We heard him say that Jesus ·from Nazareth [or the Nazarene] will destroy this place and that Jesus will change the customs Moses gave us [C for a similar charge leveled against Jesus see Matt. 26:61; Mark 14:58].”
Stephen, full of grace and spiritual power, continued to perform miracles and remarkable signs among the people. However, members of a Jewish synagogue known as the Libertines, together with some from the synagogues of Cyrene and Alexandria, as well as some men from Cilicia and Asia, tried debating with Stephen, but found themselves quite unable to stand up against either his practical wisdom or the spiritual force with which he spoke. In desperation they bribed men to allege, “We have heard this man making blasphemous statements against Moses and against God.” At the same time they worked upon the feelings of the people, the elders and the scribes. Then they suddenly confronted Stephen, seized him and marched him off before the Sanhedrin. There they brought forward false witnesses to say, “This man’s speeches are one long attack against this holy place and the Law. We have heard him say that Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses handed down to us.” All who sat there in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and as they looked his face appeared to them like the face of an angel.
That stirred up the people, the religious leaders, and religion scholars. They grabbed Stephen and took him before the High Council. They put forward their bribed witnesses to testify: “This man talks nonstop against this Holy Place and God’s Law. We even heard him say that Jesus of Nazareth would tear this place down and throw out all the customs Moses gave us.”
With our own ears, we’ve heard him say this Jesus fellow, this Nazarene he’s always talking about, will actually destroy the holy temple and will try to change the sacred customs we received from Moses.
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