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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
Acts 9

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

CHAPTER 9

Acts 9:3. ἀπό] A B C G א, min. have ἐχ, which is, no doubt, recommended by Griesb. and adopted by Lachm. Tisch. and Born., but is inserted from Acts 22:6 to express the meaning more strongly.

Instead of περιήστραψ. Lachm. has περιέστραψ. A weakly attested error of transcription.

Acts 9:5. κύριος εἷπεν] Deleted by Lachm. Tisch. Born., after A B C, min. Vulg. In some other witnesses (including א), only κύριος is wanting; and in others, only εἶπεν. The Recepta is a clumsy filling up of the original bare δέ.

After διὡχεις, Elz., following Erasm., has (instead of ἀλλά, Acts 9:6) σκληρὐν σοι πρὸς κέντρα λακτίζειν. τρέμων τε καὶ θαμβῶν εἶπε· κύριε, τί με θέλεις ποιῆσαι; καὶ κύριος πρὸς αὐτόν, against all Greek codd. Chrys. Theoph. and several VSS.(234) An old amplification from Acts 22:10, Acts 26:14.

Acts 9:8. οὐδένα] A* B א, Syr. utr. Ar. Vulg. have οὐδέν. So Lachm. Tisch. Born. The Recepta has originated mechanically from following Acts 9:7.

Acts 9:10. The order ἐν ὁρά΄ατι κύρ. (Lachm. Tisch. Born.) has the decisive preponderance of testimony.

Acts 9:12. ἐν ὁρά΄ατι] is wanting in A א, loti. Copt, Aeth. Vulg. B C have it after ἄνδρα (so Born.). Deleted by Lachm. and Tisch. An explanatory addition to εἶδεν.

Instead of χεῖρα, Lachm. and Born. have τὰς χεῖρας, after B E, VSS.; also A C א* loti, which, however, do not read rag τάς. From Acts 9:17, and because ἐπιτιθ. τὰς χεῖρας is the usual expression in the N. T. (in the active always so, except this passage).

Acts 9:17. ἀκήκοα] Lachm. Born, read ἤκουσα, which is decidedly attested by A B C E א, min.

Acts 9:18. After ἀνέ βλεψέ τε, Elz. has παραχρῆμα, which is wanting in decisive witnesses, and, after Erasm. and Bengel, is deleted by Lachm. Tisch. Born. A more precisely defining addition.

Acts 9:19. After ἐγένετο δέ, Elz. has σαῦλος, against decisive testimony. Beginning of a church-lesson.

Acts 9:20. ἰησαῦν] Elz. reads χριστόν, against A B C E א, min. VSS. Iren. Amid the prevalent interchange of the two names this very preponderance of authority is decisive. But ἰησαῦν is clearly confirmed by the following ὄτι οὖτός ἐστιν υἱὸς τ. θεοῦ, as also by Acts 9:22, where οὖτος necessarily presupposes a preceding ἰησαῦς.

Acts 9:24. παρετήρουν τε] Lachm. Tisch. Born, read παρετηροῦντο δὲ καί, which is to be preferred according to decisive testimony.

αὐτὸν οἱ μαθηταί] Lachm. Tisch. Born, read οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ, after A B C F א, loti. * Or. Jer. This reading has in its favour, along with the preponderance of witnesses, the circumstance that before (Acts 9:19) and after (Acts 9:26) the μαθηται are mentioned absolutely, and the expression οἱ ΄αθ. αὐτοῦ might appear objectionable. In what follows, on nearly the same evidence, διὰ τοῦ τείχους καθῆκαν αὐτόν is to be read.

Acts 9:26. After παραγ. δέ, Elz. has σαῦλος, E, ιιαῦλος. An addition.

εἰς] B E G H, min. Oec. Theophyl. have ἐν, recommended by Griesb. and adopted by Lachm. Tisch. Born. The evidence leaves it doubtful; but considering the frequency of παραγίν. with εἰς (Acts 13:14, Acts 15:4; Matthew 2:1; John 8:2), whereas it does not further occur with ἐν in the N. T., ἐν would be more easily changed into εἰς than the converse.

ἐπειρᾶτο] Lachm. and Born. read ἐπείραζεν (after A B C א, min.), which was easily introduced as the usual form ( πειράο΄αι only again occurs in the N. T. in Acts 26:21; Hebrews 4:15?).

Acts 9:28. ἐν ἱερουσ] Lachm. Tisch. Born, have rightly adopted εἰς ἱερουσ., which already Griesb. had approved after A B C E G א, min. Chrys. Oec. Theophyl. ἐν was inserted as more suitable than εἰς, which was not understood. Accordingly, καί before παῤῥησ. is to be deleted with Lachm. and Tisch., following A B C א, min. VSS. An insertion for the sake of connection.

Acts 9:29. ἑλληνιστάς] A has ἕλληνας. From Acts 11:20.

Acts 9:31. Lachm. Tisch. Born. read ἐκκηησία εἶχεν εἰρ. οἰκοδο΄ου΄ένη κ. πορευο΄ένη ἐπληθύνετο, after A B C א, min. and several VSS., including Vulg. Rightly. The original ΄ὲν οὖν ἐκκλησία, κ. τ. λ., in accordance with the apostolic idea of the unity of the church, was explained by αἱ ΄ὲν οὖν ἐκκλησίαι πᾶσαι (so E), which πᾶσαι was again deleted, and thus the Recepta arose.

Acts 9:33. Instead of κραββάτῳ, κραββάτου is to be adopted, with Lachm. Tisch. Born., on preponderating evidence.

Acts 9:38. ὀκνῆσαιαὐτῶν] Lachm. and Tisch. read ὀκνήσῃςἡμῶν, after A B C* E א, loti. Vulg., which with this preponderance of evidence is the more to be preferred, as internal grounds determine nothing for the one reading or the other.


Verse 1-2

Acts 9:1-2. ἔτι] See Acts 8:3, hence the narrative does not stand isolated (Schleiermacher).

ἐμπνέων ἀπειλῆς κ. φόνου εἰς τ. μαθ.] out of threatening and murder breathing hard at the disciples, whereby is set forth the passionateness with which he was eager to terrify the Christians by threats, and to hurry them to death. In ἐμπνέων, observe the compound, to which the εἰς τ. μαθ. belonging to it corresponds; so that the word signifies: to breathe hard at or upon an object; as often also in classical writers, yet usually with the dative instead of with εἰς. The expression is stronger than if it were said πνέων ἀπειλὴν κ. τ. λ. (Lobeck, ad Aj. p. 342; Boeckh, Expl. Pind. p. 341). The genitives ἀπειλῆς and φόνου denote whence this ἐμπνέειν issued; threatening and murder, i.e. sanguinary desire (Romans 1:29), was within him what excited and sustained his breathing hard. Comp. ἐμπνέον ζωῆς, Joshua 10:40; φόνου πνείοντα, “Nonn. Dionys. 25; Aristoph. Eq. p. 437; Winer, p. 192 [E. T. 255].

τῷ ἀρχιερεῖ] If the conversion of Paul occurred in the year 35 (Introduction, sec. 4), then Caiaphas was still high priest, as he was not deposed by Vitellius until the year 36 (Anger, de temp. rat. p. 184). Jonathan the son of Ananus (Joseph. Antt. xviii. 4. 3) succeeded him; and he, after a year, was succeeded by his brother Theophilus (Joseph. Antt. xviii. 5. 3).

λαμασκός, דַמֶּשֶׂק, the old capital of Syria, in which, since the period of the Seleucidae, so many Jews resided that Nero could cause 10,000 to be executed (Joseph. Bell. Jud. i. 2. 25, ii. 20. 2). It was specially to Damascus that the persecuting Saul turned his steps, partly, doubtless, because the existence of the hated sect in that city was well known to him (the church there may have owed its origin and its enlargement as well to the journeys of the resident Jews to the feasts, as to visits of the dispersed from Jerusalem); partly, perhaps, also, because personal connections promised for his enterprise there the success which he desired.

πρὸς τὰς συναγωγ.], from which, consequently, the Christians had not as yet separated themselves. Comp. Lechler, apost. Zeit. p. 290.

The recognition of the letters of authorization at Damascus was not to be doubted, as that city was in the year 35 still under Roman dominion; and Roman policy was accustomed to grant as much indulgence as possible to the religious power of the Sanhedrim, even in criminal matters (only the execution of the punishment of death was reserved to the Roman authority).

τῆς ὁδοῦ ὄντας] who should be of the way. The way, in the ethical sense, is here κατ ̓ ἐξοχήν the Christian, i.e. the characteristic direction of life as determined by faith on Jesus Christ ( ὁδὸς κυρίου, Acts 18:25),—an expression in this absolute form peculiar to the Book of Acts (Acts 19:9, Acts 22:4, Acts 24:14; Acts 24:22), but which certainly was in use in the apostolic church. Oecumenius indicates the substantial meaning: τὴν κατὰ χριστὸν εἶπε πολιτείαν.

εἶναι, with the genitive in the sense of belonging to. See Bernhardy, p. 165; Winer, p. 184 [E. T. 244].


Verses 3-9

Acts 9:3-9. The conversion of Saul does not appear, on an accurate consideration of the three narratives (9, 22, 26) which agree in the main points, to have had the way psychologically prepared for it by scruples of conscience as to his persecuting proceedings. On the contrary, Luke represents it in the history at our passage, and Paul himself in his speeches (22 and 26; comp. also Galatians 1:14-15; Philippians 3:12), as in direct and immediate contrast to his vehement persecuting zeal, amidst which he was all of a sudden internally arrested by the miraculous fact from without. Comp. Beyschlag in the Stud. u. Krit. 1864, p. 251 f. Moreover, previous scruples and inward struggles are à priori, in the case of a character so pure (at this time only erring), firm, and ardently decided as he also afterwards continued to be, extremely improbable: he saw in the destruction of the Christian church only a fulfilment of duty and a meritorious service for the glory of Jehovah (Acts 22:3; comp. Galatians 1:14; Philippians 3:6). For the transformation of his firm conviction into the opposite, of his ardent interest against the gospel into an ardent zeal for it, there was needed—with the pure resoluteness of his will, which even in his unwearied persecutions was just striving after a righteousness of his own (Philippians 3:6)—a heavenly power directly seizing on his inmost conscience; and this he experienced, in the midst of his zealot enterprise, on the way to Damascus, when that perverted striving after righteousness and merit was annihilated. The light which from heaven suddenly shone around him brighter than the sun (Acts 26:13), was no flash of lightning. The similarity of the expression in all the three narratives militates against this assumption so frequently made (and occurring still in Schrader); and Paul himself certainly knew how to distinguish in his recollection a natural phenomenon, however alarming, from a φῶς ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ associated with a heavenly revelation.(235) This φῶς was rather the heavenly radiance, with which the exalted Christ appearing in His δόξα is surrounded. In order to a scripturally true conception of the occurrence, moreover, we may not think merely in general of an internal vision produced by God (Weiss, Schweizer, Schenkel, and others); nor is it enough specially to assume a self-manifestation of Christ made merely to the inner sense of Saul,—although externally accompanied by the miraculous appearance of light,—according to which by an operation of Christ, who is in heaven, He presented Himself to the inner man of Saul, and made Himself audible in definite words (see my first edition; comp. Bengel, üb d. Bekehr. Pauli, aus d. Lat. übers, v. Niethammer, Tüb. 1826). On the contrary, according to 1 Corinthians 15:8 (comp. Acts 9:1), Christ must really have appeared to him in His glorified body (comp. Acts 9:17; Acts 9:27). For only the objective (this also against Ewald) and real corporeal appearance corresponds to the category of appearances, in which this is placed at 1 Corinthians 15:8, as also to the requirement of apostleship, which is expressed in 1 Corinthians 9:1 most definitely, and that in view of Peter and the other original apostles, by τὸν κύριον ἡμῶν ἑώρακα. Comp. Paul in Hilgenfeld’s Zeitschr. 1863, p. 182 ff. The Risen One Himself was in the light which appeared, and converted Saul (and hence Galatians 1:1 : τοῦ ἐγείραντος αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν), with which also Galatians 1:16 (see in loc.) fully agrees; comp. Philippians 3:12. This view is rightly adopted, after the old interpreters, by Lyttleton (on the conversion, etc., translated by Hahn, Hannov. 1751), Hess, Michaelis, Haselaar (Lugd. Bat. 1806), and by most modern interpreters except the Tübingen School; as well as by Olshausen and Neander, both of whom, however, without any warrant in the texts, assume a psychological preparation by the principles of Gamaliel, by the speech of Stephen, and by the sight of his death. For the correct view comp. Baumgarten; Diestelmaier, Jugendleben des Saulus, 1866, p. 37 ff.; Oertel, Paulus in d. Apostelgesch. p. 112 ff., who also enlarges on the connection of the doctrine of the apostle with his conversion.(236) On the other hand, de Wette does not go beyond an admission of the enigmatical character of the matter; Lange (Apost. Zeitalt. II. p. 116 f.) connects the objective fact with a visionary perception of it; and Holsten (in Hilgenfeld’s Zeitschr. 1861, p. 223 ff.), after the example of Baur, attempts to make good the vision, which he assumes, as a real one, indeed, but yet as an immanent psychological act of Saul’s own mind,—a view which is refuted by the necessary resemblance of the fact to the other Christophanies in 1 Corinthians 15.(237) All the attempts of Baur and his school to treat the event as a visionary product from the laboratory of Saul’s own thoughts are exegetical impossibilities, in presence of which Baur himself at last stood still acknowledging a mystery. See his Christenth. d. drei ersten Jahrh. p. 45, ed. 2. It is no argument against the actual bodily appearance, that the text speaks only of the light, and not of a human form rendered visible. For, while in general the glorified body may have been of itself inaccessible to the human eye, so, in particular, was it here as enclosed in the heavenly radiance; and the texts relate only what was externally seen and apparent also to the others,—namely, the radiance of light, out of which the Christ surrounded by it made Himself visible only to Saul, as He also granted only to him to hear His words, which the rest did not hear.(238) Whoever, taking offence at the diversities of the accounts in particular points as at their miraculous tenor, sets down what is so reported as unhistorical, or refers it, with Zeller, to the psychological domain of nascent faith, is opposed, as regards the nature of the fact recorded, by the testimony of the apostle himself in 1 Corinthians 15:8; 1 Corinthians 9:1 with a power sustained by his whole working, which is not to be broken, and which leads ultimately to the desperate shift of supposing in Paul, at precisely the most decisive and momentous point of his life, a self-deception as the effect of the faith existing in him; in which case the narrative of the Book of Acts is traced to a design of legitimating the apostleship of Paul, which in the sequel is further confirmed by the authority of Peter.

Hardly deserving now of historical notice is the uncritical rationalism of the method that preceded the critical school of Baur, by which (after Vitringa, Obss. p. 370, and particularly Eichhorn, Ammon, Boehme, Heinrichs, Kuinoel, and others) the whole occurrence was converted into a fancy-picture, in which the persecutor’s struggles of conscience furnished the psychological ground and a sudden thunderstorm the accessories,—a view with which some (Emmerling and Bretschneider) associate the exegetical blunder of identifying the fact with 2 Corinthians 12:1 ff.; while Brennecke (after Bahrdt and Venturini) makes Jesus, who was only apparently dead, appear to Saul to check his persecuting zeal. These earlier attempts to assign the conversion of the apostle to the natural sphere are essentially distinguished, in respect of their basis, from those of the critical school of Baur and Holsten, by the circumstance that the latter proceed from the postulates of pantheistic, and the former from those of theistic, rationalism. But both agree in starting from the negation of a miracle, by which Saul could have come to be among the prophets, as they consign the resurrection of the Lord Himself from the dead to the same negative domain. In consequence of this, indeed, they cannot present the conversion of Paul otherwise than under the notion of an immanent process of his individual mental life.

ἀπὸ τ. οὐρανοῦ] belongs to περιήστρ. Comp. Acts 22:6, Acts 26:13; Xen. Cyr. iv. 2. 15 : φῶς ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ προφανές. On περιαστράπτειν, comp. Juvenc. in Stob. cxvii. 9; 4 Maccabees 4:10.


Verse 4-5

Acts 9:4-5. The light shone around him (and not his companions). Out of the light the present Christ manifested Himself at this moment to his view: he has seen, the Lord (1 Corinthians 9:1; 1 Corinthians 15:8), Acts 9:17; Acts 9:27, who afterwards makes Himself known also by name; and the persecutor, from terror at the heavenly vision, falls to the ground, when he hears the voice speaking in Hebrew (Acts 26:14): Saul, Saul, etc.

τί με διώκεις;] τί παρʼ ἐμοῦ μέγα μικρὸν ἠδικημένος ταῦτα ποιεῖς; Chrysostom. Christ Himself is persecuted in His people. Luke 10:16. “Caput pro membris clamabat,” Augustine.

τίς εἶ, κύριε]. On the question whether Saul, during his residence in Jerusalem, had personally seen Christ (Schrader, Olshausen, Ewald, Keim, Beyschlag, and others) or not (comp. on 2 Corinthians 5:16), no decision can at all be arrived at from this passage, as the form in which the Lord presented Himself to the view of Saul belonged to the heavenly world and was surrounded with the glorious radiance, and Saul himself, immediately after the momentary view and the overwhelming impression of the incomparable appearance, fell down and closed his eyes.

Observe in Acts 9:5 the emphasis of ἐγώ and σύ.


Verse 6

Acts 9:6. ʼαλλά] breaking off; see on Mark 16:7, and Bäumlein, Partik. p. 15.

According to chap. 26., Jesus forthwith gives Saul the commission to become the apostle of the Gentiles, which, according to the two other narratives, here and chap. 22., is only given afterwards through the intervention of Ananias. This diversity is sufficiently explained by the fact that Paul in the speech before Agrippa abridges the narrative, and puts the commission, which was only subsequently conveyed to him by the instrumentality of another, at once into the mouth of Christ Himself, the author of the commission; by which the thing in itself (the command issued by Christ to him) is not affected, but merely the exactness of the representation, the summary abbreviation of which on this point Paul might esteem as sufficient before Agrippa (in opposition to Zeller, p. 193).


Verse 7

Acts 9:7. εἰστήκεισαν ἐνεοί(239)] According to Acts 26:14, they all fell to the earth with Saul. This diversity is not, with Bengel, Haselaar, Kuinoel, Baumgarten, and others, to be obviated by the purely arbitrary assumption, that the companions at the first appearance of the radiance had fallen down, but then had risen again sooner than Saul; but it is to be recognised as an unessential non-agreement of the several accounts, whereby both the main substance of the event itself, and the impartial conscientiousness of Luke in not arbitrarily harmonizing the different sources, are simply confirmed.

ἀκούοντες ΄ὲν τῆς φωνῆς] does not agree with Acts 22:9. See the note on Acts 9:3 ff. The artificial attempts at reconciliation are worthless, namely: that τῆς φωνῆς, by which Christ’s voice is meant, applies to the words of Paul (so, against the context, Chrysostom, Ammonius, Oecumenius, Camerarius, Castalio, Beza, Vatablus, Clarius, Erasmus Schmid, Heumann, and others); or, that φωνή is here a noise (thunder), but in Acts 22:9 an articulate voice (so erroneously, in opposition to Acts 9:4, Hammond, Elsner, Fabricius, ad Cod. Apocr. N. T., p. 442, Rosenmüller, Morus, Heinrichs); or, that ἤκουσαν in Acts 22:9 denotes the understanding of the voice (so, after Grotius and many older interpreters, in Wolf, Kuinoel, and Hackett), or the definite giving ear in reference to the speaker (Bengel, Baumgarten), which is at variance with the fact, that in both places there is the simple contradistinction of seeing and hearing; hence the appeal to John 12:28-29 is not suitable, and still less the comparison of Daniel 10:7.

΄ηδένα δὲ θεωρ.] But seeing no one, from whom the voice might have come; μηδένα is used, because the participles contain the subjective cause of their standing perplexed and speechless. It is otherwise in Acts 9:8 : οὐδὲν ἔβλεπε.


Verse 8-9

Acts 9:8-9. ʼανεῳγμένων δὲ τῶν ὀφθαλμ.] Consequently Saul had lain on the ground with closed eyes since the appearance of the radiance (Acts 9:4),—which, however, as the appearance of Jesus for him is to be assumed as in and with the radiance, cannot prove that he had not really and personally seen the Lord.

οὐδὲν ἔβλεπε] namely, because he was blinded by the heavenly light (and not possibly in consequence of the journey through the desert, see Acts 22:11). The connection inevitably requires this explanation by what immediately follows; nor is the Recepta οὐδένα ἔβλ. (see the critical remarks) to be explained otherwise than of being blinded,(240) in opposition to Haselaar and others, who refer οὐδένα to Jesus.

΄ὴ βλέπων] he was for three days without being able to see, i.e. blind (John 9:39; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 308), so that he had not his power of vision; comp. Winer, p. 453 [E. T. 610]. Hence here μή from the standpoint of the subject concerned; but afterwards οὐκ and οὐδέ, because narrating objectively.

οὐκ ἔφαγεν οὐδὲ ἔπιεν] an absolute negation of eating and drinking (John 3:7; Esther 4:16), and not “a cibi potusve largioris usu abstinebat,” Kuinoel. By fasting Saul partly satisfied the compunction into which he could not but now feel himself brought for the earlier wrong direction of his efforts, and partly prepared himself by fasting and prayer (Acts 9:11) for the decisive change of his inward and outward life, for which, according to Acts 9:6, he waited a special intimation. See Acts 9:18.


Verse 10

Acts 9:10. κύριος] Christ. See Acts 9:13-14; Acts 9:17.

ἐν ὁράματι] in a vision (Acts 10:3, Acts 16:9, al.; differently Acts 7:31); whether awake or asleep, the context does not decide (not even by ἀναστάς, Acts 9:11). Eichhorn’s view, with which Kuinoel and partially also Heinrichs agree,—that Saul and Ananias had already been previously friends, and that the appearance in a dream as naturally resulted in the case of the former from the longing to speak with Ananias again and to get back sight by virtue of a healing power which was well known to him, as in the case of Ananias, who had heard of his friend’s fate on the way and of his arrival and dream,—is a fiction of exegetical romance manufactured without the slightest hint in the text, and indeed in opposition to Acts 9:11 f., 14. The course of the conversion, guided by Christ directly revealing Himself, is entirely in accordance with its commencement (Acts 9:3-9): “bat we know not the law according to which communications of a higher spiritual world to men living in the world of sense take place, so as to be able to determine anything concerning them” (Neander). According to Baur, the two corresponding visions of Ananias and (Acts 9:12) Saul are literary parallels to the history of the conversion of Cornelius. And that Ananias was a man of legal piety (Acts 22:12), is alleged by Schneckenburger, p. 168 f., and Baur, to be in keeping with the tendency of Luke, although he does not even mention it here; Zeller, p. 196, employs even the frequent occurrence of the name (chap. 5. and Acts 23:2, Acts 24:1) to call in question whether Ananias “played a part” in the conversion of the apostle at all.


Verse 11-12

Acts 9:11-12. There is a “straight street,” according to Wilson, still in Damascus.(241) Comp. Hackett in loc., and Petermann, Reisen im Orient, I. p. 98.

σαῦλον ὀνόματι] Saul by name, Saul, as he is called. Comp. Xen. Anab. i. 4. 11 : πόλιςθάψακος ὀνό΄ατι. Tobit 6:10; 4 Maccabees 5:3.

ἰδοὺ γὰρἀναβλέψῃ] contains the reason of the intimation given: for, behold, he prays, is now therefore in the spiritual frame which is requisite for what thou art to do to him, and—he is prepared for thy very arrival to help him—he has seen in a vision a man, who came in and, etc.

Imposition of hands (comp. on Acts 8:15) is here also the medium of communication of divine grace.

ἄνδρα ὀνόμ. ʼανανίαν] This is put, and not the simple σέ, to indicate that the person who appeared to Saul had been previously entirely unknown to him, and that only on occasion of this vision had he learned his name, Ananias.


Verses 13-16

Acts 9:13-16. Ananias, in ingenuous simplicity of heart, expresses his scruples as to conferring the benefit in question on a man who, according to information received from many ( ἀπὸ πολλ.), had hitherto shown himself entirely unworthy of it (Acts 9:13), and from whom even now only evil to the cause of Christ was to be dreaded after his contemplated restoration to sight (Acts 9:14). Whether Ananias had obtained the knowledge of the inquisitorial ἐξουσία which Saul had at Damascus by letters from Jerusalem (Wolf, Rosenmüller), or from the companions of Saul (Kuinoel), or in some other way, remains undetermined.

τοῖς ἁγίοις σου] to the saints belonging to Thee, i.e. to the Christians: for they, through the atonement appropriated by means of faith (comp. on Romans 1:7), having been separated from the κόσμος and dedicated to God, belong to Christ, who has purchased them by His blood (Acts 20:28).

ἐν ἱερουσ. belongs to κακὰ ἐποίησε.

Acts 9:14. As to the ἐπικαλεῖσθαι of Christ, see on Acts 7:59. It is the distinctive characteristic of Christianity, Acts 9:21; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Romans 10:10 ff.

Acts 9:15. σκεῦος ἐκλογῆς] a chosen vessel (instrument). In this vessel Christ will bear, etc. The genitive of quality emphatically stands in place of the adjective, Herm. ad Vig. p. 890 f.; Winer, p. 222 [E. T. 297]. Comp. σκεῦος ἀνάγκης, Anthol. xi. 27. 6.

τοῦ βαστάσαι κ. τ. λ.] contains the definition of σκ. ἐκλ. μοι ἐστὶν οὗτος: to bear my (Messianic) name (by the preaching of the same) before Gentiles, and kings, and Israelites. Observe how the future work of converting the Gentiles (comp. Galatians 1:16) is presented as the principal work ( ἐθνῶν κ. βασιλ.), to which that of converting the Jews is related as a supplemental accessory;(242) hence υἱῶν ἰσρ. is added with τέ (see Herm. ad Eur. Med. 4 f.; Klotz, ad Devar. p. 743 f.; Winer, p. 404 [E. T. 542].

The γάρ, Acts 9:16, introduces the reason why He has rightly called him σκεῦος ἐκλογῆς κ. τ. λ.; for I shall show him how much he must suffer for my name (for its glorification, see on Acts 5:41). The ἐγώ placed first has the force of the power of disposal in reference to σκεῦος ἐκλ. μοι ἐστίν: I am He, who will place it always before his eyes. On this Bengel rightly remarks: “re ipsa, in toto ejus cursu,”—even to his death. According to de Wette, the reference is to revelation: the apostle will suffer with prophetic foresight (comp. Acts 20:23; Acts 20:25, Acts 21:11). But such revelations are only known from his later ministry, whereas the experimental ὑπόδειξις commenced immediately, and brought practically to the consciousness of the apostle that he was to be that σκεῦος ἐκλογῆς amidst much suffering.


Verse 17-18

Acts 9:17-18. ʼαδελφέ] here in the pregnant sense of the Christian brotherhood already begun.

The ʼιησοῦςἤρχου, not to be considered as a parenthesis, and the καὶ πλησθ. πνεύμ. ἁγ. make it evident to the reader that the information and direction of the Lord, Acts 9:15, was fuller.

κ. πλησθ. πν. ἁγ.] which then followed at the baptism, Acts 9:18.

And immediately there fell from his eyes (not merely: it was to him as if there fell) as it were scales (comp. Tobit 11:13). A scale-like substance had thus overspread the interior of his eyes, and this immediately fell away, so that he again saw—evidently a miraculous and sudden cure, which Eichhorn ought not to have represented as the disappearance of a passing cataract by natural means (fasting, joy, the cold hand of an old man!).

ἐνίσχυσεν] in the neuter sense: he became strong. See Aristot. Eth. Acts 10:9; 1 Maccabees 7:25; 3 Maccabees 2:32; Test. XII. Patr. p. 533; and examples in Kypke, II. p. 44, and from the LXX. in Schleusner, II. p. 367 f. Here of corporeal strengthening.


Verse 19-20

Acts 9:19-20 f. But he continued some days with the Christians there, and then he immediately preached Jesus in the synagogues (at Damascus), namely, that He was the Son of God(243). This is closely connected, and it is only with extreme violence that Michaelis and Heinrichs have referred Acts 9:19 to the time before the journey to Arabia (Galatians 1:17), and Acts 9:20 to the time after that journey. Pearson placed the Arabian journey before Acts 9:19, which is at variance with the close historical connection of Acts 9:18-19; just as the connection of Acts 9:21-22 does not permit its being inserted before Acts 9:22 (Laurent). The εὐθέως in Gal. l.c. is decisive against Kuinoel, Olshausen, Ebrard, Sepp, p. 44 f., and others, who place this journey and the return to Damascus after Acts 9:25. The Arabian excursion, which certainly was but brief, is historically (for Luke was probably not at all aware of it, and has at least left it entirely out of account as unimportant for his object,—which has induced Hilgenfeld and Zeller to impute his silence to set purpose) most fitly referred with Neander to the period of the ἡμέραι ἱκαναί, Acts 9:23. Comp. on Galatians 1:17 and Introduction to Romans, sec. 1. The objection, that Saul would then have gone out of the way of his opponents and their plot against him would not have taken place (de Wette), is without weight, as this hostile project may be placed after the return from Arabia.(244) It is, however, to be acknowledged (comp. Baur) that the time from the conversion to the journey to Jerusalem cannot have been known to Luke as so long an interval as it actually was (three years, Galatians 1:18), seeing that for such a period the expression indefinite, no doubt, but yet measured by days (it is otherwise at Acts 8:11), ἡμέραι ἱκαναί, Acts 9:23 (comp. Acts 9:43; Acts 18:18; Acts 27:7), is not sufficient.

ἐν ταῖς συναγ.] οὐκ ᾐσχύνετο, Chrysostom.

πορθήσας] see on Galatians 1:13.

καὶ ὧδε κ. τ. λ.] and hither (to Damascus) he had come for the object, that he, etc. How contradictory to his conduct now!(245) On the subjunctive ἀγάγῃ, see Winer, p. 270 [E. T. 359].


Verse 22-23

Acts 9:22-23. But Saul, in presence of such judgments, became strong in his new work all the more (Nägelsb. on the Iliad, p. 227, ed. 3).

συνέχυνε] made perplexed, put out of countenance, ἐπεστόμιζεν, οὐκ εἴα τι εἰπεῖν, Chrysostom. Comp. on Acts 2:6. The form χύνω instead of χέω belongs to late Greek. Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 726.

συμβιβάζ.] proving. Comp. 1 Corinthians 2:16; Schleusner, Thes. s.v.; Jamblich. 60.

ἐπληροῦντο, as in Acts 7:23. ἱκαναί, as in Acts 9:43; Acts 18:18; Acts 27:7, of a considerable time (Plat. Legg. p. 736 C), especially common with Luke.


Verse 24-25

Acts 9:24-25. παρετηροῦντο δὲ καί (see the critical remarks), but they watched also, etc., contains what formed a special addition to the danger mentioned in Acts 9:23. The subject is the Jews; they did it—and thereby the apparent difference with 2 Corinthians 11:33 is removed—on the obtained permission or order of the Arabian ethnarch. Comp. 2 Corinthians 11:33. More artificial attempts at reconciliation are quite unnecessary. Comp. Wieseler, p. 142.

οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ (see the critical remarks), opposed to the ἰουδαῖοι, Acts 9:23. Saul had already gained scholars among the Jews of Damascus; they rescued him from the plot of their fellow Jews (in opposition to de Wette’s opinion, that disciples of the apostle were out of the question).

διὰ τοῦ τείχους] through the wall: whether an opening found in it, or the window of a building abutting on the city-wall, may have facilitated the passage. The former is most suited to the mode of expression.

ἐν σπυρίδι] see on Matthew 15:37. On the spelling σφυρίδι, attested by C א, see Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 113.


Verse 26-27

Acts 9:26-27. Three years after his conversion (Galatians 1:18), Paul went for the first time back to Jerusalem.(246) Thus long, therefore, had his first labours at Damascus lasted, though interrupted by the Arabian journey. For the connection admits of no interruption between Acts 9:25-26 (the flight, Acts 9:25, and the παραγενόμ. σὲ εἰς ἱερουσ., Acts 9:26, stand in close relation to each other). Driven from Damascus, the apostle very naturally and wisely directed his steps to the mother-church in Jerusalem, in order to enter into connection with the older apostles, particularly with Peter (Galatians 1:18).

τοῖς ΄αθητ.] to the Christians.

καὶ πάντες ἐφοβ.] καί is the simple and, which annexes the (unfavourable) result of the ἐπειρ. κολλ. τοῖς μαθ. Observe, moreover, on this statement—(1) that it presupposes the conversion to have occurred not long ago; (2) that accordingly the ἡμέραι ἱκαναί, Acts 9:23, cannot have been conceived by Luke as a period of three years; (3) but that—since according to Galatians 1:18 Paul nevertheless did not appear till three years after at Jerusalem—the distrust of all, here reported, and the introduction by Barnabas resting on that distrust as its motive, cannot be historical, as after three years’ working the fact that Paul was actually a Christian could not but be undoubted in the church at Jerusalem.(247)

ὅτι ἐστὶν μαθ.] to be accented with Rinck and Bornemann, ἔστιν.

βαρνάβας] see on Acts 4:36. Perhaps he was at an earlier period acquainted with the apostle.

ἐπιλαβό΄.] graphically: he grasped him (by the hand), and led him; αὐτόν, however, is governed by ἤγαγε, for ἐπιλα΄βάνεσθαι is always conjoined with the genitive. So in Acts 16:19, Acts 18:17. Comp. Luke 14:4; Buttm. neut. Gr. p. 140 [E. T. 160].

πρὸς τοὺς ἀποστ.] an approximate and very indefinite statement, expressed by the plural of the category; for, according to Galatians 1:18, only Peter and James the Lord’s brother were present; but not at variance with this (Schneckenburger, Baur, Zeller, Laurent, comp. Neander, p. 165; Lekebusch, p. 283), especially as Luke betrays no acquaintance with the special design of the journey ( ἱστορῆσαι πέτρον, Gal. l.c.),—a design with which, we may add, the working related in Acts 9:28-30, although it can only have lasted for fifteen days, does not conflict. A purposely designed fiction, with a view to bring the apostle from the outset into closest union with the Twelve, would have had to make the very most of ἱστορῆσαι πέτρον.

καὶ διηγήσατο] not Paul (so Beza and others), as already Abdias, Hist. Revelation 2:2, appears to have taken it, but Barnabas, which the construction requires, and which alone is in keeping with the business of the latter, to be the patron of Paul.

ὅτι] not , τι.

ἐν τῷ ὀνό΄. τ. ʼιησοῦ] the name—the confession and the proclamation of the name—of Jesus (as the Messiah), was the element, in which the bold speaking ( ἐπαῤῥησιάσατο) had free course.(248) Comp. Ephesians 6:20.


Verses 28-30

Acts 9:28-30. ΄ετʼ αὐτῶν εἰσπορ. κ. ἐκπορ.] See on Acts 1:21. According to the reading εἰς ἱερουσ., and after deletion of the following καί (see the critical remarks), εἰς ἱερουσ. is to be attached to παῤῥησ.: He found himself in familiar intercourse with them, while in Jerusalem he spoke frankly and freely in the name of the Lord Jesus. Accordingly εἰς ἱερουσ. is to be taken as in κηρύσσειν εἰς (Mark 1:39), λέγειν εἰς (John 8:26), μαρτυρεῖν εἰς (Acts 23:11), and similar expressions, where εἰς amounts to the sense of coram. Comp. Matthiae, § 578, 3 b; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 534. With ἐλάλει τε κ. τ. λ. (which is only to be separated from the preceding by a comma) there is annexed to the general εἰς ἱερουσ. παῤῥησ. a special portion thereof, in which case, instead of the participle, there is emphatically introduced the finite tense (Winer, p. 533 [E. T. 717]).

πρὸς τοὺς ἑλλην.] with (against) the Greek-Jews, see on Acts 6:1.

ἑπεχείρουν αὐτὸν ἀνελεῖν] does not exclude the appearance of Christ, Acts 22:17-18, as Zeller thinks, since it is, on the contrary, the positive fulfilment of the οὐ παραδέξονται κ. τ. λ. negatively announced in chap. 22.

ἐξαπέστειλαν] they sent him away from them to Tarsus, after they had brought him down to Caesarea. On account of Galatians 1:2-7 it is to be assumed that the apostle journeyed from Caesarea (see on Acts 8:40) to Tarsus, not by sea, but by land, along the Mediterranean coast through Syria; and not, with Calovius and Olshausen, that here Caesarea Philippi on the borders of Syria is to be understood as meant. The reader cannot here, any more than in Acts 8:40, find any occasion in the text to understand καισάρεια otherwise than as the celebrated capital; it is more probable, too, that Paul avoided the closer vicinity of Damascus.

How natural it was to his heart, now that he was recognised by his older colleagues in Jerusalem but persecuted by the Jews, to bring the salvation in Christ, first of all, to the knowledge of his beloved native region! And doubtless the first churches of Cilicia owed their origin to his abode at that time in his native country.


Verse 31

Acts 9:31. οὖν] draws an inference from the whole history, Acts 9:3-30 : in consequence of the conversion of the former chief enemy and his transformation into the zealous apostle.

The description of the happy state of the church contains two elements: (1) It had peace, rest from persecutions, and, as its accompaniment, the moral state: becoming edified (advancing in Christian perfection, according to the habitual use of the word in the N. T.), and walking in the fear of the Lord (dative of manner, as in Acts 21:21; Romans 13:13; comp. on 2 Corinthians 12:18), i.e. leading a God-fearing life, by which that edification exhibited itself in the moral conduct. (2) It was enlarged, increased in the number of its members (as in Acts 6:1; Acts 6:7, Acts 7:17, Acts 12:24; hence not: it was filled with, etc., Vulgate, Baumgarten, and others), by the exhortation (as in Acts 4:36, Acts 13:15, Acts 15:31; Philippians 2:1) of the Holy Spirit, i.e. by the Holy Spirit through His awakening influence directing the minds of men to give audience to the preaching of the gospel (comp. Acts 16:14). The meaning: comfort, consolation (Vulgate and others), is at variance with the context, although still adopted by Baumgarten.

Observe, moreover, with the correct reading μὲν οὖν ἐκκλησία κ. τ. λ. the aspect of unity, under which Luke, surveying the whole domain of Christendom, comprehends the churches which had been already formed (Galatians 1:22), and were in course of formation (comp. Acts 16:5). The external bond of this unity was the apostles; the internal, the Spirit; Christ the One Head; the forms of the union were not yet more fully developed than by the gradual institution of presbyters (Acts 11:30) and deacons. That the church was also in Galilee, was obvious of itself, though the name is not included in Acts 8:1; it was, indeed, the cradle of Christianity.


Verses 32-35

Acts 9:32-35. This journey of visitation and the incidents related of Peter to the end of chap. 10. occur, according to the order of the text, in the period of Paul’s abode in Cilicia after his departure from Jerusalem (Acts 9:30). Olshausen (comp. also Wieseler, p. 146); in an entirely arbitrary manner, transfers them to the time of the Arabian sojourn, and considers the communication of the return to Jerusalem, at Acts 9:26 ff., as anticipated.

διὰ πάντων] namely, τῶν ἁγίων, as necessarily results from what follows. Comp. Romans 15:28.

λύδδα, in the O. T. Lod (1 Chronicles 9:12; Ezra 2:33), a village resembling a town (Joseph. Antt. xx. 6. 2; Bell. ii. 12. 6, iii. 3. 5), not far from the Mediterranean, near Joppa (Acts 9:38), at a later period the important city of Diospolis, now the village of Ludd. See Lightfoot, ad Matth. p. 35 ff.; Robinson, III. 363 ff.; von Raumer, p. 190 f.

αἰνέας was, according to his Greek name(249), perhaps a Hellenist; whether he was a Christian (as Kuinoel thinks, because his conversion is not afterwards related) or not (in favour of which is the anything but characteristic designation ἄνθρωπόν τινα), remains undetermined.

ἰᾶταί σε] actually, at this moment.

ʼιησοῦς χριστός] Jesus the Messiah.

στρῶσον σεαυτῷ] Erroneously Heumann, Kuinoel: “Lectum, quern tibi hactenus alii straverunt, in posterum tute tibi ipse sterne.” The imperative aorist denotes the immediate fulfilment (Elmsl. ad Soph. Aj. 1180; Kühner, II. p. 80); hence: make thy bed (on the spot) for thyself; perform immediately, in token of thy cure, the same work which hitherto others have had to do for thee in token of thine infirmity.

στρώννυμι, used also in classical writers absolutely (without εὐνάς or the like), Hom. Od. xix. 598; Plut. Artax. 22.

Saron, שָׁרוֹן(250)] a very fruitful (Jerome, ad Jes. 33:19) plain along the Mediterranean at Joppa, extending to Caesarea. See Lightfoot, ad Matth. p. 38 f.; Arnold in Herzog’s Encykl. XI. p. 10.

οἵτινες ἐπέστρ. ἐπὶ τ. κύρ.] The aorist does not stand for the pluperfect, so that the sense would be: all Christians (Kuinoel); but: and there saw him (after his cure) all the inhabitants of Lydda and Saron, they who (quippe qui), in consequence of this practical proof of the Messiahship of Jesus, turned to the Lord. The numerous conversions, which occurred in consequence of the miraculous cure, are in a popular hyperbolical manner represented by πάντες οἱ κ. τ. λ. as a conversion of the population as a whole.

Since Peter did not first inquire as to the faith of the sick man, he must have known the man’s confidence in the miraculous power communicated to him as the ambassador and announcer of the Messiah (Acts 9:34), or have read it from his looks, as in Acts 3:4. Chrysostom and Oecumenius adduce other reasons.


Verse 36

Acts 9:36. ʼιόππη, יָפוֹ, now Jaffa, an old, strong, and important commercial city on the Mediterranean, directly south of the plain of Sharon, at this time, after the deposition of Archelaus, belonging to the province of Syria. See Tobler, Topogr. v. Jerus. II. p. 576 ff.; Ruetschi in Herzog’s Encykl. VII. p. 4 f.

μαθήτρια] whether virgin, widow, or wife, is undetermined.(251) On this late Greek word (only here in the N. T.), see “Wetstein.

ταβιθά, Aramaic טְבִיתָא, which corresponds to the Hebrew צְבִי ( ظَبْى), i.e. δορκάς (Xen. Anab. i. 5. 2; Eur. Bacch. 698; Ael. H. A. xiv. 14), a gazelle (Bochart, Hieroz. I. p. 924 ff., II. p. 304); Buxtorf, Lex. Talm. p. 848. It appears as a female name also in Greek writers (Luc. Meretr. D. 9, Meleag. 61 f.), in Joseph. Bell. iv. 3. 5, and the Rabbins (Lightfoot, ad Matth. p. 39); and the bestowal of this name is explained from the gracefulness of the animal, just as the old Oriental love-songs adorn their descriptions of female loveliness by comparison with gazelles.

καὶ ἐλεημ.] καί: and in particular. Comp. Acts 9:41. That Tabitha was a deaconess (Thiersch, Sepp), is not implied in the text; there were probably not yet any such office-bearers at that time.


Verse 37-38

Acts 9:37-38. Concerning the general ancient custom of washing the dead, see Dougtaei Anal. II. p. 77 ff., and Wetstein; also Hermann, Privatalterth. § 39. 5.

ἐν ὑπερῴῳ] The article (which Lachmann and Bornemann have, after A C E) was not necessary, as it was well known that there was only one upper room (Acts 1:13) in the house, and thus no mistake could occur. Nor is anything known as to its having usually served as the chamber for the dead; perhaps the room for privacy and prayer was chosen in this particular instance, because they from the very first thought to obtain the presence and agency of Peter.

μὴ ὀκνήσῃς κ. τ. λ.] Comp. Numbers 22:16. “Fides non tollit civilitatem verborum,” Bengel. On the classical ὀκνεῖν (only here in the N. T.), see Ruhnk. ad Tim. p. 190; Jacobs, ad Anthol. III. p. 894. Thou mayest not hesitate to come to us. On διελθ., comp. Luke 2:15.


Verse 39

Acts 9:39. The widows, the recipients of the ἀγαθῶν ἔργ. κ. ἐλεημοσ., Acts 9:36, exhibit to Peter the under and upper garments, which they wore(252) as gifts of the deceased, who herself, according to the old custom among women, had made them,—the eloquent utterance of just and deep sorrow, and of warm desire that the apostolic power might here become savingly operative; but, according to Zeller, a display calculated for effect.

δορκάς] The proper name expressed in Greek is, as the more attractive for non-Jewish readers, and perhaps also as being used along with the Hebrew name in the city itself, here repeated, and is therefore not, with Wassenberg, to be suspected.


Verses 40-43

Acts 9:40-43. The putting out (comp. Matthew 9:25; Mark 5:40; Luke 8:54) of all present took place in order to preserve the earnestness of the prayer and its result from every disturbing influence.

τὸ σῶμα] the dead body. See on Luke 17:37. On ἀνεκάθισε, comp. Luke 7:15.

The explanation of the fact as an awakening from apparent death (see particularly Eck, Versuch d. Wundergesch. d. N. T. aus natürl. Urs. z. erklären, p. 248 ff.) is exegetically at decided variance with Acts 9:37, but is also to be rejected historically, as the revival of the actually dead Tabitha has its historical precedents in the raisings of the dead by Jesus.(253) Ewald’s view also amounts ultimately to an apparent death (p. 245), placing the revival at that boundary-line, “where there may scarcely be still the last spark of life in a man.” Baur, in accordance with his foregone conclusions, denies all historical character to the miracles at Lydda and Joppa, holding that they are narratives of evangelical miracles transferred to Peter (comp. also Zeller, p. 177 f.); and that the very name ταβιθά is probably derived simply from the ταλιθά κοῦμι, Mark 5:40, for ταβιθά properly (?) denotes nothing but maiden.

καί] and in particular.

Acts 9:42. ἐπί] direction of the faith, as in Acts 9:17, Acts 16:31, Acts 22:19; Romans 4:24.

Acts 9:43. βυρσεῖ] although the trade of a tanner, on account of its being occupied with dead animals, was esteemed unclean (Wetstein and Schoettgen); which Peter now disregarded.

The word βυρσεύς (in Artemidorus and others) has also passed into the language of the Talmud ( בורסי). The more classical term is βυρσοδέψης, Plat. Conv. p. 221 E Aristoph. Plut. 166.

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Acts 9:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/acts-9.html. 1832.

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Tuesday, November 12th, 2019
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