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Brethren and fathers (Ανδρες αδελφο κα πατερες) Men, brethren, and fathers. The very language used by Stephen (Acts 7:2) when arraigned before the Sanhedrin with Paul then present. Now Paul faces a Jewish mob on the same charges brought against Stephen. These words are those of courtesy and dignity (amoris et honoris nomina, Page). These men were Paul's brother Jews and were (many of them) official representatives of the people (Sanhedrists, priests, rabbis). Paul's purpose is conciliatory, he employs "his ready tact" (Rackham).
The defence which I now make unto you (μου της προς υμας νυν απολογιας). Literally, My defence to you at this time. Νυν is a sharpened form (by -) of νυν (now), just now. The term απολογια (apology) is not our use of the word for apologizing for an offence, but the original sense of defence for his conduct, his life. It is an old word from απολογεομα, to talk oneself off a charge, to make defence. It occurs also in Acts 25:16 and then also in 1 Corinthians 9:3; 2 Corinthians 7:11; Philippians 1:7; Philippians 1:16; 2 Timothy 4:16; 1 Peter 3:15. Paul uses it again in Acts 25:16 as here about his defence against the charges made by the Jews from Asia. He is suspected of being a renegade from the Mosaic law and charged with specific acts connected with the alleged profanation of the temple. So Paul speaks in Aramaic and recites the actual facts connected with his change from Judaism to Christianity. The facts make the strongest argument. He first recounts the well-known story of his zeal for Judaism in the persecution of the Christians and shows why the change came. Then he gives a summary of his work among the Gentiles and why he came to Jerusalem this time. He answers the charge of enmity to the people and the law and of desecration of the temple. It is a speech of great skill and force, delivered under remarkable conditions. The one in chapter Acts 22:26 covers some of the same ground, but for a slightly different purpose as we shall see. For a discussion of the three reports in Acts of Paul's conversion see chapter Acts 22:9. Luke has not been careful to make every detail correspond, though there is essential agreement in all three.
He spake (προσεφωνε). Imperfect active, was speaking. See aorist active προσεφωνησεν in Acts 21:40.
They were the more quiet (μαλλον παρεσχον ησυχιαν). Literally, The more (μαλλον) they furnished or supplied (second aorist active indicative of παρεχω) quietness (ησυχιαν, old word, in the N.T. only here and 2 Thessalonians 3:12; 1 Timothy 2:11). Precisely this idiom occurs in Plutarch (Cor. 18) and the LXX (Job 34:29). Knowling notes the fondness of Luke for words of silence (σιγη, σιγαω, ησυχαζω) as in Luke 14:4; Luke 15:26; Acts 11:18; Acts 12:17; Acts 15:12; Acts 21:14; Acts 21:40. It is a vivid picture of the sudden hush that swept over the vast mob under the spell of the Aramaic. They would have understood Paul's Koine Greek, but they much preferred the Aramaic. It was a masterstroke.
I am a Jew (Εγω ειμ ανηρ Ιουδαιος). Note use of Εγω for emphasis. Paul recounts his Jewish advantages or privileges with manifest pride as in Acts 26:4; 2 Corinthians 11:22; Galatians 1:14; Philippians 3:4-7.
Born (γεγεννημενος). Perfect passive participle of γενναω. See above in Acts 21:39 for the claim of Tarsus as his birth-place. He was a Hellenistic Jew, not an Aramaean Jew (cf. Acts 6:1).
Brought up (ανατεθραμμενος). Perfect passive participle again of ανατρεφω, to nurse up, to nourish up, common old verb, but in the N.T. only here, Acts 7:20, and MSS. in Luke 4:16. The implication is that Paul was sent to Jerusalem while still young, "from my youth" (Acts 26:4), how young we do not know, possibly thirteen or fourteen years old. He apparently had not seen Jesus in the flesh (2 Corinthians 5:16).
At the feet of Gamaliel (προς τους ποδας Γαμαλιηλ). The rabbis usually sat on a raised seat with the pupils in a circle around either on lower seats or on the ground. Paul was thus nourished in Pharisaic Judaism as interpreted by Gamaliel, one of the lights of Judaism. For remarks on Gamaliel see chapter Acts 5:34. He was one of the seven Rabbis to whom the Jews gave the highest title Ραββαν (our Rabbi). Ραββ (my teacher) was next, the lowest being Ραβ (teacher). "As Aquinas among the schoolmen was called Doctor Angelicus, and Bonaventura Doctor Seraphicus, so Gamaliel was called the Beauty of the Law" (Conybeare and Howson).
Instructed (πεπαιδευμενος). Perfect passive participle again (each participle beginning a clause), this time of παιδευω, old verb to train a child (παις) as in Acts 7:22 which see. In this sense also in 1 Timothy 1:20; Titus 2:12. Then to chastise as in Luke 23:16; Luke 23:22 (which see); 2 Timothy 2:25; Hebrews 12:6.
According to the strict manner (κατα ακριβειαν). Old word, only here in N.T. Mathematical accuracy, minute exactness as seen in the adjective in Acts 26:5. See also Romans 10:2; Galatians 1:4; Philippians 3:4-7.
Of our fathers (πατρωιου). Old adjective from πατερ, only here and Acts 24:14 in N.T. Means descending from father to son, especially property and other inherited privileges. Πατρικος (patrician) refers more to personal attributes and affiliations.
Being zealous for God (ζηλωτης υπαρχων του θεου). Not adjective, but substantive
zealot (same word used by James of the thousands of Jewish Christians in Jerusalem, Acts 21:20 which see) with objective genitive του θεου (for God). See also verse Acts 22:14; Acts 28:17; 2 Timothy 1:3 where he makes a similar claim. So did Peter (Acts 3:13; Acts 5:30) and Stephen (Acts 7:32). Paul definitely claims, whatever freedom he demanded for Gentile Christians, to be personally "a zealot for God" "even as ye all are this day" (καθως παντες υμεις εστε σημερον). In his conciliation he went to the limit and puts himself by the side of the mob in their zeal for the law, mistaken as they were about him. He was generous surely to interpret their fanatical frenzy as zeal for God. But Paul is sincere as he proceeds to show by appeal to his own conduct.
And I (ος).
I who , literally.
This Way (ταυτην την οδον). The very term used for Christianity by Luke concerning Paul's persecution (Acts 9:2), which see. Here it "avoids any irritating name for the Christian body" (Furneaux) by using this Jewish terminology.
Unto the death (αχρ θανατου). Unto death, actual death of many as Acts 26:10 shows.
Both men and women (ανδρας τε κα γυναικας). Paul felt ashamed of this fact and it was undoubtedly in his mind when he pictured his former state as "a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious (1 Timothy 1:13), the first of sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15). But it showed the lengths to which Paul went in his zeal for Judaism.
Doth bear me witness (μαρτυρε μο). Present active indicative as if still living. Caiaphas was no longer high priest now, for Ananias is at this time (Acts 23:2), though he may be still alive.
All the estate of the elders (παν το πρεσβυτεριον). All the eldership or the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:5) of which Paul was probably then a member (Acts 26:10). Possibly some of those present were members of the Sanhedrin then (some 20 odd years ago).
From whom (παρ' ων). The high priest and the Sanhedrin.
Letters unto the brethren (επισταλας προς τους αδελφους). Paul still can tactfully call the Jews his "brothers" as he did in Romans 9:3. There is no bitterness in his heart.
Journeyed (επορευομην). Imperfect middle indicative of πορευομα, and a vivid reality to Paul still as he was going on towards Damascus.
To bring also (αξων κα). Future active participle of αγω, to express purpose, one of the few N.T. examples of this classic idiom (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1118).
Them which were there (τους εκεισε οντας). Constructio praegnans. The usual word would be εκε (there), not εκεισε (thither). Possibly the Christians who had fled to Damascus, and so were there (Robertson, Grammar, p. 548).
In bonds (δεδεμενους). Perfect passive participle of δεω, predicate position, "bound."
For to be punished (ινα τιμωρηθωσιν). First aorist passive subjunctive of τιμωρεω, old verb to avenge, to take vengeance on. In the N.T. only here, and Acts 26:11. Pure final clause with ινα. He carried his persecution outside of Palestine just as later he carried the gospel over the Roman empire.
And it came to pass (εγενετο δε). Rather than the common κα εγενετο and with the infinitive (περιαστραψα), one of the three constructions with κα (δε) εγενετο by Luke (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 1042f.), followed by κα, by finite verb, by subject infinitive as here.
As I made my journey (μο πορευομενω). To me (dative after εγενετο, happened to me) journeying (participle agreeing with μο). See this same idiom in verse Acts 22:17. Luke uses εγενετο δε seventeen times in the gospel and twenty-one in the Acts.
Unto Damascus (τη Δαμασκω). Dative after εγγιζοντ (drawing nigh to).
About noon (περ μεσημβριαν). Mid (μεσος) day (ημερα), old word, in the N.T. only here and Acts 8:26 which see where it may mean "toward the south." An item not in ch. 9.
Shone round about me (περιαστραψα περ εμε). First aorist active infinitive of περιαστραπτω, to flash around, in LXX and late Greek, in the N.T. only here and Acts 9:3 which see. Note repetition of περ.
A great light (φως ικανον). Luke's favourite word ικανον (considerable). Accusative of general reference with the infinitive.
I fell (επεσα). Second aorist active indicative with -α rather than επεσον, the usual form of πιπτω.
Unto the ground (εις το εδαφος). Old word, here alone in N.T. So the verb εδαφιζω, is in Luke 19:44 alone in the N.T.
A voice saying (φωνης λεγουσης). Genitive after ηκουσα, though in Acts 26:14 the accusative is used after ηκουσα, as in Acts 22:14 after ακουσα, either being allowable. See on Acts 9:7 for discussion of the difference in case. Saul's name repeated each time (Acts 9:4; Acts 22:7; Acts 26:14). Same question also in each report: "Why persecuted thou me?" (Τ με διωκεισ?). These piercing words stuck in Paul's mind.
Of Nazareth (ο Ναζωραιος). The Nazarene, not in Acts 9:5; Acts 26:15 and here because Jesus is mentioned now for the first time in the address. The form Ναζωραιος as in Matthew 2:23 (which see) is used also in Acts 24:5 for the followers of Jesus instead of Ναζαρηνος as in Mark 1:24, etc. (which see).
But they heard not the voice (την δε φωνην ουκ ηκουσαν). The accusative here may be used rather than the genitive as in verse Acts 22:7 to indicate that those with Paul did not understand what they heard (Acts 9:7) just as they beheld the light (Acts 22:9), but did not see Jesus (Acts 9:7). The difference in cases allows this distinction, though it is not always observed as just noticed about Acts 22:14; Acts 26:14. The verb ακουω is used in the sense of understand (Mark 4:33; 1 Corinthians 14:2). It is one of the evidences of the genuineness of this report of Paul's speech that Luke did not try to smooth out apparent discrepancies in details between the words of Paul and his own record already in ch. 9. The Textus Receptus adds in this verse: "And they became afraid" (κα εμφοβο εγενοντο). Clearly not genuine.
Into Damascus (εις Δαμασκον). In Acts 9:6 simply "into the city" (εις την πολιν).
Of all things which (περ παντων ων). Hων, relative plural attracted to genitive of antecedent from accusative α, object of ποιησα (do).
Are appointed for thee (τετακτα σο). Perfect passive indicative of τασσω, to appoint, to order, with dative σο. Compare with οτ σε δε of Acts 9:6. The words were spoken to Paul, of course, in the Aramaic, Saoul, Saoul.
I could not see (ουκ ενεβλεπον). Imperfect active of εμβλεπω, I was not seeing, same fact stated in Acts 9:8. Here the reason as "for the glory of that light" (απο της δοξης του φωτος εκεινου).
Being led by the hand (χειραγωγουμενος). Present passive participle of χειραγωγεω, the same verb used in Acts 9:8 (χειραγωγουντες) which see. Late verb, in the N.T. only in these two places. In LXX.
A devout man according to the law (ευλαβης κατα τον νομον). See on Acts 2:5; Acts 8:2; Luke 2:25 for the adjective ευλαβης. Paul adds "according to the law" to show that he was introduced to Christianity by a devout Jew and no law-breaker (Lewin).
I looked up on him (αναβλεψα εις αυτον). First aorist active indicative and same word as αναβλεψον (Receive thy sight). Hence here the verb means as the margin of the Revised Version has it: "I received my sight and looked upon him." For "look up" see John 9:11.
Hath appointed thee (προεχειρισατο). First aorist middle indicative of προχειριζω, old verb to put forth into one's hands, to take into one's hands beforehand, to plan, propose, determine. In the N.T. only in Acts 3:20; Acts 22:14; Acts 26:16. Three infinitives after this verb of God's purpose about Paul:
to know (γνωνα, second aorist active of γινωσκω) his will,
to see (ιδειν, second aorist active of οραω) the Righteous One (cf. Acts 3:14),
to hear (ακουσα, first aorist active of ακουω) a voice from his mouth.
A witness for him (μαρτυς αυτω). As in Acts 1:8.
Of what (ων). Attraction of the accusative relative α to the genitive case of the unexpressed antecedent τουτων.
Thou hast seen and heard (εωρακας, present perfect active indicative κα ηκουσας, first aorist active indicative). This subtle change of tense is not preserved in the English. Blass properly cites the perfect εωρακα in 1 Corinthians 9:1 as proof of Paul's enduring qualification for the apostleship.
By baptized (βαπτισα). First aorist middle (causative), not passive, Get thyself baptized (Robertson, Grammar, p. 808). Cf. 1 Corinthians 10:2. Submit yourself to baptism. So as to απολουσα, Get washed off as in 1 Corinthians 6:11. It is possible, as in Acts 2:38, to take these words as teaching baptismal remission or salvation by means of baptism, but to do so is in my opinion a complete subversion of Paul's vivid and picturesque language. As in Romans 6:4-6 where baptism is the picture of death, burial and resurrection, so here baptism pictures the change that had already taken place when Paul surrendered to Jesus on the way (verse Acts 22:10). Baptism here pictures the washing away of sins by the blood of Christ.
When I had returned (μο υποστρεψαντ),
while I prayed (προσευχομενου μου),
I fell (γενεσθα με). Note dative μο with εγενετο as in verse Acts 22:6, genitive μου (genitive absolute with προσευχομενου), accusative of general reference με with γενεσθα, and with no effort at uniformity, precisely as in Acts 15:22; Acts 15:23 which see. The participle is especially liable to such examples of anacolutha (Robertson, Grammar, p. 439).
Saw him saying (ιδειν αυτον λεγοντα). The first visit after his conversion when they tried to kill him in Jerusalem (Acts 9:29).
Because (διοτι, δια and οτ),
for that .
Imprisoned and beat (ημην φυλακιζων κα δερων). Periphrastic imperfect active of φυλακιζω (LXX and late Koine, here alone in the N.T.) and δερω (old verb to skin, to beat as in Matthew 21:35 which see).
In every synagogue (κατα τας συναγογας). Up and down (κατα) in the synagogues.
Was shed (εξεχυννετο). Imperfect passive of εκχυννω (see on Matthew 23:35), was being shed.
Witness (μαρτυρος). And "martyr" also as in Revelation 2:13; Revelation 17:6. Transition state for the word here.
I also was standing by (κα αυτος ημην εφεστως). Periphrastic second past perfect in form, but imperfect (linear) in sense since εστωσ ισταμενος (intransitive).
Consenting (συνευδοκων). The very word used by Luke in Acts 8:1 about Paul. Koine word for being pleased at the same time with (cf. Luke 11:48). Paul adds here the item of "guarding the clothes of those who were slaying (αναιρουντων as in Luke 23:32; Acts 12:2) him" (Stephen). Paul recalls the very words of protest used by him to Jesus. He did not like the idea of running away to save his own life right where he had helped slay Stephen. He is getting on dangerous ground.
I will send thee forth far hence unto the Gentiles (Εγω εις εθνη μακραν εξαποστελω σε). Future active of the double (εξ, out, απο, off or away) compound of εξαποστελλω, common word in the Koine (cf. Luke 24:49). This is a repetition by Jesus of the call given in Damascus through Ananias (Acts 9:15). Paul had up till now avoided the word Gentiles, but at last it had to come, "the fatal word" (Farrar).
They gave him audience (ηκουον). Imperfect active, they kept on listening, at least with respectful attention.
Unto this word (αχρ τουτου του λογου). But "this word" was like a spark in a powder magazine or a torch to an oil tank. The explosion of pent-up indignation broke out instantly worse than at first (Acts 21:30).
Away with such a fellow from the earth (Αιρε απο της γης τον τοιουτον). They renew the cry with the very words in Acts 21:36, but with "from the earth" for vehemence.
For it is not fit (ου γαρ καθηκεν). Imperfect active of καθηκω, old verb to come down to, to become, to fit. In the N.T. only here and Romans 1:28. The imperfect is a neat Greek idiom for impatience about an obligation: It was not fitting, he ought to have been put to death long ago. The obligation is conceived as not lived up to like our "ought" (past of owe). See Robertson, Grammar, p. 886.
As they cried out (κραυγαζοντων αυτων). Genitive absolute with present active participle of κραυγαζω, a rare word in the old Greek from κραυγη (a cry). See on Matthew 12:19. Two other genitive absolutes here, ριπτουντων (throwing off, present active participle, frequent active variation of ριπτω) and βαλλοντων (present active participle of βαλλω, flinging). These present participles give a lively picture of the uncontrolled excitement of the mob in their spasm of wild rage.
That he be examined by scourging (μαστιξιν ανεταζεσθα αυτον). The present passive infinitive of ανεταζω in indirect command after ειπας (bidding). This verb does not occur in the old Greek (which used εξεταζω as in Matthew 2:8), first in the LXX, in the N.T. only here and verse Acts 22:29, but Milligan and Moulton's Vocabulary quotes an Oxyrhynchus papyrus of A.D. 127 which has a prefect using the word directing government clerks to "examine" (ανεταζειν) documents and glue them together into volumes (τομο). The word was evidently in use for such purposes. It was a kind of "third degree" applied to Paul by the use of scourges (μαστιξιν), instrumental plural of μαστιξ, old word for whip, as in Hebrews 11:36. But this way of beginning an inquiry by torture (inquisition) was contrary to Roman law (Page): Non esse a tormentis incipiendum, Divus Augustus statuit.
That he might know (ινα επιγνω). Final clause with ινα and second aorist active subjunctive of επιγνωσκω (full knowledge). Lysias was as much in the dark as ever, for Paul's speech had been in Aramaic and this second explosion was a mystery to him like the first.
They so shouted (ουτος επεφωνουν). Imperfect active progressive imperfect had been so shouting.
When they had tied him up (ος προετειναν αυτον). First aorist active indicative of προτεινω, old verb to stretch forward, only here in the N.T. Literally, "When they stretched him forward."
With the thongs (τοις ιμασιν). If the instrumental case of ιμας, old word for strap or thong (for sandals as Mark 1:7, or for binding criminals as here), then Paul was bent forward and tied by the thongs to a post in front to expose his back the better to the scourges. But τοις ιμασιν may be dative case and then it would mean "for the lashes." In either case it is a dreadful scene of terrorizing by the chiliarch.
Unto the centurion that stood by (προς τον εστωτα εκατονταρχον). He was simply carrying out the orders of the chiliarch (cf. Matthew 27:54). Why had not Paul made protest before this?
Is it lawful? (ε εξεστιν?). This use of ε in indirect questions we have had before (Acts 1:6).
A Roman and uncondemned (Ρομαιον κα ακατακριτον). Just as in Acts 16:37 which see. Blass says of Paul's question: Interrogatio subironica est confidentiae plena.
What art thou about to do? (Τ μελλεις ποιειν?). On the point of doing, sharp warning.
Art thou a Roman? (Συ Ρομαιος ει?).
Thou (emphatic position) a Roman? It was unbelievable.
With a great sum (πολλου κεφαλαιου). The use of κεφαλαιου (from κεφαλη, head) for sums of money (principal as distinct from interest) is old and frequent in the papyri. Our word capital is from χαπυτ (head). The genitive is used here according to rule for price. "The sale of the Roman citizenship was resorted to by the emperors as a means of filling the exchequer, much as James I. made baronets" (Page). Dio Cassius (LX., 17) tells about Messalina the wife of Claudius selling Roman citizenship. Lysias was probably a Greek and so had to buy his citizenship.
But I am a Roman born (Εγω δε κα γεγεννημα). Perfect passive indicative of γενναω. The word "Roman" not in the Greek. Literally, "But I have been even born one," (i.e. born a Roman citizen). There is calm and simple dignity in this reply and pardonable pride. Being a citizen of Tarsus (Acts 21:39) did not make Paul a Roman citizen. Tarsus was an urbs libera, not a colonia like Philippi. Some one of his ancestors (father, grandfather) obtained it perhaps as a reward for distinguished service. Paul's family was of good social position. "He was educated by the greatest of the Rabbis; he was at an early age entrusted by the Jewish authorities with an important commission; his nephew could gain ready access to the Roman tribune; he was treated as a person of consequence by Felix, Festus, Agrippa, and Julius" (Furneaux).
Departed from him (απεστησαν απ' αυτου). Second aorist active indicative (intransitive) of αφιστημ, stood off from him at once.
Was afraid (εφοβηθη). Ingressive aorist passive indicative of φοβεομα, became afraid. He had reason to be.
That he was a Roman (οτ Ρομαιος εστιν). Indirect assertion with tense of εστιν retained.
Because he had bound him (οτ αυτον ην δεδεκως). Causal οτ here after declarative οτ just before. Periphrastic past perfect active of δεω, to bind.
To know the certainty (γνωνα το ασφαλες). Same idiom in Acts 21:34 which see.
Wherefore he was accused (το τ κατεγορειτα). Epexegetical after to ασφαλες. Note article (accusative case) with the indirect question here as in Luke 22:1; Luke 22:23; Luke 22:24 (which see), a neat idiom in the Greek.
Commanded (εκελευσεν). So the Sanhedrin had to meet, but in the Tower of Antonia, for he brought Paul down (καταγαγων, second aorist active participle of καταγω).
Set him (εστησεν). First aorist active (transitive) indicative of ιστημ, not the intransitive second aorist εστη. Lysias is determined to find out the truth about Paul, more puzzled than ever by the important discovery that he has a Roman citizen on his hands in this strange prisoner.
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Acts 22". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11