Acts 6:11

Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, "We have heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God."

What was an example of blasphemous words against Moses that they accused Stephen had said?

1 Answer 1


An example is given in Acts 6:13-14, but context first. Stephen had been doing great wonders and miracles among the people in Jerusalem. Some of the members of the synagogue began to dispute with Stephen, but verse 10 says, “And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.” That led to lying witnesses being used to stir up the people against Stephen. Verses 13-14 then give examples of their false accusations:

“This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law : For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.”

Stephen was charged with speaking against the temple in Jerusalem (‘this holy place’) and speaking against the law – general accusations. That was technically the Mosaic law, but the record shows it was actually against the customs connected with what Moses delivered to the Israelites. And, specifically, he was charged with saying that the Jesus they had had crucified said he would destroy the temple, also that Jesus claimed he would change the customs of Moses.

The only specific charge was repeating the words of Jesus that had been misunderstood by the original hearers. See John 2:18-21 for that. Unsurprisingly, those who hated Jesus before his resurrection were no different to those who hated him after his resurrection. They misunderstood Jesus saying “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The original hearers thought Jesus meant the temple in Jerusalem, which was 46 years in the building and still wasn’t complete. “But [Jesus] spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them.”

It turns out that they could not pin any blasphemous words of Stephen against Moses, but that his reference to Jesus’ words stung them to the core, and they were likely desperate to stop Stephen’s testimony to the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Hence the false witnesses who could only make that one, specific charge, which they claimed was blasphemy against Moses who had, indeed, prophesied the coming of one like him, whom the people were to listen to. That was the one Stephen was proclaiming as the fulfilment of Moses' words. Here are the actual words of Stephen that they could not bear to hear, as recorded in Acts 7:37, by way of Stephen’s defence, wherein he proved thorough knowledge of the law and of Moses:

“This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.” (A reference to Deuteronomy 18:18.)

This was taken to be blasphemy against Moses, when it was actually upholding the truthfulness of Moses' prediction, showing its fulfilment in Jesus of Nazareth. When Stephen concluded his defence, he saw a vision of heaven and the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. That was when the stones began to fly (Acts 7:52-60).

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