here is also a fit antistrophe, because they made semblance that they received the law which was committed to them, which was, notwithstanding, reproachfully despised by them.

In the dispositions of angels It is word for word, into the dispositions, but it is all one. Furthermore, we need not seek any other interpreter of this saying than Paul, who saith that the law was disposed or ordained by angels, (Galatians 3:16;) for he useth the participle there whereof this noun is derived. And his meaning is, that the angels were the messengers of God, and his witnesses in publishing the law, that the authority thereof might be firm and stable.

Therefore, forasmuch as God did call the angels to be, as it were, solemn witnesses when he gave the Jews his law, the same angels shall be witnesses of their unfaithfulness. 471471     “Perfidiae,” perfidy. And to this end doth Stephen make mention of the angels, that he may accuse the Jews in presence of them, and prove them guilty, because they have transgressed the law. Hereby we may gather what shall become of the despisers of the gospel, which doth so far excel the law, that it doth, after a sort, darken the glory thereof, as Paul teacheth, (2 Corinthians 3.)