“The freedmen set up
‘This man never ceases
Against this holy place
And the law.’”
ἔστησάν τε μάρτυρας ψευδεῖς λέγοντας Ὁ ἄνθρωπος οὗτος οὐ παύεται λαλῶν ῥήματα κατὰ τοῦ τόπου τοῦ ἁγίου καὶ τοῦ νόμου·
The author of Acts indicated that these freedmen set up (ἔστησάν) false witnesses (τε μάρτυρας ψευδεῖς) who said (λέγοντας) that this man (Ὁ ἄνθρωπος οὗτος) never ceased (οὐ παύεται) saying words or things (λαλῶν ῥήματα) against this holy place (κατὰ τοῦ τόπου τοῦ ἁγίου), the Temple, and the law (καὶ τοῦ νόμου). The accusation against Stephen was that he was critical of the two most important symbols of the Jewish religion, the holy Temple and the holy Torah, the place of worship and the law that everyone followed. Once again, this false witness concept parallels the end of the life of Jesus in Matthew, chapter 26:59, where the chief priests (Οἱ δὲ ἀρχιερεῖς) and the whole council (καὶ τὸ συνέδριον ὅλον) sought false testimony against Jesus (ἐζήτουν ψευδομαρτυρίαν κατὰ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ). They did this so that they might put him to death (ὅπως αὐτὸν θανατώσωσιν). Has anyone ever lied about you?
“Now the chief priests
And the whole council
They might put him
But they found none.
Many false witnesses
Οἱ δὲ ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ τὸ συνέδριον ὅλον ἐζήτουν ψευδομαρτυρίαν κατὰ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ὅπως αὐτὸν θανατώσωσιν,
καὶ οὐχ εὗρον πολλῶν προσελθόντων ψευδομαρτύρων.
This is almost word for word in Mark, chapter 14:55-56. However, this is not in Luke, chapter 22, and John, chapter 18. Matthew and Mark said that the chief priests (Οἱ δὲ ἀρχιερεῖς) and the whole council (καὶ τὸ συνέδριον ὅλον) sought false testimony against Jesus (ἐζήτουν ψευδομαρτυρίαν κατὰ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ). They did this so that they might put him to death (ὅπως αὐτὸν θανατώσωσιν). However, they could not find any witnesses (καὶ οὐχ εὗρον), even though many false witnesses came forward (πολλῶν προσελθόντων ψευδομαρτύρων). According to Jewish law in Deuteronomy, chapters 17:6 and 19:15, it took 2 witnesses to convict anyone. This sounds more like a trial than an informal meeting. Not only were they seeking pseudo or false witnesses, the whole council meeting may have been illegal, since they were not allowed to meet during the festivals, including Passover. The whole council would have included the elders or presbyters and the Scribes of Jerusalem, along with priests and high priests. The dreaded Pharisees and Sadducees were not part of this council or meeting.
“A faithful witness does not lie.
But a false witness breathes out lies.
A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain.
But knowledge is easy for one who understands.
Leave the presence of a fool.
There you do not find words of knowledge.
It is the wisdom of the clever
To understand where they go.
But the folly of fools misleads.”
The problem of lying appears often. The faithful witness does not lie. However, the false witnesses breathe out lies without even thinking about it. The scoffer cynic will seek wisdom in vain. Knowledge, on the other hand, is easy for those people who understand what is going on. Stay away from fools because they do not have words of knowledge. The clever ones have wisdom so that they understand where they are going, but the folly of the fools will mislead you down the wrong path.
“Teach me your way!
Lead me on a level path,
Because of my enemies!
Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries!
False witnesses have risen against me.
They are breathing out violence.”
Yahweh was to be his teacher. Yahweh would lead him through a level path because of his enemies. He did not want to be given up to his adversaries. These false witnesses had risen up in violence against him. He wanted Yahweh to teach him the ways of the straight level path.