Who are the Libertines?

Summary of Acts 6:1-15 ESV, with practical application

Stephen, a man with a good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (libertines), and some others, rose up and disputed with Stephen.

So, who were these people? I Googled the definitions of both “synagogue” and “libertine” and this is what was rendered (source Oxford Languages):

“Synagogue – the building where a Jewish assembly or congregation meets for religious worship and instruction; a Jewish assembly or congregation.” “Libertine – a person, especially a man, who behaves without moral principles or a sense of responsibility, especially in sexual matters; a person who rejects accepted opinions in matters of religion; a freethinker.”

Now, what this sounds like is that these were not traditional Jews, but they were an offshoot (a copy of the original but with alterations) of the Jewish faith, and without all the restrictions of the Jewish faith. So not an exact replica, but more like the servants of Satan who masquerade themselves as servants of righteousness, or like the charlatans or the wolves in sheep’s clothing, having an appearance of godliness but denying its power. For it appears they were living immoral lifestyles. But opinions differ on this.

False teachers and/or false Christians [Matthew 7:15-23; Matthew 24:11-14; John 10:1-15; 2 Peter 2:1-22; 1 Timothy 1:3-7; 1 Timothy 6:3-10; 2 Timothy 3:1-9; 1 John 4:1-6; Jude 1:1-25]

But as I read this passage of Scripture, and as I looked up these definitions, what this reminded me of is the institutional market-driven and flesh-driven “churches” (like synagogues) in America today which are really businesses of human origin, but they just call themselves “churches.” So they are loosely based off the original church, but they are altered and modified to fit with today’s culture and with what the world is craving, and in order to be more “user friendly” and not judgmental, so as not to offend the senses of the ungodly, which includes many who are professing faith in Jesus Christ.

And the people who are party to these alterations, and those who are following after these “libertines,” are people who are also opposed to followers of Jesus Christ who are actually following the teachings of Christ and the teachings of the New Testament apostles. And some of them are disputing with some of us who are sharing the truth of the gospel and who are exposing the lies of Satan. And if they cannot trip us up with our words or get us to back down from our beliefs, then they may try other initiatives.

Then they may make up lies against us, like the libertines lied about Stephen and accused him of things he did not do. And they may do this in secret where we can’t see what they are doing or saying about us. And they may be successful in turning others against us just based on their words alone. And they may be so convincing as to convince even people in positions of leadership and authority in the Christian community to shun us or to come strongly against us. And this is happening to some Christians.

And when and if they do, we are not to let this shake us, for the Scriptures tell us that this will take place, and that we are not to worry ahead of time what we will say, for if we are listening to the Lord, the Holy Spirit will give us the response we need to have at that moment. And we are not to fear these types of things happening to us, either, for God is in control. He is still completely sovereign over all he created. So nothing can touch us unless God allows it and he allows it for a purpose, and he will carry us through it.

“And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.” (verse 15 ESV)

Now may we all have faces like that of an angel when we are being falsely accused of things we did not do and/or say, and/or when our words are taken out of context and twisted for the purpose to try to make us look bad.

[Matt 5:10-12; Matt 10:16-25; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 6:22-23; Lu 21:12-19; Jn 15:1-21; Jn 16:33; Jn 17:14; Ac 14:22; Rom 5:3-5; Phil 3:7-11; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 1 Pet 4:12-17; 2 Tim 3:12; 1 Thess 3:1-5; Jas 1:2-4; 2 Co 1:3-11; Heb 12:3-12; 1 Jn 3:13; Rev 6:9-11; Rev 7:9-17; Rev 11:1-3; Rev 12:17; Rev 13:1-18; Rev 14:1-13]

Have Thine Own Way, Lord

Words by Adelaide A. Pollard, 1907
Music by George C. Stebbins, 1907

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway.
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!

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