Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 20 November 2020; Revised 27 November 2020
Scripture Text: The Scripture text used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. See my web article The Jewish New Testament. Scripture quotations may be taken from different versions. Click here for abbreviations of Bible versions. Quotations marked with the initials "BR" indicate the translation of the commentary author.
Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Important Jewish sources include the following:
● DSS: Citations marked as "DSS" are from the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish manuscripts of Scripture and sectarian documents found in the Qumran caves. Most of the Qumran MSS belong to the last three centuries BC and the first century AD. Online DSS Bible.
● LXX: The abbreviation "LXX" ("70") stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, which was in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C. Online.
● Josephus: Citations for Josephus, the first century Jewish historian (Yosef ben Matityahu), are from The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.) trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
● MT: The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Tanakh for Rabbinic Judaism. Work on developing a uniform Hebrew Bible began in the 2nd century under Rabbi Akiva, but completed by Jewish scholars known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D. The oldest extant manuscripts date from around the 9th century A.D. Online.
● Talmud: Unless otherwise indicated references to the Talmud are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); available online at Halakhah.com. The Jerusalem Talmud, identified with "TJ," may be found here. Click here for Talmud abbreviations.
● Targums: The targums are early Aramaic translations of the Hebrew text with commentary: Targum Jerusalem (1st c. AD), Targum Neofiti (1st c. AD), Targum Onkelos (c. 35–120 AD) and Targum Jonathan (2nd c. AD). See an index of targum texts here.
Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations and pronunciation of Greek words. Parsing data for Greek words is from Anthony J. Fisher, Greek New Testament. The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms ADONAI (for 'LORD' when quoting a Tanakh source), Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), Tanakh (Old Testament), and Besekh (New Testament).
See the article Witnesses of the Good News for background information on Acts. For a suggested timeline of Acts see the dating chart of George Edmundson. All dates given for the narrative of Acts are estimates.
Chapter Twenty-Two introduces the first of five defense speeches by Paul. Here the audience is the crowd that had attacked him in the temple. Paul recounts his early years of birth and education and how he was an ardent persecutor of Yeshua's disciples. Then he shared his personal encounter with the resurrected and ascended Yeshua on the road to Damascus, experienced a spiritual transformation and received a commission to be his messenger to the nations.
At the point of Paul saying he had been sent to the nations with the good news the crowd erupted in anger demanding his death. Paul was taken into the barracks and the Roman commander prepared to examine Paul by whipping. The commander wanted to know why the crowd wanted Paul to die. Paul then asserted his rights as a Roman citizen, which prevented his punishment. The next day, Paul was released from his bonds. The commander ordered the Jewish leaders to convene, and Paul was brought before them.
Defense Introduction, 22:1-5
Encounter with Yeshua, 22:6-11
Meeting with Ananias 22:12-16
Revelation at the Temple, 22:17-21
Examination by the Roman Commander, 22:22-29
Appearance before the Council, 22:30
Rome: Caesar Nero (AD 54-68)
Procurator of Judaea: Marcus Antonius Felix (AD 52-60)
High Priest in Jerusalem: Ananias, son of Nebedaius (AD 46-58)
Defense Introduction, 22:1-3
1 "Men, brothers and fathers, hear now my defense to you."
Paul began with the same form of address that Stephen used in his defense before the Sanhedrin (7:2). Men: pl. of Grk. anēr, voc. case, an adult man without regard to marital status. In the LXX anēr renders several Heb. words, but primarily ish, man or husband, Gen 2:23 (DNTT 2:562). The direct address of anēr in speaking to groups appears 29 times in Acts, but most Bible versions ignore the noun here. The address of "men," a greeting of courtesy, presumes the constituency of the crowd excluded women but would include proselytes.
brothers: pl. of Grk. adelphos, voc., lit. "of the same womb," and in secular Greek meant a male sibling; brother. In the Jewish context the term primarily refers to blood siblings or fellow Israelites. In the LXX adelphos renders Heb. ach (SH-251), a male sibling (Gen 4:2; 20:5), a male relative of the same tribe (Gen 13:8; Num 16:10) or the people of Israel (Ex 2:11; 4:18). The use of "brothers" may acknowledge their common heritage as Jews or emphasize their shared form of Judaism.
and: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. fathers: pl. of Grk. patēr, voc. case, may mean (1) a male biological parent; (2) a forefather once removed or more from a biological father, ancestor, forebear; (3) one held in esteem for social position, personal excellence, or spiritual connection; (4) in imagery of a parent whose progeny displays parental characteristics; and (5) in an extended sense of God as father. The third meaning applies here.
In the LXX patēr renders ab ("av"), which has the same range of meaning (Ex 4:22) (DNTT 1:616f). By the first century the Heb. letter alef (א) had been added to "ab" to form the vocative or direct address of abba, so speaking in Hebrew Pal would have used avot (pl. of abba). Many Bible scholars make a point of saying that abba is Aramaic to assert that Jews in the first century spoke Aramaic instead of Hebrew. While abba is found in Aramaic sources, it is also found thirty-eight times in the Hebrew Mishnah. Even if abba had originally come from Aramaic, by the time of Yeshua, it was completely assimilated into Hebrew, and its use by Yeshua and the apostles (Mark 14:36; Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6) is in complete harmony with the Hebrew of that day (Hamp 68).
In addition, Jastrow's Hebrew dictionary treats abba as Hebrew (1). Addressing the members of the crowd as "fathers" implies that Paul recognized some of them as religious authorities, perhaps member of the Sanhedrin. Using "fathers" did not violate Yeshua's prohibition against calling someone "father" (Matt 23:9), but is meant to show respect to their social status. According to Jastrow the Vice-President of the Great Sanhedrin was called abba, next in dignity to Nasi or President (1).
Isidore Epstein, editor of the Soncino Babylonian Talmud, says that abba was the title for a scholar less than that of "Rabbi" (fn68, Avot 2:8). A rabbi in the first century was not a synagogue pastor, but the leader of a school of Judaism, such as Hillel and Shammai. By using the address of "fathers" Paul was not including all the Sanhedrin, because the "elders" on the Council would not qualify for that title. He probably only meant the President and Vice-President of the Sanhedrin and Pharisee leaders such as Gamaliel. Taken together the full address of "Men, brothers and fathers" indicates that Paul speaks as a fellow Jew, one of the family, and as one respectful of Jewish authorities.
hear: Grk. akouō, aor. imp., may mean (1) to hear, with the focus on willingness to listen or to heed the substance of what is said; (2) hear with comprehension, understand; (3) receive information aurally, hear, hear about; or (4) a legal term of hearing a case. The first meaning dominates here. In the LXX akouō consistently stands for Heb. shama, which not only means to apprehend, but also to accept and to act upon what has been apprehended (DNTT 2:173). The imperative mood of the verb is not intended to indicate "command" but rather an earnest entreaty.
now: Grk. nuni, adv., marker of time in the present, even now, just now. my: Grk. egō, sing. pronoun of the first person. defense: Grk. apologia, response to charges of misconduct, here with the focus on speaking in defense. to: Grk. pros, prep., lit. "near or facing" and conveys motion toward; to, toward, with. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. Paul sought to answer the accusation that he taught all men everywhere against the people, the law, and the temple (Acts 21:28). In his defense he adapts himself to his hearers, using every lawful method to gain their favor, and secure a patient hearing (Gloag).
2 then having heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language, they became even more silent; and he said,
then: Grk. de, conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover." The second meaning applies here. having heard: Grk. akouō, pl. aor. part., to hear aurally or listen, often with the focus on willingness to listen or to heed the substance of what is said. In the LXX akouō translates Heb. shama, which not only means to hear, but also to accept and to act upon what has been heard (DNTT 2:173).
that: Grk. hoti, conj. that serves as a link between two sets of data, used here to introduce a subordinate clause as complementary of a preceding verb. he was addressing: Grk. prosphōneō, impf., call out with a message; address. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun used to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another, or to give him (it) emphatic prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. The second meaning applies here.
in the Hebrew: Grk. ho Hebrais (fem. of Hebraios, "Hebrew"), the Hebrew language (BAG). The noun occurs three times in the Besekh, all in Acts (22:2; 26:14). Hebrais also occurs in 4Macc 12:7; and 16:15 for the Hebrew language spoken by Israelites. Some versions translate the noun as "Aramaic" (CEB, CEV, CSB, NET, NIV, TLV) and some Christian commentators also assume Luke meant "Aramaic" (Barnes, Bruce, Longenecker, Lumby, Marshall, Nicoll). The majority of versions translate the noun correctly as "Hebrew." language: Grk. dialektos, a pattern of verbal articulation or coherent language peculiar to any people; dialect, language.
As far as can be determined from the Tanakh, the only language God ever used to speak to His people was Hebrew. Actually, archaeological evidence and the texts of early Jewish writings (especially the LXX) suggest that Greek was much more prevalent than Aramaic. We should consider that the Greek word for "Aramaic" is Suristi (LXX 2Kgs 18:26; Ezra 4:7; Isa 36:11; Dan 2:4), not Hebrais. If Luke had intended to say "Aramaic" he would have used Suristi, not Hebrais. The Talmud has a declaration that contradicts the assumption of Christian scholars, "Why use the Syrian language in the land of Israel? Either use the holy tongue or Greek!" (Sotah 49b).
A number of scholars have presented strong evidence that Yeshua and the apostles spoke conversational Hebrew (Bivin, Flusser, Hamp, Lindsey, Stern, and Tverberg). David Flusser (1917-2000), Orthodox Jewish scholar at Hebrew University, had said,
"It is possible that Jesus did, from time to time, make use of the Aramaic language. But during that period Hebrew was both the daily language and the language of study. The Gospel of Mark contains a few Aramaic words, and this is what has misled scholars….There is thus no ground for assuming that Jesus did not speak Hebrew; and when we are told (Acts 21:40) that Paul spoke Hebrew, we should take this piece of information at face value" (11).
they became: Grk. parechō, aor., 3p-pl., to cause something to be present for the other, to bring about or to furnish. more: Grk. mallon, adv. of increase or additive to some aspect of activity, situation, or condition; (much). more. silent: Grk. hēsuchia may mean (1) a state of non-disturbance, quietness; or (2) state of keeping one's peace, being silent. The second meaning applies here. The crowd perhaps unexpectedly hushed at hearing Paul speak a respectful greeting. However, the context suggests another reason, that of language. He might have addressed them in Greek, since at this time Greek was commonly used in Judea. However, Gloag suggests the crowd became silent because Hebrew was their favorite language, and better understood by them.
and: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. he said: Grk. phēmi (from phaō, "shine, bring to light"), pres., to convey one's thinking through verbal communication, say, declare. The verb may hint that Paul was thinking fast, perhaps with a quick prayer for wisdom in what to say to the crowd.
3 "I am a man, a traditional Jew, having been born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but having been educated in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, having been instructed according to the exactness of our fathers' torah, being a zealous one of God just as you all are today.
Paul proceeds to repeat what he had told the Roman commander about himself (21:39) and adds more detail which demonstrates how he identified with his audience. I: Grk. egō, sing. pronoun of the first person. am: Grk. eimi, pres., to be, a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG). a man: Grk. anēr. See verse 1 above. Many versions do not translate anēr or they connect it to the next noun. In the Greek text anēr is in the nominative case, making it an independent assertion. In Jewish culture a man is a male who is recognized as having completed bar mitzvah at age 13 and has become a "son of the commandment" (Kiddushin 63b). Especially important is that in Jewish culture a man has rights under the law to defend himself against false accusations.
a traditional Jew: Grk. Ioudaios (derived from Ioudas, "Judah") may be used as an adjective (Judean, Jewish) or a noun (Jew, Judean). See the explanatory note on 2:5. In the first century Ioudaios was used to distinguish devout, observant Jews whose tenets and practices were governed by the Great Sanhedrin and the Pharisees, in contrast to other descendants of Jacob who did not live by the strict code (Matt 23:2-3; Mark 7:3; Acts 2:5; 10:28). Ioudaios is never used to identify Hellenistic Jews, Samaritan Jews or Qumran Jews (cf. John 4:9).
It's also possible that Paul, speaking in Hebrew, said Yehudi, which in the LXX is translated by Ioudaios (2Kgs 16:6; 25:25; Jer 34:9). Citizens of the Kingdom of Judah were called Yehudi (pl. Yehudim) and the southern kingdom also included the tribes of Benjamin and Simeon (Josh 19:1; 1Kgs 12:21; 2Chr 15:9). Mordecai of the tribe of Benjamin is identified as an Ioudaios (LXX Esth 2:5; 6:10). Thus, Paul, also of the tribe of Benjamin could identify himself as Yehudi. According to a tradition recorded by Jerome, the parents of Paul came from Gischala in Judea (Chap. V), although modern scholars locate the town in Galilee.
having been born: Grk. gennaō, perf. pass. part., to father, beget or procreate. In the LXX gennaō is used chiefly for Heb. yalad (SH-3205), to bear, bring forth, to beget, to father (first in Gen 4:18), which can refer to either the male or female role in conception and birth (DNTT 1:176). The passive voice of the verb is probably intended to convey the female role in giving birth. Santala suggests Paul was born in the year 5 (31), as does Shapira (295). On the eighth day after birth the observant Jewish father circumcised his son (Php 3:5). The eighth day was also the day of naming. The parents gave their boy the Hebrew name Sha'ul (lit. "asked for" or "prayed for"). Perhaps his mother had miscarried previously, so the birth of Saul was an answer to prayer. Saul later said that he was "set apart from his mother's womb" for a sacred life (Gal 1:15).
in: Grk. en, prep. generally used to mark position, and may be translated as "at, among, by, in, or within" as the context requires. Tarsus: Grk. Tarsos, a maritime city situated on the Cydnus River in southwestern Asia Minor about ten miles inland from the Mediterranean coast. Tarsus was the chief city and capital of Cilicia. of Cilicia: Grk. Kilikia, a province of Asia Minor, bounded on the north by Cappadocia, on the south by the Mediterranean, on the east by Syria, and on the west by Pamphylia. Cilicia was part of the Roman province of Syria. See the map and history of Tarsus here. In the Roman period Tarsus competed with Athens and Alexandria as the learning center of the world. The city had a university and was greatly influenced by Stoic philosophical schools.
Stern makes the strange assertion that "Sha'ul was born a Hellenistic Jew," which contradicts Paul's plain self-description here and in Philippians 3:5. As an adjective "Hellenistic" implies having embraced Hellenistic culture. Being fluent in Greek did not make Paul Hellenistic and being born in a Hellenistic country did not make him Hellenistic. Moreover, there is no evidence that Paul's parents were Hellenistic and by his own testimony he was not raised according to pagan philosophy nor educated in a Stoic school in Tarsus. Paul himself never embraced Hellenism, but steadfastly opposed it (Rom 12:2; Col 2:28).
Paul was raised in Tarsus and a few versions make a point of saying this (CEV, GW, NOG). Jewish learning typically occurred in stages: "five years for Scripture, ten for Mishnah, thirteen for commandments, fifteen for talmud" (Avot 5:21). Paul's early education in Tarsus would have included classes at a synagogue school, beginning about age 6 (Ketubot 50a). Secondary education began at age 10. The teaching of philosophy, that is, Greek thought, was shunned. Studies focused on the Bible and the study of languages concentrated on Hebrew (Santala 25). Paul also learned his trade of tent-making in Tarsus, which was known for its production of goat's hair fabrics.
but: Grk. de, conj. having been educated: Grk. anatrephō (from ana, "up, again" and trephō, "feed, nourish, rear"), perf. pass. part., may be used (1) of physical nurture; bring up, care for (e.g. Acts 7:20 of Moses); (2) of mental and spiritual nurture; bring up, rear, train (e.g., Acts 7:21) or (3) of both physical and spiritual nurture, used of Yeshua (Luke 4:16) (BAG). The second usage applies here. LSJ adds "educate" to the definition, which seems the likely meaning in this verse. The translation of "brought up" in most versions might imply Paul spent his early childhood in Jerusalem and Gamaliel was a surrogate parent, but that is certainly not Paul's point. The verbal clause indicates advanced Talmudic learning.
in: Grk. en, prep. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this. city: Grk. ho polis, a population center whose size or number of inhabitants could range broadly, a city or town. "This city" is Jerusalem. At some point after Paul's bar mitzvah his father saw to it that he was sent to Jerusalem for advanced education. The teaching of talmud at age 15 was an important milestone. Advanced education fulfilled the dictum, "Appoint for yourself a teacher" (Avot 1:6). Not all Jewish boys had this privilege as it meant being admitted to the school of a scholar or notable Sage.
at: Grk. para, prep. with the root meaning of beside (DM 108), conveys association between persons, things, or circumstances, and used here to denote a close association. the feet: pl. of Grk. ho pous, the body part that is used for walking or running; the foot, but used here in a figurative sense. Paul may have alluded to the rabbinic saying "Let thy home be a house of meeting for the Sages, and suffer thyself to be covered by the dust of their feet, and drink in their words with thirst" (Avot 1:4). The idiomatic saying "at the feet" refers to a custom of the Jews, according to which the scholars sat partly on benches and partly on the floor, while the teacher sat on an elevated platform (Gloag).
of Gamaliel: Grk. Gamaliēl, a transliteration of Heb. Gamli'él, son of Simeon ben Hillel, and grandson of the great Jewish teacher Hillel the Elder (Shab. 15a). He was active in Jerusalem from c. AD 20 to c. 52. He was the first to carry the title Rabban ("our master, our great one") (Stern 237). In Jewish writings he is called "the Elder" because he was the first of six Jewish leaders named Gamaliel. Gamaliel the Elder was the leader of his school of disciples, Beit-Hillel (cf. Matt 19:3). He was in close touch with Diaspora Jews, for three of his letters to various communities outside Israel are preserved in the Talmud (Sanh. 11b).
Many Rabbinic rulings issued by Gamaliel demonstrated liberality in applying the written Torah (Stern 237). The Mishnah declared the importance of Gamaliel the Elder by saying: "When he died the glory of the Torah ceased, and purity and piety perished" (Sotah 9:6). Paul considered his time spent with Gamaliel as having value. However, Joseph Klausner identifies Paul with an unnamed pupil of Gamaliel, who according to the Talmud manifested "impudence in matters of learning" in which the pupil scoffed at Gamaliel (Shabbat 30b) (310-311). Whereas Gamaliel emphasized the material and terrestrial bliss of the Days of the Messiah, Paul asserted "the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom 14:17).
Gamaliel is noted by Luke as expressing moderation in dealing with the Messianic movement, implying that it was of God (Acts 5:34-39). Later ecclesiastical tradition declared that Gamaliel embraced the Christian faith. The Clementine literature (4th cent.) suggested that he maintained secrecy about his conversion and continued to be a member of the Sanhedrin for the purpose of covertly assisting his fellow Christians (Recognitions of Clement 1:65). Photius (9th cent.) wrote that Gamaliel had been baptized by Peter and John (Photius, Codice 171; cited by Gloag 1:191). The Eastern Orthodox Church venerates Gamaliel as a saint.
For Paul to have been trained by Gamaliel was a singular honor. The school he led, Beth Hillel, was the most prestigious school of Judaism in Israel. In ancient times a talmid did not enroll as a student with a particular rabbi. When a rabbi could see a promising student as a possible talmid, then the rabbi would himself issue the call (Kasdan 103).
having been instructed: Grk. paideuō, perf. pass. part., exercise instructive discipline; discipline, educate, instruct or train. In Scripture paideuō can refer to a range of behaviors from instruction, to guidance, to corrective discipline, to punitive measures. according to: Grk. kata, prep. that generally expresses measure and the idea of something associated with or lining up with something else in terms of manner, direction, reference, position, or the like. With the accusative case of the noun following the meaning is "according to" or "by way of" (Thayer).
the exactness: Grk. akribeia, quality of being without deviation; strictness, accuracy, exactness, attention to detail, scrupulousness. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. The quality of "exactness" is no understatement. Only consider the 39 categories of work prohibited on the Sabbath (Shabbath 7:2). of our fathers': Grk. patrōos, adj., ancestral, of one's fathers, received from one's fathers. The adjective alludes to notable Jewish teachers known as the Sages, which could extend back to 200 BC. See the list of Sages here.
torah: Grk. nomos (from nemō, distribute; 'that which is generally recognized as customary') may mean either (1) a principle or standard relating to behavior or (2) codified legislation, i.e. law. The second meaning applies here. Note the absence of the definite article. In the LXX nomos occurs about 430 times, of which about 200 are without Hebrew equivalent (DNTT 2:439). For the rest, the most common equivalent is torah (SH-8451), which means "direction," "teaching" or "instruction" (BDB 435f), first in Genesis 26:5.
In the Pentateuch torah refers primarily to commandments decreed by God to Israel. Torah sets forth the way to live in an ethical way in order to enjoy life to the full and to please God. In the Besekh nomos is used for the commandments given to Israel at Sinai and Moab (Matt 12:5; John 8:5) or the entire Pentateuch, especially when used in combination with "the Prophets" (Matt 22:40; John 1:45). Sometimes nomos is used to mean laws enacted by Jewish authorities (e.g., John 8:17; 18:31; Acts 18:15; Rom 7:2).
The focus of the talmid was not just on the Torah but all the traditions developed by the Sages (Shabbath 31a). These traditions included theology, customs and laws derived from interpretation of Scripture. Thus, Paul uses nomos here to refer to the teaching of Gamaliel concerning the traditions for Jews to observe, the so-called Oral Torah. Paul's affirmation that he was taught according to "the exactness of our fathers' torah" illustrates that the Pharisees was the strictest sect of Judaism. Josephus speaks of the sect in similar terms, saying the Pharisees are "esteemed most skillful in the exact explication of their laws" (Wars II, 8:14).
being: Grk. huparchō, pres. part., to function or be in a state as determined by circumstance; to be or exist. HELPS notes that the verb properly means already have or be in possession of what exists, especially what pre-exists. a zealous one: Grk. zēlōtēs (from zēloō, to be jealous or zealous), one who is passionately devoted or earnestly committed. The noun does not identify Paul as belonging to the Zealots that actively opposed Roman occupation and believed in the violent overthrow of the Roman government. They staged rebellions at various times, which all failed. The zeal of Paul did manifest itself in violence against a group, which he explains in the next verse.
of God: Grk. ho theos, God or god, which must be determined from the context. In the LXX theos primarily renders the name of the Creator God Elohim (2568 times), but sometimes YHVH (300 times) (DNTT 2:67-70). Given the plural nature of Elohim the full triunity of God must be represented in theos. In the Besekh theos is used overwhelmingly for the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, Creator and ruler of the universe and God of Israel, the only God in existence.
just as: Grk. kathōs, adv. emphasizing similarity, conformity, proportion or manner; as, just as. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. The pronoun refers to the entire crowd. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every, the whole. are: Grk. eimi, pres. today: Grk. sēmeron, adv., today, this day, now. Paul observes that everyone in the crowd is zealous for Pharisee traditions.
4 who persecuted this Way as far as death, binding and delivering both men and women into prisons,
Paul now fast forwards his personal narrative to AD 32. who: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that. persecuted: Grk. diōkō, aor., to engage in pursuit or chase, used here in a malicious sense of harass, maltreat or persecute. The persecution of Yeshua's disciples began in Jerusalem with the stoning of Stephen (Acts 8:1) and quickly developed into a campaign of terror with Paul (then Sha'ul) providing leadership (8:3). The persecution against the disciples of Yeshua erupted in spite of the advice of Gamaliel to leave the Yeshua movement alone (Acts 5:38-39).
Paul did not have the authorization from the Sanhedrin but the Judean leaders did nothing to prevent mistreatment of the Messianic congregation. Indeed Paul was allowed to violate rules of due process and subject disciples to summary judgment. Paul's past as a persecutor was not something he could hide, so he openly admitted his great shame, including mentioning his actions as a persecutor in four of his letters (1Cor 15:9; Gal 1:13, 23; Php 3:6; 1Tm 1:13).
this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. Way: Grk. hodos (for Heb. derek, SH-1870), a way, road, journey, or path and used here fig. of a course of conduct. The shorthand label appears five times in Acts to designate the Messianic movement or disciples of Yeshua (Acts 9:2; 19:9; 22:4; 24:14, 22). The origin of the label "the Way" is never stated, but there is a natural association with Yeshua's self-description as "I AM the Way" (John 14:6). Yeshua's I AM saying was derived from the expression "way of YHVH," which first occurs in Genesis 18:19, where it refers to the expectation of Abraham and his seed doing righteousness and justice in contrast to the wickedness of Sodom.
The "way of YHVH" was later codified in the commandments God gave to Israel as part of His covenant (Deut 8:6; 26:17; 30:16). Then Yochanan the Immerser proclaimed that he was sent to call Israel to repent and return to "the way of YHVH," quoting Isaiah 40:3 (Mark 1:3; cf. Acts 18:25). Later, Yeshua identified himself with YHVH (John 8:58). So the "way of YHVH" is equivalent to the "way of Yeshua," which all disciples are commanded to obey (Matt 28:19). By using the label "the Way," disciples declared their identification with Yeshua as the only way of salvation (Acts 16:17), and their devotion to living by his teachings.
as far as: Grk. achri, adv., a function word signifying an interval between two points with focus on continuity, here meaning up to a certain point. death: Grk. thanatos, death, used here to mean death as a judicial penalty, although the mode of execution is never mentioned. Of interest is that a record of the seventy apostles by Dorotheus, bishop of Tyre (ca. 255 – 362), says that 2,000 believers died the day Stephen was killed. binding: Grk. desmeuō, pres. part., to bind together, to fetter, used here to mean binding with physical restraints. A few versions interpret the verb as binding with chains (AMP, AMPC, MRINT, NLV, VOICE).
and: Grk. kai, conj. delivering: Grk. paradidōmi, pres. part., properly, to give into the hands of another, deliver or hand over, and used here to mean delivering a person into custody and a judicial process. both: Grk. te, conj. used to connect an idea closely to another in a manner that is tighter than with kai; also, both. men: pl. of Grk. anēr. See verse 1 above. and: Grk. kai. women: pl. of Grk. gunē, an adult female person, without respect to age, marital or social status except as defined in the context. In the LXX gunē renders Heb. ishshah (SH-802), woman, wife (Gen 2:22).
Paul repeats Luke's narrative of Acts 8:3 and 9:2. In most cases the women were probably wives of the men arrested. That women were subject to persecution illustrates Paul's previous depravity of which he described himself as a "violent aggressor" (1Tim 1:13). into: Grk. eis, prep. that focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to direction and limit, here complementing the verb to indicate the destination of movement; among, into, to, toward. prisons: pl. of Grk. phulakē may mean (1) a place for detaining a law-breaker; (2) a sentry station with a contingent of guards; or (3) a period of time for mounting guard, watch. The first meaning applies here.
In ancient times imprisonment for a specified period of time was not a typical form of punishment. The place of confinement was only to keep someone until disposition was made of his case (cf. Acts 4:3; 5:18). Gloag comments that Paul's admission does not mean that he actually put any to death himself, but he was the agent employed in committing them to prison. As he later says, when the Messianic disciples were put to death, he cast a vote against them (Acts 26:10).
5 as also the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear witness about me, from whom also having received letters to the brothers, I was journeying to Damascus to bring even those being there to Jerusalem in order that they might be punished.
as: Grk. hōs, adv. with the primary function of connecting narrative components; used here with focus on the idea of a pattern or model. also: Grk. kai, conj. the high priest: Grk. archiereus, a high or chief priest. In the LXX archiereus occurs only two times in the canonical books, but 41 times in the Apocrypha (DNTT 3:35). In Leviticus 4:3 archiereus renders Heb. Hakohen Hamaschiach, "the anointed priest" and inserted in Joshua 24:33 without Heb. equivalent to describe Aaron. The Hebrew title Hakohen Hagadol, 'the high [or great] priest,' occurs 11 times in the Tanakh (Lev 21:10; Num 35:25, 28; Josh 20:6; 2Kgs 12:10; 22:4, 8; 23:4; 2Chr 34:9; Neh 3:1, 20), but in all of these passages the title is translated in the LXX by Grk. ho hierus ho megas, 'the great priest.'
The office of high priest was established by God to be a descendant of Aaron (Ex 27:21; 30:30). The high priest was the chief executive officer over all the priests. Only he could enter the holy of holies on Yom Kippur to offer an atoning sacrifice for the nation and complete the other sacrificial requirements specified for that day (Lev 16). The high priest also shared with the priests the duties of conducting the regular meal offering (Lev 6:14-15), caring for the lamp that burned continually (Ex 27:21) and arranging the showbread (Ex 25:30). More significantly the high priest carried the breastplate with the names of the tribes inscribed and acted as mediator between Israel and God (Ex 28:29). He alone could consult the Urim and Thummim before God, and according to his decision Israel must obey (Num 27:21).
The high priest at the time of the persecution was Joseph Caiaphas, who was removed from his office in AD 36 by the governor of Syria. Caiaphas is remembered as the one who had advised the Judean authorities "it is advantageous for one man to die on behalf of the people" (John 11:50; 18:14). Caiaphas conducted the second trial of Yeshua after his arrest (Mark 14:69-70; John 18:24). At this time Ananias, son of Nebedaius was high priest. He was probably part of the Temple hierarchy at the time of the persecution so he would have known how it began.
and: Grk. kai. the whole: Grk. pas, adj. See verse 3 above. council of elders: Grk. presbuterion, a body or council of elders. The term does not imply a certain number of members. The term occurs only three times in the Besekh, including being used for a team of elders acting as overseers of a Messianic congregation (1Tim 4:14). In Luke 22:66 the term is defined as a group composed of chief priests and scribes, a reference probably to the Small Sanhedrin (Court of Twenty-three) that convened at the Temple. Paul resorted to seeking permission from the same group that held the second trial of Yeshua.
can bear witness: Grk. martureō, pres., to attest or testify to a fact or truth. about me: Grk. egō, sing. pronoun of the first person. from: Grk. para, prep. whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. also: Grk. kai. having received: Grk. dechomai, aor. mid. part., to receive, frequently with the connotation of enthusiastic acceptance. letters: pl. of Grk. epistolē, written correspondence; letter, dispatch, epistle. In the LXX epistolē renders three Hebrew words: Heb. sepher (SH-5612; 2Kgs 20:12), Heb. iggereth (SH-107; 2Chr 30:1) and Heb. kathab (SH-3789; Ezra 4:6) (DNTT 1:246). These terms are used for a wide range of written communications. The narrative of Acts 9:2 only mentions letters from the high priest. The reason for multiple letters is not explained, but they did function as warrants for arrest.
to the brothers: pl. of Grk. adelphos. See verse 1 above. The plural noun could refer to synagogue leaders that would be recipients of the letters. I was journeying: Grk. poreuomai (from poros, "passageway"), impf. mid. may mean (1) to move from one area to another; go, journey, make one's way, transport, travel; or (2) in an ethical sense, to conduct oneself, live, walk. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX poreuomai renders mainly Heb. halak (SH-1980), to go, come, walk, first occurring in Genesis 3:14 (DNTT 3:946). The verb often has the literal sense of going, journeying or traveling (e.g., Gen 12:4). In contrast to the LXX usage poreuomai in the Besekh seldom mentions the physical act of walking.
Two major highways could be taken for Paul's destination. First, the Via Maris ran from Mesopotamia in the east through Damascus and the Jezreel Valley to the Plain of Sharon and along the Mediterranean coast, then south to Egypt. Second, the King's Highway ran from Damascus south through Ashtaroth, the Decapolis, and Nabatea to Elath on the Red Sea and to Arabia. See the road map here. Leaving from Jerusalem Paul would have taken the King's Highway, an appropriate setting for him to meet the King of the Jews (John 19:19), the King of Israel (John 1:49) and King of Kings (1Tim 6:15).
to: Grk. eis, prep. Damascus: Grk. Damaskos, a transliteration of Heb. Dammaseq, a very ancient city located in a fertile plain northeast of Mt. Hermon, about 140 miles northeast of Jerusalem and about 60 miles east of Sidon, the Mediterranean port city. The city is mentioned 15 times in the Besekh, 13 of which are in Acts. The city is first mentioned in Genesis 14:15 in the context of Abraham's campaign against the five kings that attacked Sodom. Its geographical location enabled Damascus to become a dominant trading and transportation center. Its major exports included a patterned cloth called "damask" (Ezek 27:18). The city owed its prosperity to two rivers, the Abana and the Pharpar (2Kgs 5:12). Because of its strategic location the city was dominated by all the major empires throughout its history.
In 110 BC Damascus gained a semi-independent status from the Seleucid Empire by being included in the Decapolis, a group of ten autonomous city-states. In 85 BC Damascus became part of the Nabataean Kingdom, an Arabian political state that incorporated lands east of the Decapolis and Perea and south of Idumea and stretched as far south as the Red Sea. In 64 BC Damascus was annexed by the Romans under Pompey. Direct Roman rule continued until about AD 33 when oversight was ceded to King Aretas IV who ruled the Nabataean Kingdom from Petra. At the accession of Nero in 54 Damascus again became a Roman city. See the map and history of Damascus here.
to bring: Grk. agō, fut. part. even: Grk. kai. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. being: Grk. eimi, pl. pres. part. See verse x above. there: Grk. ekeise, adv. of place, there, at that place. to: Grk. eis. Jerusalem: Grk. Hierousalēm, a transliteration of Heb. Yerushalaim ("the dwelling of peace"). The city is situated some 2500 feet above sea level and eighteen miles west of the northern end of the Dead Sea, is renowned as the capital of all Israel. Being the center of Jewish worship Jerusalem represented all that was dear to the faithful Jew. Jerusalem is the city God favors above all other cities of the earth and the focus of His covenantal faithfulness.
in order that: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed, in order that, so that, that. they might be punished: Grk. timōreō, aor. pass. subj., 3p-pl., exact reciprocity for wrongdoing, punish or avenge. Paul's intention was probably to bring the accused before the Court of Twenty-Three (also called the Small Sanhedrin), which handled civil, religious and criminal cases, including capital cases requiring the death penalty. Two Courts of Twenty-Three convened in the Jerusalem Temple, one at the entrance to the Temple mount and one at the entrance to the Court of the Israelites (Sanh. 10:4; 88b).
Encounter with Yeshua, 22:6-11
6 "But it happened in my journeying and approaching Damascus about noon, suddenly a great light flashed from heaven around me,
In this section Paul repeats substantially the narrative of Acts 9:3-8. But: Grk. de, conj. it happened: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid., to become, which may be expressed in one of three ways: (1) come into being by birth or natural process; be born or produced; (2) to be made or performed by a person; or (3) equivalent to come to pass or happen, used of historical events or something happening to someone. The third meaning applies here. In the LXX ginomai translates Heb. hayah (SH-1961; BDB 224), to fall out, come to pass, become, be (first in Gen 1:3).
The Greek construction egéneto dè is a peculiar characteristic of Luke's writing style, appearing in the Besekh only in his writings, 17 times in his narrative of Yeshua and 20 times in Acts. The phrase may be considered a Hebraism because it imitates the frequent use of Heb. v'hayah, "and it came to pass" in the historical narratives of the Tanakh (185 times; first in Gen 4:8). The phrase is used to signal a change in the narrative and often introduces some significant action by individuals in the narrative.
in my: Grk. egō, sing. pronoun of the first person. journeying: Grk. poreuomai, pres. part. See the previous verse. and: Grk. kai, conj. approaching: Grk. engizō, pres. part., come or draw near, approach. The verb indicates close proximity to the city. Damascus: See the previous verse. about: Grk. peri, prep with an orientational aspect relating to being near or having to do with something; in behalf of, about, concerning. noon: Grk. mesēmbria is used (1) of time, the noon hour when the sun reaches its zenith; and (2) of place, the direction of south. The first usage is intended here. In the LXX mesēmbria occurs 25 times and is only used in reference to midday (e.g., Gen 18:1; 43:16, 25; Deut 28:29). The mention of "noon" is an added detail.
suddenly: Grk. exaiphnēs, adv., of a sudden, suddenly, unexpectedly. a great: Grk. hikanos, adj., a quality or extent that is quite enough. The adjective is used here of brightness. The mention of "great" is an added detail. Paul explains the degree of brightness in Acts 26:13. light: Grk. phōs, that which serves as a revealing or disclosing medium; light. The light represented Yeshua who is the light of the world (John 8:12). flashed: Grk. periastraptō, aor., engage in shining, to flash around, shine about. from: Grk. ek, prep. used to denote exit or separation from something with which there has been a close association, lit. "out of, from within" (Thayer). The prep. is used here to indicate point of origin.
heaven: Grk. ouranos is used in Scripture to refer to three different cosmological locations (Ps 148:1-4): (1) the atmosphere above the ground; (2) interstellar space; (3) the transcendent dwelling-place of God. In the LXX ouranos translates the Heb. plural noun shamayim (SH-8064, lit. "the heavens”) with the same range of meaning (DNTT 2:191). A few versions opt for the first location with "sky" (GNB, NABRE, NEB, VOICE, WE, WEB), but Luke intends that while the light was locally experienced, it originated from God's throne. around: Grk. peri. me: Grk. egō. Paul means that he was in the midst of the beam of light, which shone only on him.
7 also I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, 'Sha'ul, Sha'ul, why are you persecuting Me?'
also: Grk. te, conj. I fell: Grk. piptō, aor., to drop from a relatively high position to a lower position. The falling perhaps resulted from an instinctive protective posture against the intensity of the light. to: Grk. eis, prep. the ground: Grk. ho edaphos, 'bottom' then 'surface of the earth,' ground. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. Luke's narrative of Acts 9:4 uses gē, "earth." Paul will later report that all his companions also fell to the ground (Acts 26:14).
and: Grk. kai, conj. heard: Grk. akouō, aor. See verse 1 above. a voice: Grk. phōnē, can mean (1) an auditory impression, sound, noise defined in the context; (2) the faculty of producing speech and the sound of uttered words, voice; or (3) a system of communication, language (1Cor 14:10; 2Pet 2:16). The second meaning applies here. The word often is used in the Besekh of articulated sound from a human mouth. In the LXX phōnē generally renders Heb. qôl (sound, voice, BDB 876), the first usage of which is God's voice (Gen 3:8), and second the human voice (Gen 3:17), and these usages occur frequently in the Tanakh with various kinds of expression (DNTT 3:113).
saying: Grk. legō, pres. part., to make a statement or utterance, whether mentally, orally or in writing, often used to introduce quoted material. The focus of the verb may be declarative, interrogative or imperative; declare, say. In the LXX legō renders Heb. amar (SH-559), to utter, say, show, command or think. to me: Grk. egō, sing. pronoun of the first person. Sha'ul: Grk. Saoul, voc., which transliterates Heb. Sha'ul (SH-7586). The Greek has no letter with a "sh" sound. Paul recounts that the voice addressed him by his Hebrew name. This Greek spelling of the Hebrew name appears throughout the LXX, including the Apocrypha (1Macc 4:30), for four different men who bear the name Saul, most notably the king who preceded David.
Sha'ul: Grk. Saoul, voc. The name Saoul occurs nine times in the Besekh, all in Acts, eight of which occur in direct address to the apostle. Bruce assumes Yeshua spoke to Saul in Aramaic, even though Sha'ul is a Hebrew name and Paul later plainly declared that Yeshua spoke to him in Hebrew (Acts 26:14). Gill says the name is doubled to denote vehemence and affection. The double use of a person's name in direct address occurs five other times in Scripture, all spoken by God or Yeshua: "Abraham, Abraham" (Gen 22:11); "Jacob, Jacob" (Gen 46:2); "Moses, Moses" (Ex 3:4); "Martha, Martha" (Luke 10:41); and "Simon, Simon" (Luke 22:31). God called Samuel's name three times in one evening (1Sam 3:4-8). On each of these occasions the address was followed by a significant revelation.
why: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. are you persecuting: Grk. diōkō, pres. See verse 4 above. Me: Grk. egō. Yeshua already knows the answer to the question. The question is typical of probing questions asked by ADONAI to Bible characters for self-examination: (1) "Where?" (Gen 3:9; 4:9; 16:8; 18:9); "Who?" (Gen 3:11); "What?" (Gen 3:13; 4:10; 21:17); "Why?" (Gen 4:6; 18:13; 32:29). Yeshua is so identified with his disciples that persecution of them represented an attack on their Lord.
8 And I answered, 'Who are You, Lord?' And He said to me, 'I AM Yeshua the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.'
And: Grk. de, conj. I: Grk. egō. answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor., to answer or reply to someone, whether to a question, request, exhortation, command, etc. In the LXX apokrinomai renders Heb. anah (SH-6030), to answer or respond to something said in conversation (Gen 18:27); to respond to an occasion and speak in view of circumstances (Dan 2:15) or to respond as a witness in a legal proceeding (1Sam 12:3) (BDB 772). Who: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. See the previous verse. are You: Grk. eimi, pres., 2p-sing. See verse 3 above. Even though Paul apparently knew Yeshua or knew of him before his crucifixion (2Cor 5:16), there was no immediate recognition of his voice.
Lord: Grk. kurios, voc., may mean either (1) one in control through possession, and therefore owner or master; or (2) one esteemed for authority or high status, thus lord or master. In the LXX kurios primarily translates the sacred name YHVH. Kurios also occurs a number of times to identify men of higher rank to whom respect is owed (DNTT 2:511). Kurios is the principal title by which disciples and members of the public addressed Yeshua during his earthly ministry. Kurios can also be used as a respectful title and some versions thus have "sir" (CJB, DLNT, GW, TLB, NOG, NABRE). However, Paul likely meant "Lord" in recognition of deity since he responded to a bat qol, "a voice out of heaven."
And: Grk. te, conj. He said: Grk. legō, aor. See the previous verse. to: Grk. pros, prep. me: Grk. egō. I: Grk. egō. AM: Grk. eimi, pres. The expression occurs 47 times in the Besekh, 34 times on the lips of Yeshua, often as a way of identifying himself to his disciples and others. The use of egō eimi suggests that Yeshua had a firm grasp of his own identity. In the LXX egō eimi is used to translate the personal pronoun ani (SH-589) and is predominately spoken by the God of Israel in reference to Himself. Indeed the God of Israel announces Himself with Heb. ani YHVH, "I am YHVH," 48 times (e.g., Ex 7:5; Lev 11:44; Deut 5:6; Isa 45:8; Jer 24:7; Ezek 7:9). The present tense of "I am" asserts that Yeshua's identity does not change (Heb 13:8). Luke's narrative has "I am the One" (Acts 9:5), a substitute for YHVH.
Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("Jesus" in Christian Bibles). Using his Israelite name is another element that points to the conversation being held in Hebrew. Yeshua is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y’hoshua ("Joshua"), which means "YHVH is salvation" (BDB 221). For more information on the meaning our Lord's name see my web article Who is Yeshua?
the Nazarene: Grk. ho Nazōraios, lit. "the Nazarene" and defined in lexicons as an inhabitant of Natzeret (Nazareth), the city where Yeshua spent his growing up years (Luke 2:39-40, 51). The nominative case with the definite article indicates a title of distinction (Gloag). Stern notes that in the Talmud Yeshua is referred to as Yeshu HaNotzri, "Jesus the Nazarene" (Berachot 17b; Sotah 47a) (15). The title is first introduced in Matthew 2:23 where it is referred to as having fulfilled what was spoken by the prophets. See my comment there. The title "the Nazarene" is singularly identified with Yeshua 11 more times after its introduction (Matt 26:71; Luke 18:37; John 18:5, 7; 19:19; Acts 2:22; 3:6; 4:10; 6:14; 26:9). Most versions translate the noun as "of Nazareth" even though the Greek text does not have Natzeret. The TLV uses the Hebrew form of the title ha-Natzrati.
While the Bible does identify persons by place of origin to distinguish them from other persons with the same name, ho Nazōraios has another significance. The title is generally thought to be based on the common low opinion of Nazareth (John 1:46), but its first context (Matt 2:13-23) revealed Yeshua as one "hated without cause" (John 15:25), first by Herod the Great. Thus, the title presents Yeshua as the despised servant of the Lord, which fulfilled various prophecies that the Messiah would be reviled and rejected (e.g., Ps 22:11-18; 69:4, 8-9; 118:22; Isa 53:2-3, 11-12; 63:3-5). Yeshua was even rejected by the citizens of Nazareth (Luke 4:28-29). The declaration of "I AM" (present tense) combined with the title Nazōraios introduces a word play with the description of Paul's adversarial actions.
whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. you: Grk. su, sing. pronoun of the second person. are persecuting: Grk. diōkō, pres. See verse 4 above. The last phrase adds immense irony. Paul instigated the persecution of disciples because he had rejected Yeshua as the Messiah. Paul failed to recognize that his malice was directed against the one person Israelites were looking for to sit on David's throne.
9 And those being with me indeed beheld the light, but did not hear the voice of the One speaking to me.
And: Grk. de, conj. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a relative pronoun. being: Grk. eimi, pres. part. See verse 3 above. with: Grk. sún, prep. used to denote association or connection, in this case the former. me: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. indeed: Grk. mén, conj., a particle of affirmation; indeed, verily, truly. beheld: Grk. theaomai, aor., to look upon with special interest; see, look at, behold, take notice of. the light: Grk. phōs. See verse 6 above. Paul's companions were probably stunned at the phenomenon of a beam of light coming out of the sky and encompassing Paul. The KJV and NKJV add "and were afraid" after the verb "beheld," but the added text is not found in the earliest MSS (GNT 506).
but: Grk. de. did not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in an unqualified denial or negation; not. hear: Grk. akouō, aor, 3p-pl. See verse 1 above. the voice: Grk. phōnē. See verse 7 above. of the One: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. speaking: Grk. laleō, pres. part., to make an oral statement and to exercise the faculty of speech; proclaim, report, say, speak, talk about. to me: Grk. egō. Paul's statement agrees with Luke's narrative that the companions heard only Paul's side of the conversation (Acts 9:7).
10 And I said, 'What shall I do, Lord?' And the Lord said to me, 'Arise, go to Damascus, and there you will be told concerning all things that have been appointed you to do.'
And: Grk. de, conj. I said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 7 above. What: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. See verse 7 above. shall I do: Grk. poieō, aor. subj., a verb of physical action, which may mean (1) to produce something material or bring something into existence; or (2) to express by deeds the feelings and thoughts of the mind; act, do, perform (Thayer). The second meaning applies here. In the LXX poieō renders chiefly Heb. asah (SH-6213), accomplish, do, make, work (first in Gen 1:7), and used of a wide range of human and divine activity. Lord: Grk. kurios, voc. See verse 8 above. Paul's continued use of the title "Lord" strongly suggests that Paul was aware of conversing with one with heavenly authority, none other than ADONAI the God of Israel.
And: Grk. de. the Lord: Grk. ho kurios. said: Grk. legō, aor. to: Grk. pros, prep. me: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. Arise: Grk. anistēmi, aor. part., to cause to rise up, usually in a physical sense from a kneeling, prone or sitting position. The verb also has an important use in the Besekh meaning to be resurrected (Acts 2:32; 13:34). In the LXX anistēmi translates Heb. qum (SH-6965), to arise, stand up, stand, first in Genesis 4:8. The verb occurs in Acts 9:6 in the imperative mood, so the participle is intended here as an imperative, a peculiarity in Koine Greek. Thus many versions translate the verb with the English slang command "get up." Given the verb's use to mean "resurrect," the participle, a verbal adjective, also hints at Paul's spiritual resurrection.
go: Grk. poreuomai, aor. mid. imp. See verse 5 above. to: Grk. eis, prep. Damascus: See verse 5 above. Paul had been traveling under the authority of the high priest in Jerusalem, but now he is to proceed under the authority of the high priest in heaven. and there: Grk. kakei, conj., a combination of kai, 'and,' with ekei, 'in that place, there;' serving as a simple connective. you: Grk. su, second person pronoun. will be told: Grk. laleō, fut. pass. See the previous verse. concerning: Grk. peri, prep. all things: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 3 above. The revelation of Paul's future would have several significant elements.
that: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 4 above. have been appointed: Grk. tassō, perf. pass., to arrange so as to be in order. Originating in the military sphere the verb may indicate (1) put in an arranged order; (2) devote to service; or (3) assign something to someone. The third meaning applies here. Luke's narrative in Acts 9 has "what is necessary." you: Grk. su. to do: Grk. poieō, aor. inf. The verbal clause hints at a predestined plan. God knew the future for Paul, but this was not the moment to reveal it.
11 But since I could not see from the glory of that light, I came into Damascus led by hand by those being with me.
But: Grk. de, conj. since: Grk. hōs, adv. I could not: Grk. ou, adv. see: Grk. emblepō, impf., to turn one's eyes upon, to look at something, usually with the suggestion of intensity. With the negative particle the phrase means that Paul tried to focus his eyes, but could not make out anything. from: Grk. apo, prep. used generally as a marker of separation, here denoting cause for the lack of sight. the glory: Grk. doxa has four categories of meaning: (1) splendor or radiance in the sense of brightness, (2) magnificence in the sense of what catches the eye, (3) fame, renown, honor or approval, and (4) glorious as in the angelic beings and majesties. The first meaning is intended here, but the fourth meaning is also implied.
In the LXX doxa translates Heb. kabod (pronounced "kah-vohd"), which refers to the luminous manifestation of God's person, his glorious revelation of Himself. Characteristically, kabod is linked with verbs of seeing and appearing and stresses the impact that the manifestation of a person or God makes on others. In the apostolic writings doxa is a continuation of the underlying Hebrew concept (DNTT 2:45). of that: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun. light: Grk. phōs. See verse 6 above. Yeshua is the light of the world (John 1:4, 9; 8:12; 9:5). Paul's blindness was not caused by looking at the sun, but from experiencing heavenly light.
I came: Grk. erchomai, aor., 'to come or arrive' with focus on a position from which action or movement takes place. into: Grk. eis, prep. Damascus: See verse 5 above. led by hand: Grk. cheiragōgeō, pres. pass. part., to lead or take by the hand. by: Grk. hupo, prep., properly, "under," often meaning "under authority" of someone (HELPS), and used here to indicate the efficient cause. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. being with: Grk. suneimi, pres. part., be together with, come together with. me: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. Since Paul was struck with blindness his companions took charge of his welfare, led him into the city and found him a place of lodging.
Paul's meeting with Ananias 22:12-16
12 "Now a certain Ananias, a devout man according to the Torah, being well spoken of by all the traditional Jews dwelling there,
In this section Paul relates his side of the story found in Acts 9:10-18.
Now: Grk. de, conj. a certain: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun; a certain one, someone, anyone, anything. This pronoun is often used to distinguish someone in a class or in contrast to others. Ananias: Grk. Hananias, a transliteration of Heb. Chananyah ("Yah is gracious"). The name Ananias appears in the Besekh for three different Jewish men (Acts 5:1; 23:2). The name, spelled as Hananiah, appears in the Tanakh for fourteen different men (Barker 128f).
Hippolytus (170-236) and Dorotheus (255-362) include Ananias in their lists of the seventy apostles whom Yeshua chose and sent on a mission in Luke 10:1. Ananias also appears in the list repeated in the 13th century work The Book of the Bee, Chap. XLIX, by Solomon, Nestorian bishop of Basra (edited by Ernest A. Wallace Budge, 1886). As for the mission of the seventy Yeshua would not have chosen any Gentiles for this early mission, since the charge to the seventy was patterned after the mission of the Twelve (Matt 10). The mission was expressly directed to the lost house of Israel (Matt 10:5-6) and the seventy were sent to cities in which Yeshua planned to minister (Luke 10:1).
It is noteworthy that Luke is the only one to mention the mission of the seventy in which he obviously participated. By virtue of this shared history Luke was personally acquainted with Ananias. Luke provides no information on how and when Ananias became a disciple. He may have heard Yeshua at a pilgrim festival and followed him for a time before returning to Damascus. It is obvious from the narrative that Ananias was not a refugee from the persecution in Jerusalem. Eventually Ananias was appointed as overseer of the Body of Messiah in Damascus.
a devout: Grk. eulabēs, adj., reverent or devout. The term describes the outward response someone gives to what they feel is truly worthy of respect (HELPS). man: Grk. anēr. See verse 1 above. according to: Grk. kata, prep. the Torah: Grk. ho nomos. See verse 3 above. The noun is used here of the written Torah. Ananias was a man who lived by God's covenantal expectations as well as the conservative traditions of the Pharisees. Thus Paul affirms that he was not introduced to the Messianic faith by an opponent of Judaism, but by a strict Jew (Gloag). being well spoken of: Grk. martureō, pres. pass. part. See verse 5 above. The verb is used here in the sense of giving honorable testimony or a good report about someone.
by: Grk. hupo, prep. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. the traditional Jews: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 3 above. dwelling there: Grk. katoikeō, pres. part., to make a specific locale or area of residence, thus to dwell, reside or live in. At this time about 10,000 Jews lived in Damascus (Gottheil). With that large population there would have been multiple synagogues. Paul's claim about Ananias might be regarded as hyperbole, but there is no reason not to regard the statement as a substantive fact. Ananias was well known throughout the Jewish quarter of the city.
13 having come to me, and having stood near he said to me, 'Brother Sha'ul, receive your sight!' And I the same time looked up at him.
having come: Grk. erchomai, aor. part. See verse 11 above. to: Grk. pros, prep. me: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. The narrative of how Ananias was sent to Paul by the Lord is found in Acts 9:10-17. and: Grk. kai, conj. having stood near: Grk. ephistēmi, aor. part., to come or stand near, whether in a non-threatening mode or a threatening mode, here the former. he said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 7 above. to me: Grk. egō. Brother: Grk. adelphos, voc. See verse 1 above. While Ananias meant "brother" in the sense of a fellow Israelite, he likely used the direct address recognizing a fellow disciple based on the Lord's revelation to him.
Sha'ul: Grk. Saoul. See verse 7 above. Ananias addressed his new-found brother by his Hebrew name, which implies the conversation took place in Hebrew. This is Luke's translation of that encounter. receive your sight: Grk. anablepō (from ana, "upwards," and blepō, "to see"), aor. imp., to be able to see after a period without sight; be able to see, look up, receive sight, recover sight. According to the narrative of Chapter Nine the Lord had given Paul a vision of Ananias coming and restoring his sight (9:12). Luke recorded, "And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes and he recovered sight" (9:18). The Lord had covered Paul's corneas with a flaky substance to shield them from the intensity of the light from heaven. Yet, Paul did not share that detail with the crowd.
And I: Grk. kagō, conj. formed from combining kai and egō and serves to link in parallel a personal affirmation by way of addition to or confirmation of a preceding statement. the same: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. See verse 2 above. time: Grk. ho hōra may mean (1) a short space of time, the twelfth part of a day; hour; (2) fig. for a period of time in the day; "the hour was already late;" or (3) fig. for a point of time as occasion for action or for an event; time. The third usage applies here. looked up: Grk. anablepō, aor. at: Grk. eis, prep. him: Grk. autos. Paul indicates that the healing was instantaneous and he looked up with recovered sight.
14 Then he said, 'The God of our fathers appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth.
Then: Grk. de, conj. he said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 7 above. The God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 1 above. of our: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. fathers: pl. of Grk. patēr is normally used of a male biological parent or ancestor, as well as frequently in reference to God. In the LXX patēr renders ab ("av"), which generally occurs in the human sense, but also of God as father in relation to Israel (Ex 4:22) (DNTT 1:616f). The use of "fathers" here, unlike Paul's use of the term in verse 1 above, refers to the patriarchs. The phrase "God of our/your fathers" occurs numerous times in Scripture to emphasize the covenantal bond with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Ex 3:15; Deut 1:11, 21; 6:3; 12:1; 26:7; 27:3; Josh 18:3; 1Chr 12:17; 2Chr 20:6; Ezra 7:27; 8:28; 10:11; Acts 3:13; 5:30; 7:32; 24:14).
appointed: Grk. procheirizō, aor. mid., select for oneself for a special role or task, appoint. The verb occurs only three times in the Besekh, all in Acts (also Acts 3:20; 26:16). you: Grk. su, second person pronoun. to know: Grk. ginōskō, aor. inf., to know, including (1) to be in receipt of information; (2) form a judgment or draw a conclusion; or (3) have a personal relationship involving recognition of another's identity or value. The first meaning applies there. In the LXX ginōskō renders Heb. yada, which has a similar wide range of meaning, but in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, whether of knowing persons or knowing by experience, as well as knowing by learning from a teacher (DNTT 2:395).
His: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. will: Grk. ho thelēma may mean (1) that which is to be carried out according to wish or purpose, will; or (2) the act of willing, will or desire. The first meaning applies here. God's will for Paul involved his appointment as an apostle and commission to proclaim the good news of the Messiah. and: Grk. kai, conj. to see: Grk. horaō, aor. inf., to perceive physically with the eye, or in a fig. sense to experience something or to have extraordinary mental or inward perception. The verb denotes a personal experience. the Righteous One: Grk. ho dikaios, adj., being in accord with God's standards expressed in Torah for acceptable behavior; upright or just, such as. In the LXX dikaios renders Heb. tsaddiq (SH-6682), 'just or righteous' (BDB 843).
In Scripture a just man is one who is blameless or innocent of wrongdoing, one who follows the ethical demands of Torah. The use of the adjective likely reflects the personal recollection of Ananias. Both Peter (Acts 3:14) and Stephen (Acts 7:52) referred to Yeshua as "the Righteous One." By his life and words Yeshua modeled how to live by Torah. During his life on earth Yeshua was recognized by others as being a righteous man (Matt 27:19; Luke 20:21; 23:41, 47). Even demons addressed him as the "Holy One of God" (Luke 4:34). In his letters Paul became an advocate of Yeshua's sinless faithfulness as the basis for our salvation (Rom 3:22, 26; 2Cor 5:21; Gal 2:16, 20; 3:22; Eph 3:12; Php 3:9; Heb 4:15; 7:26).
and: Grk. kai. to hear: Grk. akouō, aor. inf. See verse 1 above. an utterance: Grk. phōnē. See verse 7 above. from: Grk. ek, prep. See verse 6 above. His: Grk. autos. mouth: Grk. ho stoma, the bodily organ used for speaking, tasting, eating and drinking; mouth. To see and hear from Yeshua as a result of the divine appointment on the King's Highway was a special privilege. This last clause might also allude to the verbal revelation that Yeshua gave to Ananias concerning Paul's future mission, which the next verse details.
15 because you will be a witness for Him to all people of what you have seen and heard.
because: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 2 above. The conjunction is used here to indicate causality with an inferential aspect. you will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid. See verse 3 above. a witness: Grk. martus, one who attests the fact or truth of something, often used in a legal context. In the LXX martus translates Heb. ed (SH-5707), a witness, first in Gen 31:47. In the Tanakh a witness might be a reliable observer of an event or someone who can provide factual evidence for legal purposes. Ellicott notes that this mission, identical with that which had been assigned to the Twelve (Acts 1:8), virtually placed the persecutor on a level with them, and was equivalent to his appointment as an Apostle.
for Him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Yeshua. to: Grk. pros, prep. See verse 1 above. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 3 above. people: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos, human being, man or mankind. In the LXX anthrōpos renders three Hebrew words: (1) adam (Gen 1:26-27); (2) ish (Gen 2:23-24) and (3) enosh (Ps 8:4-5), which are generally used for an adult male, husband, a human in contrast to animals or mankind (DNTT 2:564). Some versions simplify the audience as "everyone" (CEB, CEV, CJB, ESV, GW, GNB, MSG, NLT), but the plural form could easily stand for "people groups." Paul's report of what Ananias said summarizes what Yeshua told Ananias, "this one is to me a vessel of choice to bear my name before nations, and both kings and sons of Israel" (9:15).
Some commentators holding to the belief that Paul was appointed strictly as an apostle to the Gentiles, make a point of saying he purposely avoided using the word Gentiles at this point so as to avoid offense. However, it is clear from what Yeshua told Ananias and what Ananias told Paul that Paul's commission was not restricted to proclaiming the good news only to Gentiles. For Paul the message of the Messiah was always for the Jew first (Rom 1:16) and the record of Paul's Diaspora ministry testifies to that priority.
of what: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. you have seen: Grk. horaō, perf. See the previous verse. and: Grk. kai, conj. heard: Grk. akouō, aor. See verse 1 above. Paul had seen and heard the resurrected Yeshua, which qualified him to become an apostle (Acts 9:27; 1Cor 9:1; 15:5-9). Paul's later comment that he did not receive his commission from a man (Gal 1:12) was not intended to discount the role of Ananias who acted as Yeshua's appointed prophet. Rather, Paul's mission to testify of the Messiah was grounded in a personal encounter and divine revelation.
16 And now why delay? Having arisen, immerse yourself, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.'
And: Grk. kai, conj. now: Grk. nun, adv. of time in the present, 'now' or more emphatically 'right now.' why: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. See verse 7 above. delay: Grk. mellō, pres., a future oriented verb with a pending aspect, being in the offing, be about to. Combined with the question "why" the verb cautions against any delay or lingering to do God's will. Having arisen: Grk. anistēmi, aor. part. See verse 10 above. The verb alludes to standing up after being healed (Acts 9:18). immerse yourself: Grk. baptizō (from baptō, "immerse" or "plunge"), aor. mid. imp., 3p-sing., means to dip, soak, or immerse into a liquid. The verb baptizō does not refer to sprinkling or pouring. Christian versions translate the verb as "baptized" whereas Messianic Jewish versions render the verb as "immersed."
In the LXX baptizō occurs only once to render taval (SH-2881), to dip, immerse (2Kgs 5:14), in reference to the story of Naaman (DNTT 1:144). Jewish immersion was (and is) self-immersion by adults without assistance, as in the story of Naaman. Yeshua expected that those choosing to be identified with him would be immersed (Matt 28:19). The middle voice of the verb here anticipates Paul performing the action, contrary to the assumption of Christian commentators that Ananias laid hands on Paul to immerse him. The role of Ananias was to instruct Paul in the necessity of immersion and insure Paul went completely under the water.
The location of the immersion is not given, so it could have been one of the two local rivers or a mikveh at a synagogue. For more information on the practice of immersion in the apostolic era see Ron Moseley, The Jewish Background of Christian Baptism. and: Grk. kai. wash away: apolouō, aor. mid. imp., remove personal defilement, to wash off or away. The verb signifies a complete removal. your: Grk. su, second person pronoun. sins: pl. of Grk. hamartia, may refer to (1) a behavioral action, a misdeed that creates liability, every departure from the way of righteousness; (2) the result of sinning or the condition of being sinful; or (3) an invasive evil power. Hamartia is the dominant word for sin in the Besekh.
In the LXX hamartia translates a range of Hebrew words for guilt and sin, particularly Heb. chata (SH-2398), miss, go wrong, lapse, sin (Gen 20:6; 39:9) and avon (SH-5771), iniquity, guilt, punishment for iniquity (Gen 15:16). Throughout Scripture sin as a behavior is a violation of God's written commandments (Rom 3:20; 5:13; 7:7). The degree of intentionality is not a factor in defining sinful behavior, only whether the express requirements or prohibitions of Torah commandments have been violated. In Scripture hamartia does not include the imperfections that separate humanity from divinity, "falling short of the glory" (Rom 3:23). In the immediate context "sins" may imply the particular acts of injustice that Paul committed against disciples of Yeshua.
The idiomatic description of "washing away sins" does not imply baptismal regeneration as if immersing could physically remove sins from the soul. Pilate could not expiate his guilt by washing his hands (Matt 27:24). Rather, the word picture conveys the idea that obeying Yeshua instruction concerning immersion joined with repentance and trust in God's mercy, brought with it the assurance of real forgiveness (Ellicott). Thus, Paul would continually marvel at the abundant grace of God that forgave all his offenses against the Body of Messiah.
calling on: Grk. epikaleō, aor. mid. part., (derived from epi, 'upon' and kaleō, 'to call'), may mean (1) to give a name or nickname to; call, name; or (2) call upon for help, aid or intercession; invoke, appeal to, call upon for oneself. The second meaning applies here. His: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Yeshua. name: Grk. ho onoma is used in its central sense of identifying someone with a proper name. In Hebrew literature "name" also carries the extended sense of authority, qualities, powers, attributes or reputation. Paul affirmed this truth in his assertion that salvation is gained by calling on the name of the Lord (Rom 10:13; cf. Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21).
Gloag notes that the entreaty to call on the name of Yeshua is one of those incidental proofs of the divinity of Yeshua that continually occur in Luke's narrative. The instruction of Ananias in this verse is not found in the narrative of Chapter Nine, but Luke simply reports the outcome of Ananias' visit that Paul did complete immersion (Acts 9:18).
Paul's Revelation, 22:17-21
17 "Then it happened to me, having returned to Jerusalem and my praying in the temple, I came to be in a trance,
Then: Grk. de, conj. it happened: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. See verse 6 above. to me: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. having returned: Grk. hupostrephō, aor. part., to go back to a position, to return or turn back. to: Grk. eis, prep. Jerusalem: See verse 5 above. Luke records three prior occasions when Paul returned to Jerusalem (Acts 9:26; 11:30; 15:2). Considering the next verse the situation of Acts 9 is most likely. Paul passes over his three-year ministry in Damascus (Acts 9:20-25) and Arabia (Gal 1:15-17) and relates his return to Jerusalem in AD 35. Luke records that upon Paul's arrival he attempted to make acquaintance with the apostles and Barnabas mediated, offering a testimony of Paul's bold witness in Damascus.
"26 having arrived in Jerusalem, he was trying to join the disciples; but all were fearing him, not believing that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas, having taken hold, brought him to the apostles and described to them how he saw the Lord on the road, and that he spoke to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Yeshua. 28 And he was with them, coming in and going out in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord." (BR)
and: Grk. kai, conj. my: Grk. egō. praying: Grk. proseuchomai, pres. mid. part., to petition deity for some personal desire. The verb refers to petitioning God for His help or answer with respect to an urgent need. in: Grk. en, prep. the temple: Grk. ho hieron, sanctuary or temple, here referring to the entire 35-acre complex with its courts, rooms, and chambers, in contrast to naios, the holy place where priests performed their sacrifices. For a description of the construction and characteristics of the temple see my comment on Mark 11:11.
Praying and worshiping in the temple was a regular activity of Messianic Jews while it stood (Acts 1:14; 2:42, 46; 3:1; 6:4; 21:26; cf. Rom 9:4). Although Paul could have prayed anywhere the mention of seeking God in the temple is purposeful, demonstrating that he had been not a blasphemer and defiler of the Temple, but a devout worshipper in it (Ellicott). Praying in the temple is another evidence that Paul did not surrender Jewish practices after accepting Yeshua as Messiah and Savior (Stern). The reason for his intercession in the temple is hinted at in the next verse.
I: Grk. egō. came to be: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. inf. in: Grk. en. a trance: Grk. ekstasis, from the verb existēmi, may mean (1) the state of being in utter amazement, shock and wonder; or (2) a throwing of the mind out of its normal state into a heightened consciousness. The second meaning applies here. The great majority Bible versions translate the noun with "trance." In the LXX ekstasis occurs 24 times and translates ten different Hebrew words (ABP), representing a range of human experience and emotion The noun is never used in the specific sense of ecstasy (DNTT 1:527). Noteworthy is that ekstasis occurs in Genesis 15:12 for a deep sleep God induced on Abraham in which he was given a revelation of the future sojourn of his descendants among Gentiles.
The noun ekstasis occurs two other times in Acts, both in reference to Peter's experience of receiving a revelation that the good news of the Messiah was intended also for the Gentiles (Acts 10:10; 11:5). While Paul had multiple visions and revelations in his lifetime (2Cor 12:1), this was not the time that he was "caught up to the third heaven" (2Cor 12:2), since that event occurred about 40/41, fourteen years before he wrote the letter titled "2Corinthians."
18 and I saw Him saying to me, 'Make haste and go out with speed from Jerusalem, because they will not accept your testimony about Me.'
and: Grk. kai, conj. I saw: Grk. horaō, aor. inf. See verse 14 above. Him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Yeshua. saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 7 above. to me: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. Make haste: Grk. speudō, aor. imp., may mean (1) proceed with haste, of persons in rapid movement; or (2) cause to arrive earlier; hurry up. The first meaning applies here. and: Grk. kai. go out: Grk. exerchomai, aor. imp., to move away from a place or position, to go or come out. with: Grk. en, prep. speed: Grk. tachos, putting into effect with rapidity; quickly, at once, swiftness, speed, without delay. from: Grk. ek, prep. Jerusalem: See verse 5 above.
because: Grk. dioti, conj. that generally introduces a rationale or motive for the affirmation that precedes, "on the very account that, because, inasmuch as." they will not: Grk. ou, adv. accept: Grk. paradechomai, fut. mid., 3p-pl., receive with a positive attitude; accept, acknowledge, receive. your: Grk. su, second person pronoun. testimony: Grk. marturia, attestation of a fact or truth; testimony or witness, especially in a legal context. about: Grk. peri, prep. Me: Grk. egō. Paul had been testifying boldly about Yeshua in Jerusalem and presenting the good news in synagogues of Hellenized Jews (Acts 9:28-29a). However, much to Paul's disappointment the Hellenized Jews had rejected his message of the Messiah. Thus, he went to the temple to seek direction from the Lord. Yeshua's urgent instruction to leave Jerusalem was given with the knowledge that the Hellenized Jews had formed a conspiracy to kill Paul (Acts 9:29b).
19 And I said, 'Lord, they know that I was imprisoning and beating in every one of the synagogues those believing upon You.
And I: Grk. kagō, conj. See verse 13 above. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 7 above. Paul recounts what he said to Yeshua in his visionary experience. Lord: Grk. kurios, voc. See verse 8 above. they: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun; the Hellenized Jewish adversaries. know: Grk. epistamai, pres. mid., may mean (1) grasp mentally, know, understand; or (2) acquire information about something, know of, know about. The second meaning applies here. that: Grk. hoti, conj. I: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. was: Grk. eimi, impf. mid. See verse 3 above. imprisoning: Grk. phulakizō, pres. part., to confine, imprison or deliver into custody. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. and: Grk kai. beating: Grk. derō, pres. part., mistreat or punish in a violent manner; beat, hit, flog, scourge, or strike.
in every one of: Grk. kata, prep., lit. "according to." See verse 3 above. The preposition is used here distributively, indicating a succession of things following one another. the synagogues: pl. of Grk. ho sunagōgē means a gathering-place or place of assembly. In the Besekh the term refers to the place at which Jews gathered for worship and learning. The term does not necessarily mean a manufactured structure as the word "church" can mean (cf. Acts 16:13). In the LXX sunagōgē is generally used to translate the Heb. words edah (SH-5712), congregation (Ex 12:3) and qahal (SH-6951), assembly, convocation, or congregation (Ex 16:3) (DNTT 1:292ff). The synagogue was the central institution of Jewish life where education, study, worship, celebration, and various other kinds of meetings took place.
those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. believing: Grk. pisteuō (derived from pistis, trust, faithfulness), pres. part., to have confidence in the reliability or trustworthiness of some thing or someone. In the Besekh the verb often has the sense of a personal trust in God's power and His nearness to help. In the LXX pisteuō renders Heb. aman (SH-539), to be reliable, to stand firm, trust, believe, be faithful, first used in Genesis 15:6 where it describes Abraham's response to God. upon: Grk. epi, prep. The preposition conveys trustful rest. You: Grk. su, second person pronoun.
According to Paul's remembrance he went to every synagogue in Jerusalem seeking disciples of Yeshua, which indirectly affirms that at the beginning of the Yeshua movement disciples remained in the synagogues as observant Jews. The Talmud says that at the time of the destruction of the second temple, there were 394 synagogues in Jerusalem (Ket. 105a). Some commentators interpret Paul's review of his past in this verse and next as an objection to leaving (Meyer, Nicoll, Poole, Stern). The Jews of Jerusalem ought to accept his message because they know how diligently he opposed the believers in the past.
On the other hand Paul did not say, "I don't want to leave." Paul never argued with God when given clear direction. Thus, Paul's statement here and in the next verse could be an assent to the Lord's direction and recognition of the reason to leave. Paul's response is incredulity that in spite of knowing his past and the dramatic change in his life yet the Hellenized Jews persisted in the stubbornness of unbelief.
20 And when the blood of Your witness Stephen was being shed, also I was standing by and approving, and watching over the garments of those killing him.'
Paul continues his recounting of his reply to Yeshua of what "they know." And: Grk. kai, conj. when: Grk. hote, temporal adv., when, at which time. the blood: Grk. ho haima, the fluid that circulates in the principal vascular system of human beings and vertebrate animals, blood. of Your: Grk. su, second person pronoun. witness: Grk. martus. See verse 15 above. Stephen: Grk. Stephanos, a personal name meaning, "crown." He is first mentioned in Acts 6:5 as one of the seven appointed deacons and described as a man full of faithfulness and the Holy Spirit. As a witness for Yeshua Stephen proclaimed the good news of the Messiah in the synagogues, a well as performed signs and wonders. Adversaries from the Synagogue of the Freedmen slandered him and instigated his seizure and trial before the temple ruling council.
was being shed: Grk. ekcheō, impf., cause to come out in a stream, pour out. The verb has a variety of literal applications, here of blood loss resulting from being stoned. also: Grk. kai. I was: Grk. eimi, impf. mid. See verse 3 above. Paul then identifies three actions he took. standing by: Grk. ephistēmi, perf. part. See verse 13 above. Paul admits he was present when the adversaries of Stephen rushed at him at the close of his defense speech and dragged him to a place of execution. The verb also indicates Paul did nothing to prevent the death of an innocent man. and: Grk. kai. approving: Grk. suneudokeō, pres. part., to join in approving, here used of endorsing someone's activity. In his fanatical zeal at that time Paul was in hearty agreement to punishing Stephen.
and: Grk. kai. watching over: Grk. phulassō, pres. part., may mean (1) serve as sentinel; guard, watch; (2) ensure that something remains intact; keep safe, preserve, watch; (3) 'be on guard against' or 'be on the alert against;' avoid (4) 'keep something from being violated;' keep, observe. The first meaning applies here. the garments: pl. of Grk. ho himation, a covering for the body, generally refers to clothing or apparel, but in this context it means an outer garment. In the LXX himation rendered the Heb. beged, meaning both the outer garment and the clothes as a whole (DNTT 1:316). In the Tanakh beged meant garment, clothing, raiment, or robe of any kind, regardless of quality (BDB 94). The cloaks were valuable items of property.
of those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a relative pronoun. killing: Grk. anaireō, pres. part., to take up, but it has three very different applications: (1) to take up for oneself, to claim; (2) to remove by causing death, kill; or (3) put something aside, abrogate, annul. The second application is intended here. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Stephen. The killing was accomplished by stoning (Acts 7:58). The outer cloaks were removed to making throwing stones easier. Since the cloak was a valuable piece of property, Paul accepted the duty of watching over the clothing when the stoning commenced.
Paul acknowledges that while he did not cast a stone he was nonetheless an accessory to Stephen's murder. Now he identifies with Stephen and like him purposes to be a faithful witness. The fact that Paul was willing to admit his great sin reflects his humility before God. Recounting to the present crowd his trance experience and the conversation with Yeshua might have been intended to impress the crowd with the strength of the testimony of one who had previously been an enemy of Yeshua.
21 And He said to me, 'Go! For I will send you far away into nations.'"
And: Grk. kai, conj. He said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 7 above. to: Grk. pros, prep. The use of the preposition emphasizes the personal face-to-face communication. me: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. Go: Grk. poreuomai, pres. mid. imp. See verse 5 above. For: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 2 above. The conjunction is used here to indicate causality with an inferential aspect. I will send: Grk. exapostellō, fut., send, which may focus on (1) moving persons from one place to another, send out/away/forth; or (2) dismissal, send away. The first usage is intended here. The verb is used in Acts 9:30 of the brothers taking Paul to Caesarea and sending him to Tarsus, where for some thirteen years he had the opportunity to proclaim the good news to Jews and Gentiles.
The complete mission statement points to ministry in the future beyond his years in Tarsus. you: Grk. su, second person pronoun. far away: Grk. makran, adv., at a distance, far off. The actual distance is in relation to Jerusalem. into: Grk. eis, prep. nations: Grk. ethnē, pl. of ethnos, humans belonging to a people group as defined by language and culture; nation, people. In the LXX ethnos generally renders Heb. goy (SH-1471; BDB 156; pl. goyim), community, nation or people, first in Genesis 10 to describe the list of seventy nations (DNTT 2:790). The plural goyim is generally used in the Tanakh for non-Hebrew peoples (Gen 18:18; 22:18; 26:4), but also for a community of nations that included Hebrew peoples (Gen 17:4-5; 35:11; 48:19).
The plural form ethnē, like goyim in the Tanakh, is generally used to mean non-Israelite peoples or Gentiles (e.g., Matt 6:32; Luke 12:30; Acts 4:25; 13:48; Rom 2:14; 1Cor 1:23; Gal 2:9; Rev 11:18; 14:8), but it is also used to include Israelite or Jewish people (Luke 23:2; Acts 24:2, 10; 28:19; 1Cor 10:18; Php 3:5). The great majority of Bible versions translate the plural noun here as "Gentiles," although a few have "nations" (DARBY, LITV, MPNT, NCV, YLT). The translation of "Gentiles" seems designed to give credence to the distorted interpretation of Galatians 2:7 that God appointed Paul to be an apostle only to the Gentiles.
However, "Gentiles" is a much too restrictive translation since Paul said his commission was to proclaim the good news to the "uncircumcised," which certainly included Hellenistic Jews. In addition, the actual ministry of Paul as recorded by Luke always involved proclaiming Yeshua first in the synagogues. Paul was given a broad mandate in terms of the people groups to whom he was to proclaim the good news (cf. Acts 9:15) and his ministry had no small measure of success with Jews.
Paul's Examination, 22:22-29
22 Now they were listening to him until this statement, and they raised their voice saying, "Away with such a kind from the earth, for it is not proper for him to live!"
Now: Grk. de, conj. they were listening: Grk. akouō, impf., 3p-pl. See verse 1 above. to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. until: Grk. achri, prep. See verse 4 above. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 3 above. statement: Grk. ho logos, vocalized expression, word, discourse, statement, message or speech. In the LXX logos stands principally for Heb. dabar, which has a range of meaning "speech, word, report, command, advice, counsel, thing, matter" (Gen 29:13; BDB 182) (DNTT 3:1087). The reference "this statement" is to the commission Yeshua gave to Paul in the previous verse. According to Pharisee standards it was unacceptable for a traditional Jewish man to keep company with or to approach an uncircumcised foreigner (Acts 10:28).
and: Grk. kai, conj. they raised: Grk. epairō, aor., 3p-pl., to lift up or raise up over. The verb could denote volume. The interruption made continuation of Paul's speech impossible. their: pl. of Grk. autos. voice: Grk. phōnē. See verse 7 above. The singular form points to a unified chant from the crowd. saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 7 above. Away with: Grk. airō, pres. imp., may mean (1) to raise up, lift; (2) to take upon oneself and carry what has been raised, to bear; or (3) to bear away what has been raised, carry off (Thayer). The third meaning is intended here with the sense of carry off to execution. such a kind: Grk. ho toioutos, demonstrative pronoun, of such a kind, such as this. The pronoun is intended as a slur against Paul, assuming that he is someone who mingles with uncircumcised people.
from: Grk. apo, prep. the earth: Grk. ho gē, can mean the ground, land as contrasted with the sea, and the earth in contrast to heaven. The last meaning is intended here. The LXX uses gē more than 2,000 times and translates the Heb. word erets (SH-776), first in Genesis 1:1 (DNTT 1:517). In the Tanakh erets designates either (a) the earth in a cosmological sense, or (b) "the land" in the sense of a specific territorial area, especially the Land of Israel (BDB 75). The phrase "from the earth" alludes to an idiomatic saying of depriving of life on the earth.
for: Grk. gar, conj., a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that; for." The conjunction has four uses: (1) explanatory, (2) expressive of astonishment, (3) causal and, (4) inferential. The fourth use is intended here. it is not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 9 above. proper: Grk. kathēkō, impf., be proper, fitting. The verb occurs only two times in the Besekh (also in Rom 1:28). for him: Grk. autos. to live: Grk. zaō, pres. inf., be in the state of being physically alive; living.
Commentators generally believe that Paul's mention of being sent to the nations is what triggered the outburst. In other words, someone being sent to uncircumcised pagans is not worthy to live. More likely is that in the minds of Paul's adversaries in the crowd they had listened long enough to someone they considered guilty of the slander they had spread about Paul (Acts 21:21, 28). Even the Torah required the death of anyone that deliberately disobeyed Torah commandments or blasphemed God (Lev 24:16; Num 15:30; Deut 13:5; 17:12).
Many versions translate the pronoun autos in the last clause as "he," as if it were nominative case and the subject of the clause. However, the pronoun is accusative case and when the accusative is used with the infinitive (zēn, which follows), it is not properly the subject of the infinitive, but an accusative of reference to describe the person connected with the action (DM 93). Some versions do recognize the accusative case of the pronoun and have "him" (HCSB, LEB, MPNT, MRINT, YLT).
23 Also they were shouting and shaking their garments and throwing dust into the air,
Also: Grk. te, conj. See verse 4 above. they: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The genitive case would be lit. "of them," denoting the entire crowd. Thus, the following participles do not mean 100% participation of the crowd, but in the crowd there were individuals engaged in the following actions. were shouting: Grk. kraugazō (from kraugē, shout, outcry), pl. pres. part., to utter a loud sound, cry (out), shout. The shouting was probably of the demand made in the previous verse.
and: Grk. kai conj. shaking: Grk. rhipteō, pl. pres. part., to throw as a gesture of protest. Mounce defines the verb as "frequent and repeated action, to toss repeatedly, toss up with violent gesture." Also, SECB defines the verb as "toss up." A few versions have "waving/waved" (AMPC, CEV, CJB, GNB, RSV, WE). Bruce says that "waving" or "shaking" seems to be the sense of the verb here. Chrysostom was the first to suggest this interpretation (Homilies on Acts, XLVIII.2). their garments: pl. of ho himation. See verse 20 above. Thayer suggests they removed their garments that they might be the better prepared to throw stones, except there were no stones available. Thus, they removed their cloaks in order to shake them in protest (cf. Neh 5:13; Acts 18:6).
and: Grk. kai. throwing: Grk. ballō, pl. pres. part., cause movement toward a position, which may be used of a vigorous action and be translated as "cast, throw or hurl," or of a more subdued action and be translated as "put, place, lay or bring" (BAG). The first usage is intended here. dust: Grk. koniortos, dust, a cloud of finely powdered earth. into: Grk. eis, prep. the air: Grk. ho aēr, the air, particularly the lower and denser air humans and animals breathe, as distinguished from the higher and rarer atmospheric region. Stern comments that dust was thrown not vaguely or ceremonially but purposefully and vigorously in Paul's direction. Dust was thrown only because there were no stones handy.
24 The commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks, having directed him to be examined with whips so that he might find out on account of what cause they were shouting against him in this manner.
The commander: Grk. ho chiliarchos, lit., "leader of a thousand," a Roman tribune that had command of a subdivision of a legion. The Roman officer was introduced in verse 31 of the previous chapter. We learn later in Acts that the name of the commander is Lysias (23:26; 24:7, 22) ordered: Grk. keleuō, aor., give an authoritative order; command, order. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; Paul. to be brought: Grk. eisagō, pres. pass. inf., cause to enter into an area; bring or lead in. into: Grk. eis, prep. the barracks: Grk. ho parembolē, a spatial or structural arrangement for a group of people engaged in military or related activity. The noun is used here of barracks in the Tower of Antonia that housed Roman soldiers.
having directed: Grk. legō, aor. part. See verse 7 above. The verb is used here with the meaning of command. him: Grk. autos. to be examined: Grk. anetazō, pres. pass. inf., subject to judicial inquiry, frequently with the aid of torture; examine, investigate. with whips: pl. of Grk. mastix, a device used for whipping and among Romans a whip of leathern thongs with pieces of metal sewn up in them. Most versions translate the noun as if it were a verb. The plurality of the noun probably intends multiple application of the whip, although two whips might be implied. so that: Grk. hina, prep. See verse 5 above. he might find out: Grk. epiginōskō, aor. subj., 'to know about,' here with the focus on acquisition of knowledge, find out.
on account of: Grk. dia, prep. used as a prefix to a statement, which may express (1) instrumentality; through, by means of; or (2) causality; on account of, because of. The second usage applies here. what: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. cause: Grk. aitia, the basis for something; reason, cause. they were shouting: Grk. epiphōneō, impf., to call out, to shout or shout out. against him: Grk. autos. in this manner: Grk. houtōs, adv. used to introduce the manner or way in which something has been done or to be done; thus, in this manner, way or fashion, so.
Stern comments that the commander, who had not understood Paul's message in Hebrew, was apparently still convinced Paul must be a dangerous criminal, and a whipping was necessary to learn the truth. In the tribune's mind Paul's previous claim of innocence did not ring true with the clamor of the crowd for his blood.
25 But when they stretched him out with straps, Paul said to the centurion standing by, "Is it lawful for you to whip if a man is a Roman and uncondemned?"
But: Grk. de, conj. when: Grk. hōs, adv., used here in a temporal sense. they stretched him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Paul. out: Grk. proteinō, aor., 3p-pl., to stretch forth, stretch out, here with the focus on punishment. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. with straps: pl. of Grk. ho himas, a thong or strap, used for tying a man up to a beam or a pillar to be flogged. Paul: Grk. ho Paulos from the Latin Paulus, meaning small or humble. With the definite article ho Paulos probably signifies "the one called Paul." Paul's name appears for the first time in Acts 13:9. Paul related his background in verse 3 above. For a biography of Paul see my article The Apostle from Tarsus.
Of special interest among Bible versions is that the Complete Jewish Bible and Orthodox Jewish Bible consistently translate Paulos with the Hebrew Sha'ul. Stern explains his persistence in using "Sha'ul" as "to highlight the Jewishness of the New Testament and its major figures" (267). In contrast Luke apparently did not feel any loss of Jewish identity by using Paul's Roman name, which is the only name by which the apostle refers to himself in his letters, and the only name Luke uses from Acts 13:13 to the end of the book. In addition, the OJB adds the title "Rav" to Sha'ul in direct violation of Yeshua's instruction (Matt 23:8). Paul never used the honorific of himself and no one ever addressed Paul as "Rabbi."
said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 7 above. to: Grk. pros, prep. the centurion: Grk. ho hekatontarchēs (from hekaton, "a hundred," and archō, to rule), commander of a century (Latin centuria), consisting of 80 fighting men (Latin milites) and 20 military servants (Latin calones). A centurion had administrative duties with respect to the soldiers, but more importantly he served as a tactical leader in combat. standing by: Grk. histēmi, perf. part., to stand, may mean (1) cause to be in a place or position, set, place; or (2) be in an upright bodily position. The second meaning applies here with the sense of proximity to Paul.
Is it lawful: Grk. exesti, pres., it is allowable, permitted, right, or possible. for you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. to whip: Grk. mastizō, to flog, scourge, or whip. if: Grk. ei, conditional particle used interrogatively; if, whether. Like the Hebrew particle im (SH-518), which ei translates in the LXX (Gen 17:17), ei is used in the Besekh, especially by Luke, in direct questions that expect a "no" answer (Thayer). a man: Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 15 above. is a Roman citizen: Grk. Rhōmaios, adj., a Roman or Roman citizen, here the latter. The question served as an indirect means of asserting his rights as a citizen.
and: Grk. kai, conj. uncondemned: Grk. akatakritos, adj., without determination of guilt, not yet tried. As in Philippi Paul asserts his legal rights (Acts 16:37), but here by asking a question. Paul's question points out that punishment is supposed to follow a decree of guilt by a lawful tribunal, not precede it. The commander had exceeded his authority by ordering the whipping. Exemption from the disgrace of being beaten by rods and whips before a trial was secured to every Roman citizen by the Lex Valeria in the year 500 BC and by the Lex Porcia in the year 248 BC (Titus Livius, The History of Rome, Book X, Chap. 9; M. Tullius Cicero, On Behalf of Rabirus, XII). These privileges had been more recently affirmed by a Julian law dealing with public disorder (Bruce 319).
Paul could be content with physical mistreatment as a result of persecution for his witness of the Messiah (2Cor 12:10), but to be beaten without cause was just wrong and so he asserted his rights. Paul's actions to claim legal protection provides an example for Christian citizenship. We have the right to hold the government accountable for its divine mandate to do justice for citizens (Gen 9:5-6; Rom 13:3-4) and to serve the public with integrity (Eph 5:11). Conversely, we have a duty to obey laws that do not interfere with obeying God's commandments (cf. Acts 5:29; Rom 13:1, 5-7; 1Pet 2:13-17). We also have the responsibility to pray for those in authority so that we can pursue a godly life without government interference (1Tim 2:1-2).
26 Then the centurion having heard this and having gone to the commander, he reported it, saying, "What are you going to do? For this man is a Roman citizen."
Then: Grk. de, conj. the centurion: Grk. ho hekatontarchēs. See the previous verse. having heard this: Grk. akouō, aor. part. See verse 1 above. and having gone: Grk. proserchomai, aor. part., to approach from a point to a person or place; come, go to, approach. to the commander: Grk. ho chiliarchos. See verse 24 above. he reported it: Grk. apangellō, aor., may mean (1) to report back in response to a directive ; or (2) to relate as the result of personal experience, observation or other source of information; relate, report, declare. The second meaning applies here. The centurion knew very well that the whipping was illegal and reported what Paul had said to the commander. saying: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 7 above.
What: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. See verse 7 above. are you going: Grk. mellō, pres. See verse 16 above. to do: Grk. poieō, pres. inf. See verse 10 above. For: Grk. gar, conj. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. man: Grk. ho anthrōpos. See verse 15 above. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 3 above. a Roman citizen: Grk. Rhōmaios, adj. See the previous verse. The centurion's question is intended to obtain guidance from his commanding officer, not to critique or demand a response from the commander.
The Textus Receptus with support only from late MSS introduces the centurion's question with the entreaty "Take heed" (Grk. horaō, pres. imp.) (GNT 508). The entreaty is preserved in the KJV and a few other versions. However, a centurion would not confront his commander in such a manner since he could be charged with insubordination. Asking a question was the most diplomatic way of handling the situation.
27 Then having come near the commander said to him, "Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?" And he declared, "Yes."
Then: Grk. de, conj. having come near: Grk. proserchomai, aor. part. See the previous verse. the commander: Grk. ho chiliarchos. See verse 24 above. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 7 above. to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Tell: Grk. legō, pres. imp. me: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. are: Grk eimi, pres. See verse 3 above. you: Grk. su, second person pronoun. Ellicott says the pronoun is emphatic indicating "you, the Jew speaking both Greek and Hebrew." a Roman citizen: Grk. Rhōmaios, adj. See verse 25 above. The commander knew that being a citizen of Tarsus (Acts 21:39) did not automatically make Paul a Roman citizen.
And: Grk. de, conj. he declared: Grk. phēmi, impf. See verse 2 above. Yes: Grk. nai, particle of assertion or confirmation; yes, certainly, even so. Generally a Roman citizen claimed his legal rights by the affirmation ciusis Romanus sum, "I am a Roman citizen" (Bruce 320). Paul's answer constituted a legal oath. According to Roman law, it was death for any person to falsely assert that he was entitled to the privileges of a Roman citizen (Gloag). Suetonius, the Roman historian, wrote that Caesar Claudius "forbade men of foreign birth to use the Roman names so far as those of the clans were concerned. Those who usurped the privileges of Roman citizenship he executed in the Esquiline field" (Life of Claudius, 25:3).
28 Then the commander answered, "I acquired this citizenship with a large sum of money." But Paul declared, "I, indeed, was even born one."
Then: Grk. de, conj. the commander: Grk. ho chiliarchos. See verse 24 above. answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass. See verse 8 above. I: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. acquired: Grk. ktaomai, aor. mid., to gain possession of, here of a commercial transaction; acquire, obtain, procure, purchase. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. citizenship: Grk. ho politeia may refer to a state or commonwealth or the rights of a citizen, here the latter. with a large: Grk. polus, adj., extensive in scope, indicating a high degree in quantity or quality, here the former. sum of money: Grk. kephalaion, universally a sum of money, sum (Thayer).
The commander's admission means he was an alien by birth, perhaps a Greek or Syrian (Gill). The declaration also points back to the reign of Caesar Claudius, since in consequence of the purchase the commander took the name of Claudius (Acts 23:26). The sale of citizenship during the reign of Claudius, an often ridiculed abuse, was sought to fill the imperial chest (Cassius Dio, Roman History, 60:17). Claudius, holding the office of Censor, controlled the admission of citizens. Ellicott suggests the money had probably been paid to Narcissus, or some other of Claudius' favorite freed-men who carried on traffic of this kind. The commander may have thought Paul acquired his citizenship in the same manner.
But: Grk. de, conj. Paul: Grk. ho Paulos. See verse 25 above. declared: Grk. phēmi, impf. See verse 2 above. I: Grk. egō. indeed: Grk. de. was even: Grk. kai, conj. born one: Grk. gennaō, perf. pass. See verse 3 above. Some scholars suppose that Paul became entitled to this privilege because he was a native of Tarsus. But that city was not a Roman colony, like Pisidian Antioch, Troas Alexandria, and Philippi, but merely a free city. It was exempt from certain taxes, and had rulers of its own, but it did not possess the privilege of citizenship. It was highly favored both by Julius Caesar and Augustus, on account of its services during the civil wars, but neither of them exalted it to the rank of a colony (Gloag).
Paul declared that his Roman citizenship was hereditary. His father or grandfather had acquired the privilege of citizenship either by purchase, by manumission (freed from slavery or servitude) or by reward for service to the state. Polhill favors manumission (16) and Bruce favors reward for service (421). For example, many of the Jews who were taken as slaves to Rome by Pompey in 61 BC obtained their freedom and afterwards were admitted on the register as citizens (Philo, On the Embassy of Gaius, XXIII. 155-157). Josephus received citizenship as a reward for services rendered to the Roman military (Autobiography 76). He also mentions several Jews, residents at Ephesus, who were citizens of Rome (Ant. XIV, 10:13).
Unfortunately, Paul does not settle the source of his citizenship for us. Newborn citizens were registered in the office of the provincial governor, which for Paul would have been in the public record office at Tarsus. Presumably a copy of the registration was furnished to the family. It may have been like the small diptych which military veterans carried with them to confirm their citizenship (Bruce). Citizens probably did not have to furnish proof on demand, and Paul's claim of citizenship was not challenged.
29 Therefore those being about to examine him immediately withdrew from him; and the commander also was afraid having found out that he was a Roman citizen, and because he had bound him.
Therefore: Grk. oun, an inferential conj., which is used here to indicate a conclusion connected with data immediately preceding, "so, therefore, consequently, then." those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. being about: Grk. mellō, pl. pres. part. See verse 16 above. to examine: Grk. anetazō, pres. inf. See verse 24 above. The verb implies examining by means of the whip. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. immediately: Grk. eutheōs, adv., immediately, forthwith, right away. The adverb actually begins the Greek sentence and serves as a dramatic device to energize the narrative, shifting the reader's attention to another scene.
withdrew: Grk. aphistēmi, aor., 3p-pl., "to stand away from" and may mean (1) cause to move from a reference point with respect to transference of allegiance; draw away; or (2) withdraw oneself from a person or thing; depart, stay away withdraw. The second meaning applies here. from: Grk. apo, prep. See verse 11 above. him: Grk. autos. The soldiers that were about to whip Paul realized they had been put in a compromising position and quickly stepped away from him. They weren't about to risk being charged with an illegal punishment.
and: Grk. kai, conj. the commander: Grk. ho chiliarchos. See verse 24 above. also: Grk. kai. was afraid: Grk. phobeō, aor., be in a state of apprehension; be afraid, fear. The commander had reason to fear if Paul should report his mistreatment to higher military authority or the provincial governor. having found out: Grk. epiginōskō, aor. pass. See verse 24 above. that: Grk. hoti, conj. The conjunction is used here to introduce a subordinate clause as complementary of a preceding verb. he was: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 3 above. a Roman citizen: Grk. Rhōmaios, adj. See verse 25 above.
and: Grk. kai. because: Grk. hoti. The conjunction is used here to indicate causality with an inferential aspect. he had bound: Grk. deō, perf. part., may mean (1) to bind, tie or fasten, normally used of physical restraint; or (2) as a legal term, forbid. The first meaning applies here. him: Grk. autos. The commander realized that binding Paul to a post in order to be whipped was illegal. Nevertheless, the commander kept Paul in custody, probably because releasing him would put his life in danger and the matter of the accusation against Paul still had to be resolved.
Paul's Appearance before the Council, 22:30
30 Now on the next day, wishing to know the certainty why he was accused by the traditional Jews, he unbound him and ordered the chief priests and all the Council to assemble. And having brought down Paul he set him among them.
Now: Grk. de, conj. on the next day: Grk. ho epaurion, adv., lit. 'on the morrow,' the next or following day. Thus, Paul remained in the Roman barracks overnight. wishing: Grk. boulomai, pres. mid. part., may mean (1) have in one's mind; wish, want, desire; or (2) reach a decision upon deliberation; intend, decide, plan, will. The first meaning applies here. to know: Grk. ginōskō, aor. inf. See verse 14 above. the certainty: Grk. ho asphalēs, adj., "not subject to failing," certain, definite, or reliable, as relating to an event, situation or matter. why: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. See verse 7 above. he was accused: Grk. katēgoreō, pres. pass., a technical legal term meaning to charge with an offense; accuse.
by: Grk. hupo, prep. See verse 11 above. the traditional Jews: pl. of Grk. ho Ioudaios. See verse 3 above. The noun refers to the Jews from Asia that stirred up the crowd in the temple (Acts 21:27). The opening clause alludes to the original question asked by the commander concerning Paul's offense (21:33). he unbound: Grk. luō, aor., to remove a hindrance with a wide range of application; annul, dissolve, loose, release, unleash, unbind. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Paul. While Paul had been loosed from the whipping post, the commander had kept Paul bound with regular chains (Acts 21:33), perhaps as Meyer suggests, he could not prevail upon himself to expose his mistake by an immediate release of Paul. But, for the sake of a formal hearing the commander had the chains removed.
and: Grk. kai, conj. ordered: Grk. keleuō, aor. See verse 24 above. The verb illustrates the power of the Roman commander to compel obedience. the chief priests: pl. of Grk. ho archiereus. See verse 5 above. In addition to the high priest the plural noun included any living retired high priests and active holders of the priestly offices of higher rank in the Temple, altogether some fifteen to twenty persons. From Luke's narrative and Josephus (Ant. XX, 9:1) we know that the chief priests were generally Sadducees and ex–officio members of the Sanhedrin (Jeremias 179, 197, 230).
The active chief priests held a variety of administrative posts and as a group wielded considerable power in the city. Jeremias made the following list of working chief priests based on rabbinical sources (160):
● The deputy high priest (Heb. nagid, leader, ruler, prince, BDB 617; found in Jer 20:1; 1Chr 9:11; Neh 11:11). The nagid had permanent oversight over all Temple activities and of all officiating priests (Jeremias 163). In addition, the nagid was the chief of police in the Temple area and as such had power to arrest. He was next in rank to the high priest and could step in to fulfill his duties if necessary. Josephus refers to him as stratēgos of the Temple ("commander" in Ant. XX, 6:2 and "captain" in Wars VI, 5:3). Luke also uses this term in Acts 4:1; 5:24.
● The director of the weekly division of ordinary priests (Heb. rosh ha-mishmar).
● The director of the daily shift (Heb. rosh beit av).
● The seven temple overseers (Heb. ammarkalim).
● The three or more temple treasurers (Heb. gizbarim).
A corresponding list of ranks is found in the War Scroll (1QM 2:1ff) of the DSS (TDSS 149). The DSS list has the high priest, his deputy, twelve chief priests, and the directors of the priests' weekly courses; twelve chief Levites, and the directors of the weekly Levitical courses.
and: Grk. kai, conj. all: Grk. pas, adj. See verse 3 above. The adjective may not mean all the official members, but all present in the city and available to meet. the council: Grk. ho sunedrion (from sún, "with" and hedra, "a convening, sitting together"), a council of leading Jews (HELPS). In Greek culture the term originally meant (1) the place where a council met, (2) then the body of councilors or (3) their actual meeting (DNTT 1:363). Sunedrion is used in the apostolic narratives of (1) a local Jewish court or judicial assembly (Matt 10:17; Mark 13:9); (2) a principal judicial body in Jerusalem (Matt 5:22; Mark 14:55; Acts 5:21, 27, 34, 41; 6:12, 15; 22:30; 23:1, 6, 15, 20, 28); and (3) the meeting room of a council (Luke 22:66; Acts 4:15).
In the LXX sunedrion translates Heb. math (SH-4962), male, man, men (Ps 26:4 as a deliberative body), qahal (SH-6951), assembly, congregation (Prov 26:26); and sôd (SH-5475), council, counsel (Jer 15:17). The Greek term also occurs several times in Proverbs (11:13; 15:22; 20:19; 22:10; 24:7; 27:22; 31:23) without Heb. equivalent for those sitting in the gate for counsel or judgment. The usage of sunedrion in the LXX denotes small groups of elders who acted as counselors and judges. For an overview of the Jewish court system in the first century see my web article Jewish Jurisprudence.
Most versions translate sunedrion here with "council," but a number have the capitalized "Sanhedrin," implying the full seventy-one members of the Supreme Court. However, this interpretive translation is open to question. Josephus uses the term sunedrion for an ad hoc group assembled for a special purpose or task (Ant., XX, 9:1, 6). The actual number present in any council meeting described in the apostolic narratives is never mentioned. In the next chapter this council is described as consisting of Sadducees and Pharisees (23:6). The lay elder members identified in Acts 4:5 and 5:21, consisting of the heads of patrician families, such as Joseph of Arimathea, were probably not included in this meeting.
to assemble: Grk. sunerchomai, aor. inf., may mean (1) to come together as a collection of persons; (2) come together in a close personal relationship; or (3) come or go together with someone. The first meaning applies here. And: Grk. kai. having brought down: Grk. katagō, aor. part., to lead or bring down someone from a point that is higher (BAG). The verb depicts descending from the higher elevation of the Tower of Antonia to the council room of the Temple. The council regularly sat in the Hall of Hewn Stones (Heb. Gazith), located on the south side of the Temple (Sanh. 10:4; 88b), also known as the Cell of the Counselors (Yoma 1:1).
Paul: Grk. ho Paulos. See verse 25 above. he set him: Grk. histēmi, aor. See verse 25 above. among: Grk. eis, prep. them: pl. of Grk. autos. The commander brought Paul before the official body of Jewish rulers to determine whether there was a prima facie case for trial and until that was determined Paul remained under military protection (Bruce).
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
Barker: William P. Barker, Everyone In the Bible. Fleming H. Revell Co., 1966.
Bivin: David Bivin, New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus. En-Gedi Resource Center, 2007
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981.
Bruce: F.F. Bruce, The Book of the Acts. Rev. ed. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1988. (New International Commentary on the New Testament)
Chrysostom: John Chrysostom (347-407), Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles. Oxford Edition. trans. J. Walker, et. al. (Online)
Danker: Frederick William Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. The University of Chicago Press, 2009.
DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.
DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 vols., ed. Colin Brown. Zondervan Pub. House, 1975.
Dorotheus: Dorotheus (255-362), Bishop of Tyre, The Choosing of the Seventy Holy Apostles. Online.
Ellicott: Charles John Ellicott (1819–1905), Commentary for English Readers (1878). Online.
Flusser: David Flusser, Jewish Sources in Early Christianity, Adama Books, 1987.
Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online.
Gloag: Paton James Gloag (1823-1906), A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on The Acts of the Apostles. 2 vols. T&T Clark, 1870. Online.
Gottheil: Richard Gottheil, Frants Buhl, and M. Franco, Damascus. Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906. Online.
GNT: The Greek New Testament, eds. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Bruce M. Metzger, & Allen Wiegren. American Bible Society, 1966. [NA25]
Hamp: Douglas Hamp, Discovering the Language of Jesus: Hebrew or Aramaic? CreateSpace, 2005.
HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)
Hippolytus: Hippolytus of Rome (170-236), On the Seventy Apostles. Online.
Jastrow: Marcus Jastrow, Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud and Midrashic Literature. G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1903, 1926. Online.
Jeremias: Joichim Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. Fortress Press, 1975.
Kasdan: Barney Kasdan, Matthew Presents Yeshua, King Messiah: A Messianic Commentary. Lederer Books, 2011.
Klausner: Joseph Klausner (1874-1958), From Jesus to Paul. trans. William Stinespring. The Macmillan Company, 1943; First Menorah Pub. Co., 1979.
Lightfoot: John Lightfoot (1602-1675), Hebrew and Talmudical Exercitations upon the Acts, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (1859 ed.), Vol. 4. Hendrickson Pub., 1989. Online.
Lindsey: Robert L. Lindsey, Jesus Rabbi & Lord: The Hebrew Story of Jesus Behind Our Gospels, Cornerstone Publishing, 1990.
Longenecker: Richard D. Longenecker, The Acts of the Apostles, Vol. 9, Expositor's Bible Commentary, Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp, 1989-1999.
LSJ: Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon (1889). rev. by Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online
Lumby: J. Rawson Lumby, Acts, The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Cambridge University Press, 1891. Online.
Meyer: Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer (1800-1873), Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (1859). 21 vols. T&T Clark, 1880. Online.
Moseley: Ron Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Yeshua and the Original Church. Lederer Books, 1996.
Nicoll: W. Robertson Nicoll (1851–1923), The Expositor's Greek Testament (1897), 5 vols. Online.
Polhill: John B. Polhill, Paul and His Letters. B & H Academic, 1999.
Poole: Matthew Poole (1624–1679), A Commentary on the Holy Bible. Hendrickson Publishers, 1985. Online.
Santala: Risto Santala, Paul: The Man and the Teacher in the Light of Jewish Sources. Keren Ahvah Meshihit, 1995. Online.
Shapira: Rabbi Itzhak Shapira, The Return of the Kosher Pig: The Divine Messiah in Jewish Thought. Lederer Books, 2013.
SECB: James Strong (1822–1894), Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (1890). Online.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Harper Brothers, 1889.
Tverberg: Lois Tverberg, Listening to the Language of the Bible. En-Gedi Resource Center, 2004.
TDSS: The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation. Rev. ed. Trans. Michael Wise, Martin Abegg Jr. and Edward Cook. HarperOne, 2005.
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