12 May. Acts 6:8-15

12 May. Stephen is accused of antisemitism

"Stephen [one of the seven helpers who distributed food to those in need] was richly blessed by God who gave him the power to do great miracles and signs among the people."

"But some Jewish people were against him. They belonged to the Synagogue of Free Men (as it was called), which included Jewish people from Cyrene [in Libya], Alexandria [in Egypt], Cilicia [in modern-day Turkey] and [the Roman province of] Asia. They all came and argued with Stephen."

"But the [Holy] Spirit was helping him to speak with wisdom, and his words were so strong that they could not argue with him. So they secretly urged some men to say, 'We heard Stephen speak against Moses and against God.'"

"This upset the people, the Jewish elders and the teachers of the [Jewish] law. They came and grabbed Stephen and brought him to a meeting of the Jewish leaders. They brought in some people to tell lies about Stephen saying, 'This man is always speaking against this holy place and the law of Moses. We heard him say that Jesus from Nazareth will destroy this place and that Jesus will change the customs Moses gave us.'"

"All the people in the meeting were watching Stephen closely and saw that his faced looked like the face of an angel."

          (Acts 6:8-15)

 

 

Accusations of antisemitism are nothing new! Right in the very early days of the Christian church, Jesus's followers were accused of speaking out against the Jewish people, against the law of Moses, and against God.

As in Stephen's case, not all modern-day accusations of antisemitism are true. Today, those who criticise the current Israeli government for the illegal occupation of the West Bank Palestinian territories and their unjustifiably harsh treatment of Palestinian civilians are often falsely accused of 'antisemitism'. Being Jewish, however, does not put a government above moral censure!

Interestingly, Stephen, who was accused of antisemitism, was himself a Jew! But to his Jewish accusers, he was the wrong type of Jew - he was a 'liberal' Greek-speaking Jew, while they were more traditional Jews from the Jewish sect known as the 'Synagogue of Free Men'.

Unable to substantiate their claims of antisemitism, these traditional right-wing Jews resorted to lies and 'bearing false witness' (see Exodus 20:16). Again, today, there's 'nothing new under the sun' in the way the Israeli government reacts negatively to valid criticism from governments in the EU and the UK. When people turn away from God's ways, often lying is the only way to conceal the unpleasant truth.

So, like today's vocal critics of Jewish racism and nationalism in Palestine, Stephen was opposed. He was arrested and brought before a kangaroo court to be silenced. Having spoken about God's love for mankind and the saving grace of Jesus's death, he was then accused of blasphemy (insulting God) by the traditional conservative Jewish members of the Sanhedrin, the exact body that had accused Jesus of the same crime some five years earlier.

The stage was now set for a gigantic showdown - a liberal left-wing Jew (Stephen) against conservative right-wing Jews (the Sanhedrin) who governed Israel on behalf of their imperialist supporters abroad.

The photo shows the modern Jerusalem tramway at night. The proposed extension of the Israeli tramway system to provide a link to illegal Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories has been criticised by the EU and British governments.

You can read more about Stephen’s showdown with the Jewish authorities @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/…/stephen-is-killed-the-be…/


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