Acts 7:5 ESV:

Yet he gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot's length, but promised to give it to him as a possession and to his offspring after him, though he had no child

But Abraham did actually possess a piece of land in Canaan.It is said he had purchased a field which contained a cave were he buried his wife Sarah

Genesis 23:17-18 ESV

:So the field of Ephron in Machpelah, which was to the east of Mamre, the field with the cave that was in it and all the trees that were in the field, throughout its whole area, was made over18:to Abraham as a possession in the presence of the Hittites, before all who went in at the gate of his city.

How then does Stephen say Abraham did not possess not even a foot'length of the land of Canaan?

  • The necessity of buying a small portion of land for the sole purpose of a burial site proves the truth of the statement that Abraham had not even a foot's breadth of actual inheritance (or acquisition). Thereafter, yes, he had . . . . . . a burial site (but nowhere to actually build a house or graze stock or plant fields or mine metals). Not accepting the gift, but rather making a recorded transaction, documents the truth.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 9, 2022 at 16:53

1 Answer 1


Abraham bought the field rather than receiving it as an inheritance from God.

The field purchased by Abraham (Gen. 23:9–17) was not a gift from God. -- Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Ac 7:5). Broadman Press.

Abraham listened to Ephron, and Abraham weighed out for Ephron the silver that he had named in the hearing of the Hittites, four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weights current among the merchants. (Gen. 23:16, ESV)

VER. 5. And he gave him none inheritance in it; κληρονομία is property obtained by inheritance, and capable of being transmitted to heirs.—This statement is by no means contradicted by the fact that Abraham purchased of Ephron a field with a cave (Gen. ch. 23); it is precisely the circumstance that he was compelled to purchase the field, which establishes the fact that he owned no land as yet bestowed on him by God. (Bengel). The explanation that Stephen refers to the earliest period of Abraham’s residence in Palestine, and that the purchase occurred at a later time, namely, after the institution of circumcision, ver. 8 (Meyer), is not satisfactory; these two periods, an early and a later, are obtruded on the text, which not only lays no stress on such a distinction, but does not even allude to it.—Stephen speaks emphatically of the fact that the divine promise in reference to the land, was given to Abraham before a child was born unto him, for the purpose of reminding his hearers that both the possession of the inheritance, and also the birth of an heir, depended entirely on God,—the inheritance and the son were both the free gifts of his grace. -- Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Gotthard, V. L., Gerok, C., & Schaeffer, C. F. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Acts (p. 115). Logos Bible Software.

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