Summary: Stephen was a willing worker for the Church in the days of the Apostles. There were some people, including religious leaders, who didn't like him and made plans to do something to him.
An Outline for Acts 6:8-15
Introduction: Stephen was one of the original seven men chosen to assist the apostles (see Acts 6:1-7). He was able to more than just assist in distribution of food, as he performed “great wonders and miracles among the people” and even engaged in dialogue with members of a particular synagogue. Stephen remained true to the Lord even though some false witnesses (a/k/a liars) brought him before the Council (Sanhedrin) and accused him of saying things he didn’t’say.
Text, Acts 6:8-15, KJV: 8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.
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. 10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. 11 Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God. 12 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, 13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: 14 For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us. 15 And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.
--Verse 8, Stephen’s ministry between his selection and his trial
He was here said to be full of faith and power, performing great wonders and miracles among the people, even though we do not know exactly what he did.
Previously he was known to be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, plus a man of good report (see verse 3). These are good qualities for any believer.
--Verses 9-10, the dialogues at the synagogue
Synagogues were Jewish places of worship; some were even used for schools, perhaps other uses
Nucleus of 10 practicing Jewish men or families to establish one. Descriptions of form and function are available from various sources, commentaries, etc.
“Libertines” are also called “Freedmen” in other translations. How they came to called and treated as such is not specified. Again, Luke to refers to something in place, but not how the event or item in question took place.
Several different groups: if not included among the “Libertines”, Cyrenians and Alexandrians were from North Africa. Alexandria was one of the largest cities in the Roman world. Cyrene may have been near modern day Libya and was the homeland of Simon, the man who was forced to carry the cross for Jesus (Matthew 27:32; Mark 15:21; Luke 23:26 )
Cilicia was a province in modern day Turkey. Tarsus was an important city and Saul, later Paul, was from there originally (Acts 21:39, 22:3).
Asia at the time meant the western portion of Asia Minor. Ephesus and other important cities were located there.
Some people from all these regions, except Cilicia, were in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:9-11). Luke does not say why they were here, if they had only come down for one of the feasts or other observances or if they now permanently dwelt in Jerusalem.
These folks did not receive nor believe the message as preached by Stephen.
Now they planned to do something to Stephen.
--Verses 11-14, the accusation against Stephen
“Suborned” means they basically bribed or got some people to secretly perform something not right. Dictionary.com has an exact definition at https://www.dictionary.com/browse/suborned#
This had happened before:
-Jezebel found two false witnesses to accuse Naboth of blasphemy when Ahab, king of the Ten Northern Tribes wanted Naboth’s vineyard—but wouldn’t sell it (see 1 Kings 21:1-19 for the whole story).
-Jeremiah faced false accusations any number of times during his lifetime in the last days of the Two Southern Tribes (Judah and Benjamin). Once he was accused of surrendering to the Babylonians when all he wanted to do was leave Jerusalem (Jeremiah 37).
-Matthew records how the religious leaders sought false witnesses in order to have Jesus put to death (Matthew 27:59-62).
-Later Paul himself would face false witnesses when he was on trial before Felix (Acts 24).
These leaders then “stirred up the people” and had him taken before the Council. This had happened to Jesus Himself, being arrested and then taken to the high priest and others (see the Gospels for more details).
The people who were “stirred up”—were they some of those he had helped in the recent past? Stephen would have been justified in saying “no good deed ever goes unpunished” but there is no record of this. He was a believer in Jesus and trusted Him in all things.