Metaphysical Bible Interpretation of Acts Chapter 7
Metaphysically Interpreting Acts 7:2-8 (Stephen's speech part 1)
7:2And he said, Brethren and fathers, hearken: The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, 7:3and said unto him, Get thee out of thy land, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall show thee. 7:4Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Haran: and from thence, when his father was dead, God removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell: 7:5and he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: and he promised that he would give it to him in possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child. 7:6And God spake on this wise, that his seed should sojourn in a strange land, and that they should bring them into bondage, and treat them ill, four hundred years. 7:7And the nation to which they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place. 7:8And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob, and Jacob the twelve patriarchs.
April 15, 1945: Acts 7:4-7
Under what law does the faculty of faith operate? The divine law of increase. As we use faith it grows stronger and more dependable, for its action is cumulative.
For what was Abram especially distinguished? For his unswerving faith in God. Abram had a vision of what a faith consistently held makes possible, and discerned the blessings that were in store for him if he would throw the full weight of his faith on Jehovah.
In what realm is faith most needed? In the realm of the invisible. Through faith we call the invisible substance of hope and desire into manifestation and make it manifest.
In what sense is God our Father? In so far as we express divine love, wisdom, understanding, good will, and other Godlike attributes, God is our Father, for God is the animating spirit of all life, substance, and being. The spirit of love, the spirit of good will, and the spirit of power are all manifestations of the Holy Spirit, God.
Of what Godlike attributes are we now capable? We can make the spirit that moves us one of love, good will, power, humility, or whatever most nearly represents God to us. By so doing we prove ourselves to be spiritual creatures, capable of being a blessing to others.
How are we blessed in our turn? By allowing ourselves to be possessed by Spirit.
Metaphysically Interpreting Acts 7:9-19 (Stephen's speech part 2)
7:9And the patriarchs, moved with jealousy against Joseph, sold him into Egypt: and God was with him, 7:10and delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house. 7:11Now there came a famine over all Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance. 7:12But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent forth our fathers the first time. 7:13And at the second time Joseph was made known to his brethren; and Joseph's race became manifest unto Pharaoh. 7:14And Joseph sent, and called to him Jacob his father, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls.7:15And Jacob went down into Egypt; and he died, himself and our fathers; 7:16and they were carried over unto Shechem, and laid in the tomb that Abraham bought for a price in silver of the sons of Hamor in Shechem. 7:17But as the time of the promise drew nigh which God vouchsafed unto Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, 7:18till there arose another king over Egypt, who knew not Joseph. 7:19The same dealt craftily with our race, and ill-treated our fathers, that they should cast out their babes to the end they might not live.
April 15, 1945: Acts 7:12-17
In a metaphysical sense, what is "the land that I will show thee"? It is the new conception of substance that the spiritually quickened man discerns when he is stirred to religious activity. This land is found by everyone who obeys his impulse to rise higher in consciousness. It is our assurance of the reality of the things of Spirit.
What is the metaphysical significance of the name Terah? The name means "loitering" and represents spiritual inactivity. Those who make no use of their spiritual faculties but who drift through life content with superficial interests are spiritual loiterers.
Are we under any compulsion to allow the course of events to decide what is to come to us? We are not. We may take hold of events with the aid of faith and shape their course more nearly to our liking. More important still, we may remake ourselves with the aid of divine love and power. To do this is our duty,
Metaphysically Interpreting Acts 7:20-40 (Stephen's speech part 3)
7:20At which season Moses was born, and was exceeding fair; and he was nourished three months in his father's house. 7:21and when he was cast out, Pharaoh's daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son. 7:22And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians; and he was mighty in his words and works. 7:23But when he was well-nigh forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. 7:24And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, smiting the Egyptian: 7:25and he supposed that his brethren understood that God by his hand was giving them deliverance; but they understood not. 7:26And the day following he appeared unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? 7:27But he that did his neighbor wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?7:28Wouldest thou kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian yesterday? 7:29And Moses fled at this saying, and became a sojourner in the land of Midian, where he begat two sons. 7:30And when forty years were fulfilled, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush. 7:31And when Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold, there came a voice of the Lord, 7:32I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob. And Moses trembled, and durst not behold. 7:33And the Lord said unto him, Loose the shoes from thy feet: for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. 7:34I have surely seen the affliction of my people that is in Egypt, and have heard their groaning, and I am come down to deliver them: and now come, I will send thee into Egypt. 7:35This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? him hath God sent to be both a ruler and a deliverer with the hand of the angel that appeared to him in the bush. 7:36This man led them forth, having wrought wonders and signs in Egypt, and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years. 7:37This is that Moses, who said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall God raise up unto you from among your brethren, like unto me. 7:38This is he that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel that spake to him in the Mount Sinai, and with our fathers: who received living oracles to give unto us: 7:39to whom our fathers would not be obedient, but thrust him from them, and turned back in their hearts unto Egypt, 7:40saying unto Aaron, Make us gods that shall go before us: for as for this Moses, who led us forth out of the land of Egypt, we know not what is become of him.
July 11, 1926: Acts 7:22
The ark in which Moses was placed was symbolic of the ark of love and trust. Love and trust always find a way out of difficulty. Pharaoh's daughter was an instrument of God. Through her, Moses (representing the progressive law of evolution working in the soul) was "instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians; and he was mighty in his words and works." God is the one and only power in the universe.
Metaphysically Interpreting Acts 7:54-60 (The stoning of Stephen)
7:54Now when they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. 7:55But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 7:56and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God. 7:57But they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and rushed upon him with one accord; 7:58and they cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 7:59And they stoned Stephen, calling upon the Lord, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 7:60And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
July 10, 1921: Acts 7:54-60, 8:1-4
In the early history of Paul, what two states of mind do we behold? First: The Pharisaical state of mind, which may be found in one who is intellectually educated, and who either may inherit or get his religious bias by association. Second: The spiritual state of mind, which is found in one who attains real spiritual understanding through illumination by the Christ Mind. Paul experienced both of these states.
When one has been associated with and has zealously defended the doctrines of a certain sect, and afterwards changes his mind and preaches differently, what is the result? He is persecuted by those who are still loyal to to the old faith.
Under these circumstances, what attitude of defense should one take? One should make a simple statement of the facts in the case, and then go about defending the new doctrine he has espoused by demonstrating in his life that which it teaches.
What type of mind does Stephen represent? Stephen represents the mind open to spiritual inspiration, but with more zeal than discretion.
As a result of Stephen's seeming indiscretion, what reaction took place? "They gnashed on him with their teeth," and cast him out of the city, and stoned him to death.
Do hard conditions always follow those who condemn? Yes. Nonresistance is the only salvation. The meek and the lowly are the ones who open their consciousness to the deep, inner spiritual realms, thus making themselves heirs to all things. "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth."
Does Truth ever require defense? No. The one way to prove the Truth is to live it. He who is quick to defend finds that he sets into operation within himself argumentative forces which will endeavor to dominate the spiritual powers. When the heart is filled with the thought of loving service, then joy and peace and good will are bound to manifest.
August 19, 1923: Acts 7:54-60
Does the shining of Truth in this disciple save him from condemnation by those who are still in darkness? No. "When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth."
What was Stephen's saving grace? The saving grace of Stephen was his steadfastness in looking into the heavens where he saw the glorified spiritual man.
Did Stephen demonstrate divine love? No. The hard argumentative thoughts which he sent out returned, and hit him like rocks. When one refuses to argue, but just lives the Truth, the journey along the path of spiritual unfoldment is easy and joyous.
April 26, 1925: Acts 7:54-60
What directly aroused the opposition of the entrenched sense consciousness against Stephen? According to the text Stephen was filled with great zeal. He had the wisdom of Spirit, he did signs and wonders, and he exploited his spiritual experiences without reservation.
When high spiritual Truths are uttered without reservation, what reactions usually follow? High spiritual Truths expressed in a very material atmosphere produce violent reactions, symbolized in this lesson by the stoning of Stephen.
How should we avoid the hard knocks that come through proclaiming and arguing for Truth to those who are still in the mortal thought consciousness? We should not let our zeal for Truth outweigh our consideration for those who do not see things from our standpoint. If at times it seems necessary to quote Scripture to fortify our cause, we can do so without argument, and the stiff arguments of adversaries and of those to whom we are talking will not fly at us like rocks, as the thoughts of Stephen's adversaries flew at Stephen.
July 8, 1928: Acts 7:54-60, 8:1-3
What were the causes leading to the stoning of Stephen? Stephen was full of zeal for Christianity and denounced those who opposed Jesus. He was called before the Jewish council; he recounted to its members the religious history of the Israelites and told them how far they fell short of the teaching of Jehovah. He said they were stiff-necked, that they always resisted the Holy Spirit, that they killed those who proclaimed the coming of the Righteous One, and accused them of becoming betrayers and murderers.
When the councilors heard these things, what did they do? "Now when they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth."
When the opposition of the council poured upon Stephen, what was his attitude? "But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God."
Did this vision of spiritual realities save Stephen from the anger of the mob? No. Stephen, through his condemnation of the Jews, had stirred up violent opposition to his exposition of Truth. On the physical plane he had to suffer the consequences: They stoned him to death.
Stephen died the death of a martyr, and he has been sainted and held up as a model of Christian zeal. Was he a good model for all Christians? Stephen was a good model for Christians who desire to become martyrs and to suffer the consequences of stirring up opposition in those who differ from them. He undoubtedly told them the truth from a mortal standpoint. The hard words he sent out came back to him in the form of stones.
Should Christians who know Truth and are zealous for its exposition adopt Stephen's methods? The manner of presenting Truth rests with each individual. Jesus said, "Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." Those who want to continue as ministers of Truth and make a lasting impression on their hearers should be wise and should not stir up antagonism in the friends they are seeking to convert. In this day and age the old method of employing accusations, condemnations, and common scoldings is not effective in getting the attention of others. Such methods have always ended in tragedies, of which the stoning of Stephen is an outstanding example. His zeal destroyed him, as stated in the King James version, Psalms 69:9: "The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up."
December 7, 1930: Acts 7:54-60
When opposing states of mind are stirred up within one, what happens? Opposing states of consciousness stirred up within one always produce misunderstanding of oneself and of others, exaggerations, false accusations.
What directly around the opposition of the intrenched sense consciousness against Stephen? According to the text, Stephen was filled with great zeal. He had the wisdom of Spirit; he worked signs
and wonders, and he exploited his spiritual experiences without reservation.
When high spiritual truths are uttered without reservation, what reactions usually follow? High spiritual truths when expressed in a very material atmosphere produce violent reactions. Such a reaction is symbolized in this lesson by the stoning of Stephen.
How shall we avoid the unpleasant experiences that come through proclaiming Truth to and arguing about Truth with those who are still in sense consciousness? We should not let our zeal for Truth outweigh our consideration for those who do not see things from our standpoint. If at times it seems necessary to quote Scripture to fortify our cause, we can do so without argument. The opposing arguments of adversaries and of those to whom we are talking will not fly at us like rocks, as the rocks thrown by Stephen's adversaries flew at him.
January 22, 1950: Acts 7:54-60
Is zeal more potent than wisdom? It is more potent in stirring up emotion, but it is powerless to control reason or bring wisdom into manifestation. Ancient wisdom teaches that "there is .. . a time to keep silence, and a time to speak," also that "he that guardeth his mouth keepeth his life." The zeal shown by Stephen stirred up violent reprisal.
In meeting cruelty and senseless persecution what is the way of the Christ? The way of forgiveness. "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." The power of divine love discriminates between sin and sinner.
July 26, 1931: Acts 7:54-60, 8:1-3
When high spiritual truths are uttered without reservation, what reactions usually follow? High spiritual truths, when they are expressed in a very material atmosphere, produce violent reactions. Such a reaction is symbolized in this lesson by the stoning of Stephen.
How shall we avoid the unpleasant experiences that come through proclaiming Truth to, and arguing about Truth with, those who are still in sense consciousness? We should not let our zeal for Truth outweigh our consideration for those who do not see things from our standpoint. If at times it seems necessary to quote Scripture to fortify our cause, we can do so without argument. The opposing arguments of adversaries and of those to whom we are talking will not then fly at us, as the rocks thrown by Stephen's adversaries flew at him.
Has man always known that external force has no place in the formation and growth of faith? No. It has taken mankind many centuries to realize that external force has no place in the formation and growth of faith. However, one proof of God's omnipotence is seen in the fact that, regardless of the degree of error in the minds of men or the violence that error engenders, everything works out, at last, in good.
Does man find an avenue through which his ideals may express themselves? Yes, enthusiasm for a living ideal must find expression. If the habitual avenues of expression are closed to it, man's enthusiasm finds an outlet through other avenues. Those Christians who were scattered abroad because of persecutions continued, in their changed environments, to preach the good tidings of the kingdom. They could not but speak the things that they had seen and heard.
July 26, 1936: Acts 7:59-60, 8:1-4
Does man have to suffer in order to develop? Suffering comes as the result of failure to keep the divine law. The theory that suffering is inevitable and necessary to man's growth is no more true than that material force or might is right or necessary. Man may make suffering serve him just as he may learn by his mistakes.
How does the metaphysician regard suffering? He sees in suffering an aid to concentration on the things of God, since he who suffers looks for help and deliverance to a higher power than himself. Suffering is therefore justifiable as a help in concentration.
What does Stephen represent? Stephen represents the man who has had the baptism of the Holy Spirit and has gained a clear understanding of Truth intellectually. He has zeal for Truth but is lacking in tact and sympathetic understanding of the convictions of others.
Does the reaction from one man's failure to observe the divine law affect others besides himself? Since all men are one in Truth, the failure of one to keep the law affects those who are like-minded.
Why were not the apostles included in the persecution that followed the stoning of Stephen? Jesus had taught the apostles the law of love and nonresistance, and they remembered to use it on this occasion with the result that they were not disturbed.
Transcribed by Dan Beckett on 9-12-2013.