That is, what was the purpose/significance of laying the clothes down?
ESV - 58 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.
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In my humble opinion we are told that Saul was a young man present at the trial and then the stoning of Stephen. I submit there is a two fold answer, first traditional respect of authority and then traditional legal approval for the business at hand. Saul later carried written authority to persecute Christians on his Damascus road trip, but after his encounter with Jesus, he became Paul and scripture tells us of his pride in being a Hebrew of Hebrews and taught at the feet of Gamaliel (respect of authority). Gamaliel was the grandson of Hillel, the great Jewish scholar of the law and the first to formulate principles of Biblical interpretation and president of the Sanhedrin. Note; The Talmud (ancient rabbinic writings on Jewish law and traditions) is divided into Mishna and Gemara. Mishna consists of concise phrases which review legal and moral conclusions derived from a close study of the Torah (Jewish Bible) Gemara traces the Mishna principles back to their Biblical sources, then extrapolates from those principles to life situations. I submit for your consideration; that Saul though he was young, he was superior in traditional authority via his educational training than the others that were present at Stephen's tribunal. Galatians 1:14 This can be seen in the first sentence of Acts 8:1 "And Saul was there, giving approval to his death" first; by the tribunal laying their clothes at the feet of Saul (respect of authority) second; by not speaking to stop them, he gave his okay (legal approval) to proceed with the execution. Ibib 2:5; "In a place where there are no men, try to be a man" (Hillel) In the Lord's freedom never silenced by evil....................warrior on
The answer to this question is not very nice. In short, I can throw a baseball harder, faster and more accurately if I take my coat off. If I am in a crowd of people when I do this, someone might try to steal my coat while I am concentrating on hitting my target. If a friend is with me, he will stand close and watch so nobody walks off with my coat. The bloodthirsty people who were throwing rocks at Stephen with the intent to kill him wanted to be more accurate and be sure the rocks would hit him hard enough to break his bones, crush his skull and ensure he stops breathing. They could have been wearing the equivalent of a t-shirt under their outer garments or they could have been shirtless when throwing the rocks. Paul, wanting to be a nice guy looked after the murderers coats/cloaks/garments/robes so nobody else in the mob of people would steal them.
I do not think there is any symbolism or hidden meaning in Saul's actions. Most likely, the people who did the stoning (witnesses), removed their outer layer of clothing in order to be more comfortable, and probably to avoid any damage to their garments during the execution, while Saul was guarding them. Paul (Saul) himself explain later that he was guarding the clothing: "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.
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