Acts 7:54
When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.
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(54) They were cut to the heart.—Literally, were sawn through and through. (See Note on Acts 5:33.) The word describes a keener pang than the “pricked” of Acts 2:37, producing, not repentance, but the frenzy of furious anger.

They gnashed on him with their teeth.—The passage is worth noting as the only example of the literal use of a phrase with which we are so familiar in its figurative application (Matthew 8:12; Matthew 13:42, et al.). Here it clearly expresses brute passion rather than despair. At this point rage and fury—the fury caused by the consciousness that the stern words are true—had become altogether beyond control. They had passed beyond articulate speech into the inarticulate utterances of animal ferocity.

Acts 7:54-56. When they heard these things — These plain, and undeniable, and alarming truths; they were cut to the heart — Or sawn asunder, the original word being the same that is used chap. Acts 5:33. And not permitting him to proceed any further, in a transport of rage, they gnashed on him with their teeth — As if they would have devoured him alive. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost — And therefore no way terrified with the foresight of the evil which appeared to be determined against him; looked up steadfastly into heaven — From whence alone he could expect help or mercy; and saw the glory of God — Prepared for him; and Jesus standing on the right hand of God — Risen up from the throne of his glory, (for he is generally represented as sitting,) to afford help to his distressed servant, and ready to receive him. Doubtless many other martyrs, as Mr. Addison has observed, when called to suffer the last extremities, had extraordinary assistances of a similar kind; otherwise frail mortality could not have endured the torments under which they rejoiced, and sometimes preached Christ, to the conversion of spectators, and, in some instances, of their guards and tormentors.

7:54-60 Nothing is so comfortable to dying saints, or so encouraging to suffering saints, as to see Jesus at the right hand of God: blessed be God, by faith we may see him there. Stephen offered up two short prayers in his dying moments. Our Lord Jesus is God, to whom we are to seek, and in whom we are to trust and comfort ourselves, living and dying. And if this has been our care while we live, it will be our comfort when we die. Here is a prayer for his persecutors. Though the sin was very great, yet if they would lay it to their hearts, God would not lay it to their charge. Stephen died as much in a hurry as ever any man did, yet, when he died, the words used are, he fell asleep; he applied himself to his dying work with as much composure as if he had been going to sleep. He shall awake again in the morning of the resurrection, to be received into the presence of the Lord, where is fulness of joy, and to share the pleasures that are at his right hand, for evermore.They were cut to the heart - They were exceedingly enraged and indignant. The whole course of the speech had been such as to excite their anger, and now they could restrain themselves no longer.

They gnashed on him ... - Expressive of the bitterness and malignity of their feeling.

54-56. When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, &c.—If they could have answered him, how different would have been their temper of mind! See Acts 5:33.

They were cut to the heart; they were angry to madness.

They gnashed on him with their teeth: gnashing of teeth is the curse of the damned, Matthew 8:12, which men by their sins do prepare for. This corrosive was applied by a skilful hand, would they have endured the cure.

When they heard these things,.... How that Abraham, the father of them, was called before he was circumcised, or the law was given to Moses, or the temple was built, which they were so bigoted to, and charged with speaking blasphemously of; and how that Joseph and Moses were very ill treated by the Jewish fathers, which seemed to resemble the usage Christ and his apostles met with from them; and how their ancestors behaved in the wilderness when they had received the law, and what idolatry they fell into there, and in after times; and how that though there was a temple built by Solomon, yet the Lord was not confined to it, nor would he dwell in it always; and especially when they heard him calling them a stiffnecked people, and uncircumcised in heart and ears; saying, that they persecuted and slew the prophets, and were the betrayers and murderers of an innocent person; and notwithstanding all their zeal for the law, and even though it was ministered to them by angels, yet they did not observe it themselves:

they were cut to the heart; as if they had been sawn asunder; they were filled with anguish, with great pain and uneasiness; they were full of wrath and madness, and could neither bear themselves nor him:

and they gnashed on him with their teeth: being enraged at him, and full of fury and indignation against him.

{8} When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.

(8) The more Satan is pressed, the more he breaks out into an open rage.

Acts 7:54-56. Ταῦτα] The reproaches uttered in Acts 7:51-53.

διεπρ. ταῖς καρδ.] see on Acts 5:33.

ἔβρυχον τ. ὀδόντ.] they gnashed their teeth (from rage and spite). Comp. Archias 12 : βρύχων θηκτὸν ὀδόντα, Hermipp. quoted in Plut. Pericl. 33; Job 16:9; Psalm 35:16; Psalm 37:12.

ἐπʼ αὐτόν] against him.

πλήρ. πνεύμ.] which at this very moment filled and exalted him with special power, Acts 4:8.

εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν] like Jesus, John 17:1. The eye of the suppliant looks everywhere toward heaven (comp. on John 17:1), and what he beheld he saw in the spirit (πλήρ. πνεύμ. ἁγίου); he only, and not the rest present in the room.

τοὺς οὐρανούς] up to the highest. Comp. Matthew 3:16. It is otherwise in Acts 10:11.

δόξαν Θεοῦ] כִּבוֹד יְהֹוָה: the brightness in which God appears. See on Acts 7:2. Luke 2:9.

ἑστῶτα] Why not sitting? Matthew 26:64; Mark 16:19, al. He beheld Jesus, as He has raised Himself from God’s throne of light and stands ready for the saving reception of the martyr. Comp. Acts 7:59. The prophetic basis of this vision in the soul of Stephen is Daniel 7:13 f. Chrysostom erroneously holds that it is a testimony of the resurrection of Christ. Rightly Oecumenius: ἵνα δείξῃ τὴν ἀντίληψιν τὴν εἰς αὐτόν. Comp. Bengel: “quasi obvium Stephano.” De Wette finds no explanation satisfactory, and prefers to leave it unexplained; while Bornemann (in the Sächs. Stud. 1842, p. 73 f.) is disposed only to find in it the idea of morandi et existendi (Lobeck, ad Aj. 199), as formerly Beza and Knapp, Scr. var. arg.

εἶδε] is to be apprehended as mental seeing in ecstasy. Only of Stephen himself is this seeing related; and when he, like an old prophet (comp. John 12:41), gives utterance to what he saw, the rage of his adversaries—who therefore had seen nothing, but recognised in this declaration mere blasphemy—reaches its highest pitch, and breaks out in tumultuary fashion. The views of Michaelis and Eckermann, that Stephen had only expressed his firm conviction of the glory of Christ and of his own impending admission into heaven; and the view of Hezel (following older commentators, in Wolf), that he had seen a dazzling cloud as a symbol of the presence of God,—convert his utterance at this lofty moment into a flourish of rhetoric. According to Baur, the author’s own view of this matter has objectivized itself into a vision, just as in like manner Acts 6:15 is deemed unhistorical.

εἶδεθεωρῶ] he saw … I behold. See Tittmann’s Synon. pp. 116, 120. As to ὁ υἱὸς τ. ἀνθρ., the Messianic designation in accordance with Daniel 7:13, see on Matthew 8:20.

Acts 7:54. No charge could have been more hateful to such an audience, cf. our Lord’s words, John 7:19; see Schürer, Jewish People, vol ii., div. ii., p. 90 ff., E.T. Schürer twice quotes St. Paul’s words, pp. 96, 124, ζῆλον Θεοῦ ἔχουσιν ἀλλʼ οὐ κατʼ ἐπίγνωσιν: no words could better characterise the entire tendency of the Judaism of the period.—διεπρίοντο, cf. Acts 5:33.—ἔβρυχον: not elsewhere in N.T., in LXX, Job 16:10 (9), Psalms 34(5):16, 36(7):12, cf. 111(12):10; Lamentations 2:16, cf. Plutarch, Pericles, 33 (without ὀδόντας, intransitive). The noun βρύχη is found in the same sense, Ap. Rh., ii., 83, of brute passion, not the despair so often associated with the cognate noun; cf. Matthew 8:12; Matthew 13:42, etc.

Acts 7:54 to Acts 8:1. Effect of the Speech. Death of Stephen

54. When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart] There is a conjunction in the original which is not expressed in the English. Read, Now when, &c. On the last verb, which is only found here and in Acts 7:33, see note there. It expresses the sort of cutting that would be made by a saw, and its effect is always one of irritation, and at last it came to be synonymous with gnashing the teeth for rage, with which expression it is here combined.

and they gnashed on him with their teeth] More literally, gnashed their teeth at him.

Verse 54. - Now when for when, A.V. They were cut to the heart (see Acts 5:33 and notes). Acts 7:54They were cut

See on Acts 5:33. In both instances, of anger. A different word is used to express remorse, Acts 2:37.

Gnashed (ἔβρυχον)

Originally to eat greedily, with a noise, as wild beasts: hence to gnash or grind the teeth.

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