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Acts 6:9-15

Context
6:9 But some men from the Synagogue 1  of the Freedmen (as it was called), 2  both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, as well as some from Cilicia and the province of Asia, 3  stood up and argued with Stephen. 6:10 Yet 4  they were not able to resist 5  the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. 6:11 Then they secretly instigated 6  some men to say, “We have heard this man 7  speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 6:12 They incited the people, the 8  elders, and the experts in the law; 9  then they approached Stephen, 10  seized him, and brought him before the council. 11  6:13 They brought forward false witnesses who said, “This man does not stop saying things against this holy place 12  and the law. 13  6:14 For we have heard him saying that Jesus the Nazarene will destroy this place and change the customs 14  that Moses handed down to us.” 6:15 All 15  who were sitting in the council 16  looked intently at Stephen 17  and saw his face was like the face of an angel. 18 

1 sn A synagogue was a place for Jewish prayer and worship, with recognized leadership (cf. Luke 8:41). Though the origin of the synagogue is not entirely clear, it seems to have arisen in the postexilic community during the intertestamental period. A town could establish a synagogue if there were at least ten men. In normative Judaism of the NT period, the OT scripture was read and discussed in the synagogue by the men who were present (see the Mishnah, m. Megillah 3-4; m. Berakhot 2).

2 tn Grk “the so-called Synagogue of the Freedmen.” The translation of the participle λεγομένης (legomenh") by the phrase “as it was called” is given by L&N 87.86. “Freedmen” would be slaves who had gained their freedom, or the descendants of such people (BDAG 594-95 s.v. Λιβερτῖνος).

3 tn Grk “Asia”; in the NT this always refers to the Roman province of Asia, made up of about one-third of the west and southwest end of modern Asia Minor. Asia lay to the west of the region of Phrygia and Galatia. The words “the province of” are supplied to indicate to the modern reader that this does not refer to the continent of Asia.

4 tn Grk “and.” The context, however, indicates that the conjunction carries an adversative force.

5 sn They were not able to resist. This represents another fulfillment of Luke 12:11-12; 21:15.

6 tn Another translation would be “they suborned” (but this term is not in common usage). “Instigate (secretly), suborn” is given by BDAG 1036 s.v. ὑποβάλλω.

7 tn Grk “heard him”; but since this is direct discourse, it is more natural (and clearer) to specify the referent (Stephen) as “this man.”

8 tn Grk “and the,” but καί (kai) has not been translated since English normally uses a coordinating conjunction only between the last two elements in a series of three or more.

9 tn Or “and the scribes.” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 4:5.

10 tn Grk “approaching, they seized him”; the referent (Stephen) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

11 tn Or “the Sanhedrin” (the highest legal, legislative, and judicial body among the Jews). Stephen suffers just as Peter and John did.

12 sn This holy place is a reference to the temple.

13 sn The law refers to the law of Moses. It elaborates the nature of the blasphemy in v. 11. To speak against God’s law in Torah was to blaspheme God (Deut 28:15-19). On the Jewish view of false witnesses, see Exod 19:16-18; 20:16; m. Sanhedrin 3.6; 5.1-5. Stephen’s speech in Acts 7 may indicate why the temple was mentioned.

14 tn Or “practices.”

sn Will destroy this place and change the customs. Stephen appears to view the temple as a less central place in light of Christ’s work, an important challenge to Jewish religion, since it was at this time a temple-centered state and religion. Unlike Acts 3-4, the issue here is more than Jesus and his resurrection. Now the impact of his resurrection and the temple’s centrality has also become an issue. The “falseness” of the charge may not be that the witnesses were lying, but that they falsely read the truth of Stephen’s remarks.

15 tn Grk “And all.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here.

16 tn Or “Sanhedrin” (the highest legal, legislative, and judicial body among the Jews).

17 tn Grk “at him”; the referent (Stephen) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

18 sn His face was like the face of an angel. This narrative description of Stephen’s face adds to the mood of the passage. He had the appearance of a supernatural, heavenly messenger.



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