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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
Acts 9

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

1. ὁ δὲ Σαῦλος, but Saul. The δέ takes up the previous δέ in Acts 8:1, where Saul was last alluded to. On this resumptive use of δέ cf. Winer-Moulton, p. 553.

ἐμπνέων ἀπειλῆς, breathing threatening. This was the atmosphere in which he was constantly living during his search for the Christians. The rendering ‘breathing out’ (A.V.) gives a wrong sense. Cf. LXX. Joshua 10:40 πᾶν ἐμπνέον ζωῆς ἐξωλόθρευσεν, ‘he utterly destroyed everything which drew the breath of life.’

εἰς τοὺς μαθητάς, against the disciples. We are not told of any other death, but Stephen’s, in which Saul was an active participator, but we can gather from his own words (Acts 26:10) ‘when they were put to death, I gave my voice [vote] against them’ that the protomartyr was not the only one who was killed in the time of this persecution. It has been suggested that the zeal which Saul shewed at the time of Stephen’s death led to his election into the Sanhedrin, and so he took a judicial part in the later stages of the persecution, and, it may be from a desire to justify the choice of those who had placed him in authority, he sought to be appointed over the enquiry after the Christians in Damascus. We gather from Acts 26:10 that before this inquisitorial journey he had been armed with the authority of the chief priests in his search after the Christians in Jerusalem.

τῷ ἀρχιερεῖ, to the high-priest. He would be the person through whom the power, which the great Sanhedrin claimed to exercise in religious matters, over Jews in foreign cities, would be put in motion.


Verses 1-9

Acts 9:1-9. SAUL’S MISSION TO DAMASCUS AND HIS CONVERSION


Verse 2

2. ἐπιστολάς, letters. These are the papers which constituted his ‘authority and commission’ (Acts 26:12). From that passage we learn that the issuing of these papers was the act of the whole body, for Paul there says they were ‘from the chief priests.’

Δαμασκόν, Damascus. Of the history of this most ancient (Genesis 14:15) city in the world, see the Dictionary of the Bible. It had from the earliest period been mixed up with the history of the Jews, and great numbers of Jews were living there at this time, as we can see from the subsequent notices of their conduct in this chapter. We are told by Josephus (B. J. II. 20. 2) that ten thousand Jews were slaughtered in a massacre in Damascus in Nero’s time, and that the wives of the Damascenes were almost all of them attached to the Jewish religion.

πρὸς τὰς συναγωγάς, to the synagogues, viz. those which existed in Damascus. As at Jerusalem, so in Damascus, the synagogues were numerous, and occupied by different classes and nationalities. Greek-Jews were sure to be found in so large a city.

τιναςτῆς ὁδοῦ ὄντας, any that were of the Way. For εἰμὶ with this genitive of a class or particular character, cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:5 οὐκ ἐσμὲν νυκτὸς οὐδὲ σκότους, and just afterwards (Acts 9:8) ἡμεῖς δὲ ἡμέρας ὄντες.

The name ‘the Way’ soon became a distinctive appellation of the Christian religion. The fuller expression ‘the way of truth’ is found 2 Peter 2:2; and the brief term is common in the Acts. See Acts 19:9; Acts 19:23, Acts 22:4, Acts 24:14; Acts 24:22.

ἄνδρας τε καὶ γυναῖκας, whether they be men or women. We can mark the fury with which Saul raged against the Christians from this mention of the ‘women’ as included among those whom he committed and desired to commit to prison. Cp. Acts 8:3 and Acts 22:4. The women played a more conspicuous part among early Christians than they were allowed to do among the Jews. See note on Acts 1:14.

εἰς Ἱερουσαλήμ, unto Jerusalem, as to the head-quarters of Jewish authority, where the whole power of the great Sanhedrin might be employed to crush out the new teaching.


Verse 3

3. ἐν δὲ τῷ πορεύεσθαι, and as he journeyed. There were two roads by which Saul could make his journey, one the caravan road which led from Egypt to Damascus, and kept near the coast line of the Holy Land till it struck eastward to cross the Jordan at the north of the Lake of Tiberias. To join this road Saul must have at first turned westward to the sea. The other way led through Neapolis and crossed the Jordan south of the Sea of Tiberias, and passing through Gadara went north-eastward to Damascus. We have no means whereby to decide by which road Saul and his companions took their way. The caravan road was a distance of 136 miles, and occupied six days for the journey.

ἐγένετο αὐτὸν ἐγγίζειν, it came to pass that he drew nigh. This accusative and infinitive after ἐγένετο is frequent in St Luke’s writings, but it also occurs in other parts of N.T.; cf. Mark 2:23, καὶ ἐγένετο παραπορεύεσθαι αὐτὸν διὰ τῶν σπορίμων. Cf. Winer-Moulton, p. 406.

The party must have reached the near neighbourhood of the city, for his companions (Acts 9:8) ‘led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus’ after the vision.

φῶς ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, a light from heaven. In Acts 22:6 we are told that the time of the day was ‘about noon’ when the vision was seen, and in Acts 26:13 Paul says that ‘at mid-day’ the light was ‘above the brightness of the sun.’ The mid-day glare of an Eastern sun is of itself exceedingly bright, and the hour was chosen, we cannot doubt, in order that ‘the glory’ of this heaven-sent light should not be confounded with any natural phenomenon. It was in the midst of this glory that Christ was seen by Saul (1 Corinthians 15:8), so that he can enumerate himself among those who had beheld the Lord after His resurrection.


Verse 4

4. καὶ πεσὼν ἐπὶ τὴν ἤκουσεν, and he fell to the earth and heard. The fall was in consequence of the dazzling intensity of the brightness. From Acts 26:14 we find that not only Saul but his companions were struck down by the light, though there was more in the vision which he beheld than was made evident to them, and by reason of the greater glory which was manifested to him his natural sight was blinded.

φωνήν. By using the accusative case here and the genitive in Acts 9:7, St Luke seems to point out that there was a difference between the hearing which Saul experienced and that of his companions. St Paul in Acts 22:9 marks the distinction in his own narrative of what occurred. Speaking of his companions, he says τὴν φωνὴν οὐκ ἤκουσαν, though here in Acts 9:7 we have ἀκούοντες μὲν τῆς φωνῆς said of them.

Taking all the instances together the correct conclusion seems to be that when ἀκούειν signifies direct hearing, it may have after it a genitive case and participle, but not an accusative and participle. Thus the construction of λέγουσαν in this verse must be taken as an apposition to φωνήν, a voice that said, &c. So also must be explained the construction in Acts 26:14.

Saul during the vision heard articulate sounds, a voice which spake to him, but his companions were only conscious of a sound from which they comprehended nothing.

Of a similar supernatural communication to Hyrcanus the high priest we have (Joseph. Ant. XIII. 10. 3) φασὶ γὰρ ὅτιαὐτὸς ἐν τῷ ναῷ θυμιῶν μόνος ὢν ὁ ἀρχιερεὺς ἀκούσειε φωνῆς ὡς οἱ παῖδες αὐτοῦ νενικήκασιν ἀρτίως τὸν Ἀντιόχον. In this case the sound was that of intelligible words.

Σαοὺλ Σαούλ, τί με διώκεις; Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me? It is very noteworthy that in all the three accounts of the vision the Greek text of Saul’s name is a transliteration of the Hebrew, shewing that we have here a very close adherence to the words of Jesus. The Lord spake in the language of His people, and both the evangelist and the apostle have preserved for as this remarkable feature of the heavenly address. The only other place where the Hebrew form of Saul’s name is retained is in the speech of Ananias when (Acts 9:17) he comes to see the convert in his blindness. As he also had received a communication from Jesus in connexion with Saul’s conversion, we can understand how the same form of the name would have been given to him. Moreover he was himself, to judge from his name, a Hebrew, and therefore that form would be most natural on his lips. Except in these cases St Luke always employs the Greek form of the word.

Christ speaks of Himself as persecuted by Saul, because ‘in all the affliction of His people He is afflicted’ (Isaiah 63:9), and ‘whoso toucheth them toucheth the apple of His eye’ (Zechariah 2:8).


Verse 5

5. εἶπεν δέ, Τίς εἶ, κύριε and he said, Who art thou, Lord? Saul is sensible of the divine nature of the vision, and shews this by his address. The appearance of Christ, though in a glorified body, must have been like that which He wore in His humanity, and since Saul does not recognize Jesus we may almost certainly conclude that he had not known Him in His ministerial life.

ὁ δέ, and he said. The verb is needed for the sense in English, but the Greek could dispense with it, as is done below in Acts 9:11. See also Acts 19:2.

ἐγώ εἰμι Ἰησοῦς, ὃν σὺ διώκεις, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. The emphatic contrast of the pronouns is to be noticed, though it cannot be represented in a translation. In Acts 22:8 St Paul gives the fuller form of the sentence, I am Jesus of Nazareth. The Lord speaking from heaven, and employing this His human name, at once and for ever puts an end to Saul’s rage and persecution. Him whom he must own as Lord is the same who was Jesus of Nazareth. Thus he sees, what his master Gamaliel had before suggested (Acts 5:39), that to persecute ‘the Way’ is ‘to fight against God.’


Verse 5-6

5, 6. The words here omitted by the best MSS. have found their way into the text in this place from the desire of some early students of the Acts to make a complete narrative of Saul’s conversion by combining with what is here said the additional particulars given in Acts 26:14 and Acts 22:10. To do this some slight adaptations of the words became necessary, and hence the form in the Text. recept. The excluded words are more in place in the personal narratives of St Paul than here, where the account is that of the historian.


Verse 6

6. ἀλλὰ ἀνάστηθι, but arise. Saul had continued prostrate during the vision, just where he had been struck down at first.

εἰς τὴν πόλιν, into the city. Here is another proof that the party of travellers had arrived very nearly at Damascus. Tradition here, as in many other instances, has fixed on a spot as the scene of this divine vision. It is placed outside the eastern gate, and about a mile from the city. Such a situation answers very well, but its fitness is the only ground for attaching any weight to the tradition.

ὅ τι σε δεῖ ποιεῖν, what thou must do. It is very uncommon in N.T. Greek to find ὅ τι in an indirect question, the usual form being τί. Cf. Matthew 20:22, οὐκ οἴδατε τί αἰτεῖσθε, and numerous other instances. See also Winer-Moulton, p. 210.

It will be noticed that, in Acts 26:16-18, St Paul gives an abstract of the labours for which Christ had designed him, and the words in that passage appear as a portion of the divine communication made before Saul entered Damascus. In that narrative however no mention is made of Ananias or his visit, but the Apostle has given instead a brief notice of the message which Ananias brought to him, and therein is contained a declaration of those things which Jesus in the vision only spake of as ‘what thou must do.’


Verse 7

7. οἱ δὲ ἄνδρες κ.τ.λ., and the men which journeyed with him stood speechless. Cf. Daniel 10:7, ‘I Daniel alone saw the vision, for the men that were with me saw not the vision, but a great quaking fell upon them.’

Saul was not only furnished with authority, but also with men who were to carry out his intentions and bring the prisoners to Jerusalem. Painters have represented the travellers as riding on horseback, but there is no warrant for this in any form of the narrative.

εἱστήκεισαν means here ‘remained fixed,’ ‘did not move.’ For they were not on their feet, but had been stricken down as well as Saul (Acts 26:14).

ἐνεός is found in LXX. Isaiah 56:10 κύνες ἐνεοί, and in Epist. Jeremiah 41 ἐνεὸν μὴ δυνάμενον λαλῆσαι.

ἀκούοντες μὲν τῆς φωνῆς, hearing the voice. On the case and its probable significance see above on Acts 9:4.

μηδένα δὲ θεωροῦντες, but beholding no man. θεωρέω is used by Stephen. (Acts 7:56), ‘I behold the heavens opened.’ So here of the glorious vision of Jesus which Saul beheld but not his companions. In their astonishment, and guided by the sound, Saul’s companions lifted up their faces to the sky, but as with the words so with the appearance of Jesus; it was unseen by all but one, but to him was manifest enough to form a ground of his confidence in his Apostolic mission: ‘Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?’ (1 Corinthians 9:1).


Verse 8

8. ἀνεῳγμένων δὲοὐδὲν ἔβλεπεν, but when his eyes were opened he saw nothing. The vision had struck him blind. He opened his eyes, but their power had been taken away. Thus his physical condition becomes a fit representation of the mental blindness which he afterwards (Acts 26:9) deplores: ‘I verily thought with myself that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.’

χειραγωγοῦντες δέ, but they led him by the hand and, &c. His companions had seen nothing of the blinding glory, and so saw all things as before.


Verse 9

9. ἡμέρας τρεῖς, three days. During this time we cannot but think the illumination of his mind was being enlarged by the Spirit. He had been convinced by the vision that Jesus was risen from the dead and ascended into heaven. But more than this was needed for the preparation of this mighty missionary. He himself (Galatians 1:16) speaks of God revealing His Son not only to but in him, and that his conferences were not with flesh and blood, and we are told below (Acts 9:12) that the coming of Ananias had been made known unto him by vision. To this solemn time of darkness may also perhaps be referred some of those ‘visions and revelations of the Lord’ which the Apostle speaks of to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 12:1-4). While his bodily powers were for a time in suspense, he may fitly describe himself as not knowing whether what he saw was revealed to him ‘in the body or out of the body,’ and it was the spiritual vision only which saw the third heaven and paradise, and the spirit heard those ‘unspekable words which it is not lawful for a man to utter.’ The Apostle no doubt received other divine revelations while he was in retirement in Arabia.

μὴ βλέπων. It is impossible to discern any difference here between μὴ and what the sense could have been with οὐ, and the absence of any such difference is made more apparent by the οὐ which follows twice over in the next clause. On the use of μὴ in such sentences, cf. Winer-Moulton, p. 610.

καὶ οὐκ ἔφαγεν, and he did not eat. The mental anguish for a time overpowered the natural craving for food. The newly-called Apostle was contemplating in all its enormity his sin in persecuting the Church of Christ, and though there were times of comfort and refreshing before Ananias came, yet the great thought which filled Saul’s mind would be sorrow for his late mad and misdirected zeal, and so the three days of blindness formed a period of deep penitence.


Verse 10

10. ἦν δέ τις μαθητὴς Ἀνανίας. Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias. Of this disciple we have no further mention in Holy Writ except in chap. Acts 22:12, where St Paul describes him as ‘a devout man according to the Law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt’ at Damascus. Whether he had become a Christian during the life of Jesus, or was among the Jewish converts on the Day of Pentecost or at some subsequent time, and had been forced to flee from Jerusalem by the persecution which followed on the death of Stephen, we are not told, but we can gather, from the words which he employs in expressing his reluctance to visit Saul, that he had much and trustworthy communication still with the Holy City, for he knows both of the havock which the persecutor has caused, and of the purpose of his mission to Damascus. On the name Ananias see Acts 5:1, note.

On the sending of Ananias Chrysostom asks τί δήποτε οὐδένα τῶν κορυφαίων ἀποστόλων οὔτε ἐκάλεσεν οὔτε ἀπέστειλε πρὸς τὴν τοῦ Παύλου κατέχησιν; and answers the question thus: ὅτι οὐκ ἐχρῆν δι' ἀνθρώπων ἐνάγεσθαι ἀλλὰ δι' αὐτοῦ τοῦ χριστοῦ· ἑπεὶ καὶ οὖτος ἐδίδαξεν μὲν αὐτὸν οὐδέν ἐβάπτισε δὲ μόνον.

ἐν ὁράματι, in a vision. As Saul had been prepared for the visit by a vision, so. Ananias is by a vision instructed to go to him. Dean Howson’s remarks (Life and Epistles of St Paul, I. 101) on this preparation and its similarity to the preparation of Peter and Cornelius deserve to be dwelt on. ‘The simultaneous preparation of the hearts of Ananias and Saul, and the simultaneous preparation of those of Peter and Cornelius—the questioning and hesitation of Peter and the questioning and hesitation of Ananias—the one doubting whether he might make friendship with the Gentiles, the other doubting whether he might approach the enemy of the Church—the unhesitating obedience of each when the Divine will was made clearly known—the state of mind in which both the Pharisee and the Centurion were found—each waiting to see what the Lord would say unto them—this close analogy will not be forgotten by those who reverently read the two consecutive chapters, in which the baptism of Saul and the baptism of Cornelius are narrated in the Acts of the Apostles.’ When so much criticism has been expended to shew that the Acts is a work of fiction written at a late period to minimize certain differences supposed to exist between the teaching of St Paul and that of St Peter, it is well to know that others have seen, in these undoubted analogies, proofs of the working of a God who is ever the same, and who would have all men to be saved through Jesus Christ.


Verses 10-22

10–22. SAUL’S SIGHT RESTORED. HE PREACHES IN DAMASCUS


Verse 11

11. ἐπὶ τὴν ῥύμην τὴν καλουμένην εὐθεῖαν, into the street which is called Straight, ἐπὶ with the accusative signifies ‘upon,’ and here the sense given by it is that of motion first to the street, and then along it.

ῥύμη is only a word of late classical authors. In N.T. it is used in contradiction to πλατεῖα, which is a wide, open space. So ῥύμη = lane. It is found in like contrast in LXX. of Isaiah 15:3; also it occurs in Tobit 13:18; Sirach 9:7 μὴ περιβλέπου ἐν ῥύμαις πόλεως, where the context suggests a reference to the less public and open places of the city.

A long, straight street still runs through Damascus, and is probably (so persistent is every feature of Oriental life) the same in which Ananias found Saul in the house of Judas.


Verse 12

12. ἀναβλέψη, he may receive his sight. Here we have ὅπως with the conjunctive after a past tense. But as the event alluded to is yet in the future, it is easy to explain the construction.


Verse 13

13. ἤκουσα ἀπὸ πολλῶν, I have heard from many. These words seem to indicate a longer residence of Ananias in Damascus than he could have made if he had only left Jerusalem after the death of Stephen; and so do the words (Acts 22:12) which speak of his good report among all the Jews that dwelt at Damascus. And what a tale they tell us of Saul’s zeal against the Church.

τοῖς ἁγίολς σου, to Thy saints. The Christian converts were probably called faints,’ i.e. ‘holy persons,’ at a very early period after the death of Christ because of the marvellous outpourings of the Holy Spirit upon the first converts, cf. 1 Peter 1:15. The word is of frequent occurrence in the greetings of St Paul’s Epistles.


Verse 14

14. τοὺς ἐπικαλουμένους τὸ ὄνομά σου, those that call on thy name. ‘To call on Christ’s name’ is equivalent to being a believer in Him. The expression is found in 1 Corinthians 1:2 in apposition to ἅγιοι, and thus we see what in Pauline language is meant by ‘saints’ when used of the whole body of the Christian Church.


Verse 15

15. σκεῦος ἐκλογῆς, a chosen vessel. Literally, ‘a vessel of election.’ This is a Hebrew form of expression. Cf. LXX. Jeremiah 22:28, where it is said of king Coniah that he is ὡς σκεῦος οὖ οὐκ ἔστι χρεία. So in Hosea 8:8 Israel is called σκεῦος ἄχρηστον.

This qualitative genitive (where one noun serves to another in the place of an adjective) is a common construction in Hebrew because that language is poor in adjectives.

τοῦ βαστάσαι τὸ ὄνομά μου, to bear My name. This shall be the load which I will lay upon this My chosen servant.

This use of the infinitive with the article in the genitive to express purpose or design is very common both in the LXX. and in the N.T. Greek. In the former it is the constant form for rendering the infinitive with ל. Cf. Genesis 1:14 and almost every chapter in the Bible. In the N.T. the frequency of this usage is probably due to a familiarity with the LXX., though the classical writers use such a genitival infinitive occasionally. Cf. Winer-Moulton, pp. 410, 411.

ἐνώπιον ἐθνῶν, before the Gentiles. This was doubtless a revelation to Ananias, who as a devout Jew would not yet have contemplated the inclusion of the whole world in the Church of Christ. The Gentiles are placed first in the enumeration, because among them specially was Saul’s field of labour to be. For the wide spirit in which the Apostle embraced his commission, see Romans 1:13-14, &c.

καὶ βασιλέων, and kings. As before Agrippa (Acts 26:1; Acts 26:32) and at Rome in consequence of the appeal unto Cæsar.


Verse 16

16. ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀνόματός μου παθεῖν, to suffer for My name. It was no light burden which the new convert was to bear. Cf. his own words (Acts 20:23), ‘the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.’ The truth of this is borne out by that long list of the Apostle’s sufferings which he enumerates in his letter to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 11:23-28), and the less detailed list in the same Epistle (Acts 6:4-5).


Verse 17

17. Σαούλ. See above on Acts 9:4.

ὁ κύριοςἸησούς. Ananias is guided to combine the name ‘Lord,’ which Saul had used when he beheld the vision of glory, with ‘Jesus’ which Christ had Himself uttered in answer to Saul’s question, ‘Who art thou?’ Thus his mission would bring at once its warrant to the mind of Saul. He was now confirmed from without of the verity of all he had seen in the way, and would recognize in Ananias the teacher who was to explain to him what he should do.

πλησθῇς πνεύματος ἁγίου, be filled with the Holy Ghost. On this occasion the hands laid on him to whom the gift was imparted were not those of an Apostle, except in so far as Ananias was Christ’s ἀπόστολος in this special case.


Verse 18

18. ὡς λεπίδες, as it had been scales. The word λεπίς is used by Hippocrates as a technical term for a disease of the eye, and λεπίζω is found (Tobit 3:17; Tobit 11:13) used to describe the peeling-process by which such a disease was cured. καὶ ἐλεπίσθη ἀπὸ τῶν κάνθων τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν αὐτοῦ τὰ λευκώματα, ‘and the whiteness pilled away from the corners of his eyes’ (A.V.). λευκώματα is rendered in the margin (Tobit 2:10) ‘white films’; they were clearly something like the ‘scales’ which caused Saul’s blindness, and a process for the cure thereof is called (Acts 3:17) λεπίσαι τὰ λευκώματα, ‘to scale away the whiteness of Tobit’s eyes.’ St Paul (Acts 22:11) ascribes his blindness to the glory of the heavenly light, and it may have been some secretion, caused by the intensity of that vision, which formed over them, and at his cure fell away. Some have thought that his constant employment of an amanuensis, and the mention of the large characters in which he wrote in his Epistle to the Galatians (Acts 6:11) ‘ye see in what large letters I have written to you,’ are indications that the Apostle suffered permanently in his eyesight from the heavenly vision.

On the recovery of St Paul’s sight, Chrysostom remarks καὶ ἵνα μὴ νομίσῃ φαντασίαν τις εἶναι τὴν πήρωσιν, διὰ τοῦτο αἱ λεπίδες.

καὶ ἀνέβλεψεν, and he recovered his sight. Render thus also in the previous verse.

καὶ ἀναστὰς ἐβαπτίσθη, and he arose and was baptized. In the fuller account (Acts 22:16) we learn that the exhortation to be baptized was part of the message with which Ananias was charged, and so he was divinely commissioned to receive Saul thus into the Christian Church.


Verse 19

19. καὶ λαβὼν τροφήν, and when he had taken meat. Needed after his three days’ fast, but (says Calvin) ‘he refreshed not his body with meat until his soul had received strength.’

ἐλένετο δὲἡμέρας τινάς, and he was certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus, ἡμέρας τινάς is found again Acts 10:48, Acts 15:36, Acts 16:12, Acts 24:24 and Acts 25:13, and in all cases the time indicated by them must have been brief. It was for this amount of time that Peter tarried with Cornelius; the words are applied to a short period spent by Paul and Barnabas at Antioch, to the time of St Paul’s stay at Philippi, to the short time during which Paul was detained at Cæsarea before his hearing by Felix, and to a like period between the arrival of Festus and the visit which Agrippa made to salute him as the new governor. In most of these instances the time intended must have been very brief, and it is important to notice this here, because in Acts 9:23 we shall find another expression, ἡμέραι ἰκαναί, which is translated ‘many days’ and seems designed by the writer to indicate a somewhat longer period. It is clear, from the way in which ‘disciples’ are here mentioned, that there was a numerous body of Christians in Damascus at this early period. Saul dwelt with them now not as an enemy but as a brother, by which name Ananias had been directed to greet him.


Verse 20

20. ἐκήρυσσεν τὸν Ἰησοῦν κ.τ.λ., he proclaimed Jesus that He is the Son of God. This is undoubtedly the correct reading. The preaching which was to be to the Jews a stumbling-block was that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ, their long-expected Messiah.

Saul went, as was Christ’s custom also, into the synagogues as the most likely places where to find an audience who would listen to his proclamation. His letters to the synagogues (Acts 9:2) were not delivered, but he came as the herald of one of higher authority than the chief priests. For St Paul’s constant practice of teaching in the Jewish synagogues see Acts 13:5, Acts 14:1, Acts 17:1; Acts 17:10, Acts 18:4; Acts 18:19, Acts 19:8.

Chrysostom’s note on this practice from the first is ὄρα, εὐθέως διδάσκαλος ἦν ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς· οὐκ ᾐσχύνετο τὴν μεταβολήν, οὐκ ἐδεδοίκει ἐν οἶς λαμπρὸς ἦν ταῦτα καταλύων· οὐχ ἁπλῶς ἦν διδάσκαλος ἀλλὰ ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς.

The construction is not entirely simple, for a portion of the predicative clause has been attracted into the antecedent part of the sentence. The simpler order would have been ἐκήρυσσεν ὄτι Ἰησοῦς ὲστιν κ.τ.λ. But κηρύσσειν Ἰησοῦν (or Χριστίν) had a distinct sense on the lips of the early Christians (cf. Acts 8:5; 1 Corinthians 1:23, &c.), which will account for the order of the words here.


Verse 21

21. ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες, but all were amazed. Saul’s fame as a persecutor of Christians was apparently well known to the Jews of Damascus, and the authorities of the synagogues may have been instructed beforehand to welcome him as a zealous agent. If so their amazement is easy to understand. It is clear from what follows in this verse that they knew of his mission and the intention thereof, though Saul did not bring them his ‘commission and authority.’ We should gather also from the strong expression ὁ πορθήσας ‘he that destroyed,’ used to describe Saul’s career in Jerusalem, that the slaughter of the Christians there had not been limited to the stoning of Stephen.

ἐληλύθει, ἵναἀγάγῃ, came hither that he might bring. The subjunctive after the past tense seems however to indicate that in the mind of the speaker the intention is still thought to be persistent. ‘He came that he may (as he is resolved to do) bring,’ &c.


Verse 22

22. Σαῦλος δὲ μᾶλλον ἐνεδυναμοῦτο, but Saul increased the more in strength, i.e. became more and more energetic in his labours, and the Holy Ghost gave him more power. His fitness for the labour on which he was entering was very great. He possessed all the Jewish learning of a zealous pupil of Gamaliel, and now that he had seen Jesus in the glory of the Godhead, he could use his stores of learning for the support of the new teaching in such wise as to commend it to those Jews who were looking for the consolation of Israel. But these would naturally be the smallest portion of his hearers. The rest of the Jews were confounded. They heard their Scripture applied by a trained mind, and shewn to be applicable to the life of Jesus. They could not at this time make an attack on Saul, for they were paralysed by what they heard, and it was only when some time had elapsed that they resolved to continue in their rejection of Jesus, and then, at a later time, their persecution of Saul began.

συμβιβάζων, proving. This word is used again Acts 16:10 and translated there in A.V. ‘assuredly gathering.’ The idea conveyed by it is that of putting things side by Hide, and so making a comparison and forming a conclusion. Thus Saul, well equipped with a knowledge of the ancient Scriptures, set before his hearers a description of the Messiah as He is there portrayed, and relating the life history of Jesus, shewed them that in Him the Scriptures of the prophets had been fulfilled.

The word is used often in the LXX. of teaching and instructing. Thus Exodus 18:16 καὶ συμβιβάζω αὐτοὺς τὰ προστάγματα θεοῦ, where the sentence relates to judging between one and another. Cf. also Deuteronomy 4:9.


Verse 23

23. ἡμέραι ἱκαναί, many days. As the visit to Jerusalem mentioned in Acts 9:26 seems to follow closely upon the events narrated in Acts 9:25, and as that visit was not made till after the retirement into Arabia of which St Paul speaks (Galatians 1:17-18) thus: ‘Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them that were Apostles before me, but I went into Arabia and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter,’ we must place the visit to Arabia between the events recorded in Acts 9:22 and the fresh narration which commences in this verse. St Luke has marked, as it seems, the two periods as distinct by calling one time of residence ‘certain days,’ and the other ‘many days.’ The following seems to have been the order of events. Saul preached for ‘certain days’ in Damascus immediately after his conversion. He then made his journey into Arabia, either for preaching or for retirement and spiritual communion, after which he made a second visit to Damascus, on which latter occasion his enemies sought to take his life. This latter visit is here spoken of as lasting ‘many days.’ The words thus translated are used in several places of the Acts; as in this chapter, Acts 9:43, of the stay made by Peter at Joppa after the raising of Dorcas; also Acts 18:18, of the time, ‘a good while,’ which St Paul spent in Corinth after he had been brought before Gallio; and in Acts 27:7 of the ‘many days’ of slow sailing during the Apostle’s voyage to Rome. It is clear from these examples that the period covered by the words is very indefinite, but if we reckon the ‘three years’ (Galatians 1:18) from Saul’s conversion, then the first and last times of residence in Damascus would be included in that period, and we need not then extend either the stay in Arabia or the duration of this later visit to Damascus over a great while, especially if we remember that, to a Jew, one whole year with the end of the preceding and the beginning of the succeeding one was counted for three years.

συνεβουλεύσαντο, they took counsel. The deliberation and previous preparation implied in this expression are such as would take place, not among the people who were ‘confounded’ by Saul’s first preaching, but when they had become enraged against him after his second visit, when his words would be even more full of power than before, by reason of the time spent in Arabia, in spiritual communion to prepare himself for the labours which God had set before him.


Verses 23-25

23–25. A PLOT AGAINST SAUL’S LIFE. HIS FLIGHT FROM DAMASCUS


Verse 24

24. ἐγνώσθη δὲ τῷ Σαύλῳ ἡ ἐπιβουλὴ αὐτῶν, but their plot was known to Saul. Perhaps the information was given by some of the Christian disciples, who would be well disposed to him from what they had heard from Ananias. These certainly manifested their zeal towards him in aiding him to make his escape from Damascus.

παρετηροῦντο δὲ καὶ τὰς πύλας, and they watched the gates also. The gates were the places to which one fleeing from death would naturally make his way. St Paul says (2 Corinthians 11:32), of the circumstances under which this plot was made against his life, that ‘in Damascus the governor (ὁ ἐθνάρχης) of king Aretas kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me.’ Hence it appears that it was no mere attack made by the Jews resident in Damascus, but they had gained the support of the authorities for the time being. We do not know enough of the history of Syria and Arabia at this period to be able to explain with certainty how an ethnarch of Aretas, who was king of Arabia Petræa, came to be holding Damascus. But we do know (Joseph. Ant. XVIII. 3. 1–4) that Aretas had been at war with Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee, who in consequence of his attachment to his brother Philip’s wife, had forsaken his own wife, who was the daughter of Aretas. Herod had appealed to Rome, and had been promised the help of the Roman power, but the death of Tiberius (A.D. 37) checked the march of Vitellius, the Roman governor of Syria, into Arabia, and he thereupon returned to Antioch. It may have been that Aretas, encouraged by this withdrawal, had advanced, and in the general confusion had taken possession of Damascus. He had, in a former stage of the war, destroyed the army of Herod; and some of the Jews, who hated Herod, spake of this destruction of his troops as a divine judgment for his murder of John the Baptist. We can understand then that the Jews in Damascus might under such circumstances favour Aretas, and in return for their support be aided by his ethnarch in an attempt on the life of Saul.

Or the occupation of Damascus by Aretas may have been (as Dean Howson suggests) in consequence of the change of policy which took place so widely at the death of Tiberius; and Caligula, in contradiction of what his predecessor had been designing, to crush Aretas, may have put the Arabian king in command of the city of Damascus for a time.


Verse 25

25. λαβόντες δὲ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ κ.τ.λ., but his disciples took him by night and, &c. This well-supported reading favours the explanation of ἡμέραι ἱκαναί given in Acts 9:23. On his second visit to Damascus, more than ever filled with the Spirit, he stayed long enough to gather about him a band of followers who accepted him as their leader in spiritual things.

διὰ τοῦ τείχους, through the wall, i.e. by some opening in the wall, on which probably stood, as is often the case in Eastern cities, some of the dwelling-houses. In 2 Corinthians 11:33 St Paul says, ‘and through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall and escaped.’ Such apertures can be found in the walls of houses in all defenced cities, and it was by such a way that Rahab let the spies escape from Jericho (Joshua 2:15), and Michal aided David’s escape (1 Samuel 19:12). The basket here mentioned (σπυρίς) is of the same kind as that spoken of (Matthew 15:37) at the feeding of the Four Thousand in the mountain district west of the Sea of Galilee. It appears to have been large and soft, fit for carrying a great quantity of miscellaneous articles from the plain into the hills, while the baskets (κόφινοι) spoken of at the feeding of the Five Thousand (Matthew 14:20) were such as the multitude, which in that case had followed Jesus on foot out of the cities, would be likely to carry in their hands. In a basket of the former kind Saul might easily be wrapped and then lowered over the city wall.


Verse 26

26. παραγενόμενος δὲ εἰς Ἱερουσαλήμ, and when he was come to Jerusalem. Saul had never visited Jerusalem since the day when he set out on his inquisitorial journey to Damascus, and as he had been a long time in Arabia since then, his name may very well have fallen out of the memory of many in the Holy City, or knowing little of what had happened to him in the meantime they might esteem him still only as their determined enemy.

ἐπείραζεν κολλᾶσθαι τ. μ., he assayed to join himself to the disciples. If as a Jew he had gone to Alexandria or any other city where Jews were numerous, his first thought would have been to search out his co-religionists; so he acts now. He seeks to join the Christian community. But his own language (Galatians 1:16) shews us that he had made no attempt to spread the news of his changed feelings among the Christian congregations. ‘I conferred not with flesh and blood,’ he says, ‘but I went into Arabia, and returned to Damascus.’ An absence of three years, mainly in a region whence little news could come of his conversion and labours, and the memory of what evil he had done in days gone by, was enough to justify some hesitation about receiving him, on the part of the disciples.

καὶ πάντες ἐφοβοῦντο αὐτόν, and they were all afraid of him. The rendering of καὶ by but (A.V.) is unjustifiable. There is not any adversative sense. Saul tried to become a member of the Church, and they were not willing to receive him.

In Galatians 1:18 St Paul says his wish was to see Peter, and this we can very well understand, for though Saul had received his commission directly from Jesus, there were many things in the history of the life of Christ which could be best learned from the lips of him who had been with Jesus from the commencement of His ministry. But at first Saul came to the Christians at Jerusalem as an ordinary believer.

μὴ πιστεύοντες κ.τ.λ., not believing that he was a disciple. From this we can see how little was known in Jerusalem of the history of Saul since his conversion, and we can understand those words of his own (Galatians 1:22), ‘I was unknown by face unto the churches of Judæa which were in Christ.’ God had been training him for his work among the Gentiles, and although he was brought to Jerusalem that all might know that the Gospel was one, and that Saul was sent forth even as the Twelve, yet no attempt is made by St Luke at this point, where, according to some theories, it might have been most expected, to set forth the unanimity of Paul and Peter. It is left for St Paul himself to tell us of his desire to see Peter, and the historian only says they all were afraid of him.


Verses 26-31

26–31. SAUL VISITS JERUSALEM. HE IS SENT AWAY TO TARSUS. THE CHURCHES HAVE REST


Verse 27

27. Βαρνάβας δὲ κ.τ.λ., but Barnabas took him and brought him to the Apostles, i.e. to such of the Apostles as happened to be then in Jerusalem. During a short space of fifteen days it is easy to understand that all but Peter and James might be absent from Jerusalem. St Paul tells us he only saw these two during his visit (Galatians 1:19), and all that he says is perfectly consistent with St Luke’s narrative. Barnabas, who introduced Saul to the Apostles, has already been mentioned as a Levite of Cyprus (Acts 4:36), and from the proximity of Cyprus to Cilicia, and the distinction of the schools of Tarsus, a conjecture has been hazarded that Barnabas may have been known to Saul before they came to Jerusalem. This would explain how it came to pass that while the other disciples were afraid of him, Barnabas listened to his statement and repeated it to the rest of the Church.

ἐπιλαβόμενος αὐτόν. This verb, which signifies to take hold of a person by the hand for the purpose of leading, is generally constructed with the genitive of the limb (as τῆς χειρός) or of the person (αὐτοῦ). When as here the accusative follows it, the construction appears due to the other verb (ἤγαγεν), so that the whole idea ‘took and led’ must be taken as requiring this case.

πῶς ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ κ.τ.λ., how he had seen the Lord in the way. It is worthy of notice in how many forms the statement of the appearance of Jesus to Saul is repeated. This was indeed the turning point of the Apostle’s life, Jesus of Nazareth seen as the glorified Son of God.

ἐπαρρησιάσατο, he had spoken boldly (as in Acts 9:29). Whether the knowledge of Barnabas on this subject was derived from Saul himself or from other sources we are not told, but in the political turmoil of the times (see Acts 9:24, note) we may easily suppose that the teachings of a preacher who appeared for a brief space, and then retired from Damascus, and who had only lately reappeared, would not be widely known among the Church at Jerusalem.


Verse 28

28. καὶ ἦν μετ' αὐτῶν, and he was with them, i.e. for the fifteen days during which his visit lasted he was received into the fellowship of the Church.

On εἰσπορευόμενος καὶ ἐκπορευόμενος see note on Acts 1:21.


Verse 29

29. Tischendorf marks the beginning of this verse at ἐλάλει, and not, as other editors, at παρρησιαζόμενος.

ἐλάλει τε καὶ συνεζήτει πρὸς τοὺς Ἑλληνιστάς and he spake and disputed against the Grecians. These Ἑλληνισταί were the Greek Jews at whose instigation Stephen had been put to death. Now Saul, who had consented unto that martyrdom, is exposed to the like persecution. The very same word (συζητεῖν, to dispute) is here used which was employed to describe the controversies with the protomartyr (Acts 6:9), and it is found nowhere else in this book. But it is worth notice that the attack is now reversed. The Grecians disputed with Stephen, now Saul disputes with them. Chrysostom comments thus on Saul’s preaching to the Greeks: ἐκεῖνοι γὰρ οἱ ἄλλοι οὐδὲ ἰδεῖν αὐτὸν ἠθέλησαν οἱ βαθεῖς Ἑβραῖοι.

οἱ δὲ ἐπεχείρουν ἀνελεῖν αὐτόν, but they sought to slay him. The same expression is used above (Acts 9:23) of the attempts of Saul’s enemies in Damascus.


Verse 30

30. ἐπιγνόντες δὲ οἱ ἀδελφοί, and when the brethren were aware of it. The disciples in Jerusalem, just as those in Damascus, got information about the plot which was being laid against Saul.

κατήγαγον αὐτὸν εἰς Καισάρειαν, they brought him down to Cæsarea, i.e. to the seaport so called, not to Cæsarea Philippi, for the latter place was only touched by the road which led from Tyre to Damascus. The former was a place from which Tarsus could be reached either by sea or by the road which ran northward along the coast of Syria.

εἰς Ταρσόν, to Tarsus, where he was born, and which perhaps, next to Jerusalem, would appear to be the best centre from which his work could be carried on. For an account of Tarsus and its fame as a seat of heathen learning, see Dict. of the Bible.


Verse 31

31. ἡ μὲν οὖν ἐκκλησίαεἰρήνην, so the Church throughout all Judæa and Galilee and Samaria had peace. The sense is that the whole Christian body enjoyed a time of quiet, not as A.V. (with Text. recept.), the various congregations. The cause of this peace for the Christians was that the attention of their persecutors, the Jews, was turned from them to resist the attempt made by Caligula (Joseph. Ant. XVIII. 8. 2) to have his statue erected in the Temple at Jerusalem. This profanation was averted partly by the determined opposition of the Jews, and partly by the intercession of king Agrippa with the mad emperor.

κατά with the genitive of place, as here, implies the spreading of the act or condition spoken of over and throughout the place mentioned. Cf. Luke 4:14 φήμη ἐξῆλθεν καθ' ὄλης τῆς περιχώρου, ‘the fame went forth over all the surrounding district.’

Examples of this sense are not very common, but it occurs in Acts 9:42 below and in Acts 10:37.


Verse 32

32. διὰ πάντων, through all quarters. The history now turns from Saul to Peter, to shew us that when the former had been prepared for his special work, the latter was taught by revelation that the time had arrived for the next and complete extension of the Church among all nations. Peter had been labouring, as no doubt all the rest of the Twelve also (for we have seen that only two were at Jerusalem when Saul came thither), in building up the Churches in Judæa and Samaria, and the narrative of two miracles which follow in the history makes intelligible to us the position of Peter when Cornelius is warned to send for him.

On the connexion of this portion of the history with the preceding Chrysostom says μέλλει περὶ Πέτρου λέγειν, καὶ ὅτι πρὸς τοὺς ἁγίους κάτεισιν. ἵν' οὖν μὴ φόβου τοῦτο νομίση τις, πρότερον ὡς εἶχον αἱ ἐκκλησίαι διηγεῖται, δεικνὺς ὅτι διωγμὸς ὅτε ἦν, ἐν Ἱεροσολύμοις ἦν, ὅτε δὲ πανταχοῦ ἐν ἀσφαλείᾳ τὰ τῆς ἐκκλησίας, τότε λοιπὸν καὶ τὰ Ἱεροσόλυμα ἀφίησιν· οὔτως ἦν θερμὸς ὁμοῦ καὶ σφοδρός. οὐ γὰρ ἐπειδὴ εἰρήνη ἦν ἐνόμιζε μηδὲν δεῖσθαι τῆς αὐτοῦ παρουσίας.

τοὺς ἁγίους. See note on Acts 9:13.

Λύδδα, Lydda. The Hebrew Lod, 1 Chronicles 8:12. It was afterwards called Diospolis. It was near to Joppa, and a day’s journey from Jerusalem. Josephus (Ant. XX. 6. 2) calls it ‘a village not less than a city in largeness.’


Verses 32-35

32–35. PETER HEALS A PARALYTIC AT LYDDA


Verse 33

33. ἐξ ἐτῶν ὀκτὼ κατακείμενον κ.τ.λ., which had kept his bed eight years. There could therefore be no doubt cast upon the miraculous nature of his cure.


Verse 34

34. ἰᾶταί σε Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole. As in the cure of the cripple at the Temple gate (Acts 3:6), the Apostle makes known that he is but the messenger, and that the healer is Christ. We are not told that Æneas was a disciple, but it may be inferred that he was among ‘the saints,’ and that thus Peter was brought unto him.

καὶ στρῶσον. The noun τὴν κλίνην, or some equivalent, must be understood after this verb.


Verse 35

35. καὶ εἶδαν αὐτὸν πάντες, and they all saw him. No doubt his case of eight-years-long paralysis was well known to the dwellers in the village and neighbourhood, and to see such a one about in their midst again would be a cause for general remark and enquiry into the manner of his restoration. ‘When the Scripture saith all it doth not comprehend every one, how many soever it noteth, but it putteth all for the more part, or for many, or for the common sort of men’ (Calvin on this verse).

τὸν Σάρωνα, Saron. The O.T. Sharon. It is doubtful whether by this name is intended some village in the neighbourhood of Lydda or the whole district known as the ‘plain of Sharon,’ and extending along the coast from Joppa to Cæsarea. No place of this name has been noticed in the neighbourhood, and as in the original the word has the article, ‘the Sharon,’ it is better to refer it to the district.

οἵτινες ἐπέστρεψαν ἐπὶ τὸν κύριον, and they turned unto the Lord. ὅστις in this and similar sentences is almost like the Latin quippe qui, when it can be rendered ‘and in fact.’ So here the force of this strengthened relative is somewhat of this kind, ‘they saw him, and as a fact in consequence of their seeing, they turned.’


Verse 36

36. ἐν Ἰόππῃ, in Joppa. The seaport town on the coast of Palestine almost directly west from Jerusalem. For its history, see Dict. of the Bible.

μαθήτρια, a (female) disciple. The word is only found here in N.T. and is rare in other Greek authors. It is probably used to shew that under the Gospel there is no distinction between male and female (Galatians 3:28), all alike are disciples.

Ταβιθά, Tabitha. This is the Aramaic form of a Hebrew word (found 2 Samuel 1:19) which signifies a gazelle, which is also the meaning of the Greek Δορκάς.

πλήρης ἀγαθῶν ἔργων, full of good works. A favourite form of expression with St Luke. Cp. ‘Stephen full of faith and power’ (Acts 6:8); Elymas, ‘full of all subtilty’ (Acts 13:10); and the Ephesians ‘full of wrath’ (Acts 19:28). The sense is ‘given up to’ or devoted to.’


Verses 36-43

36–43. DORCAS RAISED TO LIFE. PETER’S STAY AT JOPPA


Verse 37

37. ἀσθενήσασαν αὐτὴν ἀποθανεῖν, that she fell sick and died. The proceedings which followed on her death are evidence of its reality. The probable reason for deferring the burial was the knowledge that Peter was close at hand, and the hope of the disciples that the power of Jesus might be exercised through him for the restoration to life of so eminent a disciple as Dorcas.

λούσαντες δέ, and when they had washed her. No doubt it was the women who prepared the body for burial, but the historian, speaking generally, writes not λούσασαι but the masculine.


Verse 38

38. παρακαλοῦντες, ΄ὴ ὀκνήσῃς διελθεῖν ἕως ἡμῶν, entreating him, Delay not to come on to us. Thus διελθεῖν has its full force, which is lost in A.V. It is as though their supplication were, ‘We have heard of the mighty works which Jesus has wrought by thy hands; extend thy journey to us, for we are in great need.’


Verse 39

39. ἀναστὰς δὲ Πέτρος, and Peter arose. We may he sure that the Apostle knew, by the Spirit, that it would please God to do something for the help of the distress at Joppa when he set out with the messengers.

καὶ παρέστησαν αὐτῷ πᾶσαι αἱ χῆραι κλαίουσαι, and all the widows stood by him weeping. These were the women who, with the dead Dorcas, had been busy in the good works to which they were all devoted. The petition of such a company was sure to have power with the Apostle, and their action shews how they place the good deeds of her whom they had lost far above their own. The χῆραι became a recognized class of women earnest in good works and separate from the world. See the directions concerning them which St Paul gives to Timothy, 1 Timothy 5:3-5; 1 Timothy 5:9; 1 Timothy 5:11; 1 Timothy 5:16.


Verse 40

40. ἐκβαλὼν δὲὁ Πέτρος, but Peter put them all forth. Cf. Christ’s action (Matthew 9:25) at the raising of Jaïrus’ daughter, on which occasion Peter had been present.

καὶ θεὶς τὰ γόνατα προσηύξατο, and kneeled down and prayed. For the first part of the phrase, cf. Acts 7:60. St Peter’s request no doubt here was that the consolation to be given to these mourners might be the restoration of the dead woman to life.

καὶ ἐπιστρέψας πρὸς τὸ σῶμα, and turning him to the body. When he felt within him that his prayer would be answered.

Ταβιθὰ ἀνάστηθι, Tabitha, arise. If St Peter spake in the Aramaic dialect, as is most probable, his utterance Tabitha cumi must have been nearly the same as that of our Lord (Mark 5:41), Talitha cumi, at the raising of the daughter of Jaïrus. But when we find both these utterances interpreted in the places where they occur, it is astonishing that some should suggest that the Tabitha of this verse is an adaptation of the Talitha of the Gospel.


Verse 41

41. φωνήσας δὲ τοὺς ἁγίους καὶ τὰς χήρας, and when he had called the saints and widows. These words make it evident that the petition sent to Peter had been the supplication of the whole Christian Church of Joppa, ‘Come on unto us and help us.’


Verse 42

42. καθ' ὅλης τῆς Ἰόππης. See above, Acts 9:31, note.

καὶ ἐπίστευσαν πολλοὶ ἐπὶ τὸν κύριον, and many believed on the Lord. There seems to be intended by these words a fuller acceptance of the faith of Jesus than when it is said ‘they turned to the Lord’ (see above, Acts 9:35). The belief here wrought by the resurrection of Dorcas is like that mentioned (John 11:45) of those who were won to the faith by the raising of Lazarus.


Verse 43

43. ἡμέρας ἱκανάς. On the indefinite nature of the length of time indicated here, see Acts 9:23, note.

παρά τινι Σίμωνι βυρσεῖ, with one Simon a tanner. The trade of a tanner was held as abominable by the Jews. A wife, it is said, could claim a divorce from a husband who became a tanner. See Mishna Khethuboth VII. 10 where is recorded the following story: ‘It happened at Sidon that a tanner died, and left a brother who was also a tanner. The sages held that his (childless) widow had a right to plead, Thy brother I could bear but I cannot bear thee, and so in this case the woman might refuse to marry her husband’s brother.’

It is a sign that in the mind of St Peter some usages and prejudices of the Jews were already becoming of small account, when he makes his abode at the house of Simon a tanner. Such a step prepares us for the history of the next chapter, where he is instructed to go and preach to and baptize the Gentile Cornelius.

 


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Acts 9:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/acts-9.html. 1896.

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Thursday, November 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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