Acts 7:58 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Acts 7:58, NIV: dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.

Acts 7:58, ESV: Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul.

Acts 7:58, KJV: And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.

Acts 7:58, NASB: When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul.

Acts 7:58, NLT: and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul.

Acts 7:58, CSB: They dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. And the witnesses laid their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul.

What does Acts 7:58 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

A Jewish Christian and deacon, Stephen, has angered other Hellenistic Jews in Jerusalem by showing that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah. His arguments were so unimpeachable that the men resorted to falsely accusing him of blasphemy against the Mosaic law and the temple (Acts 6:8–15). The specifics are hard to determine, but it's believed that under Roman law, the Jews were not allowed to execute someone unless they threatened a religious structure, which was a capital offense anywhere (John 18:31). The Sanhedrin was unable to convincingly convict Jesus of such a charge (Mark 14:55–59), so they couldn't kill Him outright. Plus, Jesus was so popular they didn't want His blood on their hands (Mark 14:1–2), so they took him to Pilate, knowing that if the Roman government killed this teacher from Galilee, the attention would be off them.

So why does the mob feel free to kill Stephen? Although he has been performing miracles and signs (Acts 6:8), he's still relatively unknown, and he certainly isn't the leader of the movement, so he has no crowd of defenders. And his accusers are angry beyond reason. Not only has he successfully shown that the Jews are God's people without the Law or the temple, he has claimed to see Jesus standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:57). If Stephen is speaking falsely, this is the grossest blasphemy possible: to say that a man shares God's glory. And because they've rejected Stephen's message of the gospel, the accusers can't accept Stephen might be telling the truth.

Although their execution of Stephen is against Roman law, although Stephen hasn't been officially convicted, and although the charges are false, the mob is at least performing the execution according to Mosaic law. According to Leviticus 24:10–23, if someone blasphemes against God they should be taken outside of the city and the witnesses should stone him.

Jesus prophesied what is happening to Stephen. He told the disciples that the world would treat them the same way they treated Him. Jesus was almost stoned twice (John 8:59; 10:31) and was executed for the same reason as Stephen: for claiming Jesus is God.

But Jesus did not tell His disciples about the "young man" who stands with the mob's coats at Stephen's feet (Acts 22:20). He is a Jew who grew up in Tarsus, on the south-facing eastern coast of modern-day Asia Minor. He has been trained by one of the most revered Pharisees (Acts 22:3) and there is no one more zealous for the Law. Soon, he will persecute the Christians in Jerusalem (Acts 8:3). When they flee, he will get permission to chase them, even to Damascus, two hundred miles away. There he will meet Jesus. After years of growth, he will start to use the Greek version of his name—Paul—and be a missionary to the Gentiles (Acts 9).