Acts 6:13
And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:
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(13) Against this holy place.—The new feature of Stephen’s preaching comes into greater prominence.

6:8-15 When they could not answer Stephen's arguments as a disputant, they prosecuted him as a criminal, and brought false witnesses against him. And it is next to a miracle of providence, that no greater number of religious persons have been murdered in the world, by the way of perjury and pretence of law, when so many thousands hate them, who make no conscience of false oaths. Wisdom and holiness make a man's face to shine, yet will not secure men from being treated badly. What shall we say of man, a rational being, yet attempting to uphold a religious system by false witness and murder! And this has been done in numberless instances. But the blame rests not so much upon the understanding, as upon the heart of a fallen creature, which is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Yet the servant of the Lord, possessing a clear conscience, cheerful hope, and Divine consolations, may smile in the midst of danger and death.And set up false witnesses - It has been made a question why these persons are called "false" witnesses, since it is supposed by many that they reported merely the "words" of Stephen. It may be replied that if they did report merely his "words"; if Stephen had actually said what they affirmed, yet they perverted his meaning. They accused him of "blasphemy"; that is, of calumnious and reproachful words against Moses and against God That Stephen had spoken in such a manner, or had designed to "reproach" Moses, there is no evidence. What was said in the mildest manner, and in the way of cool argument, might easily be perverted so as in "their view" to amount to blasphemy. But there is no evidence whatever that Stephen had ever used these words on any occasion, and it is altogether improbable that he ever did, for the following reasons:

(1) Jesus himself never affirmed that he would destroy that place. He uniformly taught that it would be done by the "Gentiles," Matthew 24. It is altogether improbable, therefore, that Stephen should declare any such thing.

(2) it is equally improbable that he taught that Jesus would abolish the special customs and rites of the Jews. It was long, and after much discussion, before the apostles themselves were convinced that they were to be changed, and when they were changed it was done gradually. See Acts 10:14, etc.; Acts 11:2, etc.; Acts 15:20; Acts 21:20, etc. The probability therefore is, that the whole testimony was "false," and was artfully invented to produce the utmost exasperation among the people, and yet was at the same time so plausible as to be easily believed. For on this point the Jews were particularly sensitive; and it is clear that they had some expectations that the Messiah would produce some such changes. Compare Matthew 26:61 with Daniel 9:26-27. The same charge was afterward brought against Paul, which he promptly denied. See Acts 25:8.

This holy place - The temple.

The law - The Law of Moses.

11-14. blasphemous words against Moses—doubtless referring to the impending disappearance of the whole Mosaic system.

and against God—This must refer to the supreme dignity and authority which he claimed for Christ, as the head of that new economy which was so speedily to supersede the old (compare Ac 7:56, 59, 60).

They mingled in their testimony false things with truths, as they who witnessed against our Saviour had done. St. Stephen might possibly have inculcated what our Saviour had foretold, Luke 19:43,44, and both have been very innocent; for neither of them spake with any abhorrence of, much less blasphemy against, the law or the temple; but in that the witnesses perverted and added to their words, they are deservedly branded as false witnesses. Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus, is a granted maxim in the case of witness bearing.

And set up false witnesses,.... Having hired them, they brought them and set them before the sanhedrim, to bear witness against Stephen:

which said, this man; meaning Stephen, who was now before the council, at whom they pointed, and whose name, through contempt, they would not mention:

ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place; either the city of Jerusalem, which is sometimes called the holy city, and which was foretold by the angel to Daniel, and by Christ, that it should be destroyed, and which Stephen might speak of; or rather the temple, so the Ethiopic version; in a part of which, or in a place contiguous to it, the sanhedrim might now be sitting:

and the law; the ceremonial law: the sense is, that Stephen was continually telling the people, that in a little time their temple would be destroyed, and an end be put to temple worship, and to all the rituals and ceremonies of the law of Moses; the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions leave out the word "blasphemous"; and so do the Alexandrian copy, and Beza's most ancient one; but as Beza observes, it is certain, or at least it is most likely, that it was not omitted by the false witnesses; though speaking against the temple and the law was sufficient to make good a charge of blasphemy.

{10} And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:

(10) An example of frivolous objectors or false accusers, who gather false conclusions from things that are well uttered and spoken.

Acts 6:13. οὗτος: here and in Acts 6:14 used contemptuously, iste, so Vulgate; cf. Acts 7:40, Acts 18:18, Acts 19:26, ὁ Παῦλος οὗτος.—οὐ παύεται λαλῶν: the words in themselves are sufficient to indicate the exaggerated and biassed character of the testimony brought against Stephen—“invidiam facere conantur,” Bengel, βλάσφημα omitted, see above.—μάρτυρας ψευδεῖς, “false,” inasmuch as they perverted the meaning of Stephen’s words, which were no blasphemy against Moses or against God, although no doubt he had taught the transitory nature of the Mosaic law, and that the true worship of God was not confined to the Temple (see Weizsäcker, Apostolic Age, i., 64, 83, E.T., and Wendt, p. 148 (1899)). So also in the very same manner Christ’s words had been perverted (John 2:21, cf. Mark 14:56, Matthew 27:63), and it is likely enough that the spirit of His teaching as to the Sabbath, the laws of purifying, the fulfilling of the law, breathed again in the words of His disciples. But such utterances were blasphemous in the eyes of the Jewish legalists, and Stephen’s own words, Acts 7:48-49, might well seem to them an affirmation rather than a denial of the charges brought against him.—κατἀ τοῦ τόπου τοῦ ἁγίου τούτου: if τούτου is retained (W.H[198]), phrase could refer not only to the Temple as the holy place, but also to the place of assembly of the Sanhedrim, where according to Acts 6:15 the charge was brought, which was probably situated on the Temple Mount on the western side of the enclosing wall, Schürer, Jewish People, div. ii., vol. i., p. 190, E.T., so Hilgenfeld and Wendt, and also Blass, who adds “itaque etiam τούτου (, cf. 14) recte se habet,” although he omits the word in his own text. Weiss thinks that the word dropped out because it could have no reference to a scene in the Sanhedrim.

[198] Westcott and Hort’s The New Testament in Greek: Critical Text and Notes.

13. and set up false witnesses which said] Their falseness consists in the perverted turn which they gave to the words of Stephen. Though we have no words of his hitherto recorded, we can see from the character of his defence in the next chapter that he must have been heard to declare that the worship of God was no longer to be restricted as it had been to the Temple at Jerusalem. And just as in the accusation of Christ (Matthew 26:61) the witnesses (called, as here, false, and for a like reason) perverted a saying of Jesus, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up,” which St John (John 2:21) explains, into “I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days,” so the words of Stephen which spake of a worship now “to be bound to no fixed spot, and fettered by no inflexible externality” (Zeller), were twisted into blasphemy against the Temple and the law, called in Acts 6:11 blasphemy against Moses and against God; and by the use of these two phrases as equivalent the one to the other, they shew us how God and Moses meant for them no more than their Temple and its ritual.

This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words] The best authorities omit blasphemous.

Acts 6:13. Οὐ παύεται, ceaseth not) They attempt to create odium against him.—ῥήματα λαλῶν, to speak words of blasphemy) The same phrase occurs in Luke 12:10.—τοῦ νόμου, the law) See Acts 6:14, at the end. Comp. ch. Acts 21:28.

Verse 13. - Words for blasphemous words, A.V. and T.R. Set up false witnesses. The similarity of Stephen's trial to that of our Lord is striking. The same set purpose to silence a true-speaking tongue by death; the same base employment of false witnesses; the same wresting of good words into criminal acts; and the same meekness and patience unto death in the righteous martyrs. Blessed servant to tread so closely in thy Lord's steps! (comp. Matthew 5:11, 12; 1 Peter 4:14-16). This holy place; the Sanhedrim sat in one of the chambers of the temple, called Gazith. This had been prohibited by the Romans, but the prohibition was in abeyance in the present time of anarchy (Lewin). Acts 6:13
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