Acts 9 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)

Acts 9
Pulpit Commentary
And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,
Verse 1. - But for and, A.V.; breathing for breathing out, A.V.; threatening for threatenings, A.V. Threatening and slaughter. The phrase ἐμπνέων ἀπειλῆς κ.τ.λ., is rather a difficult one, and is variously explained. Schleusner takes the genitives in "threatening and slaughter" as genitives of the thing desired, "punting after threatening and slaughter" (comp. Amos 2:7). Meyer explains it "out of the threatenings and murder [in his heart] breathing hard at the disciples" - an expression indicating passion. Alford, taking nearly the sense of the A.V., makes "threatenings and slaughter" to be as it were the very material of his breath, whether breathed out or breathed in. Considering that ἐμπνέω means "to breathe in," as distinguished from ἐκπνέω, "to breathe out," and that these two are opposed to each other in Hippocrates (see Schleusner), the A.V. breathing out cannot be justified; nor is it likely that "Luke the physician" would forget the distinction. The difficulty is to explain the genitive case of "threatenings" and "slaughter." The high priest; probably the same person who is so described in Acts 7:1 (where see note). If the year with which we are now dealing was the year A.D. , Caiaphas was high priest. But Alford, Lewin, Farrar, and others place Saul's conversion in A.D. , when Theophilus, son of Annas or Ananus, was high priest (Chronicles Table in Alford's 'Proleg. to Acts').
And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
Verse 2. - Asked for desired, A.V.; unto for to, A.V.; any that were of the Way for any of this way, A.V.; whether men, etc., for whether they were men, etc., A.V.; to for unto, A.V. To Damascus. No special reason is given why Damascus is singled out. But it is clear from vers. 10 and 13 that there was already a considerable number of Christian Jews at Damascus. And this, with the fact of there being a great multitude of Jews settled there, was a sufficient reason why Saul should ask for letters to each of the synagogues at Damascus, directing them to send any Christians who might be found amongst them bound to Jerusalem to be tried there before the Sanhedrim. There may have been thirty or forty synagogues at Damascus, and not less than forty thousand resident Jews. Of the Way; i.e. holding the doctrine of Christ. Thus in Acts 18:25, 26, the Christian faith is spoken of as "the way of the Lord" and "the way of God." In Acts 19:9, 23; Acts 22:4; Acts 24:14, was the term by which the faith of Christ was spoken of chiefly, perhaps, among the Jews. The term means a peculiar doctrine or sect. Its application to Christians apparently lasted only so long as Christianity was considered to be a modification or peculiar form of Judaism, and its frequent use in the Acts is therefore an evidence of the early composition of the book.
And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
Verse 3. - It came to pass that he drew nigh unto for he came near, A.V.; shone for shined, A.V.; out of for from, A.V. and T.R.
And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
Verse 4. - Fell upon, for fell to, A.V. Some, as Lord Lytlelton and Lewin ('Life of St. Paul,' vol. 1. p. 48), from the expressions, "fell to the ground," "fell to the earth," infer that Saul was "himself mounted, and his followers some mounted and some on foot." And Farrar also, far other reasons, supposes that Saul and his companions rode horses or mules. The journey, he says, was nearly a hundred and fifty miles, and the roads rough, bad, and steep; and Saul was traveling as the legate or the high priest. Still it is strange that no one expression should point distinctly to the party being on horseback, which "falling to the earth," or "ground," certainly do not. While, on the other hand, the phrases, "Arise," "stood speechless," "led him by the hand," seem rather to point to his being on foot. Lunge well compares the double invocation, Saul, Saul! with those similar ones, "Abraham, Abraham!" "Samuel, Samuel!" "Jerusalem, Jerusalem!" "Simon, Simon!" (Genesis 22:11; 1 Samuel 3:10; Matthew 23:27; Luke 22:31).
And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
Verse 5. - He for the Lord, A.V. and T.R. The rest of ver. 5 in the A.V., "It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks" and the first part of ver. 6, "And he trembling and astonished, said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him," are omitted in the R.T. They have, in fact, no manuscript authority (Meyer; Alford); and not much patristic authority, or from versions, and are omitted by all modern editors. They seem to be taken from the parallel narratives in Acts 22:8-10; Acts 26:14. The proverb, "It is hard," etc., is only found in Acts 26:14 (where see note).
And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
Verse 6. - Rise, and enter into the city for Arise, and go, etc., A.V.
And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
Verse 7. - That journeyed for which journeyed, A.V. ; the voice for a voice, A.V. ; beholding for seeing, A.V. Speechless; ἐννεοί (or rather ἐνεοί) is found nowhere else in the New Testament, but is not uncommon in the LXX. (e.g. Isaiah 56:10) and in classical Greek. Here it means speechless from terror, struck dumb. The description here given by St. Luke seems to be contradictory in two particulars to St. Paul's own account in Acts 22:9 and Acts 26:14. For St. Paul's companions are said here to have "stood speechless;" but in Acts 26:14 they were "all fallen to the earth." Here they "hear the voice," but in Acts 22:9 they "heard not the voice of him that spake." It is obvious, however, that in such descriptions all depends upon the particular moment of the transaction described which happens to be uppermost in the mind of the speaker or writer at the time, and the particular purpose in relation to which he is giving the description. Thus at one moment the spectators might be standing dumfounded, and at the next they might be prostrate on the ground, or vice versa. Either description of their attitude would be a true one, though not true with regard to the same moment. Again, if the purpose of the speaker was to affirm that the whole company were conscious of both the vision and the sound of a voice speaking, but that only Saul saw the Divine Speaker, the description "hearing the voice, but beholding no man" would be the natural one. Whereas, if the purpose was to express that Saul alone heard the words spoken to him by the Lord, the description of his companions," They saw indeed the light... but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me," would be equally natural.
And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.
Verse 8. Nothing for no man, A.V. and T.R.; and for but, A.V. Nothing (οὐδὲν for οὐδένα). So the best manuscripts and editions The idea is, not like that in Matthew 17:8 that when he opened his eyes the person seen in vision had disappeared, but simply that his eyesight was gone, "for the glory of that light," and he could see nothing, but had to be led like a blind man (see Acts 22:11).
And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.
Verse 9. - Did neither for neither did, A.V. The same reason, we may venture to think, which caused the interposition of three days' blindness between Saul's conversion and his baptism, led Saul himself to pass those days in a voluntary self-abasement. His sin in persecuting the Church of God and its Divine Head, his guilt in assisting at the death of God's saints, and in rejecting the testimony to Christ's resurrection, had been very great. These three days of blindness and of fasting were therefore a fitting preparation for the grace of forgiveness about to be so freely and fully given to him (1 Timothy 1:12-16). What thoughts must have passed through Saul's mind during those three days! Before passing on, it may be well to observe that it is to this appearance to him of Jesus Christ that St. Paul undoubtedly refers when he says (1 Corinthians 9:1), "Have not I seen Jesus Christ?" and again (1 Corinthians 15:8), "Last of all, he was seen of me also," where he puts this appearance of Jesus to himself on a par with those to Peter and James and the other apostles, which made them competent witnesses of the resurrection of Christ. And so in ver. 17 of this chapter Ananias says, "The Lord Jesus which was seen by thee" (ὁ ὀφθείς σοι); and Barnabas (ver. 27), when he brought Saul to the apostles, related "how he had seen the Lord in the way." And in Acts 22:14 Ananias says, "God hath appointed thee to see the Righteous One." Moreover the description in ver. 7 of Saul's fellow-travelers, that they "saw no man," implies, by contrast, that Saul did. The reticence of both St. Paul and St. Luke as to what he saw, and what was the appearance of the Lord Jesus, seems to arise from profound reverence and awe, such as St. Paul speaks of in 2 Corinthians 12:4. It may be also worth remarking how this appearance of Christ was deferred till he was quite close to Damascus, according to one tradition only a quarter of a mile from the gates, but according to Porter, whom Farrar and Lewin follow, at a distance of about ten miles, at a village called Caueab. So the intervention of the angel by which Isaac's life was spared was not till Abraham had the knife in his hand to slay his son; and Peter's prison doors were opened not till the very night before he was to have been brought forth to death. Faith and patience are thus strengthened, and God's intervention is more marked. There is not the slightest trace in the narrative of what the fancy of many has suggested, that Saul's uneasy conscience was wrought up into a paroxysm as he approached Damascus, and so prepared the way for the vision of Christ. Even Canon Farrar's eloquent description of what he supposes to have been the thoughts which agitated Saul's mind on his eventful journey seems hardly to rest on any solid base (see 'Life of St. Paul,'vol. 1. Acts 10.).
And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.
Verse 10. - Now for and, A.V.; and the Lord said unto him for and to him said the Lord, A.V. Behold, I am here. The regular Hebrew answer (Genesis 22:1; 1 Samuel 3:4, 6, 8, etc.).
And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,
Verse 11. - To for into, A.V., named for called, A.V.; a man of Tarsus for of Tarsus, A.V. The street; ῤύμη, usually the narrower lanes in a town as distinguished from the πλατεῖαι, or wide streets. So Luke 14:21, "The streets and lanes of the city," and the LXX. in Isaiah 15:3, couple πλατεῖαι and ρύμαι. Here, however, the term applies to the principal street of the city, which runs quite straight from the east to the west gate, and is a mile long. It still exists, and is called the Sultany Street; but instead of being the wide and splendid street it was in the apostolic age, a hundred feet wide, with colonnades separating the two footways on the side from the central read, and adorned with a triumphal arch, it is contracted into a narrow mean passage (see Lewin, vol. 1. p. 69).
And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.
Verse 12. - He hath seen for hath seen in a vision, A.V. and T.R.; laying his hands for putting his hand, A.V. and T.R.
Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:
Verse 13. - But for then, A.V.; from many for by many, A.V.; did for hath done, A.V. Ananias's answer shows his profound astonishment, mixed with doubt and misgiving, at the commission given to him. It shows, too, how the news of Saul's commission had preceded him, and caused terror among the disciples at Damascus. Little did Ananias suspect that this dreaded enemy would be the channel of God's richest blessings to his Church throughout all ages until the coming of Christ. How empty our fears often are l how ignorant are we where our chief good lies hid! But God knows. Let us trust him.
And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.
Verse 14. - Upon for on, A.V. That call upon thy name. So also ver. 21; Romans 10:12, 13; 1 Corinthians 1:2; and above, Acts 7:59, this same phrase describes the believer who makes his prayer to the Lord Jesus and trusts in his Name for salvation.
But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
Verse 15. - A chosen vessel (comp. Galatians 2:15; Romans 9:21, 22). To bear my name before the Gentiles (see Acts 22:21; Acts 26:17, 18; Romans 15:16; Galatians 2:7-9, etc.) and kings (Acts 25; Acts 26; 2 Timothy 4:16, 17, with reference to Nero), and the children of Israel. The Gentiles are named before the children of Israel, because St. Paul's special call was to be the apostle of the Gentiles. But we know that even St. Paul's practice was to preach Christ to the Jews first, in every city where there were Jews.
For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.
Verse 16. - Many for great, A.V. St. Paul's whole life was the fulfillment of this word of Christ (see 2 Corinthians 11:23-27; 2 Corinthians 6:4-10).
And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
Verse 17. - Departed for went his way, A.V.; laying for putting, A.V.; who appeared for that appeared, A.V.; which thou earnest for as, etc., A.V.; mayest for mightest, A.V. The laying on of hands is the medium of conveying any special grace. Here it precedes the baptism, and was the channel of restoring sight to his eyes. Doubtless he did not receive the Holy Ghost till after his baptism (see Acts 2:38.)
And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.
Verse 18. - Straightway for immediately, A.V.; as it were for as it had been, A.V.; received his sight for received sight forthwith, A.V. and T.R.; he arose for arose, A.V. As it were scales (λεπίδες); scales, or flakes; any thin substance which peals off; a frequent term in Greek medical writers. And was baptized. It is a curious difference between St. Paul and the other apostles that, if they were baptized at all, which is doubtful, they must have been baptized by Christ himself; whereas St. Paul received his baptism at the hands of Ananias. This is one mark of his being "born out of due time." And yet he was not behind the very chiefest apostles.
And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.
Verse 19. - He took food and for when he had received meat he, A.V.; and he was for then was Saul, A.V. and T.R. Some commentators would interpose the journey to Arabia (mentioned Galatians 1:17) between vers. 19 and 20; and this seems to be the intention of the A.V., where the clause commencing with Then (ver. 19) seems to wind up and close the preceding narrative. This too is the view strongly supported by Canon Farrar, vol. 1. Acts 11, and by Lewin. Alford places the journey to Arabia in the time comprised in ver. 22; others before ver. 22; Neander, Meyer, and others, in the time comprised in the "many days" of ver. 23. And this last is undoubtedly the easiest, were it not for the considerations urged by Farrar with great force as to the probability of St. Paul seeking a period of retirement after his conversion before commencing any public preaching, and the further countenance given to this view by Galatians 1:17, where St. Paul certainly says of himself that εὐθέως, immediately, after his conversion he "went away to Arabia." Taking all things into consideration, and supposing that either Luke was not aware of the sojourn in Arabia, or that he omitted from his notes some brief notice of it immediately preceding the description of Saul's preaching in Damascus, which explained the following εὐθέως, it seems best to understand the latter part of ver. 19 and all that follows as subsequent to his return from Arabia; and to conclude that he only stayed at Damascus ἡμέρας τίνας, a few days, after his conversion, and then retired to Arabia. It may be observed, too, that this interpretation gives a significance to the mention of the "certain days" which otherwise it has not. There is a further difference of opinion as to what is meant by Arabia. The most common view is that Auranitis, bordering upon Arabia Deserts, and reckoned as part of Arabia, not above two days' journey from Damascus, is the country meant. But others understand it in its more strictly Hebrew sense of the Peninsula of Sinai (Farrar, vol. 1. p. 212, and Exeursus 9; Dean Howson on Galatians in 'Speaker's Commentary;' Bishop Lightfoot on Galatians 1:17). This view is decidedly strengthened by the fact that, in the fourth chapter of the Epistle to the Galatians, St. Paul clearly means by Arabia the Peninsula of Arabia, where Sinai was (Galatians 4:25). On the assumption that the Sinaitic Peninsula is meant, Bishop Lightfoot says, "He was attracted thither by a spirit akin to that which formerly had driven Elijah to the same region. Standing on the threshold of the new covenant, he was anxious to look upon the birthplace of the old; that, dwelling for a while in seclusion in the presence of the mount that burned with fire, he might ponder over the transient glories of the ministration of death, and apprehend its real purpose in relation to the more glorious covenant which was now to supplant it." His journey to Arabia need not necessarily have occupied more than two or three mouths. It seems certain that he did not preach there, because he says (Acts 26:20), "I declared to them at Damascus first," etc. (see another coincidence between the Acts and the Epistle to the Galatians in Acts 13:2, note).
And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
Verse 20. - In the synagogues he proclaimed Jesus for he preached Christ in the synagogues, A.V. and T.R. The preponderance of manuscript authority, and the ὄνομα of ver. 21, and the ὅτι οϋτός ἐστιν ὁ Ξριστός of ver. 22, seem conclusive in favor of Jesus rather than Christ. As regards the expression straightway, we must understand it as descriptive of Saul's action upon his return from Arabia. Is it possible that St. Luke uses it with the same meaning as he may have heard St. Paul use it in when speaking of his Damascus preaching, in the same sense as St. Paul actually does speak in Galatians 1:17, viz. as expressing that he did not wait for authority from the apostles, but at once, fresh from the Divine call, and having a direct commission from Christ himself, entered upon his apostolic ministry? If the Epistle to the Galatians was written A.D. , it would be just about the time that St. Luke joined St. Paul, and might be commencing to collect materials for his history. So that the phrase in the Galatians and the phrase in this twentieth verse might really be the expression of one thought committed to paper by St. Paul on the one hand, and uttered in the ear of Luke on the other. It is a confirmation of this view that in 2 Corinthians, written about the same time, there is also an account of Saul's escape from Damascus. In the synagogues; the very synagogues (ver. 2) to which the letters of the high priest were addressed, empowering him to arrest either man or woman who called upon the Name of Jesus, and bring them as prisoners to Jerusalem to be tried before the Sanhedrim. No wonder they were amazed.
But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?
Verse 21. - And for but, A.V.; that in Jerusalem made havoc of for that destroyed them (which called on this Name) in Jerusalem, A.V.; and he had come hither for this intent for and came hither for that intent, A.V., differently stopped; before for unto, A.V. The chief priests. The plural seems to mark how the high priesthood at this period was passed from one to another. Caiaphas, Annas, Jonathan, and Theophilus would all be included under the term.
But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.
Verse 22. - The Christ for very Christ, A.V. The repetition of the phrase ὅτι οῦτός ἐστιν (vers. 20 and 22) is remarkable. As already observed, it presupposes the mention of Jesus, of whom it is thus predicated that he is both "the Son of God" and "the Christ" (comp. Acts 2:32, 36; Acts 4:11, etc.). Observe the incidental proof of the general expectation of the Jews that Christ should come in this description of the apostolic preaching as directed to the one point that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ.
And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him:
Verse 23. - When for after that, A.V.; took counsel together for took counsel, A.V. The phrase many days is quite elastic enough to comprehend whatever time remained to make up the three years (Galatians 1:18) which St. Paul tells us intervened between his conversion and his visit to Jerusalem (see ver. 43; Acts 18:18; 37:7; 14:3). Luke frequently uses ἱκανός for "many" (Luke 7:11; Luke 8:27; Luke 23:8). So in Hebrew, יָמִים רַבַּים, many days, is applied to considerable portions of time. In 1 Kings 2:38, 39, it is applied to three years.
But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.
Verse 24. - Their plot (ἐπιβουλή) became known for their laying await was known, A.V.; to Saul for of Saul, A.V.; the gates also for the gates, A.V. and T.R.; that they might for to, A.V.; a colon instead of full point at end of verse.
Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.
Verse 25. - But for then, A.V.; his disciples for the disciples, A.V. and T.R.; through for by, A.V; lowering him in for in, A.V. Lowering him, etc. The A.V. gives the sense freely; and combining the verb καθῆκαν with the participle χαλάσαντες, translates both by the one word "let him down." The by of the A.V. seems preferable to the through of the R.V., as through suggests the idea, which cannot be intended, of making a hole in the wall. The escape of the spies from Jericho, as described in Joshua 2:15, was exactly in the same way, except that they had only a rope to descend by, whereas St. Paul had a rope-basket. In the description of his escape given by St. Paul to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 11:33), he uses the same word for "let down" (ἐχαλάσθην), tells us he was let down "by the wall," R.V. διὰ τοῦ τείχους, with the additional particular that he got out through the window, διὰ θυρίδος, and that it was a σαργάνη, a basket made of ropes (which describes the kind of basket somewhat more accurately than the σπυρίς here used) in which he was let down (see note on ver. 20). The passage in 2 Corinthians gives us a further interesting account of how the Jews went about to accomplish their purpose of killing Paul. It seems that at this time, either in revolt against the Romans or by permission of Caligula (it is not known certainly which), a certain Aretas, or Hareth, King of Arabia Petrea, included Damascus in his dominions for a time, i.e. through the reigns of Caligula and Claudius. He appointed an ethnarch, who was doubtless a Jew, to rule the large Jewish population according to their Law, and who was the ready tool of the unbelieving Jews, using his power as governor to have the gates kept day and night so as to prevent Saul's escape. But he that keepeth Israel neither slumbered nor slept, and by his watchful providence Saul escaped from their hands. As regards the R.Y., his disciples for the disciples, Alford adopts the reading λαβόντες δὲ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτόν, and holds αὐτοῦ of the R.T. to be simply a mistake for αὐτόν, caused by the situation of αὐτόν after λαβόντες. The R.T. cannot be right. "The disciples" is St. Luke's regular expression for "Christians" (Acts 6:1, 2, 7; Acts 9:10, 19, 26; Acts 14:22; Acts 21:16), and is our Lord's name for his followers, but is never used by an apostle of his own followers (see 1 Corinthians 1:12, 13; 1 Corinthians 3:4-7).
And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.
Verse 26. - He for Saul, A.V. and T.R.; and they were for but, etc., A.V.; not believing for and believed not, A.V. The narrative thus far exactly agrees with Galatians 1:17, 18, which, however, supplies the motive of the journey to Jerusalem, which is not here mentioned, viz. to see Peter. It seems strange to some commentators that the news of Saul having become a zealous Christian should not have reached Jerusalem after an interval of three years. But first, we do not know. how much of those three years was spent in Arabia, nor how much the unsettled state of Damascus may have interrupted the usual communication between Jerusalem and Damascus, nor how suspicious of evil the poor persecuted disciples at Jerusalem may have been. They knew of the fierceness of Saul's zeal as a persecutor by their own experience; they knew of him as a disciple only by report. It may have been only an instance of the truth of Horace's maxim, "Segnius irritant animos demissa per aures quam quae sunt occults subjecta fidelibus."
But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.
Verse 27. - How at Damascus he had preached boldly for how he had preached boldly at Damascus, A.V. As regards the statement that Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, which some have thought inconsistent with Galatians 1:18 19, it is obvious to remark that St. Luke's account is fully justified by the fact that St. Paul did, on Barnabas's introduction, make the acquaintance of Peter, and, as it seems, pass fifteen days as his guest (Galatians 1:18); and while there, did also see James the Lord's brother. The other apostles were probably absent from Jerusalem during that fortnight; but Barnabas did, it seems, at a Church assembly, in the presence of James and, no doubt, the elders of the Church, give the astonishing narrative of Saul's conversion. This removed their suspicious and their fears, and he was freely, during the rest of his brief stay, admitted as a brother to their assemblies, and took part in preaching the gospel in the synagogues.
And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.
Verse 28. - Going in for coming in, A.V.
And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him.
Verse 29. - Preaching boldly, etc, the and of the T.R. is omitted, and this clause connected with the preceding one; the Lord for the Lord Jesus, A.V. and T.R.; he spake for he spake boldly, A.V. (The παῥῤησιαζόμενος (translated preaching boldly) ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι Κυρίου, is in the R.T. separated from ἐλάλει); the Grecian Jews for the Grecians, A.V., as in Acts 6:1; to kill for to slay, A.V. The Grecian Jews; or, Hellenists (margin). St. Stephen was a Hellenist, and it was among the Hellenists that his evangelical labors elderly lay and from whose enmity he met his death. Saul showed his dauntless spirit, and perhaps his deep compunction at the part he had taken in Stephen's death, by thus encountering their bitter and unrelenting enmity.
Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.
Verse 30. - And when the brethren knew it for which when the brethren knew, A.V. St. Paul gives another reason for his hasty departure from Jerusalem in his speech from the castle stairs (Acts 22:17-21). Caesarea, when standing alone, means Caesarea Stratonis, or Παράλιος, or Sebaste, the seaport and Roman garrison of that name, as distinguished from Caesarea Philippi (see Alford's note on Acts 8:30), and is always so used by St. Luke (Luke 8:40; Luke 10:1, 24; Luke 18:22; Luke 21:8, 16; Luke 23:23, 33; 25:1, 4, 6; 27:1, 2, showing it was a seaport). There is no reasonable doubt that it means the same place here. A seaport, near to Jerusalem, and with Roman protection, affording access to Tarsus either by sea or land as should seem best, was the natural place for Paul's friends to take him to. If further proof were wanting, it could be found in the phrase, "brought him down," as compared with the converse, "gone up" (Acts 18:22), "ascended "(Acts 25:1), when the journey was from Caesarea to Jerusalem. To Tarsus. A glance at the map will show that, starting from Caesarea, a person might either go by land along the sea-coast of Phoenicia, through Acre, Tyre, Sidon, Beyrout, Tripolis, Antioch, Issus, to Tarsus; or by sea to any of the intermediate ports between Caesarea and Tarsus; or rather the artificial harbor at the mouth of the Cydnus which formed the seaport of Tarsus. It is not improbable that Paul landed at Selcucia, since he says (Galatians 1:21) that he came at this time "into the regions of Syria and Cilicia," which is exactly what he would have done if he had landed at Seleucia, the seaport of Antioch.
Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.
Verse 31. - So the Church... had peace, being edified for then had the Churches rest,... and were edified, A.V. and T.R.; was multiplied for were multiplied, A.V. and T.R. It is thought that the attention of the Jews to the progress of the faith of Jesus Christ was diverted at this time, and their active hostility stayed, by the still greater danger to the Jews' religion which arose from Caligula's intention of placing a statue to himself as a god in the holy of holies. Thus did God's gracious providence intervene to give rest to his harassed saints, and to build up his Church in numbers, in holiness, and in heavenly comfort. Especially Paul had another breathing-time, which may have been the more required if, as is thought, one at least of the five scourgings mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12:24 had been inflicted at Damascus, and one of the three shipwrecks alluded to in the same passage and been undergone in the dangerous coasting voyage from Caesarca to Scleucia.
And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.
Verse 32. - Went for passed, A.V.; all parts (διὰ πάντων) for all quarters, A.V. All parts. Afford, following Meyer, understands "through all the saints," which is scarcely so well. The current of St. Luke's narrative is here temporarily diverted from St. Paul, in order to trace that portion of St. Peter's apostolic work, which led immediately to that opening of the door of faith to the Gentiles in which Peter was to have the priority in point of time (Matthew 16:18, 19), but Paul the chief burden of labour and danger (Galatians 2:7-9; Romans 11:13), and which was also the main subject of St. Luke's history. He came down; Lydda (afterwards called Diospolis, now Ludd), being more than half-way between Jerusalem and the sea-coast at Joppa.
And there he found a certain man named AEneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy.
Verse 33. - For he was palsied for and was sick of the palsy, A.V.
And Peter said unto him, AEneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately.
Verse 34. - Healeth thee for maketh thee whole, A.V.; straightway he arose for he arose immediately, A.V. Jesus Christ healeth thee. The juxtaposition, ἰᾶταί δε Ἰησοῦς, looks almost like an intentional play upon the sound. Some of the Fathers who did not know Hebrew derived the name Ἰησοῦς from ἰάομαι, and the Anglo-Saxon name for the Savior Haelend, the Healer, seems to have the same origin. Arise and make thy bed. Not (says Meyer), "Henceforth make thine own bed," but, as the force of the imperative script requires, maize thy bed now, both as a token of his miraculous cure, and that he might carry it away (Mark 2:9-12). AEneas is a Greek name, not identical with AEneas (Αἰνείας), but occurring in Thucydides and elsewhere. If it was a Hebrew name, it might be derived from עַיִן חָם, "(whom) the eye spareth." It is uncertain whether AEneas was a disciple or not.
And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord.
Verse 35. - In Sharon for at Saron, A.V.; they turned for turned, A.V. In Sharon. The Greek represents the Hebrew שָׁרון, Sharon, which is the name of the rich plain which stretches from Joppa to Caesarea (see Isaiah 33:9). The name still lingers in the village of Saron. They turned; manifestly an improvement on the A.V., as giving the sense of οἵτινες, viz. that all who saw the paralytic walking, turned, as a consequence, to the Lord, in whose Name the wonderful miracle had been wrought. A very extensive conversion of the people of Lydda and of Sharon is signified.
Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.
Verse 36. - Joppa; now Jaffa, the ancient seaport of Jerusalem (Jonah 1:3; 2 Chronicles 2:16). It was in the tribe of Dan (Joshua 19:46). A certain disciple; a female disciple, as the word means; μαθήτρια only occurs here in the New Testament and rarely elsewhere. Tabitha; the Aramean form of the Hebrew צְבִי, a gazelle, or in Greek Dorcas. The beauty and grace of the gazelle made it an appropriate name for a woman. Some have thought, with probability, that she was a deaconess of the Church. The thirty-eighth verse shows that there was already a Church at Joppa About half the population of seven thousand are said to be still Christians. Compare the qualifications of a widow as set forth by St Paul (1 Timothy 5:10). The phrase, good works, is quite Pauline (Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 1:10; Titus 2:7; 1 Timothy 2:10). Almsdeeds. The word alms (from ἐλεημοσυνή) is one of those Greek words which has been domiciled in the English language through the Church. So bishop, priest, deacon, Κύριε ἐλέητον, trisagion, stole, Paschal, Litany, Liturgy, and many others.
And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber.
Verse 37. - Fell sick for was sick, A.V.; and when they had washed her for whom when they had washed, A.V. For the phrase in those days, comp. Acts 6:1. The days here meant are those while Peter was in those parts. An upper chamber (ὑπερώον), as in Acts 1:13. The upper chamber was much more private and quiet than a room on the ground floor (see 2 Kings 4:10, 11).
And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.
Verse 38. - As for forasmuch as, A.V.; unto for to, A.V.; the disciples, hearing... sent for and the disciples had heard... they sent, A.V.; two men unto him for unto him two men, A.V.; entreating for desiring, A.V.; delay not to come on unto us for that he would not delay to come to them, A.V. and T.R. It is impossible to say whether any vague hope that Dorcas might be restored to life by Peter's prayers animated those who sent for Peter, and who had either seen or heard of the miracles wrought by him at Jerusalem before the persecution (Acts 5:15), or whether it only was that they felt the need of comfort and support in so great a sorrow. Two men; so Acts 10:7. Cornelius sends two of his household servants (comp. Acts 13:2; Acts 15:22). In unsafe times and by dangerous roads, it was customary to send two messengers, both for mutual protection and that, if anything happened to one, the other might still deliver the message. It was also a security against fraud.
Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.
Verse 39. - And for then, A.V.; and when for when, A.V. All the widows. The article may denote all the widows for whom Dorcas had made garments, which the middle voice (ἐπιδεικνύμεναι), found only here, indicates perhaps that they had on them at the time. But it is quite as probable that αἱ χῆραι means the Church widows, as in Acts 6:1 and 1 Timothy 5:9, and that we have here an indication that the model of the Jerusalem Church was followed in all the daughter Churches. Dorcas's almsdeeds would naturally have for their first object the widows of her own communion. As naturally would they all come to meet the apostle at her house.
But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.
Verse 40. - Turning for turning him, A.V.; he said for said, A.V. Peter's action in putting them all forth seems to have been framed on the model of that scene at which he had been present when Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus (see Luke 8:54 [T.R.]; Matthew 9:25; Mark 5:40). Privacy for the more earnest concentrated prayer was doubtless what he sought. Kneeled down; θεὶς τὰ γόνατα. The same expression as in Acts 7:60; Acts 20:36; Acts 21:5; Luke 22:41. It occurs also in Mark 15:19. Tabitha, arise. Exactly the same address as our Lord's "Talitha cumi" (Mark 5:40), but, as Lange observes, with this difference, that in the case of Peter it was preceded by prayer; comp. also Luke 7:14 (where the Aramean address was probably in the same form); John 11:43.
And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.
Verse 41. - Raised for lifted, A.V.; calling for when he had called, A.V.; he presented for presented, A.V. The saints and widows; by which we learn that others of the Christians of Joppa besides the widows had come to meet Peter, as was to be expected.
And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.
Verse 42. - It became known for it was known, A.V.; on for in, A.V. As in ver. 35, the result of the healing of the palsied man at Lydda was that very many "turned to the Lord," so here the like effect was produced at Joppa by the restoration of Dorcas to life. Many believed on the Lord. And St. John tells us (John 20:31) that the very purpose of the record which he wrote of the miracles of Christ is "that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing we may have life in his Name."
And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner.
Verse 43. - Abode for tarried, A.V. Many days (ἡμέρας ἱκανάς); the same phrase as ver. 23; spoken of a time of indeterminate length. Here probably it means some months, luring which Peter would be evangelizing the whole neighborhood. The Jews are said to have considered the trade of a tanner unclean; but if this were so, it would not be safe to infer that Peter was already indifferent to ceremonial uncleanness. We know he was not so (Acts 10:14), but probably in his line of life he could not act up to all the nicer distinctions of the strictest Pharisees.

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