A person from Texas.
Monday, 30 May 2022
When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. Acts 7:54
Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)
Stephen has been quite clear in his words to the council, and they have perfectly understood what he meant. Because of this, a strong reaction has been elicited from them. As it now says, “When they heard these things they were cut to the heart.”
It is the same word introduced into Scripture in Acts 5:33, diaprió. This is the second and last use of it in the Bible. It comes from two words signifying “through” and “cut with a saw.” Hence, it signifies “sawn in two.” It is a state where a person feels he has been cut right in two, right down the middle, when overcome with grief or rage. At this time, it is a state of rage.
One can imagine a saw cutting through their minds as bits fly off in different directions. The more words they heard, the more their minds would be drawn apart. In this case, being reminded that they resisted the Spirit, that they were the murderers of the Messiah, and that they were supposed to have been the stewards of the law, and yet they themselves did not keep it, their minds had become completely enraged and disjointed. In this state, Luke next says, “and they gnashed at him with their teeth.”
The Greek word translated as “gnashed” is found only here in the Bible, bruchó. Of this word, Vincent’s Word Studies notes, “Originally to eat greedily, with a noise, as wild beasts: hence to gnash or grind the teeth.” In their case, it is also a sign of rage. They were like wild animals clenching their teeth and snarling at Stephen. Things don’t look good for him at this point.
Life application: Speaking out the truth of the word can, and quite often will, get people riled up. Sometimes you can present it as a challenge, sometimes as a warning, sometimes as a point of correction for someone’s conduct, and so on. Depending on who is being addressed and what the circumstances are, these things may be taken well, or they may be taken as an offense. But as long as you are presenting your words with the proper intent and in the proper context, you are doing your job.
Stephen is addressing Israel’s leaders. They should have known better, and he has been as direct as Jesus was concerning their failings. There is nothing wrong with this approach. Quite often people get too caught up in the thought, “You need to do this in love.” That is often a means of silencing you. Stephen’s words are true, they are direct, and they are biting. The psalms are often written in such a manner. We must take God’s word as it is presented and accept that stern warnings or open chastisement are a part of how it is presented.
Let us remember this and present our words as the occasion necessitates. Don’t let others shut you down when you are doing exactly what you should be doing. Present your words and let the chips fall where they may.
Lord God, help us to be wise and discerning in how to present Your word, and how to present correction to others when necessary. It is not always an easy task, so be with us and help us to glorify You in all such situations. May it be so! Amen.