Does Acts 7:6 have a mistake?


by Shawn Brasseaux

The Prophet Stephen preached to the nation Israel’s apostate religious leaders in Acts 7:6: “And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years.” Yet, when we check the Old Testament records, we encounter an incongruity. Is this a mistake? What are we to believe?

Stephen agrees with Genesis chapter 15: “[13] And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; [14] And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.” But, when we look at the companion passage, Exodus chapter 12, we find another number: “[40] Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. [41] And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt.”

Even the Apostle Paul reaffirms the 430-year-period in Galatians 3:17: “And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.” There were 430 years between the time of the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis chapter 12) and the Mosaic Covenant (Exodus chapter 19)—the first agreement was made before the Egyptian bondage and the other was ratified after the Egyptian bondage.

Genesis and Stephen provide one number (400), but Exodus and Paul use another figure (430). Why? It is not difficult. Do we not, in daily language, estimate numbers or round them off to the nearest 10, 100, et cetera? If we find no fault in ourselves, neither do we have any justification for belittling the Scripture here! No, there is no mistake in Acts 7:6.

Also see:
» Does Acts 7:14 have a mistake?
» Does Acts 7:16 have a mistake?
» Does Acts 7:43 have mistakes?