They shall put you out of the synagogues
The Jews had made a law already, that he that confessed that Jesus was the Messiah, should be cast out of their synagogues; and they had put it in execution upon the blind man Christ restored to sight, for his profession of faith in him; which struck such a terror upon the people, that even many of the chief rulers who believed that Jesus was the true Messiah, durst not confess him, because of this law; for it was what they could not bear the thoughts of, to be deemed and treated as heretics and apostates, and the vilest of wretches: for this putting out of the synagogue, was not the lesser excommunication, which was called (ywdn) "Niddui", and was a "separation" from a particular synagogue for a while; but the greater excommunication, either by (Mrx) , "Cherem", or (atmv) , "Shammatha"; when a person was cut out from the whole body of the Jewish church, called often the synagogue, or congregation of the people; and was devoted and consigned to utter destruction, which was the height of their ecclesiastical power, their rage and malice could carry them to; and this the apostles were to expect; nay, not only this, but to have their lives taken away by ruffians, under a pretence of zeal for the service of God, and interest of religion:
yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you, will
think that he
doth God service.
For this is not to be understood of their being delivered up into the hands of civil magistrates, and of their being tried, judged, condemned, and put to death by their orders, but of their being murdered by a set of men called "zealots"; who, in imitation of Phinehas, as they pretended, took upon them, whenever they found any person guilty of a capital crime, as idolatry, blasphemy or what they judged so, to fall upon him at once, and without any more ado kill him; nor were they accountable to any court of judicature for such an action, and which was reckoned laudable and praiseworthy: in this way, and by the hands of such miscreants, Stephen the protomartyr lost his life; for though they had him before a council, and suborned witnesses against him, yet when in his own defence he said what these "zealots" interpreted blasphemy, they ran upon him at once, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him to death; and without any leave or authority from the sanhedrim, as appears: and these men were accounted good men, zealous, (Mwqm lv wtanq) F25 "with a zeal for God", his honour and glory; and valued themselves much upon such butcheries and inhumanity, and thought, as our Lord here says, that they "did God service"; or as the Syriac renders it, (brqm anbrwqd) , "offered a sacrifice to God", and so the Arabic and Ethiopic: and indeed this is a rule the Jews F26, and which they form upon the instance and example of Phinehas;
``that whoever sheds the blood of wicked men, (and such they reckoned the apostles and followers of Christ to be,) (Nbrq byrqh wlak) , "it is all one as if he offered a sacrifice";''they looked upon this to be a sacrifice acceptable and well pleasing to God: so the Apostle Paul, in his unregenerate state, thought he ought to do many things contrary to the name of Christ: and that he was doing God service, when he prosecuted the church, and gave his voice with these ruffians, to put the saints to death.
F25 Jarchi & Bartenora in Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 9. sect. 6.
F26 Bemidbar Rabbit, Parash, 21. fol. 229. 3.