I approved of the death of Stephen (Acts 22:20)

“While the blood

Of your witness,

Stephen,

Was shed,

I myself

Was standing by.

I approved.

I kept watch over

The garments

Of those who killed him.’”

καὶ ὅτε ἐξεχύννετο τὸ αἷμα Στεφάνου τοῦ μάρτυρός σου, καὶ αὐτὸς ἤμην ἐφεστὼς καὶ συνευδοκῶν καὶ φυλάσσων τὰ ἱμάτια τῶν ἀναιρούντων αὐτόν.

The author of Acts indicated that Paul said that while the blood (τὸ αἷμα) of the Lord’s witness (τοῦ μάρτυρός σου), Stephen (Στεφάνου), was shed or poured out (καὶ ὅτε ἐξεχύννετο), he himself stood (καὶ αὐτὸς ἤμην ἐφεστὼς) by approving of it (καὶ συνευδοκῶν).  He kept watch over (καὶ φυλάσσων) the garments (τὰ ἱμάτια) of those who killed Stephen (τῶν ἀναιρούντων αὐτόν).  This is was an expanded allusion to what was said in chapter 8:1, “Saul (Σαῦλος) approved (δὲ ἦν συνευδοκῶν) of their killing Stephen (τῇ ἀναιρέσει αὐτοῦ).”  There was no doubt that Saul had approved of this persecution of the early Christian community.  The apostles were spared, perhaps due to the earlier meeting where the Pharisee Gamaliel had told them to leave the leaders of this Jesus movement, Peter and John, alone in chapter 5:38.  Paul had freely taken part in the early Christian persecution in Jerusalem.  He even indicated that he took care of the clothes of those who were stoning Stephen in Jerusalem.  He admitted to his complicity in this killing.  What do you think of a man who approved of the murder of an early Christian disciple?

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