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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
Acts 9

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

Yet (ετιeti). As if some time elapsed between the death of Stephen as is naturally implied by the progressive persecution described in Acts 8:3. The zeal of Saul the persecutor increased with success.

Breathing threatening and slaughter (ενπνεων απειλης και πονουenpneōn apeilēs kai phonou). Present active participle of old and common verb. Not “breathing out,” but “breathing in” (inhaling) as in Aeschylus and Plato or “breathing on” (from Homer on). The partitive genitive of απειληςapeilēs and πονουphonou means that threatening and slaughter had come to be the very breath that Saul breathed, like a warhorse who sniffed the smell of battle. He breathed on the remaining disciples the murder that he had already breathed in from the death of the others. He exhaled what he inhaled. Jacob had said that “Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf” (Genesis 49:27). This greatest son of Benjamin was fulfilling this prophecy (Furneaux). The taste of blood in the death of Stephen was pleasing to young Saul (Acts 8:1) and now he revelled in the slaughter of the saints both men and women. In Acts 26:11 Luke quotes Paul as saying that he was “exceedingly mad against them.”


Verse 2

Asked (ηιτησατοēitēsato). First aorist middle indicative, the indirect middle, asked for himself (as a favour to himself). Felten notes that “Saul as a Pharisee makes request of a Sadducee” (the high priest) either Caiaphas if before a.d. 35, but if in 36 Jonathan, son of Caiaphas or if in 37 Theophilus, another son of Caiaphas.

Letters (επιστολαςepistolas). Julius Ceasar and Augustus had granted the high priest and Sanhedrin jurisdiction over Jews in foreign cities, but this central ecclesiastical authority was not always recognized in every local community outside of Judea. Paul says that he received his authority to go to Damascus from the priests (Acts 26:10) and “the estate of the elders” (Acts 22:5), that is the Sanhedrin.

To Damascus (εις Δαμασκονeis Damaskon). As if no disciples of importance (outside the apostles in Jerusalem) were left in Judea. Damascus at this time may have been under the rule of Aretas of Arabia (tributary to Rome) as it certainly was a couple of years later when Saul escaped in a basket (2 Corinthians 11:32). This old city is the most enduring in the history of the world (Knowling). It is some 150 miles Northeast from Jerusalem and watered by the river Abana from Anti-Lebanon. Here the Jews were strong in numbers (10,000 butchered by Nero later) and here some disciples had found refuge from Saul‘s persecution in Judea and still worshipped in the synagogues. Paul‘s language in Acts 26:11 seems to mean that Damascus is merely one of other “foreign cities” to which he carried the persecution.

If he found (εαν ευρηιean heurēi). Third class condition with aorist subjunctive retained after secondary tense (asked).

The Way (της οδουtēs hodou). A common method in the Acts for describing Christianity as the Way of life, absolutely as also in Acts 19:9, Acts 19:23; Acts 22:4; Acts 24:14, Acts 24:22 or the way of salvation (Acts 16:17) or the way of the Lord (Acts 18:25). It is a Jewish definition of life as in Isaiah 40:3 “the way of the Lord,” Psalm 1:6 “the way of the righteous,” “the way of the wicked.” Jesus called himself “the way” (John 14:6), the only way to the Father. The so-called Epistle of Barnabas presents the Two Ways. The North American Indians call Christianity the Jesus Road.

That he might bring them bound (οπως δεδεμενους αγαγηιhopōs dedemenous agagēi). Final clause with οπωςhopōs (less common than ιναhina) and aorist (effective) subjunctive (αγαγηιagagēi reduplicated aorist of αγωagō common verb) and perfect passive participle (δεδεμενουςdedemenous) of δεωdeō in a state of sheer helplessness like his other victims both men and women. Three times (Acts 8:3; Acts 9:2; Acts 22:4) this fact of persecuting women is mentioned as a special blot in Paul‘s cruelty (the third time by Paul himself) and one of the items in his being chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).


Verse 3

As he journeyed (εν τωι πορευεσταιen tōi poreuesthai). Luke‘s common idiom for a temporal clause (in the journeying), ενen with the locative articular middle infinitive.

Drew nigh (εγγιζεινeggizein). Present active infinitive, was drawing nigh.

Shone round about him (αυτον περιηστραπσενauton periēstrapsen). First aorist (ingressive) active indicative of περιαστραπτωperiastraptō late compound verb common in lxx and Byzantine writers, here and Acts 22:6 alone in the N.T. “A light from heaven suddenly flashed around him.” It was like a flash of lightning. Paul uses the same verb in Acts 22:5, but in Acts 26:13 he employs περιλαμπσανperilampsan (shining around). There are numerous variations in the historical narrative of Saul‘s conversion in 9:3-18 and Luke‘s report of Paul‘s two addresses, one on the steps of the Tower of Antonia facing the murderous mob (Acts 22:6-16), the other before Festus and Agrippa (Acts 26:12-20). A great deal of capital has been made of these variations to the discredit of Luke as a writer as if he should have made Paul‘s two speeches conform at every point with his own narrative. This objection has no weight except for those who hold that Luke composed Paul‘s speeches freely as some Greek writers used to do. But, if Luke had notes of Paul‘s speeches or help from Paul himself, he naturally preserved the form of the two addresses without trying to make them agree with each other in all details or with his own narrative in chapter 9. Luke evidently attached great importance to the story of Saul‘s conversion as the turning point not simply in the career of the man, but an epoch in the history of apostolic Christianity. In broad outline and in all essentials the three accounts agree and testify to the truthfulness of the account of the conversion of Saul. It is impossible to overestimate the worth to the student of Christianity of this event from every angle because we have in Paul‘s Epistles his own emphasis on the actual appearance of Jesus to him as the fact that changed his whole life (1 Corinthians 15:8; Galatians 1:16.). The variations that appear in the three accounts do not mar the story, when rightly understood, as we shall see. Here, for instance, Luke simply mentions “a light from heaven,” while in Acts 22:6 Paul calls it “a great (ικανονhikanon) light” “about noon” and in Acts 26:13 “above the brightness of the sun,” as it would have to be “at midday” with the sun shining.


Verse 4

He fell upon the earth (πεσων επι την γηνpesōn epi tēn gēn). Second aorist active participle. So in Acts 22:7 Paul says: “I fell unto the ground” (επεσα εις το εδαποςepesa eis to edaphos) using an old word rather than the common γηνgēn In Acts 26:14 Paul states that “we were all fallen to the earth” (παντων καταπεσοντων ημων εις την γηνpantōn katapesontōn hēmōn eis tēn gēn genitive absolute construction). But here in Acts 9:7 ”the men that journeyed with him stood speechless” (ιστηκεισαν ενεοιhistēkeisan eneoi). But surely the points of time are different. In Acts 26:14 Paul refers to the first appearance of the vision when all fell to the earth. Here in Acts 9:7 Luke refers to what occurred after the vision when both Saul and the men had risen from the ground.

Saul, Saul (Σαουλ ΣαουλSaoulclass="normal greek">Σαουλ Saoul). The Hebrew form occurs also in Acts 22:7; Acts 26:14 where it is expressly stated that the voice was in the Hebrew (Aramaic) tongue as also in Acts 9:17 (Ananias). Deissmann (Bible Studies, p. 316) terms this use of μεSaoul “the historian‘s sense of liturgical rhythm.” For the repetition of names by Jesus note Luke 10:41 (Martha, Martha), Luke 22:31 (Simon, Simon).

Me (me). In persecuting the disciples, Saul was persecuting Jesus, as the words of Jesus in Acts 9:5 made plain. Christ had already spoken of the mystic union between himself and his followers (Matthew 10:40; Matthew 25:40, Matthew 25:45; John 15:1-5). The proverb (Pindar) that Jesus quotes to Saul about kicking against the goad is genuine in Acts 26:14, but not here.


Verse 5

Lord (κυριεkurie). It is open to question if κυριεkurie should not here be translated “Sir” as in Acts 16:30 and in Matthew 21:29, Matthew 21:30; John 5:7; John 12:21; John 20:15; and should be so in John 9:36. It is hardly likely that at this stage Saul recognized Jesus as Lord, though he does so greet him in Acts 22:10 “What shall I do, Lord?” Saul may have recognized the vision as from God as Cornelius says “Lord” in Acts 10:4. Saul surrendered instantly as Thomas did (John 20:28) and as little Samuel (1 Samuel 3:9). This surrender of the will to Christ was the conversion of Saul. He saw a real Person, the Risen Christ, to whom he surrendered his life. On this point he never wavered for a moment to the end.


Verse 6

The best MSS. do not have “trembling and astonished,” and “What wilt thou have me to do, Lord?” The Textus Receptus put these words in here without the authority of a Greek codex. See note on Acts 22:10 above (in Acts 5 article) for the genuine text.

It shall be told thee (λαλητησεταιlalēthēsetai). Future passive indicative of λαλεωlaleō It is hardly likely that Luke records all that Jesus said to Saul, but more was to come on his arrival in Damascus. Saul had received all that he could bear just now (John 16:12).

What (οτιhoti). Rare in Koiné{[28928]}š use of this indefinite neuter relative in an indirect question, the only example in the N.T. (Robertson, Grammar, p. 731). Human agents like Ananias can finish what Jesus by supernatural manifestation has here begun in Saul.


Verse 7

That journeyed with him (οι συνοδευοντες αυτωιhoi sunodeuontes autōi). Not in the older Greek, but in the Koiné, with the associative instrumental.

Speechless (ενεοιeneoi). Mute. Only here in N.T., though old word.

Hearing the voice, but beholding no man (ακουοντες μεν της πωνησ μηδενα δε τεωρουντεςakouontes men tēs phōnēsμεν δεmēdena de theōrountes). Two present active participles in contrast (το μεν πως ετεασαντοmenτην δε πωνην ουκ ηκουσαν του λαλουντος μοιde). In Acts 22:9 Paul says that the men “beheld the light” (πωνηto men phōs etheasanto), but evidently did not discern the person. Paul also says there, “but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me” (ακουωtēn de phōnēn ouk ēkousan tou lalountos moi). Instead of this being a flat contradiction of what Luke says in Acts 9:7 it is natural to take it as being likewise (as with the “light” and “no one”) a distinction between the “sound” (original sense of πωνηphōnē as in John 3:8) and the separate words spoken. It so happens that ακουωakouō is used either with the accusative (the extent of the hearing) or the genitive (the specifying). It is possible that such a distinction here coincides with the two senses of πωνηνphōnē They heard the sound (Acts 9:7), but did not understand the words (Acts 22:9). However, this distinction in case with ηκουσεν πωνηνakouō though possible and even probable here, is by no means a necessary one for in John 3:8 where ηκουσα πωνηςphōnēn undoubtedly means “sound” the accusative occurs as Luke uses ηκουσα πωνηνēkousen phōnēn about Saul in Acts 9:4. Besides in Acts 22:7 Paul uses ēkousa phōnēs about himself, but ēkousa phōnēn about himself in Acts 26:14, interchangeably.


Verse 8

He saw nothing (ουδεν εβλεπενouden eblepen). Imperfect active indicative, was seeing nothing. “The glory of that light” (Acts 22:11) when he saw Jesus had blinded his eyes now wide open (ανεωιγμενωνaneōigmenōn perfect passive participle of ανοιγωanoigō with double reduplication). The blindness was proof that something had happened to him and that it was no hallucination that he had seen the Risen Christ. Saul arose after the others were on their feet.

They led him by the hand (χειραγωγουντεςcheiragōgountes). From χειραγωγοςcheiragōgos (χειρcheir hand and αγωagō to lead). Only here in the N.T., but in lxx and late writers though not in the old Greek. It was a pathetic picture to see the masterful Saul, victorious persecutor and conqueror of the disciples, now helpless as a child.


Verse 9

Not seeing (μη βλεπωνmē blepōn). The usual negative μηmē of the participle. It was a crisis for Saul, this sudden blindness for three days (ημερας τρειςhēmeras treis accusative of extent of time). Later (Galatians 4:15) Paul has an affection of the eyes which may have been caused by this experience on the road to Damascus or at least his eyes may have been predisposed by it to weakness in the glare of the Syrian sun in the land where today so much eye trouble exists. He neither ate nor drank anything, for his appetite had gone as often happens in a crisis of the soul. These must have been days of terrible stress and strain.


Verse 10

Ananias (ανανιαςHananias). Name common enough (cf. Acts 5:1 for another Ananias) and means “Jehovah is gracious.” Nomen et omen (Knowling). This Ananias had the respect of both Jews and Christians in Damascus (Acts 22:12).

In a vision (εν οραματιen horamati). Zeller and others scout the idea of the historicity of this vision as supernatural. Even Furneaux holds that “it is a characteristic of the Jewish Christian sources to point out the Providential ordering of events by the literary device of a vision,” as “in the early chapters of Matthew‘s and Luke‘s Gospels.” He is content with this “beautiful expression of the belief” with no interest in the actual facts. But that is plain illusion, not to say delusion, and makes both Paul and Luke deceived by the story of Ananias (Acts 9:10-18; Acts 22:12-16, Acts 22:26). One MS. of the old Latin Version does omit the vision to Ananias and that is basis enough for those who deny the supernatural aspects of Christianity.


Verse 11

To the street (επι την ρυμηνepi tēn rhumēn). See note on Luke 14:21. A run way (from rheō to run) between the houses. So were the narrow lanes or alleys called streets and finally in later Greek the word is applied to streets even when broad.

Straight (eutheian). Most of the city lanes were crooked like the streets of Boston (old cow-paths, people say), but this one still runs “in a direct line from the eastern to the western gate of the city” (Vincent). Since the ancients usually rebuilt on the same sites, it is probable that the line of the street of that name today is the same, though the actual level has been much raised. Hence the identification of the house of Ananias and the house of Judas are very precarious.


Verse 12

Coming in and laying (εισελτοντα και επιτενταeiselthonta kai epithenta). Second aorist (ingressive) active participles picturing the punctiliar act as a sort of indirect discourse after verbs of sensation (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 1040-2). Some ancient documents do not have “in a vision” here.

Receive his sight (αναβλεπσειanablepsei). First aorist active subjunctive with οπωςhopōs (purpose). See again as in Acts 9:17.


Verse 13

How much evil (οσα κακαhosa kaka). How many evil things. Saul‘s reputation (Acts 26:10) as a persecutor had preceded him.

To thy saints (τοις αγιοιςtois hagiois). Dative of disadvantage. “Used here for the first time as a name for the Christians” (Knowling), but it came to be the common and normal (Hackett) term for followers of Christ (Acts 9:32, Acts 9:41; Acts 26:10; 1 Corinthians 1:2, etc.). This common word is from το αγοςto hagos religious awe or reverence and is applied to God‘s name (Luke 1:49), God‘s temple (Matthew 24:15), God‘s people as set apart for God (Luke 1:70; Luke 2:23; Romans 1:7, etc.). Ananias in his ignorance saw in Saul only the man with an evil reputation while Jesus saw in Saul the man transformed by grace to be a messenger of mercy.


Verse 14

Hath authority (εχει εχουσιανechei exousian). Probably Ananias had received letters from the Christians left in Jerusalem warning him of the coming of Saul. The protest of Ananias to Jesus against any dealing with Saul is a fine illustration of our own narrow ignorance in our rebellious moods against the will of God.


Verse 15

A chosen vessel (σκευος εκλογηςskeuos eklogēs). A vessel of choice or selection. The genitive of quality is common in the Hebrew, as in the vernacular Koiné. Jesus chose Saul before Saul chose Jesus. He felt of himself that he was an earthen vessel (2 Corinthians 4:7) unworthy of so great a treasure. It was a great message that Ananias had to bear to Saul. He told it in his own way (Acts 9:17; Acts 22:14.) and in Acts 26:16. Paul blends the message of Jesus to Ananias with that to him as one.

Before the Gentiles (ενωπιον των ετνωνenōpion tōn ethnōn). This was the chief element in the call of Saul. He was to be an apostle to the Gentiles (Ephesians 3:6-12).


Verse 16

I will shew (υποδειχωhupodeixō). Beforehand as a warning as in Luke 3:7 and from time to time.

He must suffer (δει αυτον πατεινdei auton pathein). Constative aorist active infinitive (πατεινpathein from πασχωpaschō) covering the whole career of Saul. Suffering is one element in the call that Saul receives. He will learn “how many things” (οσαhosa) are included in this list by degrees and by experience. A glance at 2 Corinthians 10-12 will show one the fulfilment of this prophecy. But it was the “gift” of Christ to Paul to go on suffering (πασχεινpaschein present infinitive, Philemon 1:29).


Verse 17

Laying his hands on him (επιτεις επ αυτον τας χειραςepitheis ep' auton tas cheiras). As in the vision Saul saw (Acts 9:12).

Brother Saul (Σαουλ αδελπεSaoul adelphe). All suspicion has vanished and Ananias takes Saul to his heart as a brother in Christ. It was a gracious word to Saul now under suspicion on both sides.

The Lord, even Jesus (ο κυριοσ Ιησουςho kuriosκυριοςIēsous). Undoubted use of ο οπτειςkurios as Lord and applied to Jesus.

Who appeared (οραωho ophtheis). First aorist passive participle of σοιhoraō was seen as in Acts 26:16 and with the dative also (ηρχουsoi).

Thou camest (πληστεις πνευματος αγιουērchou). Imperfect indicative middle, “thou wert coming.”

Be filled with the Holy Spirit (plēstheis pneumatos hagiou). This enduement of special power he will need as an apostle (Hackett) and as promised by Jesus (Acts 1:8; Galatians 2:7).


Verse 18

Fell off (απεπεσανapepesan). Second aorist active indicative (note - an ending like first aorist) of αποπιπτωapopiptō old verb, but here alone in the N.T.

As if it were scales (ως λεπιδεςhōs lepides). Chiefly late word (lxx) from λεπωlepō to peel, and only here in the N.T. See Tobit 11:13, “The white film peeled from his eyes” (ελεπιστηelepisthē). Luke does not say that actual “scales” fell from the eyes of Saul, but that it felt that way to him as his sight returned, “as if” (ωςhōs). Medical writers use the word λεπιςlepis for pieces of the skin that fall off (Hobart, Medical Language of St. Luke, p. 39). Luke may have heard Paul tell of this vivid experience.

Was baptized (εβαπτιστηebaptisthē). First aorist passive indicative. Apparently by Ananias (Acts 22:16) as a symbol of the new life in Christ already begun, possibly in the pool in the house of Judas as today water is plentiful in Damascus or in Abana or Pharpar (Furneaux), better than all the waters of Israel according to Naaman (2 Kings 5:12).


Verse 19

Was strengthened (ενισχυτηenischuthē). First aorist passive indicative of ενισχυωenischuō to receive strength (ισχυςischus), comparatively late verb and here only in the N.T. save Luke 22:43 where it is doubtful. Poor verse division. This clause belongs in sense to Acts 9:18.

Some days (ημερας τιναςhēmeras tinas). An indefinite period, probably not long, the early period in Damascus before Saul left for Arabia (Galatians 1:13-24).


Verse 20

He proclaimed Jesus (εκηρυσσεν τον Ιησουνekērussen ton Iēsoun). Imperfect indicative, inchoative, began to preach. Jesus, not Christ, is the correct text here. He did this first preaching in the Jewish synagogues, a habit of his life when possible, and following the example of Jesus.

That he is the Son of God (οτι ουτος εστιν ο υιος του τεουhoti houtos estin ho huios tou theou). This is Paul‘s platform as a Christian preacher, one that he always occupied to the very end. It was a complete reversal of his previous position. Jesus had turned him completely around. It is the conclusion that Saul now drew from the vision of the Risen Christ and the message through Ananias. By “the Son of God” Saul means the Messiah of promise and hope, the Messianic sense of the Baptist (John 1:34) and of Nathanael (John 1:49) for Saul is now proclaiming his faith in Jesus in the very synagogues where he had meant to arrest those who professed their faith in him. Peter laid emphasis on the Resurrection of Jesus as a glorious fact and proclaimed Jesus as Lord and Christ. Paul boldly calls Jesus the Son of God with full acknowledgment of his deity from the very start. Thomas had come to this place slowly (John 20:28). Saul begins with this truth and never leaves it. With this faith he can shake the world. There is no power in any other preaching.


Verse 21

Were amazed (εχισταντοexistanto). Imperfect middle indicative of εχιστημιexistēmi They continued to stand out of themselves in astonishment at this violent reversal in Saul the persecutor.

Made havock (πορτησαςporthēsas). First aorist active participle of πορτεωportheō to lay waste, an old verb, but only here and Galatians 1:13, Galatians 1:23 by Paul, an interesting coincidence. It is the old proverb about Saul among the prophets (1 Samuel 10:12) revived with a new meaning (Furneaux).

Had come (εληλυτειelēluthei). Past perfect indicative active.

Might bring (αγαγηιagagēi). Second aorist (effective) active subjunctive of αγωagō with ιναhina (purpose).

Bound (δεδεμενουςdedemenous). Perfect passive participle of δεωdeō Interesting tenses.


Verse 22

Increased the more (μαλλον ενεδυναμουτοmāllon enedunamouto). Imperfect passive indicative of ενδυναμοωendunamoō to receive power (late verb), progressive increase in strength as opposition grew. Saul‘s recantation stirred controversy and Saul grew in power. See also Paul in Philemon 4:13; 1 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 2:1; 2 Timothy 4:17; Romans 4:20. Christ, the dynamo of spiritual energy, was now pouring power (Acts 1:8) into Paul who is already filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17).

Confounded (συνεχυννενsunechunnen). Imperfect active indicative of συνχυννωsunchunnō (late form of συνχεωsuncheō to pour together, commingle, make confusion. The more Saul preached, the more the Jews were confused.

Proving (συνβιβαζωνsunbibazōn). Present active participle of συνβιβαζωsunbibazō old verb to make go together, to coalesce, to knit together. It is the very word that Luke will use in Acts 16:10 of the conclusion reached at Troas concerning the vision of Paul. Here Saul took the various items in the life of Jesus of Nazareth and found in them the proof that he was in reality “the Messiah” (ο Χριστοςho Christos). This method of argument Paul continued to use with the Jews (Acts 17:3). It was irresistible argument and spread consternation among the Jews. It was the most powerful piece of artillery in the Jewish camp that was suddenly turned round upon them. It is probable that at this juncture Saul went into Arabia for several years (Galatians 1:12-24). Luke makes no mention of this important event, but he leaves ample room for it at this point.


Verse 23

When many days were fulfilled (ως επληρουντο ημεραι ικαναιHōs eplērounto hēmerai hikanai). Imperfect passive indicative of πληροωplēroō old and common verb, were in process of being fulfilled. How “many” (considerable, ικαναιhikanai common word for a long period) Luke does not say nor does he say that Saul spent all of this period in Damascus, as we know from Galatians 1:16-18 was not the case. Paul there states definitely that he went away from Damascus to Arabia and returned there before going back to Jerusalem and that the whole period was about “three years” which need not mean three full years, but at least portions of three. Most of the three years was probably spent in Arabia because of the two explosions in Damascus (before his departure and on his return) and because he was unknown in Jerusalem as a Christian on his arrival there. It cannot be argued from the frequent lacunae in the Acts that Luke tells all that was true or that he knew. He had his own methods and aims as every historian has. We are at perfect liberty to supplement the narrative in the Acts with items from Paul‘s Epistles. So we must assume the return of Saul from Arabia at this juncture, between Acts 9:22, Acts 9:23, when Saul resumed his preaching in the Jewish synagogues with renewed energy and grasp after the period of mature reflection and readjustment in Arabia.

Took counsel together (συνεβουλευσαντοsunebouleusanto). First aorist (effective) middle indicative of συνβουλευωsunbouleuō old and common verb for counselling (βουλευωbouleuō) together (συνsun). Things had reached a climax. It was worse than before he left for Arabia. Paul was now seeing the fulfilment of the prophecy of Jesus about him (Acts 9:16).

To kill him (ανελειν αυτονanelein auton). Second aorist (effective) active infinitive of αναιρεωanaireō to take up, to make away with, to kill (Luke 23:32; Acts 12:1, etc.). The infinitive expresses purpose here as is done in Acts 9:24 by οπωςhopōs and the aorist active subjunctive of the same verb (ανελωσινanelōsin). Saul now knew what Stephen had suffered at his hands as his own life was in peril in the Jewish quarter of Damascus. It was a picture of his old self. He may even have been scourged here (2 Corinthians 11:24).


Verse 24

Plot (επιβουληepiboulē). Old word for a plan (βουληboulē) against (επιepi) one. In the N.T. only in Acts (Acts 9:24; Acts 20:3, Acts 20:19; Acts 23:30).

They watched (παρετηρουντοparetērounto). Imperfect middle indicative of παρατηρεωparatēreō common verb in late Greek for watching beside (παραpara) or insidiously or on the sly as in Luke 6:7, they kept on watching by day and night to kill him. In 2 Corinthians 11:32 Paul says that the Ethnarch of Aretas “kept guard” (επρουρειephrourei imperfect active of προυρεωphroureō) to seize him. Probably the Jews obtained the consent of the Ethnarch and had him appoint some of them as guards or watchers at the gate of the city.


Verse 25

Through the wall (δια του τειχουςdia tou teichous). Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:33 explains δια του τειχουςdia tou teichous as being δια τυριδοςdia thuridos (through a window) which opened into the house on the inside of the wall as is true today in Damascus as Hackett saw there. See Joshua 2:15. (cf. 1 Samuel 19:12) for the way that Rahab let out the spies “by a cord through the window.”

Lowering him (αυτον χαλασαντεςauton chalasantes). First aorist active participle of χαλαωchalaō old and common verb in a nautical sense (Acts 27:17, Acts 27:30) as well as otherwise as here. Same verb used by Paul of this experience (2 Corinthians 11:33).

In a basket (εν σπυριδιen sphuridi). The word used when the four thousand were fed (Mark 8:8; Matthew 15:37). A large basket plaited of reeds and distinguished in Mark 8:19. (Matthew 16:9.) from the smaller κοπινοςkophinos Paul uses σαργανηsarganē a basket made of ropes. This escape by night by the help of the men whom he had come to destroy was a shameful memory to Paul (2 Corinthians 11:33). Wendt thinks that the coincidences in language here prove that Luke had read II Corinthians. That, of course, is quite possible.


Verse 26

He assayed (επειραζενepeirazen). Imperfect active of conative action.

To join himself (κολλασταιkollasthai). Present middle (direct) infinitive of conative action again. Same word κολλαωkollaō in Luke 15:15; Acts 10:28. See note on Matthew 19:5 for discussion.

Were all afraid of him (pantes ephobounto auton). They were fearing him. Imperfect middle picturing the state of mind of the disciples who had vivid recollections of his conduct when last here. What memories Saul had on this return journey to Jerusalem after three years. He had left a conquering hero of Pharisaism. He returns distrusted by the disciples and regarded by the Pharisees as a renegade and a turncoat. He made no effort to get in touch with the Sanhedrin who had sent him to Damascus. He had escaped the plots of the Jews in Damascus only to find himself the object of suspicion by the disciples in Jerusalem who had no proof of his sincerity in his alleged conversion.

Not believing (mē pisteuontes). They had probably heard of his conversion, but they frankly disbelieved the reports and regarded him as a hypocrite or a spy in a new role to ruin them.

Was (παντες εποβουντο αυτονestin). The present tense is here retained in indirect discourse according to the common Greek idiom.


Verse 27

Took him (επιλαβομενοςepilabomenos). Second aorist middle (indirect) participle of επιλαμβανωepilambanō common verb to lay hold of. Barnabas saw the situation and took Saul to himself and listened to his story and believed it. It is to the credit of Barnabas that he had the insight and the courage to stand by Saul at the crucial moment in his life when the evidence seemed to be against him. It is a pleasing hypothesis that this influential disciple from Cyprus had gone to the University of Tarsus where he met Saul. If so, he would know more of him than those who only knew his record as a persecutor of Christians. That fact Barnabas knew also, but he was convinced that Jesus had changed the heart of Saul and he used his great influence (Acts 4:36; Acts 11:22) to win the favour of the apostles, Peter in particular (Galatians 1:19) and James the half-brother of Jesus. The other apostles were probably out of the city as Paul says that he did not see them.

To the apostles (προς τους αποστολουςpros tous apostolous). Both Barnabas and James are termed apostles in the general sense, though not belonging to the twelve, as Paul did not, though himself later a real apostle. So Barnabas introduced Saul to Peter and vouched for his story, declared it fully (διηγησατοdiēgēsato in detail) including Saul‘s vision of Jesus (ειδεν τον κυριονeiden ton kurion) as the vital thing and Christ‘s message to Saul (ελαλησεν αυτωιelalēsen autōi) and Saul‘s bold preaching (ηπαρρησιασατοēparrēsiasato first aorist middle indicative of παρρησιαζωparrēsiazō from πανρησιαpaṅ̇rēsia telling it all as in Acts 2:29). Peter was convinced and Saul was his guest for two weeks (Galatians 1:18) with delightful fellowship (ιστορησαιhistorēsai). He had really come to Jerusalem mainly “to visit” (to see) Peter, but not to receive a commission from him. He had that from the Lord (Galatians 1:1.). Both Peter and James could tell Saul of their special experiences with the Risen Christ. Furneaux thinks that Peter was himself staying at the home of Mary the mother of John Mark (Acts 12:12) who was a cousin of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10). This is quite possible. At any rate Saul is now taken into the inner circle of the disciples in Jerusalem.


Verse 28

Going in and going out (eisporeumenos kai ekporeuomenos). Barnabas and Peter and James opened all the doors for Saul and the fear of the disciples vanished.


Verse 29

Preaching boldly (parrēsiazomenos). For a while. Evidently Saul did not extend his preaching outside of Jerusalem (Galatians 1:22) and in the city preached mainly in the synagogues of the Hellenists (pros tous Hellenistas) as Stephen had done (Acts 8:9). As a Cilician Jew he knew how to speak to the Hellenists.

Disputed (sunezētei). Imperfect active of sunzēteō the very verb used in Acts 6:9 of the disputes with Stephen in these very synagogues in one of which (Cilicia) Saul had probably joined issue with Stephen to his own discomfort. It was intolerable to these Hellenistic Jews now to hear Saul taking the place of Stephen and using the very arguments that Stephen had employed.

But they went about to kill him (Hoi de epecheiroun anelein auton). Demonstrative hoi with de and the conative imperfect of epicheireō to put the hand to, to try, an old verb used in the N.T. only three times (Luke 1:1; Acts 9:29; Acts 19:3). They offer to Saul the same conclusive answer that he gave to Stephen, death. Paul tells how the Lord Jesus appeared to him at this juncture in a vision in the temple (Acts 22:17-21) with the distinct command to leave Jerusalem and how Paul protested that he was willing to meet the fate of Stephen in whose death he had a shameful part. That is to Saul‘s credit, but the Lord did not want Saul to be put to death yet. His crown of martyrdom will come later.


Verse 30

Knew it (epignontes). Second aorist active participle of epiginōskō to know fully. The disciples saw it clearly, so they conducted (katēgagon effective second aorist active indicative of katagō).

Sent forth (exapesteilan). Double compound (ex out, apo away or off). Sent him out and off to Tarsus (eis Tarson). Silence is preserved by Luke. But it takes little imagination to picture the scene at home when this brilliant young rabbi, the pride of Gamaliel, returns home a preacher of the despised Jesus of Nazareth whose disciples he had so relentlessly persecuted. What will father, mother, sister think of him now?


Verse 31

So the church (Hē men oun ekklēsia). The singular ekklēsia is undoubtedly the true reading here (all the great documents have it so). By this time there were churches scattered over Judea, Galilee, and Samaria (Galatians 1:22), but Luke either regards the disciples in Palestine as still members of the one great church in Jerusalem (instance already the work of Philip in Samaria and soon of Peter in Joppa and Caesarea) or he employs the term ekklēsia in a geographical or collective sense covering all of Palestine. The strictly local sense we have seen already in Acts 8:1, Acts 8:3 (and Matthew 18:17) and the general spiritual sense in Matthew 16:18. But in Acts 8:3 it is plain that the term is applied to the organization of Jerusalem Christians even when scattered in their homes. The use of men oun (so) is Luke‘s common way of gathering up the connection. The obvious meaning is that the persecution ceased because the persecutor had been converted. The wolf no longer ravined the sheep. It is true also that the effort of Caligula a.d. 39 to set up his image in the temple in Jerusalem for the Jews to worship greatly excited the Jews and gave them troubles of their own (Josephus, Ant. XVIII. 8, 2-9).

Had peace (eichen eirēnēn). Imperfect active. Kept on having peace, enjoying peace, because the persecution had ceased. Many of the disciples came back to Jerusalem and the apostles began to make preaching tours out from the city. This idiom (echō eirēnēn) occurs again in Romans 5:1 (eirēnēn echōmen present active subjunctive) where it has been grievously misunderstood. There it is an exhortation to keep on enjoying the peace with God already made, not to make peace with God which would be eirēnēn schōmen (ingressive aorist subjunctive).

Edified (oikodomoumenē). Present passive participle, linear action also. One result of the enjoyment of peace after the persecution was the continued edification (Latin word aedificatio for building up a house), a favourite figure with Paul (1 Corinthians 14; Eph 3) and scattered throughout the N.T., old Greek verb. In 1 Peter 2:5 Peter speaks of “the spiritual house” throughout the five Roman provinces being “built up” (cf. Matthew 16:18).

In the comfort of the Holy Spirit (tēi paraklēsei tou hagiou pneumatos). Either locative (in) or instrumental case (by). The Holy Spirit had been promised by Jesus as “another Paraclete” and now this is shown to be true. The only instance in Acts of the use of paraklēsis with the Holy Spirit. The word, of course, means calling to one‘s side (parakaleō) either for advice or for consolation.

Was multiplied (eplēthuneto). Imperfect middle passive. The multiplication of the disciples kept pace with the peace, the edification, the walking in the fear of the Lord, the comfort of the Holy Spirit. The blood of the martyrs was already becoming the seed of the church. Stephen had not borne his witness in vain.


Verse 32

Lydda (Ludda). In O.T. Lod (1 Chronicles 8:12) and near Joppa. Later Diospolis.


Verse 33

Aenias (Ainean). Old Greek name and so probably a Hellenistic Jew. He was apparently a disciple already (the saint, Acts 9:32). Luke the physician notes that he had been bed ridden for eight years. See note on Acts 5:15 for “bed” (krabattou) and Acts 8:7; Luke 5:18 for “paralyzed” (paralelumenos perfect passive participle of paraluō with ēn periphrastic past perfect passive).


Verse 34

Healeth (iātai). Aoristic present middle indicative, heals here and now.

Make thy bed (strōson seautōi). First aorist (ingressive) active imperative of strōnnumi (̇uō). Old word with “bed” (krabatton) understood as the object. Literally, spread thy bed for thyself (dative case), what others for eight years have done for thee.


Verse 35

Sharon (Sarōna). The Plain of Sharon, not a town. Thirty miles long from Joppa to Caesarea.


Verse 36

At Joppa (En Ioppēi). The modern Jaffa, the port of Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 2:16).

Disciple (mathētria). Feminine form of mathētēs a learner from manthanō to learn, a late word and only here in the N.T.

Tabitha (Tabeitha). Aramaic form of the Hebrew Tsebi and, like the Greek word

Dorcas (Dorkas), means Gazelle, “the creature with the beautiful look” (or eyes), from derkomai The gazelle was a favourite type for beauty in the orient (Song of Solomon Song of Solomon 2:9, Song of Solomon 2:17; Song of Solomon 4:5; Song of Solomon 7:3). She may have had both the Aramaic and the Greek name, Tabitha Dorcas like John Mark. There is nothing said about a husband and so she was probably unmarried. She is the second woman mentioned by name after Pentecost (Sapphira the other). She did her beautiful deeds by herself. She did not have a Dorcas society.

Did (epoiei). Imperfect active, her habit.


Verse 37

In an upper chamber (en huperōiōi). See note on Acts 1:13. Also in Acts 9:39. In that house. This service was rendered by the women, though Luke has lousantes (masculine plural aorist active participle of louō), a general way of saying “they washed.” The interment was not hurried as in Jerusalem (Ananias and Sapphira) and the upper room is where the body was usually placed.


Verse 38

Delay not (mē oknēsēis). Ingressive aorist active subjunctive in prohibition. Direct discourse and not indirect as late MSS. have (aorist active infinitive, oknēsai). Possibly the two messengers started before Dorcas was quite dead, though we do not know. Peter had recently healed Aeneas and the disciples may have had faith enough to believe that he could raise the dead by the power of Christ. W. M. Ramsay doubts if Dorcas was really dead, but why see legends in these supernatural events?


Verse 39

Stood by him (parestēsan autōi). Second aorist active indicative, intransitive, of paristēmi). Vivid picture of this group of widows as they stood around Peter, weeping (klaiousai) and showing (epideiknumenai present middle as belonging to themselves, pointing with pride to) the very inner garments (chitnas) and outer garments (himatia), like the Latin tunica and toga, which she made from time to time (epoiei imperfect active, repeated action). It was a heart-breaking scene.


Verse 40

Put them all forth (ekbalōn exō pantas). Second aorist (effective) active participle of ekball a rather strong word, perhaps with some difficulty. Cf. Mark 5:40 which incident Peter may have recalled. The words are not genuine in Luke 8:54. Peter‘s praying alone reminds one of Elijah (1 Kings 17:20) and the widow‘s son and Elisha for the Shunammite‘s son (2 Kings 4:33).

Tabitha, arise (Tabeithaanastēthi). With sublime faith like Taleitha koum of Jesus in Mark 5:41.

She sat up (anekathisen). Effective aorist active indicative of anakathizō Often in medical writers, only here in the N.T. and Luke 7:15 where Westcott and Hort have in the margin the uncompounded form ekathisen Vivid picture.


Verse 41

Raised her up (anestēsen autēn). First aorist active indicative, transitive, of anistēmi

Presented (parestēsen). First aorist active indicative, transitive of paristēmi (cf. intransitive second aorist in Acts 9:39 above). It was a joyful time for Peter, the widows, all the saints, and for Dorcas.


Verse 43

Many days (hēmeras hikanas). See note on Acts 9:23. Luke is fond of the phrase and uses it for time, number, size. It might be “ten days, ten months, or ten years” (Page).

With one Simon a tanner (para tini Simōni bursei). The use of para is usual for staying with one (by his side). “The more scrupulous Jews regarded such an occupation as unclean, and avoided those who pursued it. The conduct of Peter here shows that he did not carry his prejudices to that extent” (Hackett). One of the rabbis said: “It is impossible for the world to do without tanners; but woe to him who is a tanner.” A Jewess could sue for divorce if she discovered that her husband was a tanner. And yet Peter will have scruples on the housetop in the tanner‘s house about eating food considered unclean. “The lodging with the tanner was a step on the road to eating with a Gentile” (Furneaux).

 


Copyright Statement
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)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Acts 9:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/acts-9.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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