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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament
Acts 9

 

 

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Verse 1

Acts 9:1. ἔτι, as yet) Thus it was when his vehement ardour in sinning had reached its height, that he was rescued and converted. Comp. ch. Acts 22:3, etc., Acts 26:4, etc., 11. For Luke puts off until then, as is the wont of Scripture, the narration of many details concerning the whole matter, and concerning the words of Ananias (Acts 22:12-16).— τῷ ἀρχιερεῖ, unto the High Priest) His authority influenced the Jews even at Damascus: Acts 9:14.


Verse 2

Acts 9:2. εἰς δαμασκὸν, to Damascus) There was a great harvest of believers to be gathered there.— τῆς ὁδοῦ, of the way) Religion is the way; and in it we must walk, not loiter.— δεδεμένους, bound) The civil power at Damascus gave much indulgence to the Jews: Acts 9:14; Acts 9:24.


Verse 3

Acts 9:3. ἐν δὲ τῷ πορεύεσθαι, as he journeyed) Ordinarily they who are performing a journey are not readily susceptible of apparitions, by reason of the motion and the noise.— ἐξαίφνης, on a sudden) When GOD suddenly and vehemently attacks (accosts) a sinner, it is the highest benefit and unbounded faithfulness on His part. It is thus that Saul is taught to cease breathing out slaughter at the time that his fury has come to its height; and what was wanting in the duration of his discipline, is made up for by the terror which penetrated all the inmost depths of his soul: by which very means being thus suddenly converted into an apostle, he is also fortified against the danger to which novices are liable.— αὐτὸν, him) A most evident apparition: Acts 9:7-8. Not unlike was the vision of Constantine, wherein he saw a cross; which vision is at least as worthy of credit as the dream of Alexander the Great as to the High priest of the Hebrews. The history is given in Joseph us, and is well worthy of being read.


Verse 4

Acts 9:4. φωνὴν, a voice) stern, and yet full of grace: ch. Acts 22:14.— σαοὺλ, Saul) JESUS knew Saul before that Saul knew JESUS.


Verse 5

Acts 9:5. τίς εἶ; who art thou?) Conscience itself would readily say, that it is Jesus.— ἐγὼ, I) The very One whom thou persecutest am I, Jesus. [I Jesus am the very One whom, etc.]— ὃν σὺ διώκεις, whom thou persecutest) The verb is repeated, with the emphatic pronoun σὺ, thou. This very verb Saul, when once stricken with terror, often from time to time brought back to his memory. In conversion, the will of a man is broken and melted: the Divine will is taken up [as the ruling principle henceforth]: ch. Acts 16:30. As to the efficacy of such terror, comp. Exodus 20:20; 2 Samuel 6:9; 1 Chronicles 21:30. The most solid arguments for the truth of Christianity are afforded by the conversion of Saul, Acts 9:21 : and he is an extraordinary example of the amplitude of free (gratuitous, undeserved) grace.


Verse 6

Acts 9:6. ἀλλὰ) Instead of this particle, the longer portion (periocha) has been introduced, σκληρόν σοι πρὸς κέντρα λακτίζειν· τρέμων τε καὶ θαμβῶν εἶπε, κύριε, τί με θέλεις ποιῆσαι; καὶ κύριος πρὸς αὐτόν: That this is a gloss, composed from the parallel, ch. Acts 26:14, and from a paraphrase, is betrayed by the manifold discrepancy among the few authorities which support the passage. See App. Crit., Ed. ii., on this place [which altogether refutes this paraphrase that has originated from the parallelism. This is done more fully in the Defence of the New Testament, published separately, A.D. 1739 and 1745. (App. Ed. ii., P. iv. n. ix.)—Not. Crit.]

[58]— εἰς τὴν πόλιν, into the city) Saul is desired to prosecute his journey and enter the city, but now in a different state of mind. Without this command, he would not have known what he ought to do. It was in those localities first, wherein he had been a persecutor, that Saul confessed the name of Jesus: ch. Acts 26:20.— λαληθήσεται, it shall be told thee) Saul was obliged to wait and submit himself to the ministry, as was the case with Cornelius afterwards: ch. Acts 10:5, “Send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon,” etc. To the ministry Jesus sent away the one, the angel the other, in words which were for that reason few. They are not exempt from danger who, without communion with competent men, seek a path to heaven. The συγκατάβασις, condescension, is marvellous, that the Lord deals with us through men like ourselves.— τί σε δεῖ ποιεῖν, what thou must do) Saul had asked concerning this: Ananias told him this, Acts 9:17. The apostle learned the rest from the Lord Himself.


Verse 7

Acts 9:7. οἱ συνοδεύοντες, who journeyed with him) some of whom he had been about to employ as executioners.— εἱστήκεισαν, were standing) They too had fallen, ch. Acts 26:14; but they had arisen before Saul, of their own accord.— ἀκούοντες, hearing) ch. Acts 22:9, They saw indeed the bight, but heard not the voice. Therefore they must have seen the light (ch. Acts 26:13-14), but not Jesus Himself: they heard the voice alone, not the voice accompanied with the words. Comp. John 12:29.— μηδένα, no man) It is not said, They did not see Jesus, but, they saw no man: for they did not know that Jesus had been seen by Paul.


Verse 8

Acts 9:8. ἠγέρθη, arose) at the word of Christ, ch. Acts 26:16.— ἀνεῳγμέναν, when his eyes were opened) Therefore they who beheld Saul would not have thought that he did not see.


Verse 9

Acts 9:9. ἡμέρας τρεῖς, three days) A period worthy of note. Whilst his sight and taste were quiescent, he was inwardly collected in mind and recovered (reconciled to God) through prayer: Acts 9:11. The business of conversion is worthy that a man should bestow whole days upon it, when he is being drawn to God. If he does not do so (devote whole days to it) of his own accord, the goodness of GOD confines him to his bed for the purpose.— μὴ βλέπων, not seeing) And yet however he is not said to be ‘blind,’ because it was not a punishment. Comp. ch. Acts 13:11 (where, on the contrary, in the case of Elymas’ punishment it is said, “Thou shalt be blind”).


Verse 10

Acts 9:10. ἦν δὲ, but [now] there was) Ananias and Saul do not seem previously to have been known to one another.— μαθητὴς, a disciple) not an apostle: lest Saul should seem to have been a disciple of the apostles; but an ordinary disciple, that Saul might be the more humbled, and that he might not however seem to have been taught by Ananias.— κύριος, the Lord) Jesus.


Verse 11

Acts 9:11. πορεύθητι, go) So to Saul, ch. Acts 22:10; and so again, Acts 9:15, to Ananias, πορεύου, go.— ἰδοὺ, behold) Saul was shown to Ananias, praying. Jesus sees those who are praying.— γὰρ, for) The force of the Ætiology (assigning of the reason) appertains to the words, He hath seen—Ananias.— προσεύχεται, he prayeth) All spiritual motions flow together, and are exercised, in the act of praying.


Verse 12

Acts 9:12. [ καὶ εἶδεν, and hath seen) A pair of visions, the one of which corresponds to the other; as in this place the corresponding visions vouchsafed to Ananias and Saul respectively, set aside all suspicion of fallacious fantasy (phantasm). The same observation applies also in the case of Cornelius and Peter, ch. 10.—V. g.]— ἀνανίαν, Ananias) This name Saul caught up, either with his ear or his mind, during the vision.— ὅπως ἀναβλέψῃ, that he may recover his sight) The peculiar (extraordinary) effect of laying on the hands is expressed: the more ordinary one is to be understood: Acts 9:17, “that thou mightest be filled with the Holy Ghost.”


Verse 13

Acts 9:13. ἀπὸ πολλῶν, from many) Saul had been a notable persecutor.— τοῖς ἁγίοις σου, to Thy saints) Christians are even already saints. Christ regards the saints as His own: therefore He is GOD.


Verse 14

Acts 9:14. τοὺς ἐπικαλουμένους τὸ ὄνομά σου, who call upon Thy name) A description of Christians: Acts 9:21; 1 Corinthians 1:2. By this phrase the LXX. for the most part express that Hebrew one בשם קרא.


Verse 15

Acts 9:15. ἐκλογῆςπαθεῖν, a vessel of election [a chosen vessel]—suffer) These words are connected. The mention of election dispels every doubt of Ananias. The προορισμὸς, fore-ordination or predestination (Romans 8:29, “Whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate;” with which comp. Acts 9:28), converts things unfavourable unto things favourable.— τοῦ βαστάσαι, that he may bear) An arduous, splendid, and blessed office.— τὸ ὄνομά μου, My name) To this refer, for My name’s sake, Acts 9:16.— ἐνώπιον, before) in public.— ἐθνῶν, Gentiles) The Gentiles are put first; for Paul was an apostle of the Gentiles. Paul bore the name of Christ before the people in narrating his own conversion, ch. 22, and before the Gentiles and kings, ch. 26.


Verse 16

Acts 9:16. ἐγὼ γὰρ, for I) i.e. do thou diligently, Ananias, what thou art commanded: for I will take care of the rest, that Saul may be Mine, and may remain so.— ὑποδείξω, I will show) by the actual fact, throughout his whole course. This is predicted to Ananias, not to Saul himself: it was Saul’s part to obey.— παθεῖν, to suffer) So far is he from being about to assail others hereafter. See the beginning of his suffering, Acts 9:23; Acts 9:29.


Verse 17

Acts 9:17. ἀδελφὲ, brother) by the old Jewish tie of connection, and by the new tie of Christianity.— ἐπιθεὶς, having put on) before his actual baptism. Comp. ch. Acts 10:44-45 (The Holy Ghost fell on Cornelius and all who heard Peter, and this before baptism).— εἶπε, said) Ananias does not relate to Saul all that had been said to him concerning Saul. It was not for Saul to know of how great consequence he already was (how highly he already was esteemed).


Verse 18

Acts 9:18. εὐθέως, immediately) A miracle.— ἀπέπεσον, there fell from) Saul, after having beheld Christ, does not see by reason of the splendour: upon Ananias, whom He sent, coming, he recovers his sight.— ὡσεὶ λεπίδες, as it were scales) The humour in the eyes having been dried up.— ἐβαπτίσθη, he was baptized) by Ananias; but instructed by the Lord.


Verse 19

Acts 9:19. ἐνίσχυσεν) Neuter verb. So ἐνισχύσωμεν, Let us be valiant, 1 Chronicles 19:13.— ἐν δαμασχῷ, at Damascus) What Paul had done before his conversion in a bad cause, the same afterwards he either himself did in a good cause, and in the same localities, or else suffered at the hands of the Jews.


Verse 20

Acts 9:20. εὐθέως, straightway) Some after conversion are as rivers, immediately from the source (head), broad and deep: others after a longer course. Saul, becoming immediately an apostle, had made as much progress in three days, as others do not make in many years. [By the most thorough humiliation which had preceded, he was fortified beforehand against the danger that otherwise threatens neophytes or novices (1 Timothy 3:6).—V. g.]


Verse 22

Acts 9:22. συνέχυνε, he confounded) So that they contradicted themselves. The antithesis on the part of Saul is συμβιβάζων, confirming or proving assuredly. And yet he does not now fight against the Jews with those arms with which both himself had fought against believers, and with which he is now assailed by the Jews.


Verse 24

Acts 9:24. παρετήρουν, they kept watching) by the assistance of the governor. Comp. 2 Corinthians 11:32.


Verse 25

Acts 9:25. καθῆκαν, let him down) This fact had been known to but few, before that Paul mentioned it, 2 Corinthians 11:31, etc., “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ—knoweth that I lie not.” Luke knew most intimately all the affairs of Paul.


Verse 26

Acts 9:26. παραγενόμενος, when Saul was come) three years after: Galatians 1:18. This space of three years also Paul leaps over, ch. Acts 22:17.— τοῖς μαθηταῖς, to the disciples) modestly: not immediately, to the apostles.— ὅτι ἐστὶ μαθητὴς, that he is a disciple) So far were they from believing that lie is an apostle.


Verse 27

Acts 9:27. βαρνάβας, Barnabas) With him afterwards Saul had a peculiar connection.— πρὸς τοὺς ἀποστόλους, to the apostles) Peter and James, Galatians 1:18-19.— διηγήσατο, related) He who previously had been an adversary, deservedly proves himself (has to prove himself) a changed man.


Verse 31

Acts 9:31. ἐκκλησία, the Church) So ch. Acts 16:5, as to the churches, they “were established in the faith, and increased in number daily.” [The Singular number is emphatic.—Not. Crit.]

[59]— καθʼ ὅλης, κ. τ. λ., throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria) Recapitulation.— εἰρήνην, peace) after that Saul, the principal persecutor, was converted.— πυρευομένη) So ὑπάγητε, John 15:16, where see note [as הלך of progress, not in reference to place, but to time and degree]. In both passages there is an Hendiad. So ἐπορεύετο χεὶρ τῶν υἱῶν ἰσραήλ, Judges 4:24.— φόβῳπαρακλήσει, in the fear—comfort) An excellent blending. Comfort, peace internal: εἰρήνη, peace external, with the fear of the Lord, the dread of men being taken away.— ἐπληθύνετο, was multiplied) in the number of believers.


Verse 32

Acts 9:32. διὰ πάντων) The masculine [not as Engl. Vers. “throughout all quarters”]. Comp. with this ἐν οἷς, ch. Acts 20:25.


Verse 33

Acts 9:33. ὀκτὼ, eight) He had heard of Christ without a doubt, who was healing all at that time (eight years ago).


Verse 34

Acts 9:34. ἰᾶται, maketh thee whole) not merely, may Jesus make thee whole. Comp. Acts 9:40, where he prayed first: ch. Acts 3:6, Acts 14:10. This language establishes the presence and Divine power of Christ.


Verse 35

Acts 9:35. [ πάντες, all) Lydda, according to Josephus, was a town as large in compass as a city. Therefore this was a numerous conversion.—V. g.]— τὸν σάρωνα, Saron) Saron was the name of the tract, in which was the town of Lydda. Hence the article is added.— ἐπὶ τὸν κύριον, to the Lord) Jesus Christ. Those are said to be converted to the Lord who have already before embraced the Old Testament: ch. Acts 11:21 (which presumes the reading, Acts 9:20, ἑλληνιστὰς); 2 Corinthians 3:16. The Gentiles are said to be converted to God, Acts 15:19; Acts 20:21.


Verse 36

Acts 9:36. ἔργων, of works) These works, consisting in the making of garments, were estimated at a high value, and recompensed with a great reward.— ἐλεημοσυνῶν, of alms-deeds) Therefore there did not exist at Joppa community of goods.


Verse 38

Acts 9:38. οἱ μαθηταἰ, the disciples) Therefore these had not the gift of miracles.— δύο, two) on a weighty business. [They were hoping that there would happen that which actually did ensue.—V. g.]— μὴ ὀκνῆσαι, that he would not he loath [think it irksome]) Faith does not set aside courtesy in words, such as they here used: LXX., Numbers 22:16, ἀξιῶ σε, μὴ ὀκνήσῃς ἐλθεῖν πρός με, “I pray thee, think it not irksome to come to me.”— διελθεῖν, to come over to them) They by this word intimate, that the journey of Peter will be profitable even to others on the road [ διὰ referring to the country through which he has to pass in coming],— ἕως, even to) An argument from the ease with which he can come.


Verse 39

Acts 9:39. συνῆλθεν αὐτοῖς, came with them) An indication of his humility. Comp. Acts 9:43.— μετʼ αὐτῶν οὖσα, when she was with them) i.e. before she died.


Verse 40

Acts 9:40. ἑκβαλὼν, having put out) Solitude was in all respects suited to the ardour of his prayer and the greatness of the miracle: and the astonished admiration and faith on the part of all afterwards was the greater on that account.— ἀνεκάθισε) she sat up: Luke 7:15, “He that was dead sat up” (the young man at Nain).


Verse 41

Acts 9:41. καὶ, and) and especially the widows.—[ ζῶσαν, alive) By this restoration to life, a time was afforded to her for doing more good deeds.—V. g.]


Verse 43

Acts 9:43. ἱκανὰς, a considerable number of days) He did more than they had asked, Acts 9:38.— σίμωνι, Simon) who lived perhaps near the place.—[ βυρσεῖ, a tanner) What condescending familiarity with the people did the illustrious apostle in this instance exhibit in external things, after the great deed which he accomplished in this very town, Joppa, and before the grand business which he was about to undertake at Cæsarea!—V. g.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Acts 9:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/acts-9.html. 1897.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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