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“This is the one (Moses) who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles to give to us.” ‭‭Acts‬ ‭7:38‬

But in OT it reads

  • “The Lord (יהוה ) spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying,” ‭‭Leviticus‬ ‭25:1‬

  • “These are the generations of Aaron and Moses at the time when the Lord (יהוה) spoke with Moses on Mount Sinai.” ‭‭Numbers‬ ‭3:1

  • “These are the statutes and rules and laws that the Lord (יהוה) made between himself and the people of Israel through Moses on Mount Sinai.” ‭‭Leviticus‬ ‭26:46‬

This is the same יהוה as used in this text

““Hear, O Israel: The Lord (יהוה) our God, the Lord (יהוה) is one.” ‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭6:4‬

Is Stephen wrong? The leaders didn’t seem to revolt when Stephen mentioned the angel was giving the oracles to Moses.

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  • Stephen (and Paul, in Galatians 3:19) are simply reflecting pious Jewish tradition, as related later in the Talmud itself.
    – Lucian
    Jun 14 '20 at 21:56
  • Are you asking if "the angel of the Lord" in the NT and the "the angel of the LORD" in the OT can sometimes allude to Jehovah, YHWH?
    – Dottard
    Jun 14 '20 at 22:43
  • @Dottard this angel in the NT was not referred to as the angel of the Lord as in the OT. My question is whether this angel and YHWH are one and the same or not because there is no mention of an angel in the OT speaking to Moses. Further is this was the angel then who came down on the mountain and showed Moses his glory? Jun 14 '20 at 23:01
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The short answer to your question is Stephen was not wrong. The angel of the Lord that Stephen talks about is the same being that spoke to Moses in the Old Testament and guided Israel through the wilderness.

Acts 7:30, "And after forty years had passed, an angel, appeared to Him/Moses in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning thorn bush." In this verse notice the word "an" is used meaning, "an angel" appeared etc.

At Acts 7:38 it says, "This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness together with "the" angel who was speaking. Are you aware that the definition of the word "a/an" is different from the word "the."

The chief grammatical function of "an/a" is to connote a thing not previously noted or recognized. The word "the" connotes a thing previously noted or recognized. Even though at Acts 7:30 Stephen used the word, "an" he in the same verse identified "the" angel of the Lord appearing in the burning bush at Exodus 3:2.

Moreover, it was the angel of the Lord who was in the wilderness with Moses according to the Apostle Paul at 1 Corinthians 10:1-4. Cross reference that with Exodus 13:21, Exodus 14:;19 and Isaiah 63:9.

From Acts 7:30 Stephen explicitly mentions the events at Exodus 3 and who is the one doing the talking. Exodus 3:4, "When the Lord saw that he/Moses turned aside to look, GOD called to him from the midst of the bush, and said, "Moses, Moses," And he said, Here I am."

Notice Exodus 3:6, "He said also, "I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob."

I have to bring the following up because it is "vitally" important that "the" angel of the Lord is "NOT" an actual angel, he is simply a messenger. This also means that "the" angel of the Lord is "NOT" Michael the arc angel. It's impossible for the angel of the Lord to be Michael or any other actual angel.

Here is why? At Genesis 22:11 the angel of the Lord calls out from heaven to Abraham. The angel of the Lord calls out from heaven a second time at Genesis 22:15. What does he say to Abraham?

Genesis 22:16, "By Myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this thing, and not withheld you son, your only son." Verse 17, "indeed I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is on the seashore."

The point is the fact that an angel or any angel cannot swear an oath on behalf of somebody else, let along for God. Hebrews 6:13,14, "For when GOD made the promise to Abraham, since He could not swear by no one greater, HE SWORE BY HIMSELF, verse 14, saying, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply you."

This could not be more clear. Sure angels and people/prophets represent God because the Jews have what's called the "Shaliah" principle. This means that a person/agent/emissary/envoy can represent a "principal" concerning the affairs of business etc. However, the shaliach remains a subordinate and he cannot swear oaths on behalf of the principal. One last point! "The" angel of the Lord never appears in the New Testament as the angel of the Lord.

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In the OT, the phrase "Angel of the LORD" appears to often refer directly to the LORD (YHWH). Here are a few examples:

  • Gen 16:7-13, V13 makes clear that Harar was speaking to YHWH
  • Gen 22:11-17, V16 and 17 declares that it is YHWH who is speaking
  • Gen 32:24-30, V28 & 30 makes clear that Jacob was wrestling with God
  • Gen 48:16, The Angel is called the Redeemer which can only be YHWH according to Isa 43:3, 11, 45:17, 21
  • Ex 3:2-6, V 4-6 makes clear that Moses was in the presence of YHWH
  • Num 22:22-35, Several times (v22, 26) it is declared to be YHWH and Balaam bowed down to worship YHWH which is forbidden to an mere angel (Rev 22:8, etc)
  • Judg 2:1-4, The angel here is the ONE who brought Israel out of Egypt
  • Judg 6:11-23, Gideon realises that he has seen God face to face and calls Him "Lord God" (v22)
  • Judg 13:3-23, Manoah realises that He has seen God (v22)

However, it should be stressed that not every instance of "Angel of the Lord" refers to YHWH. For example, Luke 1:11, 2:9, Matt 28:2, Acts 5:19, Isa 37:36, etc.

There is a similar phenomenon with the phrase, "Angel of God", Gen 6:13, 8:15, 9:8, 17, 15:13, 17:3, 4, 21:12, 16-21, 35:1, 10, Ex 4:3-8, 6:2, 23:20, 21, Deut 1:6, 1 Kings 12:22.

The fact that the Bible refers to YHWH as an angel (at times) does not diminish Jehovah's importance or standing. In fact, we see in other places that the LORD sends the LORD:

  • Zech 2:6-12 – the LORD (= YHWH) claims three times that He has been sent by the LORD.
  • Isa 48:11-16 – again, the LORD has been sent by the LORD.

"Angel" simply means "messenger" as is well known and some messages are evidently so important that they are delivered by YHWH Himself.

Thus, the fact that Acts 7:38 has "Angel of the Lord" while other places (Lev 25:1, 26:46, Num 3:1) simply have YHWH should not be surprising. (See also Acts 10:3, 4, Gal 4:14).

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Murray Harris [1], a devout Trinitarian, makes a grammatical/contextual argument to the effect that the source of words spoken to the prophets was the Father.

Heb 1:1-2 God , having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners, hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds. (ASV)

This verse makes a very broad statement and identifies the God who spoke through the prophets in the OT as the Father because He has a Son (See Lev 1:1;Num 1:1; Dt 1:3;Jos 1:1; Isaiah 1:1,10; Jer 1:4, 2:1;Ezekiel 1:1;Hosea 1:1; Joel 1:1; Amos 1:3;Ob 1:1; Jonah 1:1; Micah 1:1; Nahum 1:1; Hab 1:1-2; Zeph 1:1; Hag 1:1; Zech 1:1: Mal 1:1, etc.)

On this basis, Harris also identifies YHWH as the Father in the OT:

It would be inappropriate for elohim or YHWH ever to refer to the Trinity in the OT when in the NT QEOS regularly refers to the Father alone and apparently never to the Trinity. [1]

According to Harris, θεός must refer to the Father as:

"When (hO) QEOS is used, we are to assume that the NT writers have hO PATHR in mind unless the context makes this sense of (hO) QEOS impossible” (Harris, Jesus as God, p 47)

Keep on reading past Acts 7:38. A more careful reading of Acts shows that angels, plural were used in Acts:

Acts 7:53 Ye who received the law as it was ordained by angels, and kept it not (ASV)


[1] Murray J Harris https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murray_J._Harris Murray J. Harris (born 18 August 1939) is professor emeritus of New Testament exegesis and theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He was for a time warden of Tyndale House at Cambridge University. He gained his PhD from the University of Manchester, studying under F. F. Bruce

Who is Jehovah in the OT? A related question demands brief treatment. To whom did the NT writers attribute the divine action described in the OT? To answer "the Lord God" (YHWH elohim) = LXX KURIOS hO QEOS) is to beg the question, for the authors of the NT wrote of OT events in the light of their Trinitarian understanding of God. A clear distinction must be drawn between what the OT text meant to its authors and readers and how it was understood by the early Christians who lived after the advent of the Messiah and the coming of the Spirit. Certainly the person who projects the Trinitarian teaching of the NT back into the OT and reads the OT through the spectacles of the dynamic or Trinitarian monotheism of the NT is thinking anachronistically. On the other hand, it does not seem illegitimate to pose a question such as this" To whom was the author of Hebrews referring when he said (1:1), "At many times and in various ways God spoke in the past to our forefathers through the prophets"? That it was not the Holy Spirit in any ultimate sense is evident from the fact that in neither the OT nor the NT is the Spirit called "God" expressis verbis. A LXX equivalent of YHWH, viz., KURIOS, is regularly applied to Jesus in the NT so that it becomes less a title than a proper name, it is not possible that hO QEOS in Heb. 1:1 denotes Jesus Christ. for the same sentence (in Greek) contains "(the God who spoke...) in these last days has spoken to us in a Son (EN hUIW)."and, in spite of the fact the LXX that the Since the author is emphasizing the continuity of of the two phases of divine speech (hO QEOS LALHSHS... ELALHSEN), this reference to a Son shows that the one who speaks in both eras and hUIOS as his final means of speaking shows that in the author's mind it was not the Triune God of Christian theology who spoke to the forefathers by the prophets. That is to say, for the author of Hebrews (as for all NT writers, one may suggest) "the God of our fathers," Yahweh, was no other than "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (compare Acts 2:30 and 2:33; 3:13 and 3:18; 3:25 and 3:26; note also 5:30). Such a conclusion is entirely consistent with the regular NT usage of hO QEOS. It would be inappropriate for elohim or YHWH ever to refer to the Trinity in the OT when in the NT QEOS regularly refers to the Father alone and apparently never to the Trinity.. (Murray J. Harris in "Jesus as God," page 47, fn 125)

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