SUMMARY.--The Complaint of the Grecians. The Choice of Seven Deacons. Many Priests Converted. Stephen Preaches Christ with Power. His Controversy with the Jews. The Charge of Blasphemy. Brought Before the Sanhedrim.
8. And Stephen . . . did great wonders. He is the first gospel preacher, not an apostle, whose work is named. He is also the first, not an apostle, under the new dispensation, to work miracles. Philip, also, of the seven, possessed miraculous power ( Acts 8:6 ). Both received the imposition of apostolic hands. This seems to have been necessary to impart this power ( Acts 8:15 Acts 8:17 Acts 8:19 ). See also Rom. 1:11 . As far as we know, it was limited to apostles, and to those whom whom the apostles laid hands.
9. There arose certain of the synagogue. This was the ordinary place of worship where Jews met on the Sabbath. The Rabbins say (Talmud) that there were 480 synagogues in Jerusalem. Of the Libertines. "The Freedmen." Thousands of Jews had been carried away captives and sold into slavery by Pompey in 63 B. C. These, or their children, were mostly freed at a later period. Those of them who returned to Jerusalem had a synagogue of their own. The Cyrenians. A synagogue of. See Revision. See note on Acts 2:10. The Cyrenian Jews who returned to the city of their fathers, like those of other countries, had their own synagogue. Alexandrians. Jews from the great city of Alexandria in Egypt, where they were said to be almost one-third of the population. Of Cilicia. Of this synagogue the brilliant disciple of Gamaliel, born at Tarsus of Cilicia, was no doubt a member, and one of the most active opposers of Stephen. See 7:58 . Of Asia. The Roman province in Asia Minor of which Ephesus was capital. Disputing with Stephen. These synagogues were all composed of "Grecians," foreign Jews. Stephen's name is also Grecian, and he probably preached especially to his own class.
10. They were not able to resist. They attempted to argue, but were silenced.
11. They suborned men. Induced men to give perverted testimony. They determined to silence Stephen. Heard him speak blasphemous words. This was the charge against Christ. It is likely that, like Paul, he plainly preached that the Old Covenant had given place to the New, and that God's people were no longer under Moses, but under Christ. This was perverted into blaspheming Moses.
12. They stirred up the people. By their misrepresentations. Thus far the gospel seemed to enjoy great popular favor. It was needful to arouse their hostility. This could be done by perversion of what was preached. The Pharisees, apparently neutral since Pentecost until now, were aroused by Stephen's attack on legalism. The elders, and the scribes. See notes on 4:5. Brought him to the council. The Sanhedrim.
13, 14. Set up false witnesses. False, in that they perverted what he said, so as to give it a meaning not meant. Against this holy place. The temple. He may have said that it would be destroyed (see Matt. 24:2 ). And the law. He probably said what Paul so often said. See Galatians 3:24 Galatians 3:25 . The next verse shows the tenor of his preaching. He no doubt did preach the end of the Jewish dispensation and the reign of Christ, but he neither blasphemed Moses nor God.
15. Fastening their eyes on him. To see what effect the charges had on him. One of those who thus looked was Saul of Tarsus. It was probably from him that Luke obtained his account of this trial. As it had been the face of an angel. His face was radiant, either with his own divinely inspired peace and joy, or shining with a supernatural splendor. I incline to the first view, for had the latter been the case it would have awed the Sanhedrim, and probably suspended their proceedings.