44 “Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as He appointed, instructing Moses to make it according to the pattern that he had seen,
45 which our fathers, having received it in turn, also brought with Joshua into the land possessed by the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers until the days of David,
46 who found favor before God and asked to find a dwelling for the God of Jacob.
47 But Solomon built Him a house.
48 “However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says:
49 ‘Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me? says the Lord, or what is the place of My rest?
50 Has My hand not made all these things?’
Jesus pointed out that the temple wasn’t the permanent dwelling place of God (Mark 14:58). To put the temple in its proper perspective, Stephen points out that God originally ordained the tabernacle, which was carried about from the wilderness to the Promise Land. The tabernacle was the original sanctuary. The temple came later and then, it appears, only because David desired it.
We can trace the presence of the tabernacle in Shiloh (1 Samuel 1:3); in Nob (1 Samuel 21:1) and in Gibeon (2 Chronicles 1:3). We lose sight of it finally when it is carried by Solomon into the newly built temple (2 Chronicles 5:5). — The Acts of the Apostles, by Thomas Walker, page 173
fathers, having received it in turn (v.45) = lit. “to take over from a predecessor.”
The quote in verse 46 is from Psalm 132:5.
house (v.49) — from the same root as “tabernacle” but suggesting a more permanent dwelling
The “tent” was thus displaced not merely by a “tent-like habitation” but by a substantial and stately “house,” For the building of Solomon’s temple, see 1 Kings chapters 6-8. This, when destroyed by the armies of Babylon, was replaced by Zerubbabel’s temple (completed 516 B.C.); which, in turn, was rebuilt and beautified by Herod the Great (20 B.C.) It was Herod’s temple in which Stephen’s hearers made their boast. — The Acts of the Apostles, by Thomas Walker, page 173.
The quote in verse 49 is from Isaiah 66:1-2. At the temple dedication, Solomon said: “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27 — 2 Chronicles 6:18). The prophets made it clear that God was not confined to a building.
In closing his address Stephen dealt with still another of their accusations. They had charged him with speaking blasphemous words against the temple. This, of course, was untrue. The fact was that they were guilty of blasphemy against the Holy One of whom the temple was but a type.
The tabernacle had been replaced by the temple, but even this glorious abode did not do God justice. The temple was but a type of a still more glorious abode: Christ, in whom dwelleth “all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” He was God, manifested in the flesh. Had not Isaiah said: “They shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us”? (Matthew 1:23). — Acts Dispensationally Considered, by C.R. Stam, pages 227-228