Acts 7:57
Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran on him with one accord,
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(57) Ran upon him with one accord.—The violence reported presents a singular contrast to the general observance of the forms of a fair trial in our Lord’s condemnation. Then, however, we must remember, the Roman procurator was present in Jerusalem. Now all restraint was removed, and fanaticism had full play. That neither office nor age was enough to guard, under such conditions, against shameful outrage has been seen even in the history of Christian assemblies, as, e.g., in that of the Robber Synod of Ephesus in A.D. 449. The caution in 1Timothy 3:3, that a bishop should not be a striker, shows how near the danger was even in the apostolic age. The facts in this case seem to imply that the accusers, and perhaps also the excited crowd whom they represented, were present as listening to the speech, as well as the members of the Sanhedrin.

Acts 7:57-59. Then they cried out with a loud voice — Being provoked to such a degree that they could not contain themselves, and meaning to drown the voice of Stephen; and stopped their ears — As if they could not bear to hear such blasphemy as they wished to have it thought he had spoken. And ran upon him — Greek, ωρμησαν, rushed on him with one accord, before any sentence was regularly passed; and cast — Greek, εκβαλοντες εξω της πολεως, casting him out of the city — It seems by a gate near the place where the sanhedrim sat; and as soon as they had got without the boundaries of that sacred place, of which they judged it would be a profanation to stain it with human blood, they stoned him — This, like the stoning of Paul at Lystra, seems to have been an act of popular fury, exceeding the power which the Jews regularly had; which, though it might have extended to passing a capital sentence, was certainly not sufficient for carrying it into execution, without the consent of the Romans. The Jews were more than once ready to stone Christ, not only when by their own confession they had not power to put any one to death, (John 18:31,) but when nothing had passed which had the shadow of a legal trial. How far they now might have formed those express notions of what the rabbis call the judgment of zeal, is not easy to say; but it is certain they acted on that principle, and as if they had thought every private Israelite had, like Phinehas, who is pleaded as an example of it, a right to put another to death on the spot, if he found him in a capital breach of the divine law; a notion, by the way, directly contrary to Deuteronomy 17:6, which required at least two witnesses in capital cases, where there was a legal process. And the two witnesses — Whose hands were first upon him to put him to death; laid down their clothes, &c. — In executions of this kind, it was usual for those who had borne witness against the criminal to cast the first stones at him; and for this purpose they were wont to put off their upper garments, and gave them to be kept by persons equally hearty in the prosecution with themselves; and on this occasion the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of Saul, afterward called Paul, who, it seems, willingly took charge of them, to show how heartily he concurred with them in the execution. O Saul! wouldst thou have believed, if one had told thee, while thou wast urging on the cruel multitude, that the time would come when thou thyself shouldst be twice stoned in the same cause, and shouldst triumph in committing thy soul likewise to that Jesus whom thou wast now blaspheming? His dying prayer reached thee, as well as many others. And the martyr Stephen, and Saul the persecutor, (afterward his brother, both in faith and martyrdom,) are now joined in everlasting friendship, and dwell together in the happy company of those who have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.7:54-60 Nothing is so comfortable to dying saints, or so encouraging to suffering saints, as to see Jesus at the right hand of God: blessed be God, by faith we may see him there. Stephen offered up two short prayers in his dying moments. Our Lord Jesus is God, to whom we are to seek, and in whom we are to trust and comfort ourselves, living and dying. And if this has been our care while we live, it will be our comfort when we die. Here is a prayer for his persecutors. Though the sin was very great, yet if they would lay it to their hearts, God would not lay it to their charge. Stephen died as much in a hurry as ever any man did, yet, when he died, the words used are, he fell asleep; he applied himself to his dying work with as much composure as if he had been going to sleep. He shall awake again in the morning of the resurrection, to be received into the presence of the Lord, where is fulness of joy, and to share the pleasures that are at his right hand, for evermore.Then they cried out - That is, probably, "the people," not the members of the council It is evident he was put to death in a popular tumult. They had charged him with blasphemy; and they regarded what he had now said as full proof of it.

And stopped their ears - That they might hear no more blasphemy.

With one accord - In a tumult; unitedly.

57, 58. Then they cried out … and ran upon him with one accord—To men of their mould and in their temper, Stephen's last seraphic words could but bring matters to extremities, though that only revealed the diabolical spirit which they breathed. They cried out; the rabble, or multitude.

Stopped their ears; that they might show their great detestation of what was said, and might not contract any guilt from it.

And ran upon him with one accord: this violence and fury was both against the law of God and the law of the land; and the number of zealots (there were some amongst that people eminently so called) provoked the Romans to destroy both city and temple. Then they cried out with a loud voice,.... These were not the sanhedrim, but the common people; the Ethiopic version reads, "the Jews cried out"; which, they did, in a very clamorous way, either through rage and madness, or in a show of zeal against blasphemy; and cried out, either to God to avenge the blasphemy, or rather to the sanhedrim to pass a sentence on him, or, it may be, to excite one another to rise up at once, and kill him, as they did:

and stopped their ears; with their fingers, pretending they could not bear the blasphemy that was uttered. This was their usual method; hence they say, (o).

"if a man hears anything that is indecent, (or not fit to be heard,) let him put his fingers in his ears hence the whole ear is hard, and the tip of it soft, that when he hears anything that is not becoming, he may bend the tip of the ear within it.''

By either of these ways these men might stop their ears; either by putting in their fingers, or by turning the tip of the ear inward.

And ran upon him with one accord; without any leave of the sanhedrim, or waiting for their determination, in the manner the zealots did; See Gill on Matthew 10:4, John 16:2.

(o) T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 5. 1. 2.

{10} Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and {a} ran upon him with one accord,

(10) The zeal of hypocrites and superstitious people eventually breaks out into a most open madness.

(a) This was done in a rage and fury, for at that time the Jews could put no man to death by law, as they confessed before Pilate saying that it was no lawful for them to put any man to death, and therefore it is reported by Josephus that Ananus, a Sadducee, slew James the brother of the Lord, and for so doing was accused before Albinus, the president of the country; lib. 20.

Acts 7:57-58. The tumult, now breaking out, is to be conceived as proceeding from the Sanhedrists, but also extending to all the others who were present (Acts 6:12). To the latter pertains especially what is related from ὥρμησαν onward.

They stopped their ears, because they wished to hear nothing more of the blasphemous utterances.

ἐξω τῆς πόλεως] see Leviticus 24:14. “Locus lapidationis erat extra urbem; omnes enim civitates, muris cinctae, paritatem habent ad castra Israelis.” Gloss in Babyl. Sanhedr. f. 42. 2.

ἐλιθοβολοῦν] This is the fact generally stated. Then follows as a special circumstance, the activity of the witnesses in it. Observe that, as αὐτόν is not expressed with ἐλιθοβ.,[213] the preceding ἐπʼ αὐτόν is to be extended to it, and therefore to be mentally supplied. Comp. LXX. Exodus 23:4-7.

οἱ μάρτυρες] The same who had testified at Acts 6:13. A fragment of legality! for the witnesses against the condemned had, according to law, to cast the first stones at him, Deuteronomy 17:7; Sanhedr. vi. 4.

ἀπέθεντο τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτῶν] ὤστε εἶναι κοῦφοι καὶ ἀπαραπόδιστοι εἰς τὸ λιθοβολεῖν, Theophylact.

Σαύλου] So distinguished and zealous a disciple of the Pharisees—who, however, ought neither to have been converted into the “notarial witness,” nor even into the representative of the court conducting the trial (Sepp)—was for such a service quite as ready (Acts 22:20) as he was welcome. But if Saul had been married or already a young widower (Ewald), which does not follow from 1 Corinthians 7:7-8, Luke, who knew so exactly and had in view the circumstances of his life, would hardly have called him νεανίας, although this denotes a degree of age already higher than μειράκιον (Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 213). Comp. Acts 20:9, Acts 23:17, also Acts 5:10; Luke 7:14.

καὶ ἐλιθοβόλουν] not merely the witnesses, but generally. The repetition has a tragic effect, which is further strengthened by the appended contrast ἐπικαλ. κ.τ.λ. A want of clearness, occasioned by the use of two documents (Bleek), is not discernible.

The stoning, which as the punishment of blasphemy (Luke 24:16; Sanhedr. vii. 4) was inflicted on Stephen, seeing that no formal sentence preceded it, and that the execution had to be confirmed and carried out on the part of the Roman authorities[214] (see Joseph. Antt. xx. 9. 1, and on John 18:31), is to be regarded as an illegal act of the tumultuary outbreak. Similarly, the murder of James the Just, the Lord’s brother, took place at a later period. The less the limits of such an outbreak can be defined, and the more the calm historical course of the speech of Stephen makes it easy to understand that the Sanhedrists should have heard him quietly up to, but not beyond, the point of their being directly attacked (Acts 7:51 ff), so much the less warrantable is it, with Baur and Zeller, to esteem nothing further as historical, than that Stephen fell “as victim of a popular tumult suddenly arising on occasion of his lively public controversial discussions,” without any proceedings in the Sanhedrim, which are assumed to be the work of the author.

[213] Which Bornemann has added, following D and vss.

[214] Ewald supposes that the Sanhedrim might have appealed to the permission granted to them by Pilate in John 18:31. But so much is not implied in John 18:31; see in loc. And John 18:57 sufficiently shows how far from “calmly and legally” matters proceeded at the execution.Acts 7:57. κράξαντες: so as to silence him.—συνέσχον τὰ ὦτα αὐτῶν: in order that the words which they regarded as so impious should not be heard, cf. Matthew 26:65. Blass compares the phrase LXX, Isaiah 52:15, καὶ συνέξουσι βασιλεῖς τὸ στόμα αὐτῶν.—ὥρμησανἐπʼ αὐτόν, cf. 2Ma 10:16, and in several places in 2 Macc. the verb is found with the same construction (although not quite in the same sense).57. Then they cried out] Better, But, &c.

and stopped their ears] Thus shewing that they merited the description given in Acts 7:51. The verb signifies, to compress, to hold tight together. On the action thus described cp. T. B. Kethuboth 5 b, “Wherefore is the whole ear hard but the flap soft? That if any hear an unbecoming word he may press up the flap and shut his ear.”

and ran [rushed] upon him with one accord] As though he were one convicted of idolatry, in which case (Deuteronomy 13:9-10) “the hand of all the people” was to be upon the offender.Acts 7:57. Κράξαντες, having cried out) so as that they should not hear Stephen. The transition is easily made from words, threats, stripes, and imprisonment, to murder.—ὥρμησαν, rushed) before that the judges had given (got ready) their votes.Verse 57. - But for then, A.V.; rushed for ran, A.V. (ὥρμησαν). Stopped (συνέσχον)

Lit., held together.

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