Acts 6:11-15
Acts 6:11 (KJB)
Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.
Suborn - To produce or procure in an unlawful way by bribe or collusion
Once again the Sanhedrin resorts to the same tactics that they used against the Lord Jesus Christ. They could find nothing against Stephen so they needed to manufacture a case against him. As usual, there will always be those available to the highest bidder and as they found false witnesses against the Lord Jesus Christ, they were able to find false witnesses against Stephen. (Mat 26:59 KJV) Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; Just as they sought to put Jesus to death, they now wanted to put Stephen to death. Stephen must have been preaching a no compromise Gospel which was pricking the people in their hearts, so he had to go. Stephen was probably preaching a message on grace alone and told the men that they no longer needed to be circumcised because the Mosaic Law and its ceremonies were no longer needed as salvation came only by grace without works. Of course, this type of message scares the leaders because that would mean they were no longer needed as interpreters of the law and this would also mean that they would see their wealth diminish as people left the Temple and synagogues.
Acts 6:12 (KJB)
And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council,
These false witnesses had two functions, they were to make accusations against the teaching of the grace Gospel and then to stir up the people and the rest of the leaders to the point that Stephen would have to be brought before the Sanhedrin to explain and there they could pronounce a charge of blasphemy and legally sentence him to death based upon the law. (1 Ki 21:10 KJV) And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die. The same tactic was used against Naboth by Jezebel when he refused to sell Ahab his vineyard. They accused him of blaspheming God and the King and therefore he was stoned to death. The false witnesses were successful in their duties as Stephen was now taken before the Sanhedrin.
Acts 6:13 (KJB)
And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:
Now that they had Stephen in front of the Sanhedrin, the false witnesses were allowed to speak first. This is a tactic which is very effective. When the false witnesses were allowed to speak first, they were able to plant all these accusations into the minds of the people so it would take root. Now it is a sorry thing because it seems accusations have the same weight as facts. Stephen would have to go on the defensive to dispel the accusations which were soaked up by the people and the Sanhedrin as actual facts in evidence. If Stephen was preaching a pure grace message, then he would have preached that the circumcision and the rest of the ceremonies, sacrifices, and rituals were no longer applicable because they were only foreshadows of Christ and His final sacrifice. This would also include the Temple because now the Temple which was in view was the body of Christ. (1 Cor 3:16 KJV) Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? This is why they could not understand the Lord when He told them that in three days He would raise the Temple but He was speaking of his body. (John 2:19-21 KJV) Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. {20} Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? {21} But he spake of the temple of his body. Along with Him raising up His body as His Temple, all the true believers will be raised on the last day in their temples. (1 Cor 6:19 KJV) What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? When Christ rose from the dead, He began to build the Great Temple known as His body which will be complete on the last day when the last one is saved.
Acts 6:14 (KJB)
For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.
The first accusation they made was what we saw in our previous verse about the Lord stating that if they destroy His temple, that is, His body, in three days He will rise from the dead. The other accusation they would have thrown against Stephen would have been the statement Jesus made in Matthew 24. (Mat 24:1-2 KJV) And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple. {2} And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. In Matthew 24:1-2, Jesus was prophesying the end of the physical temple which would be destroyed in 70 A.D. by the Romans. All the records and genealogies of the people were also destroyed and the people were dispersed and assimilated into other cultures. These false witnesses accused Stephen of preaching that Jesus was going to destroy the Temple. It is also interesting to note that they used the derogatory term, “Jesus of Nazareth.” (John 1:46 KJV) And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. Remember the comment Nathanael made about Nazareth because it did not have a good reputation. So basically the false witnesses were denigrating the character of Jesus which would automatically denigrate the character of those associated with Him.
They also accused Stephen of speaking against the customs and ceremonies of the Mosaic Law which was the capstone of the Jewish religion. If Stephen was preaching a grace only gospel, then he was not denigrating the law of Moses but he would have preached that the rituals associated with it were not necessary for salvation. The words of the law added nothing to salvation nor could it initiate it. If the law of Moses was set aside, then the leaders would also have to be set aside and this would mean their positions and wealth would be a thing of the past and this they could not tolerate. (John 12:19 KJV) The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him. They feared the same thing about Jesus, that the whole world was going after Him and they
would be left behind and become poor. If the whole world went after the non-works Gospel, then they would be out of work.
Acts 6:15 (KJB)
And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.
Looking stedfastly - Having looked intently
All those who were in the Council had looked stedfastly or very intently at Stephen and they had noticed something different about him. It may have been that his countenance had changed just as the face of Moses had changed when He was in the presence of the Lord on Sinai. (Exo 34:35 KJV) And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone: and Moses put the veil upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him. We are not told exactly what the face of Stephen looked like but this we do know that something was different about him when he faced the Sanhedrin. Maybe it was a face of a calm man as he did not fear this group or some kind of divine miracle had given him a change in his demeanor. Whatever it was, they had all noticed it, yet it did not even phase them one bit. It shows the hardness of the heart.