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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 6 - Verse 13

Verse 13. 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, Mt 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 peculiar customs and rites of the Jews. It was long, and after much discussion, before the apostles themselves were convinced of it; and when those customs were changed, it was done gradually. See Ac 10:14, etc.; Ac 11:2, etc. Ac 15:20; Ac 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. Comp. Mt 26:61, with Da 9:26,27. The same charge was afterwards brought against Paul, which he promptly denied. See Ac 25:8.

This holy place. The temple.

The law. The law of Moses.

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