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  • PARALLEL BIBLE - Acts 6:9


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    King James Bible - Acts 6:9

    Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.

    World English Bible

    But some of those who were of the synagogue called "The Libertines," and of the Cyrenians, of the Alexandrians, and of those of Cilicia and Asia arose, disputing with Stephen.

    Douay-Rheims - Acts 6:9

    Now there arose some of that which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of them that were of Cilicia and Asia, disputing with Stephen.

    Webster's Bible Translation

    Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia, and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.

    Greek Textus Receptus


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    Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge

    VERSE (9) -
    Ac 13:45; 17:17,18

    SEV Biblia, Chapter 6:9

    Se levantaron entonces unos de la sinagoga que se llama de los libertinos, y cireneos, y alejandrinos, y de los de Cilicia, y de Asia, disputando con Esteban.

    Clarke's Bible Commentary - Acts 6:9

    Verse 9. The synagogue-of the Libertines, &c.] That
    Jews and proselytes from various countries had now come up to Jerusalem to bring offerings, and to attend the feast of pentecost, we have already seen, chap. ii. 9-11. The persons mentioned here were foreign Jews, who appear to have had a synagogue peculiar to themselves at Jerusalem, in which they were accustomed to worship when they came to the public festivals.

    Various opinions have been entertained concerning the Libertines mentioned here: Bp. Pearce's view of the subject appears to me to be the most correct.

    "It is commonly thought that by this name is meant the sons of such Jews as had been slaves, and obtained their freedom by the favour of their masters; but it is to be observed that with these Libertines the Cyrenians and Alexandrians are here joined, as having one and the same synagogue for their public worship. And it being known that the Cyrenians (chap. ii. 10) lived in Libya, and the Alexandrians in the neighbourhood of it, it is most natural to look for the Libertines too in that part of the world. Accordingly we find Suidas, in his Lexicon, saying, upon the word libertinoi, that it is onoma tou eqnouv, the name of a people. And in Gest. Collationis Carthagine habitae inter Catholicos et Donatistas, published with Optatus's works, Paris, 1679, (No. 201, and p. 57,) we have these words: Victor episcopus Ecclesiae Catholicae LIBERTINENSIS dixit, Unitas est illic, publicam non latet conscientiam. Unity is there: all the world knows it.

    From these two passages it appears that there was in Libya a town or district called Libertina, whose inhabitants bore the name of libertinoi, Libertines, when Christianity prevailed there. They had an episcopal see among them, and the above- mentioned Victor was their bishop at the council of Carthage, in the reign of the Emperor honourius. And from hence it seems probable that the town or district, and the people, existed in the time of which Luke is here speaking. They were Jews, (no doubt,) and came up, as the Cyrenian and Alexandrian Jews did, to bring their offerings to Jerusalem, and to worship God in the temple there. Cunaeus, in his Rep. Hebr. ii. 23, says that the Jews who lived in Alexandria and Libya, and all other Jews who lived out of the Holy Land, except those of Babylon and its neighbourhood, were held in great contempt by the Jews who inhabited Jerusalem and Judea; partly on account of their quitting their proper country, and partly on account of their using the Greek language, and being quite ignorant of the other. For these reasons it seems probable that the Libertines, Cyrenians, and Alexendrians, had a separate synagogue; (as perhaps the Cilicians and those of Asia had;) the Jews of Jerusalem not suffering them to be present in their synagogues, or they not choosing to perform their public service in synagogues where a language was used which they did not understand." It is supposed, also, that these synagogues had theological, if not philosophical, schools attached to them; and that it was the disciples or scholars of these schools who came forward to dispute with Stephen, and were enraged because they were confounded. For it is not an uncommon custom with those who have a bad cause, which can neither stand the test of Scripture nor reason, to endeavour to support it by physical when logical force has failed; and thus: - "Prove their doctrine orthodox, By apostolic blows and knocks." In the reign of Queen Mary, when popery prevailed in this country, and the simplest women who had read the Bible were an overmatch for the greatest of the popish doctors; as they had neither Scripture nor reason to allege, they burned them alive, and thus terminated a controversy which they were unable to maintain. The same cause will ever produce the same effect: the Libertines, Cilicians, Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, pursued this course: Stephen confounded them by Scripture and reason, and they beat his brains out with stones! This was the most effectual way to silence a disputant whose wisdom they could not resist. In the same way were the Protestants treated, when by Scripture and reason they had shown the absurdity and wickedness of that anti-christian system which the fire and the sword were brought forth to establish. These persecutors professed great concern at first for the souls of those whom they variously tortured, and at last burned; but their tender mercies were cruel, and when they gave up the body to the flames, they most heartily consigned the soul to Satan.

    Scires sanguine natos: their conduct proclaimed their genealogy.


    John Gill's Bible Commentary

    Ver. 9. Then there arose certain of the synagogue , etc.] Being filled with indignation at the doctrine of Stephen, and with envy at his miracles, they rose up in great wrath, and warmly opposed him: and they be longed to that synagogue which is called the synagogue of the libertines ; or free men: it is a Roman name, and signifies the sons of free men; and these were either the sons of such Jews, who of servants, or slaves, had been made yrrjwm , free men; or rather such Jews whose parents were born free, or had obtained their freedom at Rome, or in some free city under the Roman government, as Paul at Tarsus; since it is not so easy to account for it, that there should be a peculiar synagogue for the former, whereas there might be for the latter, seeing they could not speak the language of the native Jews. The Arabic version reads, of the Corinthians, as if they were the Jews from Corinth: and some have thought the word Libertines to be the name of a nation or people, as well as the names that follow; and some think it designs the Lybians or Lybistines in Africa; but neither of these is likely: and Cyrenians : natives of the city or country of Cyrene, from whence were many Jews; (see Acts 2:10 11:20) such as Simon the Cyrenian, the father of Alexander, and Rufus, who carried the cross of Christ after him, ( Mark 15:21) these, with those that follow, either belonged to the same synagogue with the Libertines, or rather they severally had distinct synagogues: and this will not seem strange, when it is said f246 , that there were in Jerusalem four hundred and eighty synagogues; though it is elsewhere said four hundred and sixty: and Alexandrians ; for that there were a peculiar synagogue of these at Jerusalem is certain; for there is express mention made of it in Jewish writings f248 . It happened to R. Eleazar bar Tzadok, that he bought tsnkh tyb yyrdnskla l the synagogue of the Alexandrians, which was at Jerusalem, and he did with it whatever he pleased.

    And that they should have a synagogue at Jerusalem need not be wondered at, when there was such an intercourse and correspondence between Jerusalem and Alexandria: it is said f249 , the house of Garmu were expert in making of the shewbread, and they would not teach it; the wise men sent and fetched workmen from Alexandria in Egypt, and they knew how to bake as well as they. The house or family of Abtines were expert in the business of the incense, and they would not teach it; the wise men sent and fetched workmen from Alexandria in Egypt, and they knew how to mix the spices as well as they.

    Again it is said f250 , there was a brass cymbal in the sanctuary, and it was cracked, and the wise men sent and brought workmen from Alexandria in Egypt, and they mended it -and there was a mortar in which they beat spices, and it was cracked, and the wise men sent and fetched workmen from Alexandria, and they mended it.

    Hence many of them doubtless settled here, and had a synagogue of their own: and of them of Cilicia ; the metropolis of which country was Tarsus, ( Acts 21:39 22:3). I make no doubt of it, that Saul of Tarsus was among them, or belonged to this synagogue, and was one of the fierce disputants with Stephen; at least violently opposed him, since he afterwards held the clothes of those that stoned him; we read of yysrj l tsnkh tyb , which I should be tempted to render, the synagogue of the Tarsians, the same with the Cilicians here; but that it is elsewhere said f252 , that it happened to the synagogue of the Tursians, which was at Jerusalem, that they sold it to R. Eliezer, and he did all his business in it.

    Where the gloss explains the word Tursians by brass founders; and it seems to design the same synagogue with that of the Alexandrians, who may be so called, because many of them wrought in brass, as appears from a citation above. There was a synagogue of these Tarsians at Lud, or Lydda f253 : it is added, and of Asia; that is, the less; which joined to Cilicia, and in which were great numbers of Jews; (see Acts 21:27) this clause is left out in the Alexandrian copy: at Jerusalem, there were synagogues for the Jews of different nations; as here in London, are places of worship for protestants of several countries; as French, Dutch, Germans, Danes, Swedes, etc. Now several persons out of these synagogues, met together in a body, disputing with Stephen ; about the doctrine he preached, and the miracles he wrought, and by what authority he did these things.


    Matthew Henry Commentary

    Verses 8-15 - When they could not answer Stephen's arguments as a disputant, the prosecuted him as a criminal, and brought false witnesses against him And it is next to a miracle of providence, that no greater number of religious persons have been murdered in the world, by the way of perjury and pretence of law, when so many thousands hate them, who make no conscience of false oaths. Wisdom and holiness make a man's face to shine, yet will not secure men from being treated badly. What shall we say of man, a rational being, yet attempting to uphold a religiou system by false witness and murder! And this has been done i numberless instances. But the blame rests not so much upon the understanding, as upon the heart of a fallen creature, which i deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Yet the servant of the Lord, possessing a clear conscience, cheerful hope, and Divin consolations, may smile in the midst of danger and death __________________________________________________________________


    Greek Textus Receptus


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    Vincent's NT Word Studies

    9.
    Synagogue. See on Church, Matt. xvi. 18.

    Of the libertines. In Jerusalem, and probably in other large cities, the several synagogues were arranged according to nationalities, and even crafts. Thus we have in this verse mention of the synagogues of the Cyrenians, Alexandrians, Cilicians, and Asiatics. Libertines is a Latin word (libertini, freedmen), and means here Jews or their descendants who had been taken as slaves to Rome, and had there received their liberty; and who, in consequence of the decree of Tiberius, about 19 A.D., expelling them from Rome, had returned in great numbers to Jerusalem. They were likely to be the chief opponents of Stephen, because they supposed that by his preaching, their religion, for which they had suffered at Rome, was endangered in Jerusalem.


    Robertson's NT Word Studies

    6:9 {The synagogue of the Libertines} (ek tes sunagwges tes legomenes libertinwn). The Libertines (Latin _libertinus_, a freedman or the son of a freedman) were Jews, once slaves of Rome (perhaps descendants of the Jews taken to Rome as captives by Pompey), now set free and settled in Jerusalem and numerous enough to have a synagogue of their own. Schuerer calls a Talmudic myth the statement that there were 480 synagogues in Jerusalem. There were many, no doubt, but how many no one knows. These places of worship and study were in all the cities of the later times where there were Jews enough to maintain one. Apparently Luke here speaks of five such synagogues in Jerusalem (that of the Libertines, of the Cyrenians, of the Alexandrians, of Cilicia, and of Asia). There probably were enough Hellenists in Jerusalem to have five such synagogues. But the language of Luke is not clear on this point. He may make only two groups instead of five since he uses the article twn twice (once before libertinwn kai kurenaiwn kai alexandrewn, again before apo Kilikias kai asias). He also changes from the genitive plural to apo before Cilicia and Asia. But, leaving the number of the synagogues unsettled whether five or two, it is certain that in each one where Stephen appeared as a Hellenist preaching Jesus as the Messiah he met opposition. Certain of them "arose" (anestesan) "stood up" after they had stood all that they could from Stephen, "disputing with Stephen" (sunzetountes twi stefanwi). Present active participle of sunzetew, to question together as the two on the way to Emmaus did (#Lu 24:15). Such interruptions were common with Jews. They give a skilled speaker great opportunity for reply if he is quick in repartee. Evidently Stephen was fully equipped for the emergency. One of their synagogues had men from Cilicia in it, making it practically certain that young Saul of Tarsus, the brilliant student of Gamaliel, was present and tried his wits with Stephen. His ignominious defeat may be one explanation of his zest in the stoning of Stephen (#Ac 8:1).


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