Question: What is the ‘host of heaven’ in Acts 7.42

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NAB  Acts 7:42 Then God turned and handed them over to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets: ‘Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings for forty years in the desert, O house of Israel?

NAU  Acts 7:42 “But God aturned away and delivered them up to serve the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, ‘bIT WAS NOT TO ME THAT YOU OFFERED VICTIMS AND SACRIFICES cFORTY YEARS IN THE WILDERNESS, WAS IT, O HOUSE OF ISRAEL?

NLT  Acts 7:42 Then God turned away from them and abandoned them to serve the stars of heaven as their gods! In the book of the prophets it is written, ‘Was it to me you were bringing sacrifices and offerings during those forty years in the wilderness, Israel?

So right off, the NLT looks to be a better thought, but it doesn’t answer the question. So was Stephen still a henotheist? Granted, he is quoting Amos 5.25-27 which seems to say that Israel carried pagan shrines alongside the Tabernacle. This, of course, fits will with henotheism, I guess.

But, are these the ‘powers’? And if so, does Scripture give us license to connect the ‘host of heaven’ which here and in Amos seems to be other gods, to the host of the Lord of Host?

Just a discussion post – I’m not tied to an interpretation at the moment.

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Post By Joel L. Watts (10,151 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

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One thought on “Question: What is the ‘host of heaven’ in Acts 7.42

  1. I don’t think it follows that Stephen was a henotheist, believing that the stars were real deities. I can state that someone worships an idol, or any other created thing like the sun or the stars, without thereby saying that I believe that their object of worship is anything more than an object, certainly not that it is a truly divine being.

    Now maybe Stephen, like many Christians today, did believe that there are genuine spiritual beings, perhaps demons, behind stars and behind idols. But I don’t think you can prove it from this verse. Anyway a clear distinction can be made, at least in classic Christian theology, between the one true God in three persons and lesser spiritual beings, i.e. angels and demons. It is not just a matter of who you worship, i.e. henotheism, but of which are objectively divine. It may be hard to prove that Stephen made exactly this distinction, but I don’t think we can prove either that he didn’t.

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