Acts 6:9 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Acts 6:9, NIV: Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)--Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia--who began to argue with Stephen.

Acts 6:9, ESV: Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen.

Acts 6:9, KJV: 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.

Acts 6:9, NASB: But some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen, including both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and argued with Stephen.

Acts 6:9, NLT: But one day some men from the Synagogue of Freed Slaves, as it was called, started to debate with him. They were Jews from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia, and the province of Asia.

Acts 6:9, CSB: Opposition arose, however, from some members of the Freedmen's Synagogue, composed of both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, and they began to argue with Stephen.

What does Acts 6:9 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

a Hellenist: not raised in Judea but elsewhere in the Roman Empire, and his primary language is likely Greek, not Aramaic. The synagogues listed are also comprised of Greek-speaking Jews.

"Freedmen" is a blanket name for former slaves and their descendants. In the first century BC, Roman general Pompey captured some Jews, enslaved them, and took them to Rome. The Jewish slaves followed their religion so strictly, including refusing to work on the Sabbath and adhering to kosher law, they were useless as slaves, so Pompey released them. The Freedmen are descendants of these and other former slaves.

The Cyrenians are from Cyrene in modern-day Libya, and the Alexandrians are from Alexandria in Egypt. At the time described in this passage, both cities have large populations of Jews.

Cilicia is a province on the southeast coast of modern-day Asia Minor. Tarsus, where Paul comes from, is in Cilicia. "Asia," in this context, does not mean the eastern continent. In Stephen's era, the term Asia referred to a province in the western part of modern-day Asia Minor; this includes Troas, Ephesus, Colossae, and the other churches mentioned in Revelation 2–3. Paul will spend two to three years in Ephesus (Acts 19). It is the Jews from Asia who eventually get him arrested in Jerusalem (Acts 21:27).

A synagogue is a place for Jews to meet, read Scripture, and discuss what they read. Although Moses gave the Israelites God's law, the kings often neglected or lost the law. In the reign of Jehoshaphat, the wise king sent officials throughout Judah to teach the people the law (2 Chronicles 17:7–9). When the exiles returned from Babylon, they had a problem. The law was in Hebrew, which very few people had learned. They natively spoke Aramaic, the trade language. So, when Ezra read the law to the people, scribes intermingled with the crowd, explaining what the words meant (Nehemiah 8:1–8). Synagogues served a similar purpose and are the model for the Christian church.

According to the Mosaic law, the men of Israel were to gather in Jerusalem for certain feasts throughout the year. Jerusalem is 1,400 miles from Rome, so Jews who did not live near Jerusalem came when they could. When they arrived, they found a group of their countrymen in an established synagogue. Some stayed in Jerusalem while others completed their business and returned home. Either way, to travel that far to worship at the temple of their people was a serious commitment and took a very devout person. It's easy to see how they would be protective of their faith and their temple.