The Meaning of Acts 7:41 Explained

Acts 7:41

KJV: And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.

YLT: 'And they made a calf in those days, and brought a sacrifice to the idol, and were rejoicing in the works of their hands,

Darby: And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice to the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.

ASV: And they made a calf in those days, and brought a sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their hands.

What does Acts 7:41 Mean?

Context Summary

Acts 7:30-46 - Stephen's Defense: Disobedience In The Wilderness
The angel who appeared in the bush that burned with fire was the angel of God's presence, who saved the Israelites and bare them and carried them all the days of old. See Isaiah 63:9. Who could this be save our Lord Himself? Only He could speak of Himself as I am. Remember the use our Lord made of that present tense, as carrying with it evidence that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were all of them living, though centuries had passed since their bodies had been deposited in Machpelah's cave. See Luke 20:38. It is very helpful to note that reference to the hand of the angel in Acts 7:35; Acts 7:38. It reminds us of Acts 11:21. Would that, in our service for God, we were always conscious of the co-operating hand of the Savior!
The prophet referred to in Acts 7:37 is, of course, our Lord, and the parallel between Him and Moses is very apparent during our Lord's human ministry-for meekness, for reference in all things to the sending of God, for the work they did, as negotiating the Law from Sinai and the Mount of Beatitudes. But the difference in their posthumous ministry is emphasized in Hebrews 3:1-6. [source]

Chapter Summary: Acts 7

1  Stephen, permitted to answer to the accusation of blasphemy,
2  shows that Abraham worshipped God rightly, and how God chose the fathers,
20  before Moses was born, and before the tabernacle and temple were built;
37  that Moses himself witnessed of Christ;
44  and that all outward ceremonies were ordained to last but for a time;
51  reprehending their rebellion, and murdering of Christ, whom the prophets foretold
54  Whereupon they stone Stephen to death,
59  who commends his soul to Jesus, and humbly prays for them

Greek Commentary for Acts 7:41

They made a calf [εμοσχοποιησαν]
First aorist active indicative of μοσχοποιεω — moschopoieō here only in the N.T. and unknown elsewhere. The lxx (Exodus 32:3) has εποιησε μοσχον — epoiēse moschon from which phrase the word is evidently made. Aaron made the calf, but so did the people (Exodus 32:35). [source]
The idol [τωι ειδωλωι]
Stephen calls it by the right name. The people said it was their way of worshipping Jehovah! So the Egyptians worshipped the bull Apis at Memphis as the symbol of Osiris (the sun). They had another sacred bull Mnevis at Leontopolis. Ειδωλον — Eidōlon (from ειδος — eidos form or figure) is the image or likeness of anything. The heathen worship the god through the image or idol. Rejoiced (ευπραινοντο — euphrainonto). Imperfect, middle, kept on rejoicing (Exodus 32:6, Exodus 32:18) or making merry. [source]
Rejoiced [ευπραινοντο]
Imperfect, middle, kept on rejoicing (Exodus 32:6, Exodus 32:18) or making merry. [source]
They made a calf [ἐμοσχοποίησαν]
Only here in New Testament, and not in Septuagint. Bengel says, “A very notorious crime is denoted by an extraordinary and newly-coined word.” This was in imitation of the Egyptian bull-worship. Several of these animals were worshipped at different places in Egypt. Apis was worshipped at Memphis. Herodotus says: “Now this Apis, or Epaphus, is the calf of a cow which is never afterward able to bear young. The Egyptians say that fire comes down from heaven upon the cow, which thereupon conceives Apis. The calf which is so called has the following marks: He is black, with a square spot of white upon his forehead, and on his back the figure of an eagle. The hairs in his tail are double, and there is a beetle upon his tongue” (iii., 28). He was regarded by the Egyptians, not merely as an emblem, but as a god. He was lodged in a magnificent court, ornamented with figures twelve cubits high, which he never quitted except on fixed days, when he was led in procession through the streets. His festival lasted seven days, and all came forward from their houses to welcome him as he passed. He was not allowed to reach the natural term of his life. If a natural death did not remove him earlier, he was drowned when he reached the age of twenty-five, and was then embalmed and entombed in one of the sepulchral chambers of the Serapeum, a temple devoted expressly to the burial of these animals. Another sacred bull was maintained at Heliopolis, in the great Temple of the Sun, under the name of Mnevis, and was honored with a reverence next to Apis. Wilkinson thinks that it was from this, and not from Apis, that the Israelites borrowed their notions of the golden calf. “The offerings, dancing, and rejoicings practised on the occasion, were doubtless in imitation of a ceremony they had witnessed in honor of Mnevis during their sojourn in Egypt” (“Ancient Egyptians,” 2 sen, vol. ii., p. 197). A third sacred bull, called Bacis, was maintained at Hermonthis, near Thebes. It was a huge, black animal, and its hairs were said to grow the wrong way. Other bulls and cows did not hold the rank of gods, but were only sacred. [source]
Offered [ἀνήγαγον]
Lit., led up. See on James 2:21. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Acts 7:41

Luke 8:22 Launched forth [ἀνήχθησαν]
See on Luke 5:3. The verb literally means to lead up; hence to lead up to the high sea, or take to sea; put to sea. It is the word used of Jesus' being led up into the wilderness and the mount of temptation (Matthew 4:1; Luke 2:22); also of bringing up a sacrifice to an idol-altar (Acts 7:41). Often in Acts in the accounts of Paul's voyages. [source]
Romans 1:23 Birds and beasts and creeping things []
Deities of human form prevailed in Greece; those of the bestial form in Egypt; and both methods of worship were practiced in Rome. See on Acts 7:41. Serpent-worship was common in Chaldaea, and also in Egypt. The asp was sacred throughout the latter country. The worship of Isis was domesticated at Rome, and Juvenal relates how the priests of Isis contrived that the silver images of serpents kept in her temple should move their heads to a suppliant (“Satire” vi., 537). Many of the subjects of paintings in the tombs of the kings at Thebes show the importance which the serpent was thought to enjoy in the future state. Dollinger says that the vestal virgins were intrusted with the attendance upon a holy serpent, and were charged with supplying his table with meats on festival days. [source]
1 Corinthians 10:19 Idol [ειδωλον]
Image of a god. See note on Acts 7:41; note on Acts 15:20; note on 1 Corinthians 8:4; and note on 1 Corinthians 8:7. [source]
1 Corinthians 8:4 No idol is anything in the world [ουδεν ειδωλον εν κοσμωι]
Probably correct translation, though no copula is expressed. On ειδωλον — eidōlon (from ειδος — eidos), old word, see note on Acts 7:41; note on Acts 15:20; note on 1 Thessalonians 1:9. The idol was a mere picture or symbol of a god. If the god has no existence, the idol is a non-entity. This Gentile Christians had come to know as Jews and Jewish Christians already knew. [source]
1 John 5:21 Yourselves [εαυτα]
Neuter plural reflexive because of τεκνια — teknia The active voice πυλασσετε — phulassete with the reflexive accents the need of effort on their part. Idolatry was everywhere and the peril was great. See Acts 7:41: 1 Thessalonians 1:9 for this word. [source]

What do the individual words in Acts 7:41 mean?

And they made a calf in the days those offered a sacrifice to the idol they were rejoicing the works of the hands of them
Καὶ ἐμοσχοποίησαν ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις ἀνήγαγον θυσίαν τῷ εἰδώλῳ εὐφραίνοντο τοῖς ἔργοις τῶν χειρῶν αὐτῶν

ἐμοσχοποίησαν  they  made  a  calf 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 3rd Person Plural
Root: μοσχοποιέω  
Sense: to make (an image of) a calf.
ἡμέραις  days 
Parse: Noun, Dative Feminine Plural
Root: ἡμέρα  
Sense: the day, used of the natural day, or the interval between sunrise and sunset, as distinguished from and contrasted with the night.
ἐκείναις  those 
Parse: Demonstrative Pronoun, Dative Feminine Plural
Root: ἐκεῖνος  
Sense: he, she it, etc.
ἀνήγαγον  offered 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 3rd Person Plural
Root: ἀνάγω  
Sense: to lead up, to lead or bring into a higher place.
θυσίαν  a  sacrifice 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Feminine Singular
Root: θυσία  
Sense: a sacrifice, victim.
τῷ  to  the 
Parse: Article, Dative Neuter Singular
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
εἰδώλῳ  idol 
Parse: Noun, Dative Neuter Singular
Root: εἴδωλον  
Sense: an image, likeness.
εὐφραίνοντο  they  were  rejoicing 
Parse: Verb, Imperfect Indicative Middle or Passive, 3rd Person Plural
Root: εὐφραίνω  
Sense: to gladden, make joyful.
ἔργοις  works 
Parse: Noun, Dative Neuter Plural
Root: ἔργον  
Sense: business, employment, that which any one is occupied.
τῶν  of  the 
Parse: Article, Genitive Feminine Plural
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
χειρῶν  hands 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Feminine Plural
Root: χείρ  
Sense: by the help or agency of any one, by means of any one.
αὐτῶν  of  them 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Genitive Masculine 3rd Person Plural
Root: αὐτός  
Sense: himself, herself, themselves, itself.