2 And he answered, "Brothers and fathers, listen to me: Our glorious God appeared to our forefather Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, [even] before he lived in Haran 3 and told him, 'Leave your country and relatives and go to the country where I will lead you.'
4 "So, he left Chaldea [Note: This was another name for Mesopotamia], and lived in Haran, and after his father died he was sent [by God] to this country where you people now live. 5 But God gave him no inheritance [here at that time], no, not even a place [of his own] to stand on. Yet God promised that He would [someday] give it to him and to his descendants after him [i.e., the Israelites], as a [permanent] possession, even though [at that time] he had no child yet. 6 And God had spoken about this [beforehand] by saying that Abraham's descendants would live in a foreign country and that they would [eventually] be ill-treated as slaves for four hundred years. 7 And God said, 'I will judge the nation [i.e., Egypt] that enslaves them and [then] after my people are liberated, they will serve me in this place [i.e., Palestine].'
8 And God gave Abraham the Agreement which required circumcision [as an identifying mark] so when Abraham fathered Isaac he circumcised him when he was eight days old. Then Isaac had a son, Jacob; and Jacob had [as sons] the twelve patriarchs [i.e., ruling fathers of families].
9 "[And when] these patriarchs, [still living in Canaan as young men], became jealous of [their brother] Joseph, they sold him [as a slave to traveling merchants who took him] to Egypt. But God was with him [during all that time], 10 and rescued him from all his troubles and granted him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him a governor over Egypt and his [i.e., the king's] household. 11 "Now a great famine occurred all over Egypt and Canaan, causing extreme hardships, and our forefathers did not have enough to live on. 12 But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent his sons [down there] on their first trip. 13 On their second trip Joseph identified himself to his brothers, and Pharaoh was made aware of his origins. 14 Joseph then sent [to Canaan] for his father Jacob and all seventy-five of his relatives. 15 So, Jacob went down to Egypt and died there, along with our forefathers. 16 Their bodies were carried back [from Egypt] to Shechem and buried in the tomb that Abraham had purchased in Shechem from the sons of Hamor for a sum of silver. [Note: "Shechem" was a town in Israel, the country which in New Testament times was known as Samaria].
17 "But as the time when [the fulfillment of] the promise [God had made] to Abraham approached, the number of people [i.e., Hebrews] in Egypt grew 18 until a new king, who had not known Joseph, began to rule. 19 This king exploited the Hebrews and mistreated our forefathers, even requiring that they abandon their [small] babies, leaving them to die [See Exodus 1:22]. 20 "It was at that time that Moses was born, and he was a very handsome child. He was cared for in his father's home for three months 21 and then, when he was abandoned [as the Egyptians required], the daughter of Pharaoh took him in and cared for him as her own son. 22 Now Moses was educated according to all the wisdom of the Egyptians and became an accomplished speaker and an effective leader.
23 But when he was about forty years old he felt led to visit his relatives, the Israelites [i.e., called Hebrews at that time]. 24 And when Moses observed one [of his relatives] being mistreated, he came to his defense by hitting the Egyptian, 25 assuming his relatives would understand that God was using him to rescue them [from such abuse], but they did not [seem to] understand. 26 The next day Moses came across a couple of his relatives who were fighting and tried to settle their dispute by saying, 'Brothers, since you are fellow-countrymen, why are you hurting each other?'
27 But the one who was trying to harm his neighbor pushed Moses away saying, 'Who gave you the right to act as a ruler and judge over us? 28 Are you going to kill me like you did that Egyptian yesterday?'
29 When Moses heard this, he ran away and traveled to the country of Midian where he settled down and had two sons. 30 "Then after [another] forty years passed, an angel appeared to him [one day] out of a flaming bush in the wilderness near Mt. Sinai. 31 Moses marveled at the sight [of the burning bush] and, as he went to look at it more closely, the voice of the Lord spoke out, 32 I am the God of your forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.' Moses shook with fear, not [even] wanting to look [at the bush].
33 And the Lord said to him, 'Take off your shoes, [Moses], for the place you are standing on is holy ground. 34 I have surely seen the mistreatment of my people there in Egypt and I have heard their groaning and I have determined to rescue them. Now [get ready], I will send you to Egypt [to lead out in their rescue].'
35 But the Hebrews refused [to acknowledge Moses as their leader], saying, 'Who made you a ruler and judge [over us]?' [Nevertheless], God sent him [to Egypt] to be both a ruler and liberator [of the people] through the direction of [His] angel who appeared [to Moses] from the bush. 36 This man led them out [of Egypt], performing wonders and [miraculous] signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years.
37 "This is the Moses who had said to the Israelites [Deut. 18:15], 'God will raise up a prophet from among your countrymen who will be like me [in some ways].' 38 This is the man who was with our forefathers and with the assembly [of Hebrews] in the wilderness [after] the angel had spoken to him at Mt. Sinai. He [is the one] who received the living messages [from God at Mt. Sinai] and gave them to us. 39 [And yet] our forefathers refused to obey him, but rejected [his leadership] and turned back to Egypt in their hearts. 40 They said to Aaron [i.e., Moses' brother], 'Make gods to lead us, because we do not know what happened to this Moses who led us when we first left the country of Egypt.'
41 And so the people fashioned a calf [out of gold] and offered [an animal] sacrifice to this idol and [then] celebrated joyously over what they had done [See Exodus 32:4-6; 17-19]. 42 But God turned [away from them] and allowed them to worship heavenly bodies [i.e., stars], just as it was written in the prophet [Amos 5:25ff], 'Did you offer me slain animals as sacrifices for forty years in the wilderness, you Israelites? 43 [No], you set up a tent for Moloch [i.e., a heathen idol worshiped by the Ammonites] and [another one for] the star [representing the false god] Rephan and images used in worshiping them. I will allow you to be transported beyond [the country of] Babylon.'
44 "Our forefathers had the Tabernacle of the Testimony in the wilderness [i.e., the tent containing the ten commandments], which God instructed Moses to make according to the model he was shown. 45 Our forefathers also brought this Tabernacle with them under Joshua's leadership when they entered [Canaan] to occupy the land of these Gentile nations. God removed these nations as our forefathers advanced through the land, up until the reign of King David, 46 who found favor in God's sight and asked for permission to build a [special] house for the God of Jacob's [descendants] to live in. 47 But [eventually] it was Solomon who [actually] built this house [for God]. 48 However, the Highest [i.e., God] does not live in a house made by human beings, as the prophet said [Isaiah 66:1ff],
49 'Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footrest. What kind of a house do you plan to build for me? the Lord asked. Or what sort of a place is suitable for me to rest in? 50 Did I not really make everything [myself]?'
51 You people are unbending and unrepentant in your hearts and [unwilling to listen with] your ears. You are always resisting [the desires of] the Holy Spirit just like your forefathers did. 52 Which one of the prophets did your forefathers not persecute? They [even] killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One [i.e., Jesus], whom you people betrayed and murdered. 53 You received the law that was ordained through [the medium of] angels [See Gal. 3:19] and yet have not obeyed its requirements."
54 Now when the Council members heard these things they were enraged and ground their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw God's splendor and Jesus standing at His right side. 56 He said, "Look, I see heaven opened up and the Son of man standing at the right side of God."
57 But they shouted loudly and refused to listen, and then all of them rushed at him. 58 They threw him out of the city and stoned him [to death]. Those who witnessed [the incident] placed their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 So, they stoned Stephen [to death] as he called out to the Lord, saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit [as I die]." 60 Then he kneeled down and called out in a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold them responsible for this sin [of killing me]." And when he said this he fell asleep [in death].