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Bible Commentaries
Acts 9

Concordant Commentary of the New TestamentConcordant NT Commentary

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Verses 1-9

26 It is notable that the messenger, or angel, who spoke to Philip is also called "the spirit" (29) and "the spirit of the Lord" (39). This suggests that these expressions may refer to created beings in some places where we are accustomed to understanding it of the holy Spirit of God. In order to leave the subject open and not inject our own opinions or prejudices it has been thought best to spell spirit always without a capital S in the Version. This will leave the matter open to the students own interpretation.

26 Gaza, once one of the five chief cities of the Philistines, was located near the southern limits of the land, not far from the Mediterranean.

27 Ethiopia includes the country south of Egypt, of which the island of Meroe, in the upper Nile, was the chief center; The title, Candace, was usually given to the queens, who ruled in Ethiopia in ancient times. The eunuch must have been a proselyte of Judaism, to come all the way from Ethiopia to worship at Jerusalem. It seems strange that he should not have been reached with the evangel of Christ in the holy city, where the apostles still remained. It indicates the fact that Jerusalem and Judea are apostate, for this stranger is going away without knowing the One Who fulfilled the fifty-third of Isaiah. But where God has prepared such a reader and hearer of His word as this Ethiopian, He always sends His preacher. The kingdom, when it is set up by Christ in the day of the Lord, will reach all the descendants of Noah's sons. In the early part of Acts they are evangelized representatively; The eunuch probably traced his lineage from Ham. Cornelius was a descendant of Japheth. The Jews, of course, sprang from Shem.

32 Hezekiah, king of Judah, was the most beautiful type of Christ as the Vicarious Sufferer. The prophet Isaiah probably refers to his experience in the fifty-third chapter, in which are some statements which cannot be applied literally to the great Antitype. But the spirit charges the prophets words with higher truth and deeper doctrine, so that Hezekiah's typical sufferings foretell the sufferings of His Lord.

1 Saul was at the stoning of Stephen ( Act_7:58 ). He endorsed his assassination, and seems to have been the leader in the persecution which followed, until Jerusalem was emptied of all disciples except the apostles.

3 The call of Saul is the most marvelous of all the manifestations of God's grace. It is a pattern for us who believe in this day of grace. He was the foremost of sinners, yet God made him the foremost of His saints. The grace of the Lord overwhelmed Him, with faith and love in Christ Jesus ( 1Ti_1:12-16 ). The twelve apostles were called by the Lord on earth, before His ascension. Saul was called by the ascended glorified Lord from heaven. They were called in the land. He was called outside the land. Their ministry was confined to the land and the

Hebrews of the dispersion. Paul's service was outside the land among the Hellenists and aliens. They were concerned with the earthly life of our Lord before His ascension. Paul begins with the Lord in glory.

4 This is only a brief outline of what was said. The following combines the three accounts and probably includes all that passed between Saul and the Lord:

THE LORD: Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting Me? Hard is it for you to be kicking against the goads.

SAUL: Who art Thou, Lord?

THE LORD: I am Jesus, the Nazarene, Whom you are persecuting.

SAUL: What shall I be doing, Lord?

THE LORD: But rise and stand on your feet, for I was seen by you for this, to fix upon you before for a deputy and a witness both of what you have perceived and that in which I will be seen by you, extricating you from the people and from the nations, to whom I am commissioning you, to open their eyes, to turn them about from darkness to light and from the authority of Satan to God, for them to get a pardon of sins and an allotment among those who have been hallowed by faith that is in Me. Rise and go into the city of Damascus, and there you will be spoken to concerning all which has been set for you to do.

7 The apparent discrepancies between this verse Act_9:7 and Act_22:9 are easily explained when we see that the vision was intended exclusively for Saul and not for his fellow travelers. They were probably a little distance away and heard a sound and saw a light, but did not see the Person Who was speaking or recognize the sound as His voice. At first they fell on their faces, but they rose before Saul. There is a close harmony rather than any discrepancy in the various accounts. The call of Saul is an entirely novel departure in this book. It is the first exhibition of pure grace-favor shown to one who deserves punishment-and is the key to the character of the ministries of the apostle Paul which occupy the latter half of this treatise on the proclamation of the kingdom. After the failure of the testimony in Jerusalem and Judea, Saul is called to carry it to the dispersion among the nations and to the proselytes and even to the idolaters themselves. Hence it must be founded, not on righteousness, for they had no deserts, but on grace. So he is called outside the land, by the Lord from heaven, while he is still the most malignant enemy of the evangel and deserving of the direst doom.

Verses 10-29

10 God graciously gives a double witness to His dealing with Saul. Ananias is quite his opposite, being a devout disciple. Saul would have found it almost impossible to join the disciples as he did without some such confirmatory testimony to his conversion, for Ananias himself was afraid to go to him, knowing what he had done and what he proposed to do.

15 What grace and sovereignty is seen in terming the terrible persecutor of His people a "choice instrument"! God's choice is not like man's. He works His will in the face of human opposition. The most undeserving are the fittest instruments for the manifestation of His favor.

15 Here we have the field and scope of Paul's ministries-first and foremost to the nations, later to kings, and meanwhile to the sons of Israel among the nations.

16 Paul suffered more than any other apostle. Long before his course was completed he claimed to be foremost in this ( 2Co_11:23-33 ). All who are faithful are sure to share in the privilege of suffering for Christ's sake ( Php_1:29 ).

20 The Jews in the synagogues must have been greatly astonished to find this emissary of the high priest, who had come hither to stamp out the heresy of the Nazarene, boldly proclaim that He is the Son of God. None of the other apostles ever proclaim the Messiah as the Son of God in the Acts. They are chiefly interested in Him as the Son of David ( Act_2:29-30 ), the King of Israel. But Saul has become acquainted with Him in a higher, heavenly glory, hence proclaims Him, in accord with his own experience, as the Son of God. Besides, he reasoned out of the Hebrew Scriptures, which foretold the Messiah, and deduced from them that He Whom he had been persecuting and Who met him on the road was indeed the Anointed One, the hope of Israel.

21 Though most of the apostles were absent from Jerusalem, Paul saw the two real leaders, Peter and James.

23 At this point occurs one of those striking omissions in the narrative which assure us that it is concerned only with the kingdom, and that Paul's epistles differ from it in purpose and scope. Paul passed a large part of three years in Arabia ( Gal_1:17-18 ). This journey is included in the "considerable number of days". Where in Arabia he went is not revealed, in fact, the term itself is vague. He may have gone far south into the desert between the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, which is properly called Arabia. He may have gone only a few miles from

Damascus, and yet be in Arabia in the popular sense of the term. Wherever he went, and whatever he did, it is evident that it has no bearing on the narrative of Acts. Paul uses it in Galatians as evidence that he did not immediately consult those who were apostles before him, so could not have received his evangel from them. As Acts deals only with that aspect of his ministry which had contact with the commissions of the twelve, it is clear why this incident should be overlooked.

25 Elsewhere Paul tells us ( 2Co_11:32-33 ) that the Jews had gained the help of the governor under Aretas the king, and his soldiers, as weIl as the Jews, tried to arrest him. His ignominious escape was his greatest boast.

Verses 30-43

30 Other details of Paul's stay in Jerusalem (not pertinent in this treatise) are interesting. Not only did the brethren lead him away, but the Lord Himself warned him to flee. While he was praying in the temple, in an ecstasy, the Lord urged him to hurry out of the holy city, because they would not receive his testimon y ( Act_22:17-18 ). With the true tenacity of a Jew, Saul's heart's desire and petition to God for Israel was for their salvation ( Rom_10:1 ). He would wish for nothing better than to be the instrument in God's hands to bring salvation to his own kith and kin. He did not yet understand God's greater purpose to bring salvation to the nations through their defection ( Rom_11:11 ). It needed more than the entreaties of his brethren to make him leave Jerusalem, so God gives him a vision, reminding him of his commission for the nations afar.

33 There is always a designed contrast between the acts of Peter and Paul, which it is most inspiring to apprehend and enjoy, for Paul dips into depths of grace and ascends to heights of glory unknown to Peter. They illustrate the distinction between mercy and grace, favor shown to those who have some claim on the divine pity and that which is wholly undeserved. Eneas should be compared to the lame man of Lystra ( Act_14:8 ). Eneas, eight years paralyzed: the lame man never had walked in his life. The former stood up, the latter leaped and walked. These are types of the "walk" of the Circumcision and Uncircumcision. The former made no progress in divine things, the latter advanced joyfully. Eneas means praise and his paralysis symbolizes the paralysis of praise in Israel. His healing is another taste of the powers of the age to come when Jerusalem shall be a praise in the earth ( Isa_43:21 ; Isa_62:7 ; Jer_33:9 ). As Eneas presents to us the healing of the sinners of the people, so Dorcas shows the resurrection of the saints who have been full of good works

( Rev_14:13 ).

36 Dorcas and Eutychus bring before us a picture of the former resurrection ( Rev_20:5 ), and the eclectic resurrection which Paul preached, which precedes it, for which we look. Dorcas was full of good acts. She was deserving. So will those be who have part in the former resurrection, who live and reign with Christ the thousand years ( Rev_20:4 ). This was in the day time. But Eutychus' case comes before us at a time which corresponds with our resurrection. It is at night, before the darkness that precedes the dawn. He had no deserts that we know of. He was drowsing ( Act_20:9 ). Nevertheless Paul brings him back to life ( 1Th_5:10 ).

1 The kingdom has been proclaimed in Jerusalem and rejected; it has been heralded in Judea and Samaria, and now is being carried to the limits of the land. The Ethiopian proselyte has been reached by Philip. Now a Roman "proselyte of the gate" is brought before us in the person of Cornelius.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Acts 9". Concordant Commentary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/aek/acts-9.html. 1968.
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