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6 But God spoke in this way: that his descendants would dwell in a foreign land, and that they would bring them into bondage and oppress them four hundred years.

 

6 But God spoke in this way:

Verse 6 continues God’s promise to Abraham.

that his descendants would dwell in a foreign land,

Abraham’s descendants would undergo slavery in Egypt (Ge 15:13-15). They would become aliens just as he was.

and that they would bring them into bondage [slavery] and oppress them four hundred years.

The “bondage” here is that Abraham’s descendants would be enslaved in Egypt for 400 years, a round number. After their bondage, they will return to Israel (Ge 15:14).

PRINCIPLE:

There is no discrepancy in this verse.

APPLICATION:

There is a chronological problem with the statement that Israel would be in bondage for 400 years, whereas Galatians 3:17 and Exodus 12:40 state that they were there for 430 years. The argument in Galatians 3:17 was from the Abrahamic promise in Genesis 15:13-16 to the giving of the law at Mount Sinai. An issue is that Stephen used round numbers in his speech. Another possibility is that the actual years in bondage were about 400 years, but Stephen’s reference was from the confirmation of the covenant in Genesis 35:9-15 to the Exodus. Paul in Galatians 3:17 may have viewed the issue in periods of time, promises given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. All three received God’s promises. Jacob received a reconfirmation of the promise in Genesis 46:1-4.  

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