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And they stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; and they came upon him, seized him, and brought him to the council. Acts 6:12
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Charges of speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God have been made against Stephen. With that, it now reads, “And they stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes.” The word translated as “stirred up” is found only here in the Bible. It comes from two other words signifying “together” and “move.” As such, it is to take the entire mass and to stir, resulting in an excited mixture.
The sense then isn’t that it was just the common people, but even the elders and scribes had been stirred up. It was as if the entire population was brought to a frenzy. A good example of the resulting mayhem is found in Acts 21 and 22 where Paul found himself in a similar pickle as the people beat him and shouted accusations against him. There is somewhat of an irony in the matter though, because Paul refers to this exact event in Acts 6 & 7 while stating his case concerning Christ –
“And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.” Acts 22:20
For now, the crowd around Stephen has been stirred up against him. Therefore, Luke next records, “and they came upon him.” The verb is an aorist participle and should be rendered, “and having come upon him.” That then naturally leads into the action whereby they “seized him.”
The word used here is found only in Luke and Acts. It is a compound word coming from sun (together with) and harpazó (to snatch away). In other words, it wasn’t that a group of people came upon him, and then one grabbed him. Rather, a whole group grabbed him. Maybe one took an arm while another took a leg. Pretty soon, he was lifted up and hauled away. Or it could be that they surrounded him like a mob, everyone laying a hand on him, and he was manhandled like someone in the process of being tackled in a football game.
The entire scene is active and alive as they jostled with their captive “and brought him to the council.” It is the same council that the apostles had been taken to, and it is the same council to which Jesus had been brought.
Life application: During the January 6 rally in Washington, there were people who stirred up the crowd, somewhat like what happened to Stephen. They were government informants and government operators who purposefully stirred up the people in order to later target those in the crowd as insurgents and insurrectionists.
Those who were otherwise innocent were brought into the fray and taken along with the miscreants who riled the people up in the first place. From there, those who actually stirred up the crowds were carefully ignored and any photos of them were excised from the public’s attention.
This is how such things get started. The tactics are recorded by Luke so that we can see that this is how humans work against one another in order to meet a set and perverse agenda. As this is so, it is wise to always be aware of your surroundings. If you suspect someone is stirring up the masses in order to incite them in an inappropriate way, be watchful and attentive to their actions.
This will probably become a more common tactic to be used against Christians in the days ahead. So, watch and be prepared to call out anyone who is seen to be setting up those of the faith for later accusation. Be alert and be ready to record any such person so that he can be identified when it is necessary to make a proper defense.
Heavenly Father, people have been wrongly accusing Your faithful all along. Help us to be prepared at such times to have a proper defense for our words and our actions. Today we have cameras on almost every phone. Help us to take advantage of them when needed so that we can single out such miscreants, thus protecting Your people from unjust accusations and harm. Amen.