Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 3 September 2018; Revised 24 May 2021
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. 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 Nine returns to the repression of Messianic disciples instigated by Saul of Tarsus and then chronicles his life changing encounter with Yeshua on the Damascus road, his transformation and zealous ministry for the Lord in Damascus and Arabia, as well as the continuing ministry of Peter in Judea.
Encounter with Yeshua, 9:1-9
The Mission of Ananias, 9:10-19
Saul's First Ministry, 9:20-22
The Plot Against Saul, 9:23-25
Saul's Return to Jerusalem, 9:26-30
Peace for the Congregation of Messiah, 9:31
Continued Ministry of Peter, 9:32-42
c. A.D. 32
Rome: Caesar Tiberius (AD 14-37)
Prefect of Judea: Pontius Pilate (AD 26-36)
Jewish High Priest: Joseph Caiaphas (AD 18-37)
According to Hippolytus (170-235 AD) Paul "entered into the apostleship a year after the assumption of Christ" (On the Twelve Apostles, 13). By "a year" Hippolytus did not mean a strict twelve months, because it is further qualified by his statement that Paul proclaimed the good news for thirty-five years before being martyred in the time of Nero, who reigned AD 54−68.
In Lives of Illustrious Men, written in AD 392, Jerome says that Paul was executed in the fourteenth year of Nero (Chap. V), which began in October 67. Jerome's dating is repeated in the 6th century Liber Pontificalis ("Book of Popes"), which dates the martyrdom of Paul in "the year 38 after the Lord's passion" (The Book of Popes, p. 5). Paul's death in the year 67 or 68 would confirm the date Yeshua's death in the year 30. Working backward from the date of Paul's martyrdom in 67/68, the 35 years mentioned by Hippolytus would result in AD 32/33 as the time of Paul's meeting Yeshua on the King's Highway.
Luke is often unclear concerning dates of events and activities of the apostles and so proposed timelines can greatly differ. Clues may be deduced from mentions of seasons, Jewish festivals, and the reigns of Jewish and Gentile rulers, as coordinated with other historical writings of the first century. Most scholars assume at least two years is required for the narrative of the first eight chapters. Using the information of the church fathers we will assume AD 32 as the starting point for this chapter (Polhill 80).
Encounter with Yeshua, 9:1-9
1 Now Saul, still breathing out threat and murder toward the disciples of the Lord, having approached the high priest,
Now: 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" (Thayer). The second meaning applies here. The conjunction continues the narrative from the previous chapter to indicate that while Philip was ministering in coastal towns the follow events were occurring somewhat concurrently.
Saul: Grk. Saulos, a Grecized version of the Heb. Sha'ul (lit. "asked for" or "prayed for"). The name Saulos occurs 15 times in the Besekh, all in Acts. The name does not occur in the LXX at all. In Greek culture saulos was not a name, but an adj. descriptive of gait and manner of walking, such as the gait of the tortoise, the loose, wanton gait of courtesans or revelers, and also the prancing horse (LSJ). Since Saulos as a name does not appear in Greek literature or earlier Jewish literature, Luke, being a Hellenized Jew, recognized in the spelling the potential as a Jewish name with "Sa'ul" transliterating "Sha'ul" and the suffix "os" making it a masculine name. When Josephus wrote his Antiquities 35 years after the book of Acts he chose to use Saulos predominately for the biblical characters with the Heb. name of Sha'ul.
Luke uses Saulos in third person narrative to identify the future apostle, but none after 13:9. Saul was born in Tarsus of Cilicia (Acts 9:11) of the tribe of Benjamin (Php 3:5). He was "set apart from his mother's womb" (Gal 1:15) for a sacred life. According to a tradition recorded by Jerome, the parents of Saul came from Gischala in Judea (Chap. V), although modern scholars locate the town in Galilee (Santala 24). The family apparently had a leather factory or weaving mill, where they manufactured the famous "cilicium" textiles. This was made of the hair of goats bred on the Cilician plateau. The church fathers called Saul a tanner or tentmaker (cf. Acts 18:3).
Many scholars assert that Saul was born into a Hellenistic Jewish family and thereby was a Hellenistic Jew. This claim contradicts Saul's plain self-description in Philippians 3:5. As an adjective "Hellenistic" implies having embraced Hellenistic culture. Paul was fluent in Greek (Acts 21:37; cf. 1Cor 12:10; 14:18), but that did not make him Hellenistic and being born in a Hellenistic country did not make him Hellenistic. Synagogues of traditional Jews could be found in every major city in the Diaspora, including Tarsus. Moreover, there is no evidence that Paul's parents were Hellenistic.
By his own testimony he was not raised according to pagan philosophy nor educated in a Stoic school in Tarsus. Saul himself never embraced Hellenism, but steadfastly opposed it (Rom 12:2; Col 2:28). Saul received advanced education under the tutelage of Gamaliel the Elder (Acts 5:34; 22:3), a leader in the Sanhedrin and a preeminent scholar. Saul was a devout Pharisee (Acts 23:6; 26:5). Gill suggests that he was a member of the synagogue of Cilicia in Jerusalem at which Stephen had spoken (Acts 6:9). Santala suggests that Saul had also served as rabbi of the Cilician synagogue (37). For a biography of Saul see my web article The Apostle from Tarsus.
still: Grk. eti, adv., a function word used to express (1) time and the continuance of an action or circumstance, or (2) degree, as a comparison to indicate increase or addition. The first usage applies here to indicate that what had occurred formerly now exists in a different state. breathing out: Grk. empneō, pres. part., emit breath, used here in a fig. sense of life being zealously focused on the negative actions described here. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. threat: Grk. apeilē, a declaration of an intention to inflict punishment in retaliation for some course of action; a threatening, threat. Some versions translate the noun as plural. The noun occurred previously in the apostolic prayer (4:29) in reference to threats from the ruling council (4:21). The singular noun does not mean that Saul went to the apostles or other Messianic disciples and issued threats of punishment. Rather Saul himself remained a threat. There was no abatement in his attitude, so the well-being of the Messianic community remained in danger.
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. murder: Grk. phonos, the act of taking a human life. In the Besekh the term is used for legalized killing or execution contrary to Torah standards (Heb 11:37) and illegal killing, i.e., murder (Matt 15:19). In Scripture the definition of murder does not include killing in self-defense or killing in war. In the LXX phonos renders Heb. chereb (SH-2719), a sword (Ex 5:3); nakah (SH-5221), to smite (Ex 22:2); and dam (SH-1818), bloodshed (from negligence, Deut 22:8).
Saul's initial rage against the congregation of Yeshua is sometimes contrasted with the equanimity of his teacher (cf. Acts 5:38-39; 9:1-2), so Gamaliel cannot be blamed for such hatred. It may well be that his hostility owes more to the influence of the conservative School of Shammai and a zealous desire to punish those advocating the teaching of a supposed false prophet, much as the Torah prescribed for Israelites who committed this capital offense (cf. Deut 13:6-11). In Saul's mind there was no room for compromise or tolerance of what he viewed as heretical religion. However, Luke declares that the martyr's death of Messianic disciples resulting from a legal process still constituted murder. The taking of innocent life can never be sanctified by a legal process.
toward: Grk. eis, prep. that focuses on motion to accomplish a purpose or result; to, into, toward. the disciples: pl. of Grk. ho mathētēs (from manthanō, to learn), one who learns through instruction from a teacher; adherent, learner, pupil, disciple. In the Besekh the noun occurs only in the apostolic narratives and corresponds to the Heb. talmid (SH-8527), a student of a Jewish Sage or Torah scholar (Heb. rabbi). The term is used for members of the Pharisee party (Matt 22:15-16; John 9:28) and disciples of Yochanan the Immerser (Matt 9:14; Mark 2:18; Luke 5:33; John 3:25), but especially of followers of Yeshua, those who not only believed in Yeshua but sought to obey his instructions (Matt 28:20). See my article Disciples of Yeshua.
of the Lord: Grk. kurios 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 occurs over 9,000 times, and in the overwhelming majority of instances (over 6,000 times), it renders 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 and intended in the sense of Heb. adôn, because Yeshua is the owner-master of his disciples.
having approached: Grk. proserchomai, aor. part., to approach from a point to a person or place; come, go to, approach. the high priest: Grk. ho archiereus (from archē, "chief, pre-eminent one" and hiereus, "a priest"), a high or chief priest, i.e., a leader among priests. 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, 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). The ruling high priest was president of the Sanhedrin.
Caiaphas was the ruling high priest at this time. He was appointed to that office by Valerius Gratus, in A.D. 18 and removed in A.D. 36 by Vitellius, governor of Syria. The name of Caiaphas (whose given name was Joseph) appears nine times in the apostolic narratives and in Josephus (Ant. XVIII, 2:2; 4:3). Joseph Caiaphas was the son-in-law of Annas, son of Seth, a member of a wealthy and powerful priestly family in Jerusalem (John 18:13). Historical sources indicate that Joseph descended from a polygamous family through Levirate marriage (Jeremias 94). 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).
2 requested letters from him into Damascus, to the synagogues, so that if he found any of the Way, being both men and women, having bound he might bring to Jerusalem.
This verse completes the sentence begun in the previous verse. requested: Grk. aiteō, aor. mid., to ask in expectation of a response; ask, ask for, request. 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 plural form of the noun here could be intended as an intensive singular to indicate the broad powers permitted or possibly multiple letters informing individual recipients of Saul's commission. They also functioned as warrants for arrest.
from: Grk. para, prep., with the root meaning of beside (DM 108), conveys association between persons, things, or circumstances, which may denote (1) a point of origin, from; or (2) a close association or proximity, with, beside, in the presence of. The first usage applies here. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun which may be used to (1) distinguish a person from or contrast it with another, or to give him emphatic prominence; himself, herself (2) express the force of a simple personal pronoun of the third person; he, him, she, her, them, it, or (3) with the article function as an adjective of identity; the same. The second meaning applies here.
Saul's presence at the stoning of Stephen and his instigation of persecution in Chapter Eight indicate that he had a formal position among the Judean and temple leaders. In his last defense speech the apostle comments that he "cast a vote against" the Messianic believers (Acts 26:10). The verbal phrase does not mean simple concurrence with a vote, but membership in a group which makes decisions by voting. This group could be the Great Sanhedrin (which Stern favors), but considering his age ("young man," 7:58) and his work for the high priest and chief priests, it could be the Small Sanhedrin or the Temple ruling council. To have such an important position Saul would have been at least thirty.
Saul was not content with confining his campaign of terror to Jerusalem. He purposed to root out the Yeshua movement wherever it was found and sought a commission from the high priest to pursue his violent agenda. When Saul left Jerusalem he was acting as the shaliach ("apostle") or messenger of the high priest, with full arrest powers. Stern comments that letters from the high priest would carry weight in the Diaspora. Under Roman rule the Sanhedrin did not have temporal power; but in internal Jewish matters it was honored even beyond the borders of Israel. Bruce notes that in 138 BC the Romans instructed Ptolemy Euergetes II of Egypt to hand over to the high priest certain lawbreakers who sought refuge in its territory (1Macc 15:15-22). This right of extradition was no doubt included among the concessions granted the high priest by Julius Caesar in 47 BC (Josephus, Ant. XIV, 10:2).
However, this action in my view constituted hypocritical overreach by the high priest, contrary to Jewish standards of jurisprudence. The ruling council could find no legal basis for punishing the apostles (Acts 4:21), after violating a dozen rules of due process to have Yeshua executed (see my comment on Acts 8:33). Moreover, Judean authorities did not seek to punish Jewish groups that refused to comply with Temple hierarchy as the Essenes and Samaritans. So Caiaphas willingly served the malice of Saul in giving him the commission to commit legal murder. Perhaps Caiaphas thought it not only expedient for Yeshua to die (John 11:50; 18:14), but his followers as well.
into: Grk. eis, prep. Damascus: Grk. Damaskos, a transliteration of Heb. Dammaseq, a very ancient city located in a fertile plain northeast of Mt. Hermon 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). Three major caravan routes passed through Damascus. 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. So, at the time of this journey Damascus was under direct Roman rule. The next year, AD 33, the Romans ceded oversight of the city to King Aretas IV who ruled the Nabataean Kingdom from Petra. See the map and history of Damascus here.
to: Grk. pros, prep., lit. "near or facing" and conveys motion toward (DM 110); to, toward, with. the synagogues: pl. of 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 origin of the Jewish synagogue is not known for certain, but scholars generally date its beginning during the Babylonian exile (NIBD 1019).
Pious Jews, far from their native land, without the ministry of the temple, no doubt felt the necessity to gather on the Sabbath in order to listen to the word of God and engage in prayer (cf. Ps 137; Jer 29:7; Ezek 14:1; 20:1). Eventually meetings came also to be held on other days, and at the same hours as the morning and evening services in the temple. According to Philo, the Jewish philosopher (20 B.C.─A.D. 50), synagogues were houses of prayer and schools of wisdom (On the Life of Moses II, 39). By the first century, synagogues emerged as the central institution of Jewish life as a place where study, worship, celebration, and various other kinds of meetings took place. A great number of Jews lived in Damascus, about 10,000 (Josephus, Wars II, 20:1-2; VII, 8:7; "Damascus," JE)
so that: Grk. hopōs, conj. used to indicate purpose, objective or an end in view; in order that, so that. if: Grk. ean, conj. that serves as a conditional particle and produces an aspect of tentativeness by introducing a possible circumstance that determines the realization of some other circumstance. he found: Grk. heuriskō, aor. subj., may mean (1) to come upon a person or thing by seeking; (2) to discover by inquiry, thought, examination, scrutiny, observation, or hearing; or (3) to find for oneself, to acquire, get, obtain, or procure. The first meaning applies here. any: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun; a certain one, someone, anyone, anything. of the Way: Grk. ho hodos (for Heb. derek, SH-1870), with the focus on the concept of going the word typically has the sense of a route for traveling, hence a way, a road or a highway. It can also refer to the act of traveling; journey, way, trip.
The shorthand label appears five times in Acts to designate the Messianic movement or disciples of Yeshua (Acts 19:9; 22:4; 24:14, 22). In contrast the label "Christian" (= Messianic) appears only two times (Acts 11:26; 26:28). The origin of the label "the Way" is never stated, but there is a natural association with Yeshua's self-description as "the Way" (John 14:6). Yeshua's use of the label is grounded in the Tanakh, being derived from the expression "way of the LORD" (Heb. 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.
Bruce suggests that Saul's interest was in refugees from the persecution in Jerusalem and not native residents of Damascus who might have been followers of Yeshua (193). Of interest is that the Pentecost account of Jewish pilgrims from the many lands of the Diaspora who embraced the Messianic message does not mention any pilgrims from Syria in general or Damascus in particular, although they would surely have been included.
being: Grk. eimi, pres. part., 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). both: Grk. te, conj. used to denote both connection and addition. men: pl. of Grk. anēr, an adult man without regard to marital status. In the LXX anēr renders several Heb. words: (1) ish, man; (2) enosh, men, people; (3) ba'al, lord, husband, head of a household; (4) gibbor, hero, warrior; (5) zaqen, elder; (6) nasi, prince; and (7) adon, lord (DNTT 2:562). and: Grk. kai, conj. 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 the Heb. ishshah ("woman, wife"). The plural noun would include wives and widows.
having bound: Grk. deō, perf. pass. part., to bind, used of physical restraint. he might bring: Grk. agō, aor. subj., to cause movement by taking the lead; lead, bring, carry, take. to: Grk. eis. Jerusalem: Grk. Ierousalēm, which transliterates Heb. Yerushalaim (SH-3389), 660 times in the LXX, first in Joshua 10:1 (DNTT 2:324). Jerusalem was the center for Jewish jurisprudence with Small Sanhedrins and the Great Sanhedrin convening there. See the note on "Jerusalem" in 1:4.
And: Grk. de, conj. in: Grk. en, prep., generally used to mark position, lit. "in" or "within," but used here to indicate instrumentality. traveling: Grk. poreuomai (from poros, "passageway"), pres. mid. inf., 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 verb emphasizes the personal meaning which is attached to reaching the particular destination (HELPS). 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 to go to Damascus. 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. Saul would probably have taken the King's Highway, an appropriate setting for him to meet the King of the Jews (Matt 2:2; John 19:19), the King of Israel (John 1:49) and King of Kings (1Tim 6:15).
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; come to be, become, take place, happen, occur, arise, be, appear, come, arrive. 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).
as he approached: Grk. engizō, pres. inf., come or draw near, approach. The verb indicates close proximity to the city. Damascus: See the previous verse. The following event apparently occurred a short distance from Damascus. suddenly: Grk. exaiphnēs, adv., of a sudden, suddenly, unexpectedly. also: Grk. te, conj. a 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). 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, lit. "heaven," 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.
flashed around: Grk. periastraptō, aor., engage in shining, to flash around, shine about. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The light functioned as a large spotlight with Saul at the center of the illumination. Saul's later testimony indicates that the incident occurred during the noon hour (Acts 22:6; 26:13).
4 and having fallen on the ground he heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"
and: Grk. kai, conj. having fallen: Grk. piptō, aor. part., 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. on: Grk. epi, prep. expressing the idea of hovering, generally as a marker of position or location; on, upon, over. the ground: Grk. ho gē can mean (1) soil (as in receiving seed), (2) the ground, (3) land as contrasted with the sea, or (4) the earth in contrast to heaven. The second meaning is intended here. The LXX uses gē more than 2,000 times and translates the Heb. word erets (SH-776), which has the same range of meaning (DNTT 1:517; BDB 75). Saul will later report that all his companions also fell to the ground (Acts 26:14).
Joseph Klausner, a Lithuanian Jewish historian, offered the thesis that Saul experienced his vision in the midst of an episode of "falling sickness" or epilepsy (326). Such a suggestion is not faithful to the plain narrative of Luke and the later testimony of the great apostle. Klausner, even after exhaustive research of the apostle's life, could find no reason to believe. For Saul the traumatic experience shook him to the core of his beliefs and served to begin a complete transformation of his life and personal identity.
he heard: Grk. akouō, aor., 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).
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; answer, ask, declare, order, say, speak, tell, told, refer to, talk about. In the LXX legō renders Heb. amar (SH-559), to utter, say, show, command or think. to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Saul: Grk. Saoul, voc., which transliterates Heb. Sha'ul (SH-7586). The Greek has no letter with a "sh" sound. 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. The Greek spelling also appears for King Saul in Philo (On the Migration of Abraham, 36:196) and Josephus (Ant. VI, 5:2).
Saul: Grk. Saoul, voc. The use of 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 Saul 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., may mean (1) to make to run or flee, put to flight, drive away; (2) to run swiftly in order to catch some person or thing, to run after; (3) in any way whatever to harass, trouble, molest one; to persecute; (4) without the idea of hostility, to run after, follow after: someone; or (5) metaphorically, to seek after eagerly, earnestly endeavor to acquire (Thayer). The third meaning primarily applies here.
Me: Grk. egō, sing. pronoun of the first person. 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; Ex 14:15). Yeshua is so identified with his disciples that Saul's persecution of them represented an attack on their Lord.
5 And he said, "Who are you, Lord?" And he replied, "I AM, the One, Yeshua, whom you are persecuting,
And: Grk. de, conj. he said: Grk. legō, aor. See the previous verse. Who: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. are you: Grk. eimi, pres., 2p-sing. See verse 2 above. Lord: Grk. kurios. See verse 1 above. Saul may have used kurios with the meaning of "sir." Even though Saul apparently knew Yeshua or knew of him before his crucifixion (2Cor 5:16), and saw in his vision the resurrected Messiah (verses 17 and 27 below; cf. Acts 22:14; 26:16; 1Cor 9:1; 15:8), there was no immediate recognition of his voice. Even when Miriam of Magdala (John 20:15) and the disciples en route to Emmaus (Luke 24:16) saw and heard Yeshua speak after his resurrection they did not recognize him. And he replied: Grk. de, conj. The Greek text does not have the words "he replied" but it is understood. Yeshua then responds by identifying himself with a three-fold divine name.
I: Grk. egō, sing. pronoun of the first person. AM: Grk. eimi, pres. The expression egō eimi 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 (Matt 14:27; Mark 6:50; John 6:20; 8:24, 28, 58; 18:5, 6, 8; Acts 9:5; 22:8; 26:15). In John's writings Yeshua couples egō eimi with a descriptive metaphor, known as the "Seven I Am Sayings" (John 6:35, 48, 51; 8:12; 9:15; 10:7, 9, 11, 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1, 5). Such statements indicate that Yeshua had a firm grasp of his own identity. Stern suggests that the metaphoric expressions imply a claim even greater than being the Messiah (168). They are too similar to the God of Israel's self-revelation in the Tanakh to be accidental.
In the LXX egō eimi is used to translate the personal pronoun ani (SH-589) or anoki (SH-595), meaning "I" and occurring in occasional self-references by men, e.g., Abraham (Gen 18:27; 23:4); Solomon (Songs 5:8), Isaiah (Isa 6:8) and Jeremiah (Jer 1:6). Predominately the pronoun-verb combination is spoken by the God of Israel in reference to Himself, first without qualification, such as "I am who I am" (Ex 3:14; also in Isa 41:4; 43:10, 25; 46:4; 47:8, 10; 48:12; 51:12; 52:6). More commonly God says egō eimi kurios, for Heb. ani YHVH, "I am YHVH" 48 times (Ex 7:5; 8:22; 16:12; 20:2, 5; 29:46; Lev 11:44, 45; 26:1, 13, 44; Deut 5:6; 32:39; Isa 45:8, 18, 19; 61:8; Jer 24:7; Ezek 7:9; 28:22, 23, 24, 26; 29:6, 9, 16, 21; 30:8, 19, 25, 26; 32:15; 33:29; 34:27, 30; 35:4, 9, 12, 15; 36:11, 23; 37:6, 13, 28; 39:6, 7, 22, 28).
Yeshua's declaration is not just a friendly introduction such as "Hi, how are you, I am…" The distinctive phrase likely intends an allusion to Exodus 3:14 in which God addresses Moses, "I Am Who I Am." Then He said, 'You are to say to Bnei-Yisrael, 'I AM' has sent me to you'" (TLV). "I Am" is the verb eheyeh, the Qal imperfect of hayah (Owens 1:247), indicating continuing existence. The personal name of YHVH, and its derivative Yah, is derived from hava, the older form and rare synonym of haya, "be, become" (TWOT 1:210). Thus, YHVH is a shortened version of the longer name God gave to Moses from the burning bush. Now the revelation comes in another form of light. For more discussion on this sacred name see my web article The Blessed Name.
the One: Grk. ho, definite article used here as a demonstrative pronoun. Most versions translate the pronoun as "He" but some versions render it capitalized as "the One" (DLNT, HCSB, ICB, MSG, NLV, VOICE). Among Jews "The One" was a substitute name for YHVH (e.g., Ps 3:3; 37:24; Isa 40:26; 45:7; 49:7; Amos 9:5-6; John 1:33; 6:46; 7:18; 11:27; 12:45; 15:21; Acts 10:42; Rom 5:17; 2Cor 4:6). In these passages "the One" is the only God in existence, the living God, the Creator of the cosmos, and the redeemer of Israel. The title also affirms the basic truth of the Shema that "ADONAI is one" (Deut 6:4; Zech 14:9; Mark 12:29; 1Tim 2:5; Jas 2:19).
Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("Jesus" in Christian Bibles). Yeshua is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y’hoshua ("Joshua"), which means "YHVH [the LORD] is salvation" (BDB 221). The meaning of his name is explained to Joseph by an angel of the Lord, "You shall call his name Yeshua, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matt 1:21). The English rendering of "Jesus" originated with the Mace New Testament in 1729. For more information on the meaning our Lord's name, his identity, and the history of translation of the name see my web article Who is Yeshua?
whom: 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. you: Grk. su, sing. pronoun of the second person. are persecuting: Grk. diōkō, pres. See the previous verse. Yeshua lays the responsibility and the blame for the persecution of disciples solely on Saul, not the high priest or the men who were assisting Saul. The persecution of Messianic Jews was Saul's own personal vendetta.
6 but arise and enter into the city, and it will be told to you that 'what' is necessary for you to do."
but: Grk. alla, conj., adversative particle used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand. arise: Grk. anistēmi, aor. imp., to rise, stand up or get up and in its ordinary use refers to the physical motion of transition from a sitting or prone position or simply standing; arise, rise, or stand. In the LXX anistēmi renders Heb. qum (SH-6965), to arise, stand up, or stand, first in Genesis 4:8. and: Grk. kai, conj. enter: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. imp., to go or enter into a geographical area, manufactured structure or other place defined in the context. into: Grk. eis, prep. the city: Grk. ho polis, a population center whose size or number of inhabitants could range broadly, a city or town, a reference to Damascus. Left unsaid is the implication "and find lodging." Yeshua did not tell Saul where to stay.
and: Grk. kai. it will be told: Grk. laleō, fut. pass., 3p-sing., make an oral statement, to speak or talk about something; often used of public speaking; proclaim, report, say, speak, or talk about. The means of communication is purposely left vague. to you: Grk. su, sing. pronoun of the second person. that: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See the previous verse. what: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. See verse 4 above. The pronoun summarizes the question that Saul asked and later reported in 22:10.
is necessary: Grk. dei, pres., 3p-sing., impersonal verb from deō ('lack, stand in need of') and thus conveys the idea of necessity or an expected outcome, something that must happen or something one is obligated to do, which may arise in a variety of circumstances: (1) the result of divine destiny; (2) the compulsion of duty; (3) the compulsion of law or custom; or (4) an inner necessity growing out of a given situation; (5) compulsion caused by the necessity of attaining a certain result or (6) the compulsion of what is fitting (BAG). The fifth circumstance is in view here. Many versions translate the verb as "must."
for you: Grk. su. The pronoun is in the position of a direct object, not the subject of the verb dei as translated in most versions. to do: Grk. poieō, pres. inf., a verb of physical action that may refer to (1) producing something material; make, construct, produce, create; or (2) to be active in bringing about a state of condition; do, act, perform, work. 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. The clause "behooves you to do" hints at the compelling raison d'être that would become the passion of the apostle's life (Rom 1:14; 1Cor 9:16).
7 And the men, the ones traveling with him, stood speechless, hearing indeed the voice but seeing no one.
And: Grk. de, conj. the men: pl. of Grk. anēr. See verse 2 above. These men may have been members of the Temple police Saul recruited to assist in the arrest of adherents of the Yeshua movement. the ones: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. traveling with: Grk. sunodeuō, pres. part., to accompany on a journey. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. The only other Jewish literature in which the verb is used in a literal sense is Tobit 5:17 and Josephus (Ant. I, 13:2), and it is used in a fig. sense in Wisdom 6:23. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. stood: Grk. histēmi, plperf., may mean (1) cause to be in a place or position; (2) to be in an upright position; (3) to set or place in a balance; (4) fig. to stand ready, to be of a steadfast mind. The second meaning applies here. The tense of the verb indicates that the men had been immobilized while Yeshua was speaking with Saul.
speechless: Grk. eneos, adj., experiencing loss of speech, unable to speak whether through amazement or terror; dumb, mute, speechless. The word occurs only here in the Besekh. The adj. occurs two times in the LXX: Proverbs 17:28 for Heb. atam, to shut the lips; and Isaiah 56:10 for Heb. illem, mute, unable to speak. hearing: Grk. akouō, pres. part. See verse 4 above. Being hit by a bright shaft of light from heaven left the men dumbfounded. indeed: Grk. mén, a particle of affirmation; indeed, verily, truly. Many versions do not translate the particle. the voice: Grk. ho phōnē. See verse 4 above. Most versions render the noun as "voice." Saul will later clarify that his companions did not hear the words spoken by Yeshua (Acts 22:9). Some versions translate the noun as "sound" (CSB, HNV, MSG, MW, NIV, OJB, TLB, WEB).
What the companions heard could be similar to the occasion when the Father spoke to Yeshua from heaven and bystanders thought it was thunder (John 12:29). However, Bruce offers the reasonable suggestion that translating phōnē as "voice" could refer to Saul's voice. In other words, the companions heard only Saul's side of the conversation. but: Grk. de. seeing: Grk. theōreō, pres. part., may mean (1) pay attention to; look at, observe, watch, behold; (2) conclude on the basis of personal experience; consider, infer, see; or (3) have awareness in depth; perceive, experience. The first meaning has primary application here.
no one: Grk. mēdeis, adj. (from mē, "not" and heis, "one"), not even one, nothing. The companions of Saul were not privileged to see the vision of the resurrected Messiah. Similarly, Daniel saw a heavenly visitor (a vision of Yeshua, cf. Ezek 1:26-27; Rev 1:14), but his companions did not see him (Dan 10:4-7).
8 So Saul rose up from the ground, and his eyes having been opened, he was seeing nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus.
So: Grk. de, conj. Saul rose up: Grk. egeirō, aor. pass., to rise or raise, is used with a variety of meanings: (1) to arouse from sleep, to awake; (2) to arouse from the sleep of death, to recall the dead to life; (3) to cause to rise or raise, from a seat or bed; or (4) to raise up, produce, cause to appear, such as appear before the public or a judge, or erect a building. The third meaning applies here. Egeirō appears frequently in the Besekh in reference to resurrection and the choice to use egeirō here instead of anistēmi (verse 6 above) hints at spiritual resurrection. from: Grk. apo, prep. used generally as a marker of separation, here denoting point of origin; from. the ground: Grk. ho gē. See verse 4 above. The verbal phrase implies that Saul had been prostrate on the ground.
and: Grk. de, conj. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. eyes: pl. of Grk. ophthalmos, the physical organ of sight; eyes. having been opened: Grk. anoigō, perf. pass. part., to open, often used of doors to make a room accessible. Metaphorically the verb may mean to provide the opportunity to do something or to give entrance into the soul. In the LXX anoigō predominately renders Heb. pathach (SH-6605), with a wide variety of uses (Gen 7:11; 29:31; 41:56; 42:27); but also Heb. patsah (SH-6475), used for opening the mouth (Gen 4:11; Job 35:16) and Heb. paqach (SH-6491), used exclusively for opening one's eyes and ears (Gen 21:19) (DNTT 2:726). The fig. use occurs several times in the Tanakh, for opening the eyes of the mind and heart (Gen 3:5; Isa 35:5) and for being attentive to the needs and desires of someone (2Chr 6:40; 7:15; Neh 1:6; Isa 37:17).
Yeshua is the One who opens (Rev 3:7). Given the narrative that follows, the opening of the eyes refers to Saul gaining spiritual insight and revelation (cf. Acts 26:18). he was seeing: Grk. blepō, impf., may mean (1) possess the physical ability to see; (2) use one's eyes to take note of an object; (3) be looking in a certain direction; or (4) to have inward or mental sight. The first meaning has application here. nothing: Grk. oudeis, adj., a marker used to indicate negation of a person or thing as actually existing at a given place or moment; lit. not one, no one, nobody, nothing. The adjective rules out by definition and leaves no exceptions (HELPS). Saul was left totally blind.
and: Grk. de, conj. leading him by the hand: Grk. cheiragōgeō, pres. part., 3p-pl., to lead or take by the hand. The plural participle alludes to the companions of Saul (Acts 22:11). they brought: Grk. eisagō, aor., cause to enter into an area; bring or lead in. him: Grk. autos. into: Grk. eis, prep. Damascus: See verse 2 above. The companions found a house to provide hospitality and care (verse 11 below) and then apparently returned to Jerusalem to report what had happened.
9 And he was three days not seeing, and neither ate nor drank.
And: Grk. kai, conj. he was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 2 above. three: Grk. treis, adj., the cardinal number three. days: pl. of Grk. hēmera may refer to (1) the daylight hours from sunrise to sunset, (2) the civil or legal day that included the night, (3) an appointed day for a special purpose or (4) a longer or imprecise period, such as a timeframe for accomplishing something or a time of life or activity (BAG). The second meaning is probably intended here. In the Tanakh three days often occurs in narratives preceding a momentous event: Joseph informing the baker and cupbearer of their fate in three days (Gen 40:13, 19); Moses imposing the plague of darkness in Egypt (Ex 10:22-23); the preparation time given for crossing the Jordan (Josh 1:11); the spies hidden for three days (Josh 2:16); Esther fasting for deliverance of Jews (Esth 4:16); and Jonah in the fish (Jon 1:17) and walking around Nineveh declaring God's message (Jon 3:3).
not: Grk. mē, adv., a particle of qualified negation, not. It differs from the other standard negative particle, oú, in that oú is objective, dealing only with facts, while mē is subjective, involving will and thought (DM 265). seeing: Grk. blepō, pres. part. See the previous verse. The verb combined with the negative mē probably indicates that Saul did not want to "see" anyone. He wanted to be alone. and: Grk. kai. neither: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in an unqualified denial or negation; no, not. The particle is translated "neither" since it is followed by a parallel negative. ate: Grk. phagō, aor., to take in one's mouth, to partake of food. nor: Grk. oude, negative particle that links a negative statement as complementary to a preceding negative; neither, not even, nor. drank: Grk. pinō, aor., to take in a liquid, to drink, usually of water or wine.
Once settled in a house Saul decided to fast. As a Pharisee Saul was accustomed to fasting twice a week as a personal discipline (cf. Luke 18:12). In the time of Yeshua such fasts took place on the second day (Monday) and fifth day (Thursday) of the week. No fast was permitted on weekly Sabbaths or festival days. Fasting applied only to food and drink; all other acts, such as washing the body or anointing, were permitted. As a religious exercise fasting meant avoidance of unnecessary pleasures and engaging in giving alms to the poor.
However, as a spiritual exercise fasting is a time of seeking God and waiting on Him to respond. Several Bible heroes engaged in fasting to accomplish important goals.
· Moses fasted forty days and nights in his devotion to receiving the Torah from God (Ex 34:28; Deut 9:9).
· David fasted in mourning upon news of Saul's death (2Sam 1:12). He later fasted for healing of his baby conceived by Bathsheba (2Sam 12:16), but the baby died. He fasted another time to pray for healing (Ps 35:13) and twice in praying for God's deliverance from adversaries (Ps 69:10; 109:24).
· Daniel fasted as part of intercession for Israel (Dan 9:3). He fasted a second time two years later for a three-week period in mourning after the revelation of the 70 weeks (Dan 10:2-3).
· Ezra fasted in mourning over the sin of unlawful intermarriage (Ezra 10:6). He confessed the sins of Israel and prayed for wisdom as to how to handle the moral crisis.
· Nehemiah fasted as part of intercession for Israel (Neh 1:4).
· Yeshua fasted forty days in preparation for assuming his redemptive mission (Matt 4:2).
This was a time for Saul to be honest with God. Fasting is especially appropriate for confession of sin (cf. 1Sam 7:6; Joel 2:12; Jon 3:5-8). He would have no doubt agonized over the grievous nature of his sins, marveled at the magnanimous grace of the Messiah who didn't kill him on the Damascus Road and then offered heartfelt confession and repentance to God (cf. 2Cor 4:1; Titus 3:5; 1Tim 1:13-16). For more information on the subject of fasting see my web article Fasting.
The Mission of Ananias, 9:10-19
10 Now there was a certain disciple in Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Behold, I, Lord."
Now: Grk. de, conj. there was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 2 above. a certain: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. disciple: Grk. mathētēs. See verse 1 above. in: Grk. en, prep. Damascus: See verse 2 above. named: Grk. onoma is used in its central sense of identifying someone with a proper name. In Hebrew literature "name" also carries the extended sense of qualities, powers, attributes or reputation. 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 (ed. 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.
and: Grk. kai, conj. the Lord: Grk. kurios, i.e. Yeshua. See verse 1 above. The "Lord" is the risen Messiah as evident from verse 17 below. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 4 above. Yeshua probably spoke in Hebrew as he did to Saul. to: Grk. pros, prep. See verse 2 above. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. in: Grk. en. a vision: Grk. horama, something that is seen by virtue of a transcendent or revelatory experience; vision. The term refers to a pictographic message, not a mental insight. The vision was necessary to convey knowledge not previously possessed. Ananias: Yeshua called to the disciple by name, probably in the night. And: Grk. de. he said: Grk. legō, aor.
Behold: Grk. idou, aor. imp., 2p-sing., demonstrative interjection (derived from eidon, "to see"), that arouses the attention of hearers or readers. The Greek verb, like its corresponding Heb. word hinneh (SH-2009, e.g., Gen 1:29), serves to enliven divine monologues and narratives, particularly as a call to closer consideration and contemplation of something, to introduce something new or to emphasize the size or importance of something; (you) see, look, behold (BAG). Since the verb is second person it may be equivalent to "Behold me!" In other words, "You can see that I am listening." Ananias did not need to ask "who are you?"
I: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. Most versions translate the phrase idou egō as "Here am I." The pronoun is not followed by the verb eimi, "am." This Greek construction of idou egō occurs over 200 times in the LXX and just eight times in the Besekh (Matt 10:16; 11:10; 23:34; 28:20; Luke 23:14; Acts 10:21; 20:25; Heb 2:13), only one of which if followed by eimi (Acts 10:21). Lord: Grk. kurios, voc. case. Ananias has revealed himself to be an obedient disciple with a close relationship with Yeshua.
Stern notes that Ananias joined a select company when he gave this answer expressing ready and expectant submission to God.
• Abraham answered, "Hineni!" when God told him to sacrifice his son Isaac (Gen 22:1), and also when the angel of ADONAI told him to stay his hand (Gen 22:11). Jacob likewise answered "Hineni" to the call of the angel of ADONAI (Gen 31:11; 46:2).
• Moses answered, "Hineni!" to God’s call from the burning bush (Ex 3:4).
• Samuel answered, "Hineni!" when God first spoke to him (1Sam 3:4–10).
• Isaiah answered, "Hineni!" when the voice of ADONAI asked, "Whom shall I send?" (Isa 6:8).
By declaring "Hineni" these men demonstrated that they were unconditionally obedient in the holy service of ADONAI. Yeshua still seeks such disciples.
11 And the Lord said to him, "Having arisen go upon the street called Straight, and seek in the house of Judas, Saul by name, a Tarsian, for behold he is praying,
And: Grk. de, conj. the Lord: See verse 1 above and the previous verse. said to: Grk. pros, prep. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Having arisen: Grk. anistēmi, aor. part. See verse 6 above. The verb may indicate Ananias was awakened from sleep. go: Grk. poreuomai, aor. pass. imp. See verse 3 above. upon: Grk. epi, prep. the street: Grk. rhumē, a tract of way in a town shut in by buildings on both sides; thus a narrow street or lane in a town or city (Thayer). called: Grk. kaleō, pres. pass. part., to identify by name or give a term to; call.
Straight: Grk. Euthus, straight, without unnecessary zig-zags or detours. Streets in ancient cities were given names to distinguish them. This street may have been given the name "Straight" because it was a main road through the city. Mark Twain visited Damascus in 1867 and made the observation that this street "is straighter than a corkscrew, but not as straight as a rainbow" (371). Twain noted that Luke did not say the street was straight, only that it was called Straight, no doubt a facetious remark. Bruce says this street is still one of the chief thoroughfares of Damascus (199).
and: Grk. kai, conj. seek: Grk. zēteō, aor. imp., may mean (1) be on the search for in order to find someone or something one has difficulty in locating; (2) search for ways to satisfy an interest; (3) have an interest in; or (4) press for. The first meaning applies here. in: Grk. en, prep. the house: Grk. oikia may mean (1) a habitable structure; house, abode, private residence (Matt 2:11; John 11:31); (2) fig. of a group within a house; household or family (Matt 10:13; John 4:53); (3) fig. of goods, property or means (Matt 23:13). The first meaning applies here.
of Judas: Grk. Ioudas, a transliteration of Heb. Y'hudah ("Judah") meaning "praise YHVH." The proper name Judas was very common in the time of Yeshua because it was not only the Greek form of one of the twelve patriarchs, but it was also made popular by the Jewish hero Judas Maccabeus who led the nation in their fight for independence from Syria in 166 BC. The Besekh mentions seven men named Judas. No further information is provided on this Judas. He was a Jew, but whether he was a disciple of Yeshua is not mentioned. He might have been a host recommended to Saul in Jerusalem. More likely is that this Judas was a disciple whom God had appointed to care for Saul in his blindness.
Saul: See verse 1 above. by name: Grk. onoma. See the previous verse. a Tarsian: Grk. Tarseus, belonging to Tarsus, a Tarsian. The spelling of the proper name is Tarsos, which occurs verse in 30 below. Most versions have "from Tarsus," but there is no preposition "from" in the verse. Built originally by Sennacherib, King of Assyria (7th c. BC), in express imitation of Babylon (Hislop 157), Tarsus was the leading city in ancient Cilicia, a province between Syria and Asia Minor (Acts 21:39), located about 10 miles inland from the coast. 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. It was the birthplace of Chrysippus, a well-known leader of the Stoic movement.
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 first use is intended here. behold: Grk. idou, aor. imp. See the previous verse. he is praying: Grk. proseuchomai, pres. mid., to petition deity for some personal desire. In the LXX proseuchomai renders Heb. palal (SH-6419), to intervene, mediate, intercede or pray. The verb refers to earnestly petitioning God for His help with respect to an urgent need. The prayer of Saul likely included confession and repentance with the humility of having realized that he was a great sinner (1Tim 1:15).
12 and he saw a man in a vision, Ananias by name, having come and having laid hands on him, so that he might recover sight."
and: Grk. de, conj. he saw: Grk. horaō, aor., 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. a man: Grk. anēr. See verse 2 above. in: Grk. en, prep. a vision: Grk. horama. See verse 10 above. Ananias: See verse 10 above. by name: Grk. onoma. See verse 10 above. having come: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. part. See verse 6 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. having laid: Grk. epitithēmi, aor. part., to place something on or transfer to; to lay or put on. hands: pl. of Grk. cheir, the anatomical limb of the hand. The verbal phrase is used first in the apostolic narratives of Yeshua employing physical touch to heal (Matt 9:18) and to convey blessing (Matt 19:18). In this context the verbal phrase has that meaning, but something more is intended.
The idiomatic expression of "laying on of hands" (from Heb. s'mikhah, "leaning" or "laying"), meaning to consecrate, dedicate or ordain to an office, has a strong history in Scripture and Jewish culture. The practice began at Sinai. Just as animals were dedicated for sacrifice by hand-laying (Ex 29:10; Lev 4:15), so the appointment to an office in the same manner effectively made the candidate a "living sacrifice." Israelites dedicated Levites for service (Num 8:10) and Moses transferred his authority to Joshua by this method (Num 27:18-23; Deut 34:9). This ritual may have been followed for ordaining the seventy elders to their office by Moses (Num 11:16–17, 24–25).
In Jewish culture the ordination ceremony for a judge, elder or rabbi was accomplished by laying on of hands. This symbolic act confers or transfers an office, along with its duties and privileges, by dramatizing God's bestowal of the blessings and spiritual gifts needed for the work. A rabbinic candidate was ordained by a board of three elders, at least one of whom had also received s'mikhah (Stern 64). In the Besekh the first mention of appointment to an office by laying on of hands is found in Acts 6:6 in which seven men were appointed as deacons to administer the charitable ministry for widows. The leaders of the Samaritan congregation were also appointed in the same manner (Acts 8:17).
We may assume that the appointment of Mattathias to apostolic office (Acts 1:26) was accomplished in the same manner, just as the Twelve and the Seventy had previously been appointed by Yeshua (Mark 3:14; Luke 10:1). Saul had come to Damascus in the exercise of his office as apostle of the high priest, and now Yeshua was going to promote him to the privileged status of apostle of the Messiah. Thus, as a member of the Seventy who had been ordained by Yeshua, Ananias would conduct the ordination of Saul to his new office.
on him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. so that: Grk. hopōs, conj. See verse 2 above. he might recover sight: Grk. anablepō, aor. subj., to be able to see after a period without sight; be able to see, receive sight, recover sight. The narrative contains humor since the Lord gave the vision to Saul before telling Ananias about it. Failure to go would make Yeshua a liar. According to verse 17 below there was more to the instruction from Yeshua.
13 Then Ananias answered, "Lord, I heard from many concerning this man, how many evils he did to Your holy ones in Jerusalem;
Then: Grk. de, conj. Ananias: See verse 10 above. answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass., to answer or reply to someone, whether to a question, request, exhortation, command, etc. (BAG). 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). Ananias responds to the divine commission by pointing out two concerns. Lord: Grk. kurios, voc. See verse 1 above. I heard: Grk. akouō, aor. See verse 4 above. from: Grk. apo, prep. many: pl. of Grk. polus, adj., extensive in scope, here indicating a high number.
concerning: Grk. peri, prep with an orientational aspect relating to being near or having to do with something; in behalf of, about, concerning. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this. man: Grk. anēr. See verse 2 above. News of Saul's arrival and mission had spread among the disciples in Damascus. how many: Grk. hosos, correlative pronoun signifying maximum inclusion; how much, how great, how many.
evils: pl. of Grk. kakos, adj., may mean (1) morally or socially reprehensible and contrary to Torah standards; bad, wrong, wicked, evil; or (2) causing harm, with focus on personal or physical injury; harmful, bad. Both meanings have application here, but the first is primary. In the LXX kakos is used to render Heb. ra (SH-7451), which has the same dual meaning (DNTT 1:562). he did: Grk. poieō, aor. See verse 6 above. The evils included arrest, confiscation of property, summary trial, flogging and legal murder. Saul's later testimony of his conduct supports this indictment (Acts 22:4-5; 26:9-11; 1Tim 1:13-15).
to Your: Grk. su, possessive pronoun of the second person. holy ones: pl. of ho hagios, adj., set apart for dedication to God and therefore holy or sacred. Barclay and HELPS say the root meaning of the term is "different," being different from the world (cf. 1Jn 2:15-16). In the LXX hagios translates the Heb. adj. qadôsh (SH-6918), "holy, sacred," and its first usage is of Israel set apart as a priestly nation (Ex 19:6) (DNTT 2:224). The plural form as a descriptive name signifies those who are "wholly His." In later Jewish literature the plural hagioi is used for the Jerusalem priestly community (1Macc 1:46; 3Macc 2:2, 21; Tobit 12:15) and members of the Hasideans, forerunners of the Pharisees (1Macc 7:17). The community of Qumran also described itself as "the holy ones of His people" (1QM 6:6) (TDSS 153).
The noun is translated as "saints" in a number of Christian versions, which may be misleading to modern readers. The historical restriction in Christianity of using "saint" to canonize only the apostles and later Christian leaders is unfortunate and unnecessary. The biblical term does not convey elitism, even though being holy is directly connected to being chosen by God (Eph 1:4; Col 3:12; 1Pet 2:9). The true holy ones are those who have accepted the truth of the Good News of the Messiah, repented of their sins, put their trust in the atoning sacrifice of Yeshua for their sins, separated themselves to be faithful to their Lord, and enjoy the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. Being a "holy one" is a high level of devotion to which all disciples are called (Rom 1:7; Eph 1:4, 18). For a detailed explanation of this term and its significance see the section "Holy Ones" in my article The Apostolic Community.
in: Grk. en, prep. Jerusalem: Grk. Ierousalēm. See verse 2 above. The reply of Ananias alludes to the persecution reported in Acts 8:1-3 and suggests that his knowledge of Saul's "evils" was derived from those who had fled the persecution, and not from any personal experience. Stern comments that the reservations of Ananias about carrying out God's command was not unlike like Moses (Ex 3:13; 4:1, 10, 13), Isaiah (Isaiah 6:5) and Jeremiah (Jer 1:6-7).
14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all the ones calling on Your name."
Ananias then expresses a second concern. and: Grk. kai, conj. here: Grk. hōde, adv. of place, here or in this place; i.e., Damascus. he has: Grk. echō, pres., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. The verb alludes to the arrest warrants Saul had in his hand. authority: Grk. exousia, the right to speak or act in a situation without looking or waiting for approval; authority, right, jurisdiction. News of Saul's arrival and mission had spread among the disciples in Damascus. from: Grk. para, prep. the chief priests: pl. of Grk. archiereus. See verse 1 above. The plural noun would include 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 (Acts 4:1; 5:17) and Josephus (Ant. XX, 9:1) we know that the chief priests were generally Sadducees and together as a group formed the legal and administrative authority in the Temple. Many of the serving chief priests were 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. According to rabbinical sources the list of working chief priests included the following (Jeremias 160):
● The ruling high priest
● The deputy high priest, who also served as chief of the Levitical police.
● The director of the weekly division of ordinary priests.
● The director of the daily shift.
● Seven temple overseers.
● Three or more temple treasurers.
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. The plural noun in this context may only include the ruling high priest and deputy high priest who would have supplied Levitical guards to accompany Saul. Ananias apparently learned about Saul's purpose in coming to Damascus.
to bind: Grk. deō, aor. inf. See verse 2 above. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every. the ones: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. calling on: Grk. epikaleō, pres. part., 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. Your: Grk. su, poss. pronoun of the second person. name: Grk. onoma. See verse 10 above. The last clause alludes to the exhortation of Peter in his Pentecost sermon that all who call on the name of ADONAI will be saved (Acts 2:21) and by extension the thousands in Jerusalem who obeyed and became followers of Yeshua.
But: Grk. de, conj. the Lord: Grk. kurios. See verse 1 above. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 4 above. to: Grk. pros, prep. See verse 2 above. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Go: Grk. poreuomai, pres. mid. imp. See verse 3 above. Yeshua preempted any further excuse by the strong command. because: Grk. hoti, conj. that serves as a link between two sets of data, whether (1) defining a demonstrative pronoun; that; (2) introducing a subordinate clause as complementary of a preceding verb; (3) introducing a direct quotation and functioning as quotation marks; or (4) indicating causality with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as. The fourth usage applies here. As "Lord," Yeshua did not owe Ananias any explanation, but does give a significant revelation to Ananias.
this one: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 2 above. to me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. Many versions translate the dative case of the noun as a genitive, "of mine." The dative draws a different distinction. Yeshua essentially says, "I know what Saul is to you, but let me tell you what he is to me." a vessel: Grk. skeuos, something serviceable in carrying out a function. The term is used variously of (1) a human body, (2) a household or Temple container for holding a liquid, and (3) a ship. Most versions have "instrument," but the following verbal phrase suggests the imagery of a container and not a tool. There may even be a hint of the vessel that would carry Saul across the Mediterranean to his destiny in Rome and Spain.
of choice: Grk. eklogē, the act of making a choice or selection; especially used of God making a unique independent choice. Most versions translate the noun as an adjective "chosen" to modify "vessel." However, the genitive case of eklogē emphasizes the selection of Saul as particularly significant and important (cf. Rom 1:1-3; Gal 1:15-16). to bear: Grk. bastazō, aor. inf., may mean (1) take up something from a position; lift; (2) sustain a burden; bear, carry; (3) remove from a position; remove, pilfer, steal. The second meaning applies here. Versions are divided in translating the verb as "bear" and "carry." The verb may allude to the description of prophecies in the Tanakh being called a "burden" (Ezek 12:10; Zech 9:1; 12:10). my: Grk. egō. name: Grk. onoma. See verse 10 above. The phrase "bear my name" is idiomatic for proclaiming the good news of Yeshua (Gill), but it is a burden because it includes a warning of the wrath to come upon the unrepentant.
before: Grk. enōpion, prep., from a word meaning "facing" with the basic idea of being 'in sight of' or 'in the presence of.' nations: pl. of Grk. ethnos, humans belonging to a people group as defined by language and culture. In the LXX ethnos generally renders Heb. goy (SH-1471; pl. goyim), "community, nation, people" (BDB 156; DNTT 2:790). The term ethnos is first used in Genesis 10 to describe the list of seventy nations and is also used for descendants of Isaac and Jacob and the nation of Israel (cf. Gen 12:2; 17:4; 18:18; Ex 19:6; Deut 4:6; Ps 106:5; Isa 9:1; 42:1, 6; Jer 5:15; Ezek 4:13; 36:13-14; Mic 4:2-3). In the Besekh ethnos may refer to any people distinguished by language and culture (Matt 24:7; Acts 10:35; Rev 5:9), including Israel (Luke 23:2; Acts 24:2, 10; 28:19; 1Cor 10:18; Php 3:5).
Standard Christian versions render the plural noun here as "Gentiles" (ASV, AMP, CSB, CEB, DRA, ESV, KJV, NASB, NET, NIV, NJB, NKJV, NLT, NRSV, RSV). This translation seems designed to give credence to the distorted interpretation of Galatians 2:7-9 that God appointed Saul to be an apostle only to the Gentiles. However, this translation is much too restrictive considering the actual ministry of Saul-Paul as recorded by Luke. Saul was given a broad mandate in terms of the people groups to whom he was to proclaim the good news. Some versions recognize the inclusive intention here and have "nations" (GW, LITV, NEB, NOG, NTE, TLB, TLV, TPT, WEB, YLT). The CJB and OJB have "Goyim."
and: Grk. kai, conj. both: Grk. te, conj. See verse 2 above. The conjunctive phrase kai te is equivalent to "including." kings: pl. of Grk. basileus, king or chief ruler. In the LXX basileus appears frequently to translate Heb. melek (SH-4428). In the Tanakh the title "king" was not associated with the size of territory governed (often a city), but the authority wielded. The executive and judicial functions (and sometimes legislative) of government were vested in one person. Saul would eventually appear before the Jewish King Agrippa, the Roman governors Felix and Festus and Caesar Nero (twice).
and: Grk. te. sons: pl. of Grk. huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry. In the LXX huios renders Heb. ben ("son," "son of"), which is used in three distinctive ways: (1) to identify direct paternity, as the son of his father (Gen 5). (2) to mean not the actual father but a more distant ancestor (e.g., Gen 32:32; Matt 1:1); or (3) to mean in a broader sense of having the characteristics of (e.g., Ps 89:22; Dan 3:25; cf. 2Th 2:3). The plural noun refers here to descendants. of Israel: Grk. Israēl, a transliteration of the Heb. Yisrael, which means "God prevails" (BDB 975). The name first appears in Genesis 32:28 where the angel with whom Jacob struggled informed him that his name would be changed to Israel. After Jacob's reconciliation with Esau the name change was made permanent along with significant covenantal promises. God said,
"I am El Shaddai. Be fruitful and multiply. A nation and an assembly of nations will come from you. From your loins will come forth kings. 12 The land that I gave to Abraham and to Isaac—I give it to you, and to your seed after you I will give the land." (Gen 35:11-12 TLV)
The mission Yeshua had in mind for Saul would take him to all the biological descendants of Jacob wherever they might be living. It is noteworthy that Yeshua said "sons of Israel" and not "Jews." The sons of Israel were fractured into several groups: Essenes, Galilean Jews, Hellenistic Jews, Hellenized Jews, Herodians, Judean Jews, Pharisees, Sadducees, Samaritans and Zealots. The good news of Messiah was intended for all of them. This declaration hearkens back to Peter's statement in his Pentecost sermon: "Therefore, let all the house of Israel assuredly know that God has made him [Yeshua] both Lord and Messiah" (Acts 2:36). Historic Christianity, employing a distorted interpretation of Galatians 2:7-9, has fostered the lie that Saul was only intended as an apostle to the Gentiles.
16 for I will show to him how much it is necessary for him to suffer in behalf of My name."
for: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 11 above. The conjunction has an explanatory function here. I: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. will show: Grk. hupodeiknumi, fut., to show or indicate something to someone in a literal sense, but also fig. of give direction, prove or set forth. The verb often pertains to showing by words and arguments, but in this instance it is showing by experience. to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. how much: Grk. hosos, relative pronoun. See verse 13 above. it is necessary: Grk. dei, pres., 3p-sing. See verse 6 above. Most versions translate the verb as "must." The verb hints at God's sovereign will for the future. for him: Grk. autos. The pronoun is in the position of a direct object, not the subject of the verb dei as most versions translate.
to suffer: Grk. paschō, aor. inf., to experience something, but often with a negative connotation in association with physical pain or ill treatment; suffer. in behalf of: Grk. huper, prep., lit. "over, above," used to express a stance of concern or interest relating to someone or something. With the genitive case of the noun following the preposition emphasizes a supportive aspect; for the advantage of, in behalf of, in the interest of. My: Grk. egō. name: Grk. onoma. See verse 10 above. Yeshua makes it clear that the suffering of Saul is not punishment or penance. Rather, it is the natural consequence of his choice to follow Yeshua, a kind of inevitability. Yeshua had prophesied that his disciples would suffer persecution (Matt 10:16-23; 24:9; John 15:18-20).
The expectation of suffering flies in the face of the modern "prosperity gospel" advocated by the Word of Faith Movement that denies suffering as part of God plan. Luke recounts Saul's experience of suffering in various cities during the course of the apostle's ministry (cf. 1Th 2:2; 2Tim 3:11). Saul will later list details of his sufferings (2Cor 1:5-9; 11:23-31; Php 3:8; 4:12; 2Tim 2:9). Saul came to view suffering for the Messiah as earnest for the glory to come (Rom 8:17-18) and a special fellowship he shared with Yeshua (Php 3:10).
17 Then Ananias departed and entered into the house, and having laid hands upon him said, "Saul, brother, the Lord has sent me, Yeshua, the one having appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, so that you might recover sight and might be filled of the Holy Spirit."
Then: Grk. de, conj. Ananias departed: Grk. aperchomai, aor., to be in movement from a position with or without mention of a destination; to go away, depart or leave. and: Grk. kai, conj. entered: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. See verse 6 above. into: Grk. eis, prep. the house: Grk. oikia. See verse 11 above. Ananias proceeds to fulfill his four-fold mission from Yeshua. and having laid hands: See verse 12 above for the dual function of this important religious and spiritual act. upon: Grk. epi, prep. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The first mission was to lay hands on Saul to ordain him as an apostle of Yeshua. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 4 above. Saul: Grk. Saoul, voc.
brother: Grk. adelphos, voc., lit. "of the same womb," and in secular Greek meant a male sibling; brother. In the apostolic narratives adelphos primarily refers to blood siblings or fellow Israelites who are of the same blood by virtue of descent from Jacob. In the LXX adelphos is used for the Heb. ach (SH-251), a male sibling (Gen 4:2; 20:5), a close relative (Gen 13:8) or a member of the same tribe (Num 16:10) or people (Ex 4:18). Most versions put "brother" as an adjective before Saul, but both nouns are in the form of direct address. Ananias could have called Saul by name, paused and then greeted him as "brother" to fulfill his second mission, that of welcoming Saul into the fellowship of the congregation of the Messiah.
the Lord: See verse 1 above. The title is used of Yeshua. has sent: Grk. apostellō, perf., to cause to move from one position to another, but often to send as an authoritative personal representative; send, send away/out/off. In the LXX apostellō translated Heb. shalach ("to stretch out or to send"), often in contexts of commissioning and empowering a messenger (DNTT 1:128). me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. Yeshua: See verse 5 above. Many versions rearrange the Greek word order so that the name appears next to the title. Rather, Ananias clarifies whom he meant by "Lord." the one: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun.
having appeared: Grk. horaō, aor. pass. part. See verse 12 above. to you: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. The singular pronoun reinforces the interpretation that Yeshua did not appear to the travel companions of Saul. on: Grk. en, prep. the road: Grk. hodos. See verse 2 above. Here the noun refers to the King's Highway. by which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. you were coming: Grk. erchomai, impf. mid., to come or arrive' with focus on a position from which action or movement takes place. so that: Grk. hopōs, conj. See verse 2 above. you might recover sight: Grk. anablepō, aor. subj., 2p-sing. See verse 12 above. The third mission of Ananias was to transmit the healing power of God to the eyes of Saul, so that he could see physically as well as spiritually.
and might be filled: Grk. pimplēmi, aor. subj., to cause to be in a condition that allows for no further addition; be filled. Mounce adds "be under full influence," which seems appropriate here. of the: the Greek text lacks the definite article, but is assumed for translation purposes. Holy: Grk. hagios, adj., set apart for dedication to the interests or expectations of deity. The term is used of sacred things, places, people, angels and God. In the LXX hagios translates Heb. qadôsh (SH-6918), which means separate, sacred, holy. Qadosh is first used of God in Leviticus 11:44. Spirit: Grk. pneuma (for Heb. ruach), wind, breath or spirit; here referring to the Holy Spirit. Pneuma is used for the human spirit and transcendent beings (Matt 8:16; Heb 1:14), particularly the Spirit as God's self-expression (Gen 1:2; Mark 1:10).
In Scripture "holy" is only used as an adjective of "spirit" to refer to the Holy Spirit, a name or face of God. "Holy Spirit" is not the title of a separate being, because God is Spirit (pneuma ho theos, John 4:24), just as God is the Word (John 1:1). The specific name "Holy Spirit" occurs only three times in the Tanakh (Ps 51:11; Isa 63:10, 11) given as Ruach Qodesh. The Holy Spirit is identified by three other forms in the Tanakh (Ruach Elohim, Gen 1:2; Ruach YHVH, Jdg 3:10; and Ruach Adonai YHVH, Isa 61:1). The Hebrew forms never appear with the definite article.
The fourth mission of Ananias was to facilitate the equipping of Saul with spiritual gifts requisite for his apostolic ministry. Relevant to the text here is that Saul later makes reference to Timothy receiving spiritual gifts for ministry through laying on of hands (1Tim 4:14; 2Tim 1:6). Like the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Samaritan leaders, the narrative is silent regarding any particular signs or gifts that manifested the work of the Spirit in Saul.
18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he recovered sight; also having arisen he immersed;
And: Grk. kai, conj. immediately: Grk. eutheōs, adv., immediately, forthwith, or right away. The adverb is a dramatic device that energizes the narrative, often shifting the reader's attention to another scene. something like: Grk. hōs, adv. that connects narrative components and used here in a comparative sense; just like, similar to. scales: pl. of Grk. lepis, small membranous structure, scale. The term is used in the LXX primarily for Heb. qasqeseth (SH-7193), scales of a fish (Lev 11:9-10, 12; Deut 14:9-10; Ezek 29:4). Bruce describes it as a flaky substance. fell: Grk. apopiptō, aor., to fall off. from: Grk. apo, prep. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. eyes: pl. of Grk. ophthalmos. See verse 8 above. Yeshua insured that Saul's corneas were shielded from the intensity of the light from heaven.
and he recovered sight: Grk. anablepō, aor. See verse 12 above. The healing likely did not give Saul 20/20 vision since he later mentions a deficiency in his eyesight (cf. Gal 4:15; 6:11). The healing would only have restored his eyes to their condition before the encounter on the Damascus road. also: Grk. te, conj. having arisen: Grk. anistēmi, aor. part. See verse 6 above. The verb implies that Saul had been lying down, but perhaps it alludes to being on his knees for prayer. he was immersed: Grk. baptizō (from baptō, "immerse" or "plunge"), aor. pass., 3p-sing., means to dip, soak, or immerse into a liquid. Grammatically the verb depicts the consequence of "having arisen." The verb 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 baptō is used to translate the Heb. taval (SH-2881, to dip, immerse) 13 times, whereas baptizō occurs only once to render taval (2Kgs 5:14), in reference to the story of Naaman (DNTT 1:144). Unlike modern Christian ritual Jewish immersion was (and is) self-immersion by adults without assistance, as in the story of Naaman. The representation of baptizō as burial and resurrection (Rom 6:4; Col 2:12) is a graphic illustration of the procedure. Yeshua expected that those choosing to be identified with him would be immersed (Matt 28:19; Mark 16:16; John 4:1-2). The passive voice of the verb here describes Saul as receiving the action. DM notes that the passive voice arose out of the middle voice (the voice of agency) and "the line of demarcation between them was never absolutely fixed" (162).
Since no direct agent is specified in the Greek text, then Saul remains the subject performing the action, contrary to the assumption of Christian commentators that Ananias laid hands on Saul to immerse him. The role of Ananias was to instruct Saul in the necessity of immersion and insure Saul went completely under the water. The OJB translates the clause: "having got up, he submitted to Moshiach's [Messiah's] tevilah [immersion] of teshuva [repentance]." 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.
19 and having received food he was strengthened. Now for some days he was with the disciples in Damascus,
and: Grk. kai, conj. having received: Grk. lambanō, aor. part. The verb marks the transit of something from a position to another person who is the agent with the latter being also the receptor; to take or receive. food: Grk. trophē, a nourishing substance taken into the body to sustain life; food, victuals. Probably Ananias arranged for food to be prepared or brought to Saul. As a Jew Saul would have eaten only kosher food. In the narrative chronology the act of eating follows the immersion, but the verse division is arbitrary, and Luke could simply have reported the acts in order of importance rather than in order of completion. If the eating followed the immersing, it may have occurred in another location other than the house of Judas, unless this house was close to the site of immersion.
he was strengthened: Grk. enischuō, aor., to invigorate or strengthen. The verb occurs only twice in the Besekh (Luke 22:43). The verb describes the consequence of eating. Now: Grk. de, conj. for some: pl. of Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. days: pl. of Grk. hēmera. See verse 9 above. The phrase "some days" is idiomatic for an indefinite but short period of time. The same time expression occurs four more times in Acts (10:48; 15:36; 16:12; 24:24). The pronoun tis in the singular denotes a quantity of one, so the plural would mean at least two, perhaps three or four. The time was not likely as much as a week. The period of "some days" contrasts sharply with the "many days" in verse 23.
he was: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. See verse 3 above. with: Grk. meta, prep. used to mark association or accompaniment; with, amid, among. the disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. See verse 1 above. in: Grk. en, prep. Damascus: See verse 2 above. The last statement indicates that Saul was received into fellowship among the disciples, probably with assurance from Ananias of the genuineness of Saul's transformation. Perhaps Saul took the time to express his regret and sorrow for his past transgressions and received forgiveness from the persecution refugees. Also, this would be a time for Saul to be discipled and instructed before taking on the mantle of apostle.
Additional Note: The Supposed Conversion of Saul
Christian interpreters typically characterize the transformation of Saul-Paul as a conversion, as if he converted from Judaism to Christianity and then rejected Judaism. The narrative of this chapter and later recounting of that experience (Acts 22:6-11; 26:12-19; Gal 1:13-16; cf. 1Cor 7:20; 2Cor 4:1; 1Tim 1:12-16), the term "conversion" is never used to describe what happened to Saul. The consistent testimony of the apostle was that he was shown mercy and then set apart to proclaim the Good News of the Jewish Messiah. However, Saul continued to live as a Pharisee, albeit a Messianic Pharisee. His basic theology did not change.
Historic Christianity, employing a distorted interpretation of Galatians 2:7-9, has fostered the lie that God did not intend His mission for Paul as Yeshua gave it in verse 15 above. The Church decided that Paul was an apostle only to the Gentiles. Moreover, by twisting Paul's words and theology to invent replacement theology Christianity effectively rejected God's commission to take the good news of salvation to Jews. By inventing an antisemitic Paul the Church also rejected Paul's authorship of Hebrews. See my web article Perspectives on Paul.
Saul's First Ministry, 9:20-22
20 and immediately in the synagogues he was proclaiming Yeshua, that this one is the Son of God.
and: Grk. kai, conj. immediately: Grk. eutheōs, adv. See verse 18 above. The adverb indicates the time following the "some days" of the previous verse. in: Grk. en, prep. the synagogues: pl. of Grk. sunagōgē. See verse 2 above. These would have included the same synagogues Saul had originally planned to visit. Consistent with Yeshua's commission to go to the "sons of Israel" (verse 15 above) and setting the pattern for his future ministry, Saul began his evangelistic outreach in the synagogues. The good news was intended for the Jew first (Rom 1:16).
he was proclaiming: Grk. kērussō, impf., to make a public announcement in the manner of a herald, to proclaim. The verb always contains the suggestion of formality, gravity, and an authority which must be listened to and obeyed (Thayer). In the LXX kērussō occurs 29 times, mostly to translate Heb. qara (SH-7121), to call, proclaim or read (DNTT 3:50). In translating qara the verb kērussō usually occurs in settings of making a public announcement requiring compliance (e.g., Gen 41:43; Ex 32:5; 2Chr 20:3; Neh 6:7; Esth 6:9; Joel 1:14; 2:15; 3:9; Jon 1:2; 3:1, 4-5).
Kērussō also translates Heb. rua (SH-7321), to cry out, raise a shout, give a blast with a horn, in settings of proclaiming an important message from ADONAI (Hos 5:8; Joel 2:1; Zeph 3:14; Zech 9:9). In the Besekh the use of kērussō combines the primary elements of the Hebrew verbs of proclaiming a message from God that demands an obedient response.
Yeshua: Grk. ho Iēsous. See verse 5 above. Luke uses the same succinct description as used of Philip in 8:35 of declaring the good news to the Ethiopian. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 15 above. The conjunction is used here to introduce a subordinate clause as complementary of the preceding verb. Some versions treat the following clause as a direct quotation, but the verb "saying" does not occur in the Greek text. this one: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 13 above. Many versions translate the masculine pronoun as "he." is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 2 above.
the Son: Grk. huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry. In the LXX huios renders Heb. ben ("son," "son of"), which is used in three distinctive ways: (1) to identify direct paternity, as the son of his father (Gen 5). (2) to mean not the actual father but a more distant ancestor (e.g., Gen 32:32), as Yeshua is referred to as the son of David and Abraham (Matt 1:1); or (3) to mean in a broader sense of having the characteristics of (e.g., Ps 89:22; Dan 3:25; cf. Acts 4:36; 13:10), and this too applies here. of God: Grk. theos, God or god, which must be determined from the context.
In the LXX theos primarily renders the generic designations of God, El and Elohim (over 2500 times), but also YHVH (300 times) (DNTT 2:67-70). Given the plural nature of Elohim the full triunity of God must be represented in theos. The only God in existence is the God who created the heavens and the earth out of nothing (Gen 1:1) and who chose Israel out of all the nations on the earth for a covenantal relationship (Ex 19:5; Isa 44:6; 45:5-6; 46:9). In the Besekh theos is used overwhelmingly for the God of Israel. The God of Israel is the only God there is. The deities of all other religions and cults are the product of Satan-inspired imagination.
The title "Son of God" occurs 43 times in the Besekh and all but one refer to Yeshua. For Jews during this time "son of God" was used as a title for the promised human descendant of King David (2Sam 7:12), the Messiah, who would establish and rule over the Kingdom of God on earth (Matt 26:63; Luke 1:31-35; John 1:17, 41, 49; 11:27; 20:31). "Son of God" was a title of the Davidic king inasmuch as the king functioned as God's regent on earth and was vested with God's authority. Thus, Saul declared to the Jews in Damascus that Yeshua was the Messiah and Davidic King of Israel. In contrast Christianity has traditionally restricted the meaning of the title "Son of God" to deity, the second person of the Trinity. However, the title embraces the fullness of the incarnation (Php 2:5-8).
Luke does not explain the content of Saul's message, but "proclaiming the Yeshua as the Son of God" would certainly include his personal testimony of the Damascus Road encounter and also include specific assertions of interest to the Jews in Damascus as found in the earlier sermons of Peter and Stephen.
• The promises of the Messiah God made to the fathers have now been fulfilled with the coming of Yeshua (Acts 2:30; 3:19, 24).
• Yeshua conducted a ministry of doing good and performing mighty works by the power of God (Acts 2:22).
• Yeshua was rejected by Israel's leaders (Acts 2:23; 3:13; 4:11; 7:52).
• Yeshua was wrongfully crucified according to the will of God (Acts 2:23; 3:13-15, 18; 4:11).
• God raised Yeshua from the dead and he appeared afterwards to his disciples (Acts 2:24, 31-32; 3:15, 26).
• Yeshua was exalted to the right hand of God and given the name "Lord" (Acts 2:25-29, 33-36; 3:13; 5:31).
• Yeshua gave the promised Holy Spirit to cleanse and empower his disciples (Acts 1:8; 2:14-18, 33, 38-39; 5:32).
• Yeshua will return for judgment and the restoration of all things (Acts 3:20-21).
• There is salvation in no one else, so all who hear the message should repent for the forgiveness of sins and be immersed (Acts 2:21, 38; 3:19; 5:31).
21 Now, all the ones hearing him were amazed, and were saying, "Was not this one in Jerusalem the one who was ravaging the ones calling on this name? And he had come here for this, that having been bound he might bring them to the chief priests!"
Now: Grk. de, conj. Most versions don't translate the conjunction, but Luke makes a contrasting statement to the preceding verse. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 14 above. the ones: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. hearing: Grk. akouō, pres. part. See verse 4 above. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, referring to Saul. Luke alludes to the public proclamation of Saul in the synagogues. were amazed: Grk. existēmi, impf. mid., expresses the idea of causing or undergoing a psychological change outside normal expectation. In this context the verb means to make a profound impression on by astonishing, to be amazed. The resident disciples were impressed by the incredible transformation, nothing short of a miracle. and: Grk. kai, conj. were saying: Grk. legō, impf. See verse 4 above.
Was: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 2 above. The present tense is used here to describe a past event with vividness. not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 9 above. The negative particle, which actually begins the Greek sentence, is used here interrogatively with an affirmative answer expected. this one: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun, referring to Saul. See verse 13 above. in: Grk. en, prep. Jerusalem: Grk. Ierousalēm. See verse 2 above. the one who: Grk. ho, used here as a demonstrative pronoun. was ravaging: Grk. portheō (from perthō, "to ravage"), aor. part., besiege, carry off, destroy, lay waste, plunder, ravage, ruin (LSJ). BAG adds "annihilate, make havoc, pillage." Mounce adds "harass." Thayer adds "overthrow." In Greek literature the verb often described the actions of an invading army. The aorist participle describes simple action in past time, but not completed action.
Many versions, however, translate the verb as completed action (ASV, ESV, GW, JUB, KJV, NASB, NKJV, NIV, NOG, NRSV, RSV, TLV, WEB). Other versions recognizing the participial form of the verb have "was 'causing,' 'making' or 'wreaking' havoc" (CEB, CSB, LEB, OJB), "was destroying" (HCSB), "was killing" (GNB), or "was ravaging" (NCV). The verb occurs only three times in the Besekh, the other two in Saul's recounting of his persecution of the Jerusalem congregation (Gal 1:13). In Galatians 1:13 Saul uses the imperfect tense, which according to LSJ means "endeavor to destroy." This is an important clarification since Saul did not wipe out all the disciples in the Jewish capital. Some versions influenced by the imperfect tense in Galatians translate the verb here as "trying to destroy" (CJB, ERV, EXB, NCV, NEB).
In the LXX the verb occurs only in 4Maccabees 4:23 and 11:4 of the ravaging of Jerusalem by Antiochus Epiphanes. Luke was no doubt familiar with the Maccabean writings and the choice of the verb hints at comparing the persecution of Saul with that of the historic tyrant who persecuted those faithful to Torah observance (4Macc 4:23-26). Saul had represented the spirit of anti-messiah (1Jn 2:22). Josephus later used the verb to describe the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonian army (Ant. X, 8:2).
the ones: pl. of Grk. ho. calling on: Grk. epikaleō, pres. mid. part. See verse 14 above. this: Grk. houtos. name: Grk. onoma. See verse 10 above. The verbal phrase refers to those who had embraced Yeshua as Savior. The descriptive phrase in lieu of "disciples" (verse 1 above) might hint that the primary target of the persecution were new believers. And: Grk. kai. he had come: Grk. erchomai, plperf. See verse 17 above. here: Grk. hōde, adv. See verse 14 above. for: Grk. eis, prep. this: Grk. houtos. that: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed; in order that, so that, that.
having been bound: Grk. deō, perf. pass. part. See verse 2 above. he might bring: Grk. agō, aor. subj. See verse 2 above. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. to: Grk. epi, prep. the chief priests: pl. of Grk. archiereus. See verse 1 above. Saul's mission in Damascus had become widely known, no doubt spread by the companions of Saul, members of the Levitical police. The fact that the Levitical police did not insist on serving the arrest warrants may indicate either their ambivalence toward the mission or unwillingness to act without their leader. In any event, the question and statement of congregation members does not reflect disbelief or suspicion, but marveling at the wondrous transformation Yeshua had wrought. God can save the worst of sinners!
22 And Saul was empowered even more and was surprising the traditional Jews dwelling in Damascus, proving that this one is the Messiah.
And: Grk. de, conj. Saul was empowered: Grk. endunamoō, impf. pass., to empower, enable or strengthen in a physical sense, and by extension of inner empowerment, which is the meaning here. The verb alludes to the active work of the Holy Spirit in Saul's life. even more: Grk. mallon, adv. of increase or additive to some aspect of activity, situation, or condition; (much) more. and: Grk. kai, conj. was surprising: Grk. sugcheō, aor. pass. (from sun, "with," and cheō, "to pour"), thus lit. "to pour together." In the active voice the verb may mean "to confuse, confound, trouble or stir up," and in the passive voice "be amazed, surprised, excited or agitated" (BAG). The verb is passive voice but the great majority of versions translate the verb as if it is active voice with "confounded," "confounding" or confused."
Perhaps we should consider that the verb depicts two contrasting reactions occurring simultaneously. They were surprised because of who was presenting the message as explained in the previous verse. Saul had totally changed his point of view. He was no longer against the Messiah and his disciples. He had joined his former enemies and renounced his campaign of terror against them. Moreover, because of their conservative values Saul's hearers were stirred emotionally, some responding positively and others negatively. There would be no neutral ground and as a result division would quickly result.
the traditional Jews: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios (derived from Ioudas, "Judah"), originally meant one sprung from the tribe of Judah, or a subject of the kingdom of Judah, but used more generally in the Besekh of a descendant of Jacob (Mounce). Danker notes that the term may be used as an adjective (Judean/Jewish) or a noun (Judean, Jew). In the LXX Ioudaios first occurs in the plural to translate Heb. Yehudim (pl. of Heb. Yehudi, SH-3064), citizens of the Kingdom of Judah (2Kgs 16:6; 25:25; Jer 34:9). The southern kingdom also included the tribes of Benjamin and Simeon (Josh 19:1; 1Kgs 12:21; 2Chr 15:9), so Mordecai of the tribe of Benjamin is identified as an Ioudaios (Esth 2:5; 6:10).
Among Gentiles the ethnic term did not distinguish between members of the twelve tribes of Israel or sects of Judaism. All of the people exiled from the land of Israel were called "Jews" (Esth 8:9, 11, 17; Ezra 4:12, 23; 5:1, 5; 6:7, 14; Dan 3:8, 12). After the exile Jewish literature continued this inclusive meaning of Ioudaioi to designate the covenant people as distinct from Gentiles (1Macc 2:23; 14:33; Letter of Aristeas 1:1 +34t; Josephus, Apion 1:1 +42t), often as the object of persecution and warfare (Philo, Flaccus IV.21 +26t; Josephus, Ant. X, 11:1; Wars VI, 1:2-8).
In the Besekh Ioudaios occurs 195 times and has various particular uses. (For a complete listing see my article The Apostolic Community.) The plural form of Ioudaios occurs 68 times in Acts. Luke uses the term with three different meanings: 30 times in a neutral sense, often in the context of those hearing the apostolic message; 35 times of local Jewish leaders who reacted negatively to the apostolic message and ministry, often taking aggressive action against the messenger and only 3 times of Jews who reacted positively to the apostolic message. Most important, Ioudaios designates a person by belief and practice (cf. John 4:9). In the first century the term had a particular sectarian meaning to distinguish "devout" (=Torah-observant) Jews from non-observant Jews (Acts 2:5).
Simply stated the Ioudaioi were traditional Jews. I use "traditional," because the tenets of their Judaism were governed by the Great Sanhedrin and the Pharisees, whose traditions they followed (Matt 23:2-3; Mark 7:3; Acts 10:28). Traditional Jews spoke Hebrew as their primary language (cf. Acts 6:1; 21:40; 22:2) and conducted synagogue services in Hebrew. Traditional Jews revered Moses (John 9:28-29; Acts 6:11) and recognized the authority of the written Torah (John 7:23; Acts 21:20). Indeed the noun Ioudaismos, "Judaism," first appears in the Maccabean writings for a way of life devoted to observance of Torah laws (2Macc 2:21; 8:1; 14:38; 4Macc 4:26), and then used by Saul to describe his religion before his life-changing encounter with Yeshua (Gal 1:13-14) (DNTT 2:310). Those committed to Judaism were ready to die rather than transgress the commandments given to Moses for Israel (4Macc 9:1).
Being Torah-observant they faithfully observed the Sabbath (John 5:10; 19:31, 42), kept God's prescribed festivals in Jerusalem (John 2:13; 5:1; 6:4; 7:2; 11:55), followed strict rules of cleanliness (Mark 7:3; Luke 2:22; John 2:6; 3:25; 19:40), circumcised their children (Luke 1:59; 2:21; John 7:22-23; Acts 21:21; Rom 2:28; 3:1), separated themselves from non-observant Jews and Gentiles (John 4:9; Acts 10:28; Gal 2:12-14), and especially regarded the Temple in Jerusalem as the only place to worship the God of Israel with sacrifices (John 2:20; 4:20; 18:20). The same devotion could not be said of other Israelite descendants who were scattered throughout the world. The Essenes consistently avoided the term Ioudaios as a self-designation and it is not to be found in the Greek portions of the Qumran scrolls (Miller). Thus, in the Besekh the term Ioudaioi is never used to identify Hellenistic Jews, Samaritan Jews or Qumran Jews.
dwelling: Grk. katoikeō, pres. part., to make a specific locale or area of residence, thus to dwell, reside or live in. in: Grk. en, prep. Damascus: See verse 2 above. proving: Grk. sumbibazō, pres. part., to make a case for, to prove; demonstrate. HELPS explains the verb means to grasp a truth by intertwining ideas needed to come to the necessary judgment or conclusion. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 15 above. this one: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun; used for Yeshua. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 2 above. the Messiah: Grk. Christos, the expected fulfiller of the hopes of Israel for an end-time deliverer, the Messiah.
The English "Christ" transliterates the Greek title, but does not translate it. In Greek culture christos had no religious connotation at all. Christos as an adjective described someone smeared with whitewash, cosmetics or paint, and was anything but an expression of honor. As a personal reference it even tended toward the disrespectful (DNTT 2:334). Jewish translators of the LXX chose Christos to render Heb. Mashiach (SH-4899), anointed, Anointed One, and in so doing infused new meaning into the Greek word. Mashiach is used in the Tanakh for the Messiah (Ps 2:2; Dan 9:25-26) and this usage defined the term among Jews in the first century.
Saul's skill in biblical and logical argumentation may be observed in his later sermons and in his letters. Saul would have relied on the salvation history of Israel, such as Stephen summarized (Acts 7) and as he will later use in Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:16-40), as well as exegesis of specific Messianic prophecies just as Yeshua explained to his disciples (Luke 24:27, 44-46). In addition, Saul would have included the testimony of his revelational encounter with Yeshua on the King's Highway and the evidence of his own changed life. Luke leaves the reader in no doubt that Saul was successful in making his case for Yeshua being the Messiah. As a result many responded positively to accept the Messiah as the mention of "his disciples" in verse 25 below indicates.
Additional Note: Sojourn in Arabia
Saul provided an account of this period of ministry that scholars find challenging to synchronize with Luke's narrative:
"15 But when God, the One having selected me from the womb of my mother and having called me through His grace, was pleased 16 to reveal His Son to me so that I might proclaim Him among the nations, immediately I consulted not with flesh and blood nor went up to Jerusalem to the apostles before me; indeed I traveled to Arabia and again returned to Damascus." (Gal 1:15-17 BR)
The question is: did Saul conduct his evangelistic ministry in Damascus immediately after receiving his commission or after spending at least two years in Arabia? Bruce favors the former whereas Clarke, Gill and Marshall favor the latter. Stern offers no preference in the debate. Longenecker offers the best solution with a mediating chronology: (1) Saul's transformation and commission (Acts 9:1-19a); (2) his proclamation of Yeshua in the synagogues of Damascus for a time immediately following his ordination (Acts 9:19b-22); (3) his prolonged residence in Arabia (Gal 1:17); and (4) his return to Damascus with its ensuing persecution (Acts 9:23-25; Gal 1:17; 2Cor 11:32). Thus, the two narratives do not contradict, but simply offer a different perspective of that time in the apostle's life.
There are three countries which bear the name of Arabia: Arabia Petraea, Arabia Deserta, and Arabia Felix, based on the Roman division. See the map here. Saul most likely went to Arabia Petraea as it was nearest to Syria and the territory of the Nabataean Kingdom headquartered in Petra. Even so this was a large territory in which to travel. Some speculate that Saul may have journeyed as far south as Mount Horeb as Elijah did (1Kgs 19:8). Luke and Saul are silent on the route of travel and cities visited. There is no indication that the hiatus of Saul in Arabia for at least two years was a religious retreat to prepare for future ministry.
Rather, considering Saul's personality and the divine commission, this time was spent visiting synagogues (verse 20 above), and proclaiming the good news of Yeshua. Saul could have also brought the message of Yeshua to the Arabians themselves, who were descendants of Ishmael (Josephus, Ant. I, 12:2). It is very likely that the congregations in Arabia later reported by Eusebius (Church History Book VII, Chap. 5; Book VIII, Chap 12) began as a result of Saul's ministry. Such a lengthy evangelistic campaign could not have been carried out alone, and he must have had one or more assistants as he did on later missionary journeys. It would be natural that Ananias, a veteran evangelist from the mission of the seventy and witness to Saul's call and commission, accompanied him for some part of that ministry.
23 And when many days were completed, the unbelieving Jewish leaders plotted together to kill him,
And: Grk. de, conj. when: Grk. hōs, adv., used here with a temporal meaning; when, after. many: pl. of Grk. hikanos, adj., may mean (1) sufficient, adequate, large enough; (2) large or much of number and quantity; or (3) fit, appropriate, competent, qualified (BAG). The second meaning applies here, used in reference to time. There is also a hint of the first meaning in that the time period was sufficient for the divine purpose. The term hikanos occurs 39 times and is unique to the Synoptic Narratives and Acts. days: pl. of Grk. hēmera. See verse 9 above. The phrase "many days" corresponds to a Hebrew expression (yamim rabbim) that occurs 20 times in the Tanakh of a lengthy passage of time, often "days" substituting for years and in most cases more than ten years (e.g., Gen 21:34; 37:34; Ex 2:23; Deut 1:46; 2:1; Josh 22:3; 23:1; 1Kgs 2:38; 18:1; 2Chr 15:3; Jer 35:7; 37:16; Ezek 38:8; Dan 8:26; Hosea 3:3-4).
were completed: Grk. plēroō, impf. pass., may mean (1) cause to abound in content to a maximum, fill; or (2) to bring to fruition or completion, complete, fulfill, fill up, carry out. The second meaning has application here. Here the verb hints at God's sovereign plan that a predetermined period of time had elapsed. Gill suggests that the phrase "many days were completed" signifies three years, as it also does in the narrative of Elijah (1Kgs 18:1). The verbal phrase corresponds to the time Saul spent in Arabia and eventual return to Jerusalem three years after his commission (Gal 1:17-18). Luke continues his narrative from the point of Saul's return to Damascus after the sojourn in Arabia.
the unbelieving: This description is not used in the Greek text, but is useful to distinguish Saul's adversaries from the Jews who believed. The participle of Grk apeitheō, "unbelieving," is used in Acts 14:2. Jewish leaders: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See the previous verse. Of the Messianic Jewish versions the CJB has "non-believing Jews," the MW has "sectarian Jews" and the OJB has "Yehudim who were unbelieving" for these adversarial Jews to distinguish them from disciples who were also Jewish. However, TLV has "Jewish people," which seems completely inappropriate. The plural noun is not describing the Jewish population in Damascus.
Luke offers no further information on the identity of these adversarial Jews. Considering the verb that follows they were likely local synagogue leaders. Yeshua was opposed by synagogue elders (Luke 4:28; 13:14) and he warned his apostles to anticipate opposition from synagogue rulers (Matt 10:17; Luke 12:11; John 16:2). A few versions recognize the special meaning of the term in this verse with the translation of "Jewish leaders" (ISV, TLB, WE). John employs the plural Ioudaioi in the same manner 40 times in his narrative for the Judean authorities who opposed Yeshua.
plotted together: Grk. sumbouleuō, aor. mid., may mean (1) to offer counsel; advise, counsel, exhort; or (2) discuss a course of action with focus on hostile intention. The second meaning applies here. Of interest is that the verb is used previously with the second meaning of the Judean authorities plotting to seize and kill Yeshua (Matt 26:4; John 18:4). to kill: Grk. anaireō, aor. inf., lit. "to take up," and used here to mean to remove by causing death; kill, slay. This verb is used to describe King Herod ordering the killing of children in Bethlehem (Matt 2:16) and the intention of the chief priests to put Yeshua to death (Luke 22:2; Acts 2:23). him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun.
Many of the Jewish leaders in Damascus had the same mindset as the Judean leaders who opposed Yeshua and plotted to kill him. They simply refused to believe the Messianic message. They could not overcome Saul's persuasive arguments and his message threatened their core beliefs. They had no need of a Messiah and did not want a Messiah. Moreover, the increasing number of disciples devoted to Yeshua and the authority of the apostles was a threat to their authority. In their minds Saul did not deserve to have the freedom of speech to lure Jews away from their religion. Saul had to die.
24 but their plot became known to Saul. And they were also watching the gates day and night so that they might kill him;
but: Grk. de, conj. their: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. plot: Grk. epiboulē, a plan against, a plot. The noun refers to a conspiracy to do harm. The noun occurs only four times in the Besekh (also Acts 20:3, 19; 23:30), all in reference to plots of unbelieving Jewish leaders against the apostle. In the LXX epiboulē occurs three times: of a conspiracy by King Hoshea of Israel against the king of Assyria (2Kgs 17:4), of a plot discovered by Mordecai against King Ahasuerus of Persia (Esth 2:22), and the plots against the rebuilding of the temple (1Esdras 5:73). A conspiracy requires at least two people, but in this case there were likely several men involved.
became known: Grk. ginōskō, aor. pass., to know, including (1) to be in receipt of information; know, learn, find out; (2) form a judgment or draw a conclusion; think, understand, comprehend, perceive, notice, realize, conclude; or (3) have a personal relationship involving recognition of another's identity or value; make acquaintance, recognize. The first meaning applies there. to Saul: See verse 1 above. Luke does not clarify how Saul learned of the conspiracy against him, but such a thing could not have been kept secret. And: Grk. de, conj. they were also: Grk. kai, conj. watching: Grk. paratēreō, impf. mid., watch from the side, used of surveillance in a stealthy manner. the gates: pl. of Grk. pulē, a large door; an entrance-gate to a city or fortress; a door-gate. The term typically refers to the exit people go out (HELPS).
day: Grk. hēmera. See verse 9 above. Here the noun refers to the daylight hours. and: Grk. kai. night: Grk. nux, night as a chronological period, sunset to sunrise. The phrase "day and night" alludes to the change of watches at the gates. so that: Grk. hopōs, conj. See verse 2 above. they might kill: Grk. anaireō, aor. subj. See the previous verse. him: Grk. autos. According to Saul's later testimony this plot occurred during the reign of King Aretas IV of the Nabataean Kingdom (2Cor 11:32). The city had been transferred to Nabataean control in AD 33. Luke does not define "they," but Saul says that the governor was guarding the city in order to seize him.
This would not be the last time that unbelieving Jewish leaders and Gentile governing authorities cooperated against the Jewish apostles (Acts 12:1-3; 13:50; 14:2, 5; 17:5). Although this governor was accountable to King Aretas, there is certainly no implication that the king, being located over a hundred miles to the south in Petra, was even aware of the drama. In considering the attempt on Saul's life Barclay observes that "to suffer persecution is to be paid the greatest of compliments because it is the certain proof that men think we really matter" (7:75).
25 but his disciples, having taken him by night, lowered him by means of the wall, having lowered him in a basket.
but: Grk. de, conj. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. See verse 1 above. The reference to "his disciples" indicates those who became disciples of Yeshua as a direct result of Saul's initial ministry in Damascus. The identification denotes a personal relationship that contrasts with the refugee disciples from Jerusalem. having taken: Grk. lambanō, aor. part. See verse 19 above. him by night: Grk. nux. See the previous verse. lowered: Grk. kathiēmi (from kata, "down," and hiēmi, "to send"), aor., 3p-pl., to let down, cause to descend or to make lower. him: Grk. autos. by means 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 first usage applies here.
the wall: Grk. teichos, a wall, and frequently the wall around a city. Some versions modify the noun with "an opening in," although the words are not found in the Greek text. Since Saul could not depart from the city via a gate, finding an access point in the wall was the only means available. Saul's later testimony clarified that the escape was accomplished by a window in the wall (2Cor 11:33 BR). The window was obviously not at ground level. Perhaps the disciples were inspired by the escape of the Israelites from Jericho by means of a window in Rahab's house which was built into the wall (Josh 2:15). Also, David escaped from the wrath of King Saul by a similar means (1Sam 19:12). No doubt the window was part of a disciple's house built into the wall.
having lowered: Grk. chalaō, aor. part., to slacken or effect movement downward in unfilled space; let down, lower. him: Grk. autos. in: Grk. en, prep. a basket: Grk. spuris, a woven container made of straw and of varying size and function. The container had to be of sufficient size and strength to carry a human being. The escape required a large team with some to lower Saul and others on the ground to receive the basket and assist Saul in getting away. He immediately left for Jerusalem.
Parallel: Galatians 1:18
26 Moreover having arrived in Jerusalem, he was trying to join the disciples; but all were fearing him, not believing that he was a disciple.
Moreover: Grk. de, conj. having arrived: Grk. paraginomai, aor. mid. part., to make one's way so as to be present; come, arrive, be present. The narrative passes over Saul's trip, no doubt taking the King's Highway. in: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into." Jerusalem: Grk. Ierousalēm. See verse 2 above. This return to the Jewish capital is to be reckoned as three years from when Saul left the city for Damascus (verse 2 above; Gal 1:18). he was trying: Grk. peirazō, impf. mid., may mean (1) make an effort to do something in the face of uncertainty about the outcome; try, attempt; or (2) make a trial of the quality or state of someone's character or claims as an inducement for producing some kind of action, whether positive or negative; tempt, test. The first meaning applies here.
to join: Grk. kollaō, pres. mid. inf., may mean to (1) adhere to, stick to, attach to; or (2) join closely with, or keep company with. The second meaning applies here. the disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. See verse 1 above. but: Grk. kai, conj. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 14 above. were fearing: Grk. phobeō, impf. mid., be in a state of apprehension; be afraid, fear. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. not: Grk. mē, adv. See verse 9 above. believing: Grk. pisteuō, pres. part. (derived from pistis, trust, faithfulness), 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.
that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 15 above. he was: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 2 above. a disciple: Grk. mathētēs. Reports of his spiritual change must have come to the apostles in Jerusalem, but the local disciples were not convinced. The emotional trauma of the deadly persecution initiated by Saul had not been forgotten. Many of them were not ready to confront their own need to forgive.
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.
But: Grk. de, conj. Barnabas: Grk. Barnabas, a transliteration of Heb. Bar (רבּ)-Naba (נָבָא) (Thayer), which means "Son of Exhortation." Barnabas would have been well-known to Luke before this time since church fathers included Barnabas as one of the seventy Yeshua sent out in Luke 10:1. (See Hippolytus, 170-235, On the Seventy Apostles.) Barnabas was a Levite and native of the island of Cyprus, named Joseph, before the disciples called him Barnabas (Acts 4:36). He sold his property and gave the proceeds to the apostles (Acts 4:37), probably as an act of repentance since Levites were forbidden to own property. He was also a first cousin of John Mark (Col 4:10). Scholars assume the name is Aramaic, because of the Aramaic prefix "bar," but Jews often used this prefix in Hebrew names. The Hebrew prefix "ben" also occurs in Aramaic names (Hamp 19).
having taken hold: Grk. epilambanomai, aor. part., to take or lay hold of, here with the intention of facilitating an introduction. The verb implies that Barnabas was already acquainted with Saul (Bruce). Barnabas would have know about Saul from the persecution, but there must have been a meeting after Saul's transformation. In any event, when Saul returned to Jerusalem one of the disciples must have informed Barnabas that the man they feared most was back in town, and he immediately sought out Saul. Just as Ananias had been the friend Saul needed in Damascus, so Barnabas now filled that role in Jerusalem. Unlike his fellow disciples Barnabas showed the spirit of Yeshua by choosing to believe the best about Saul and not holding his past against him.
brought: Grk. agō, aor. See verse 2 above. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The verbs hint at Saul perhaps secluding himself because of hurt feelings after being rebuffed and Barnabas exercising chutzpah, to override Saul's objections and take him where he was hesitant to go. to: Grk. pros, prep. See verse 2 above. the apostles: pl. of Grk. apostolos was used in Greek and Roman culture for a delegate, ambassador, envoy, messenger, emissary or official representative. Apostolos occurs one time in the LXX where it translates shaluach, Qal pass. part. of the verb shalach (SH-7971), "sent," in 1Kings 14:6 of Ahijah the prophet. Apostolos appears in no other early Jewish literature, but it is grounded in Jewish culture in the office of shaliach (DNTT 1:128). A shaliach acted as an official messenger with the authority of the sender to carry out a specific commission (Ber. 5:5).
In the Besekh the term "apostle" is specifically applied to the original Twelve (Matt 10:2), then Mattathias (Acts 1:26), and other chosen representatives (Acts 14:14; Gal 1:19). All the apostles named in the Besekh were Jewish. The apostles of Yeshua were so named because they had "seen the Lord," i.e., they were witnesses of his resurrected form (John 20:25; Acts 9:27; 1Cor 9:1; 15:5-9; 1Jn 1:1). An apostle serving the Messiah and King of Israel was no minor office. The apostles had been personally sent by Yeshua with the authority to proclaim the good news, determine biblical doctrine, impose requirements based on application of Torah ("bind and loose," Matt 16:19; 18:18), and shepherd the congregations they founded (cf. 1Cor 14:37). The mention of "apostles" in 1Corinthians 12:28 refers to apostles then alive and not to a continuing office of apostle. The office ceased with the death of John.
and: Grk. kai, conj. described: Grk. diēgeomai (for Heb. siach, to talk of), aor., relate in full, describe, narrate. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, i.e. at least two. Luke does not imply that all the twelve apostles were in Jerusalem even though they had remained in the capital during the persecution (Acts 8:1). However, over three years had passed and some of the apostles had probably left Jerusalem for other fields. Saul later reported that he saw only Kēfa (Peter) and Jacob (aka "James"), the Lord's brother (Gal 1:18-19). how: Grk. pōs, adv., how, in what manner. he saw: Grk. horaō, aor. See verse 12 above. the Lord: Grk. kurios. See verse 1 above. Here the title is used of Yeshua. on: Grk. en, prep. the road: Grk. hodos. See verse 2 above. This was the King's Highway.
and: Grk. kai, conj. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 15 above. he [Yeshua] spoke: Grk. laleō, aor. See verse 6 above. to him [Saul]: Grk. autos. and: Grk. kai. how: Grk. pōs. in: Grk. en, prep. Damascus: See verse 2 above. he [Saul] had spoken boldly: Grk. parrēsiazomai, aor., speak without sense of constraint; speak openly/boldly/freely. in: Grk. en. the name: Grk. onoma. See verse 10 above. of Yeshua: See verse 5 above. The narrative testimony of Barnabas represents personal first-hand knowledge. He may have heard Saul give his testimony in Damascus of his encounter with Yeshua when it was first given. He could also have also heard Saul during his ministry in Arabia. Since Barnabas and Ananias were fellow-workers during the mission of the seventy, there could have been a communication from Ananias to Barnabas concerning Saul.
28 And he was with them, coming in and going out in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.
And: Grk. kai, conj. he was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 2 above. with: Grk. meta, prep. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. coming in: Grk. eisporeuomai, pres. mid. part., to go in, to come in, to enter, whether a locality or a structure. and: Grk. kai. going out: Grk. ekporeuomai, pres. mid. part., move from one place to another, to go out or to come out. in: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into." Jerusalem: Grk. Ierousalēm. See verse 2 above. speaking boldly: Grk. parrēsiazomai, pres. mid. part. See the previous verse. in: Grk. en, prep. the name: Grk. onoma. See verse 10 above. of the Lord: See verse 1 above. "Lord" refers to Yeshua.
The verbal descriptions do not refer to leaving the city but moving freely within the city, entering house meetings of disciples, as well as visiting synagogues, of which there were a few hundred in Jerusalem. Saul repeated the practice of Stephen who proclaimed Yeshua in the synagogues of Jerusalem (Acts 6:8-9). Saul's zeal for persecution had been replaced with a zeal for Yeshua and he was fearless in proclaiming the Messianic message.
And: Grk. kai, conj. also: Grk. te, conj. he was speaking: Grk. laleō, impf. See verse 6 above. The verb probably alludes to speaking in synagogues, which could have occurred in daily prayer services or a Sabbath service. The Latin Vulgate and Ethiopic versions add, "to the Gentiles," but this is not in any of the Greek MSS (Gill). The addition is found in the Catholic Douay-Rheims version and probably represents the patristic view that Saul was appointed as an apostle to the Gentiles. and: Grk. kai. debating: Grk. suzēteō, impf., engage in serious conversation about a matter, with the focus on either an amiable exchange of ideas ("discuss") or a contentious exchange ("argue, debate, dispute"), which is the meaning here. The debate would follow the speech.
with: Grk. pros, prep. the Hellenized Jews: pl. of Grk. ho Hellēnistēs, a Greek-speaking Jew in contrast to one speaking a Semitic language (BAG). Hellēnistēs occurs only three times in the Besekh (also Acts 6:1; 11:20) and in all these instances refers to ethnic Israelites who spoke Greek. In Acts 6:1 the term is used of widows from the Diaspora in contrast to native Hebrew-speaking widows. The term Hellēnistēs does not occur at all in the LXX or any other Greek literature, so very likely Luke coined the term, because he was a Greek-speaking Jew. (See "Luke" in my web article Witnesses of the Good News). Bruce describes these people as Jews whose habitual language was Greek and attended Greek-speaking synagogues, i.e., synagogues that used the Septuagint (120).
Bible versions differ considerably in translating the term. The KJV has "Grecians," and a few other versions have "Greeks" (DRA, JUB, NMB), which are clearly wrong. ASV has "Grecian Jews" and the NIRV has "Greek Jews," which are also wrong. These men were not ethnic Greeks, Jewish expatriates from Greece or proselytes from Greece. (No proselyte was ever called a "Jew.") Some versions render the plural noun simply as "Hellenists" (e.g., ESV, MACE, MPNT, MSG, NJB, NKJV, NRSV, RSV, TLV, WEB, WESLEY), which would convey that they had come from the Diaspora and were not born in the land of Israel. The church father Justin Martyr (110-165) in his Dialogue with Trypho (Chap. LXXX) lists seven Jewish groups, among whom he identifies Hellenists.
Other versions have "Hellenistic Jews" (CSB, HCSB, ISV, MW, NASB, NIV, REV). This translation makes the important distinction that Luke is describing Jews, not Gentiles. Thayer defines "Hellenist" as one who imitates the manners and customs or the worship of the Greeks. "Hellenistic Jews" fully embraced the principles of Greek culture for life and tolerated religions around them. Many Hellenistic Jews abandoned Torah required practices that set Jews apart from other peoples (e.g., circumcision, kosher diet, cleanliness and Sabbath observance). They adopted Greek customs, tolerated mixed marriage, and even in some places adopted Greek cults (Tarn & Griffith 223-227; Skarsaune 34). Traditional Jews considered Hellenistic Jews to be wicked because of their antinomian attitude (cf. 1Macc 1:11; 7:5).
A number of versions have "Greek-speaking Jews" (CEB, CJB, EHV, ERV, GNB, GW, LEB, NEB, NET, NLT, NOG, PHILLIPS, TLB, VOICE) or "Jews who spoke Greek" (CEV, EXB, ICB, NCV, NLV), which is the simple lexicon definition. This translation is superior to "Hellenistic Jews," since it focuses on language and not lifestyle. A Jew could be fluent in Greek (such as Luke) and not be Hellenistic. Most Jews were familiar with Greek because it was the language of commerce in the Roman Empire. Even portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls are in Greek. Yet, for Luke the term Hellēnistēs meant more than just an Israelite who spoke Greek.
David Flusser (1917-2000), Orthodox Jewish professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, offered a valuable insight about these Jews. Flusser preferred the term "Hellenized" to describe the Greek-speaking Jews in Jerusalem (75). By etymology Hellēnistēs is formed from Hellēn (Greek) and istēs, a suffix that denotes one who does the action, or specializes in the thing, indicated by the prefix. Thayer says that Hellēnistēs is derived from the verb hellenizō, which LSJ defines its original meaning as "to adopt and speak the Greek language" (e.g., Josephus, Ant. I, 6:1), and is the meaning employed in the works of Plato.
However, other classical writers made a distinction with some using the verb to mean "speak or write pure or correct Greek," and others "speak the common Greek and not the Greek of Athens." The Hellenized Jews spoke Jewish Greek (a form of common Greek) as their primary language and used the Greek translation of the Torah (Septuagint) for synagogue services. Moreover, the "Hellenized Jews" did not embrace the worldly values of Greek culture, but were zealous for the Temple and being Torah-observant.
moreover: Grk. de, conj. they were attempting: Grk. epicheireō, impf., set one's hand to; attempt, endeavor, proceed, undertake. to kill: Grk. anaireō, aor. inf. See verse 23 above. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. These unbelieving Hellenized Jews very likely came from the same synagogues that disputed with Stephen, including Saul's home synagogue (Acts 6:9). It's possible that these Hellenized adversaries intended to haul Saul before the ruling council as they did Stephen, and have him killed by legally directed execution. However, they were not able to lay their hands on Saul. God had other plans for the apostle.
Additional Note: English Suffixes
While the terms "Hellenistic" and "Hellenized" might seem like a distinction without a difference, Flusser sought for a classification name for Greek-speaking Jews who were Torah-observant. The English suffixes do represent subtle differences. The "istic" suffix, associated with an "ism" noun, denotes "action or practice, state or condition, principles, doctrines, a usage or characteristic, devotion or adherence" (Dictionary.com). The "ize" suffix when added to a noun forms a transitive verb, with a variety of meanings: (1) to cause to become, resemble, or agree with; (2) to become; change into; (3) to affect in a specified way; subject to; or (4) to act according to some practice, principle, etc.
Thus, "Hellenized," meaning "Greek-influenced" has a more restrictive meaning than "Hellenist" or "Hellenistic." In practical terms "Hellenistic" means "Greek-converted," i.e., one who imitates the manners and customs or the worship of the Greeks, and uses the Greek tongue (Thayer).
But: Grk. de, conj. the brothers: pl. of Grk. adelphos, lit. "of the same womb," and in secular Greek meant a male sibling; brother. In the apostolic narratives adelphos primarily refers to blood siblings or fellow Israelites who are of the same blood by virtue of descent from Jacob. In the LXX adelphos is used for the Heb. ach, meaning (1) brother, a male sibling born of the same mother and father (Gen 4:2); also half-siblings (Gen 20:5). Luke does not identify the "brothers," whether they were Peter and Barnabas or other leading disciples.
having learned of it: Grk. epiginōskō, aor. part., 'to know about,' which may be used (1) of familiarity with something/ someone through observation , experience or receipt of information; (2) of awareness or recognition based on previous knowledge; (3) in an increasing measure, really know, know well; or (4) with focus on acquisition of knowledge, find out. The first usage fits here. The verb refers to learning of the plot to kill Saul. Their knowledge may have come from an independent source or even from Saul, based on his personal revelation from the Lord in the temple (Acts 22:17-21). Yeshua warned Saul about the assassination plot and directed him to leave the city in order to fulfill his ministry to the nations.
they brought: Grk. katagō, aor., to lead or bring down someone from a point that is higher (BAG). The verb depicts descending from the higher elevation of Jerusalem. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. to Caesarea: Grk. Kaisareia, a prominent coastal city located 23 miles south of Mt. Carmel. Originally called Strato's Tower the Hasmonean ruler Alexander Jannaeus brought it under Jewish control in 96 BC, but Pompey brought it under Roman rule in 63 BC. The city was home to a thriving Jewish community. Because of the lack of natural harbor Herod the Great undertook in 22 BC to build a fine port facility and support it by a new city. An inner harbor appears to have been dug into the land where mooring berths and vaulted warehouses were constructed. Josephus described the construction of the harbor and city in grandiose detail (Ant. XIV, 4:4; XV, 9:6).
Caesarea was Hellenistic in design and style and Herod renamed it honor of Caesar Augustus. In addition to the many buildings a platform was raised near the harbor upon which a temple was built for Caesar with a Colossus of Caesar. After the death of Herod the city became the capital of the province of Judaea and served as the official home of the procurators. The city is mentioned in the book of Acts 15 times as the location of apostolic visits and significant events. It was in this city in which Philip had settled (Acts 21:8-9). and: Grk. kai, conj. sent: Grk. exapostellō, aor., 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 hints at putting Saul on a ship.
him: Grk. autos. to: Grk. eis, prep. Tarsus: Grk. Tarsos, a maritime city and the capital of the Roman province of Cilicia and the birthplace of Saul. See verse 11 above. After spending two weeks in Jerusalem circumstances necessitated his quick departure, so Saul left for home in Tarsus of Cilicia. Luke's narrative concurs with Saul's later statement that after his short stay in Jerusalem he went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia (Gal 1:21). At that time Syria and Cilicia formed a single Roman province. Saul would end up spending ten to twelve years in Cilicia before rejoining Luke's narrative in Chapter Eleven. Saul never explained what he did in those intermediate years, but given his commission from Yeshua he would have kept on proclaiming the good news and planting congregations as he did in Arabia. Luke's narrative of the second Diaspora journey mentions congregations in Cilicia (Acts 15:23, 41).
c. A.D. 35-36
Overseer of Judea: Marcellus (AD 36-37) (Josephus, Ant. XVIII, 4:2)
Peace for the Congregation of Messiah
31 Indeed the congregation throughout the whole of Judea and Galilee and Samaria was having peace, being built up and walking in the fear of the Lord and the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, was increasing.
Indeed: Grk. mén, conj. See verse 7 above. the congregation: Grk. ekklēsia means assembly, gathering, meeting, or congregation. This is the fourth use of the term in Acts for the corporate organization of Yeshua's disciples. In Greek culture ekklēsia referred to a political body or a public meeting of citizens (Acts 19:32, 39, 41), but it primarily occurs in the Besekh for a religious body. In the LXX ekklēsia renders the Heb. qahal (DNTT 1:292-295), which means assembly, convocation, or congregation (BDB 874). In the Tanakh qahal denotes the people of God in a corporate sense, often in the context of being gathered for worship or instruction (Deut 4:10; 31:30; Ps 35:18).
Luke's view is that the entire constituency of disciples in the land of Israel formed one congregation. Christian Bibles almost unanimously translate ekklēsia in this verse as "church," although the KJV, NKJV and NJB translate the noun as plural "churches," no doubt due to the multiple locations. The word "church" is clearly an ecclesiastical term of Christianity. (See my background note on this subject here.) A few Christian versions opt for a different translation: "assemblies" (DARBY, WEB, YLT), and "congregations" (JUB, NMB). Messianic Jewish versions (CJB and TLV) have "community" and the MW has "communities." OJB has "Moshiach’s Kehillah." I prefer to translate ekklēsia with "congregation," since its definition incorporates both organic and organizational characteristics and is more neutral in tone than "church."
throughout: Grk. kata, prep., properly "down from," used to denote an extension in space from a higher point to a lower plane (Thayer). The preposition illustrates the descent from the higher elevation of Jerusalem to the listed locales. the whole: Grk. holos, adj., signifier of a person or thing understood as a complete unit and not necessarily every individual part; all, whole, entire. Luke then names the three principal territories of the Jewish nation.
of Judea: Grk. Ioudaia, a transliteration of the Latin provincial name of Iudaea. In the LXX Ioudaia translates Heb. Y'hudah ("praised," SH-3063), Judea or the Kingdom of Judah, first in Ruth 1:1. The territorial name of Ioudaia has two uses in Acts: (1) the historic territory of that lay between Samaria on the north and Idumea on the south. Judea was bounded on the west by the Mediterranean Sea and the east by the Jordan River (Acts 1:8). (See the map.) (2) the Roman province of Judaea formed in AD 6, which comprised Samaria, Judea and Idumea with its capital at Caesarea (Acts 2:9; 10:37). (See the map.) The first meaning is intended here.
and: Grk. kai, conj. Galilee: Grk. Galilaia, from the Heb. Galil, lit. "circle" or "region." Galilee was the northern part of Israel above the hill country of Ephraim and of Judah and encompassed the areas originally given to the tribes of Naphtali, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, and Dan. In the time of Yeshua Galilee was a Roman province bounded by the Province of Syria on the west and north, the River Jordan and Sea of Galilee on the east and the Province of Judaea on the south. In this time, Herod Antipas governed Galilee and Perea. However, to Jews in the first century the Galil included territory on the east side of the Jordan and around the lake ("Galilee," JE). (See the map here.)
and Samaria: Grk. Samareia, for Heb. Shomron, a place name of a mountain and the city built on it (1Kgs 16:24), as well as a territory (Obad 1:19), meaning "mountain of watching." In the Tanakh Shomron refers primarily to the city of Samaria, 42 miles north of Jerusalem, which was the capital, residence, and burial place of the kings of Israel from the time of Omri, the sixth king of Israel (885-874 BC) (1Kgs 16:23-28; 22:37-39; 2Kgs 6:24-30). The region was successively dominated by the Assyrians, then the Babylonians and the Persians. During that time the population included many people imported from various foreign locations (see 2Kgs 17:5-6, 23-24; Ezra 4:9-10; Ant. IX, 14:1). Later, the Greeks conquered the region (331 B.C.) and spread Hellenistic language and culture.
Then the Hasmoneans, under the Jewish high priest John Hyrcanus, destroyed the city c. 120-119 B.C. as part of his effort to remove Syrian hegemony from the land (Ant. XIII, 10:2). After a long period without inhabitants, the city of Samaria lived again under Pompey and the Romans (63 B.C.). Finally, Herod the Great obtained control of Samaria in 30 B.C. and made it one of the chief cities of his territory. He built a temple there in honor of Caesar and renamed the city Sebaste, using the Greek word for Augustus, the emperor (see Ant. XIV, 4:4; 5:3; Wars I, 7:7; 8:4). Given the specific geographical locations," Samaria refers to the territory that lay between Judea and Galilee. See the map here.
was having: Grk. echō, impf. See verse 14 above. Luke then proceeds to describe five positive characteristics of the congregation during this time. peace: Grk. eirēnē, peace, which may refer to either (1) a state of harmony as a result from cessation of hostilities, whether in political or personal relationships; or (2) a state of well-being, a characteristic of the Messianic age and divine favor. In the LXX eirēnē renders Heb. shalom (SH-7965), completeness, soundness, welfare, or peace (BDB 1022). In Jewish culture shalom is never peace in the negative sense, the absence of conflict, but the possession of everything that makes for man's highest good. The biblical word "peace" is primarily relational in scope and does not necessarily depict an emotional state. The state of "having peace" denotes the absence of threats from both outside and inside the congregation.
being built up: Grk. oikodomeō, pres. pass. part., to erect a structure, which can be new construction, restoration of a structure or adding on to an existing structure, used here in a figurative sense of developing and maturing the congregation of disciples in spiritual graces. and walking: Grk. poreuomai, pres. mid. part., may mean (1) to move from one area to another, to go or to make one's way or (2) in an ethical sense, to conduct oneself, live, walk. The second 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).
in the fear: Grk. ho phobos may mean (1) the feeling of need to escape from or avoid a threat; fear; (2) feeling of respect; reverence, awe; or (3) the process of causing in someone a feeling of need to escape from a situation; intimidation. The second meaning applies here. of the Lord: See verse 1 above. Since this is an idiomatic expression of the Tanakh then kurios would have the meaning of ADONAI. The "fear of ADONAI" is not to be frightened of God, but it is a healthy respect for the justice of the holy God, who will punish the evildoer (Prov 14:27). The "fear of ADONAI" also represents a moral viewpoint to hate evil as God does (Prov 8:13).
and the encouragement: Grk. paraklēsis may mean (1) emboldening for facing or carrying out a responsibility or task, exhortation or encouragement; or (2) heartening in a time of trouble through word or demeanor; consolation or comfort. BAG, Danker and Thayer, as well as a number of versions apply the second meaning here with the translation of "comfort" (ESV, GW, KJV, NASB, NOG, NKJV, NRSV, RSV, TLB, WEB). However, in the LXX paraklēsis translates Heb. naba (SH-5030), spokesman, speaker, prophet (first in Gen 20:7). Several versions agree with the first meaning with the translation of "encouragement" or "encouraged" (CEB, CEV, CSB, EXB, HCSB, ISV, LEB, NET, NCV, NIV and NLT). The CJB has "counsel."
of the Holy Spirit: See verse 17 above. The "encouragement of the Holy Spirit" probably does not refer to a special "download" of grace by the Spirit internalized by individual disciples, but the exhortation of the Spirit-anointed apostles and other messengers. The phrase might even hint at the ministry of Barnabas. was increasing: Grk. plēthunō, impf., become more in number; increase, multiply. The congregation of Messiah experienced phenomenal growth in this time of peace and hundreds more, if not thousands, embraced the good news of Yeshua.
c. A.D. 36-38
Rome: Caesar Caligula (AD 37-41)
Prefect of Judea: Marullus (AD 37-41)
Jewish High Priest: Theophilus, son of Annas (AD 37-41)
Continued Ministry of Peter, 9:31-42
32 And it came to pass Peter was traveling through all those regions to go down also to the holy ones dwelling at Ludda.
And: Grk. de, conj. it came to pass: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. See verse 3 above. 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.
Peter: Grk. Petros, the translation of the Hebrew name Kêfa ("rock"), which was given to him by Yeshua (John 1:42). Peter was appointed an apostle early in Yeshua's ministry (Luke 6:13) and became the chief leader of the apostles. For a summary of Peter's life and ministry see my article Simon Peter: Fisherman-Apostle. Peter was last mentioned in Acts 8:25 when he returned to Jerusalem with John from their visit to Samaria. With the recent cessation of persecution he was now able to commence an itinerant ministry among groups of Messianic disciples.
was traveling: Grk. dierchomai, pres. mid. part., (from dia, "through," and erchomai, "to come or go"), aor., to go through, go about, journey, travel through. Presumptively Peter's wife accompanied him (1Cor 9:5). through: Grk. dia, prep., used here to express instrumentality. all those regions: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 14 above. The plural adjective refers to the regions listed in the previous verse. to go down: Grk. katerchomai, aor. inf., to go down or to come down, generally of moving in a geographical context. The verb graphically illustrates descending from the higher elevation of the hilly terrain of the interior of the land of Israel to the coastal plain. The infinitive expresses purpose, but many versions imply that Peter's arrival was just coincidence. However, some versions add "to visit" to convey Peter's purpose (CEB, ERV, GNB, MSG, NIRV, NIV, NLT, TLB, WE).
also: Grk. kai, conj. to: Grk. pros, prep. See verse 2 above. the holy ones: pl. of ho hagios, adj. See verse 13 above. Some versions diminish the name with the translation of "believers" (CJB, ERV, MSG, NLT, NRSV, NTE, TLB, VOICE). Of course, believing in Yeshua is not the same thing as being completely devoted to him. Most Christian versions have "saints." A few versions correctly have "holy ones" (NABRE, OJB, REV, TLV). MW has "belonged to God." Other versions have "God's people" (GNB, GW, ICB, NCV, NEB, NOG, NTE, WE). While "holy ones" might function as a practical synonym for "disciples," the masculine term as used here might have a limited meaning of male disciples or leading men in the congregation (cf. verse 41 below).
the ones dwelling: pl. of Grk. ho katoikeō, pres. part., to make a specific locale or area of residence, thus to dwell, reside or live in. at Ludda: Grk. Ludda, ("Lood-dah"), which transliterates Heb. Lod (SH-3850, "Lode"), a location name (1Chr 8:12; Ezra 2:33. The city was located on the plain of Sharon about 10 miles inland southeast of Joppa. The city at this time was the center of a Judaean administrative district (Bruce). The name is spelled "Lydda" in Christian versions which causes mispronunciation. Peter had been visiting the "holy ones" in Galilee, Samaria and Judea, and then determined to visit the "holy ones" living in Ludda. Bruce suggests that the nucleus of community of disciples in this area had formed from fugitives of the Jerusalem persecution. In addition, Philip had passed through this area proclaiming the good news on his way from Azotus to Caesarea (Acts 8:40).
33 And he found there a certain man, Aeneas by name, who was paralyzed, lying on a mat from eight years.
And: Grk. de, conj. he found: Grk. heuriskō, aor. See verse 2 above. there: Grk. ekei, adv., 'in that place,' as opposed to here or another place. a certain: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 2 above. man: Grk. anthrōpos, human being, man or mankind. In the LXX anthrōpos renders three Hebrew words: (1) adam, SH-444, used for a human male or generically for humans as a contrast to animals (e.g., Gen 1:26, 27; 2:5); (2) ish, SH-376, an adult male or husband (Gen 2:23, 24) and (3) enosh, SH-582, a man or mankind, often signifying the aspect of weakness and mortality (Job 5:17; Ps 8:4-5); as well as Aram. enash, man (Ezra 6:11) (DNTT 2:564). The pronoun tis is used here substantively to indicate that the man belonged to the class of persons mentioned in the previous verse.
Aeneas: Grk. Aineas, an Israelite mentioned only in this context. Nothing more is known of him, but in context he is one of the holy ones. He was probably a prominent person in the Jewish community. by name: Grk. onoma. See verse 10 above. who: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 5 above. was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 2 above. paralyzed: Grk. paraluō, perf. pass. part. (from pará, "beside" and lúō, "to loose"), cause to be in a weakened condition; weakened, paralyzed. The verb is related to the noun paralusis, disabled or weakened on one side. KJV has "sick of the palsy," a medical term for all types of paralysis. Most versions translated the verb as "paralyzed." lying: Grk. katakeimai, pres. mid. part., be in a reclining posture, to be abed, lie from sickness or recline to dine.
on: Grk. epi, prep. a mat: Grk. krabattos, a humble pad for sleeping or resting, frequently used by the infirm. Rienecker adds that the mat was used by the poor as bedding (1:92). The word does not occur in the LXX at all. BAG says krabattos is a loanword of uncertain origin but found in late rabbinic literature. The Greek word is likely derived from an Aramaic root, krah, 'bolster, mattress' (e.g., Kellim 26:5) (Jastrow 663) or krubeta, 'blanket' (Jastrow 664). from: Grk. ek, prep. eight: Grk. oktō, the cardinal number eight. years: pl. of Grk. etos, a period of twelve months. Luke notes that the bedridden state began eight years previous to Peter's visit.
Paralysis refers to loss of muscle function due to damage to the nervous system, especially the spinal cord. The cause could range from physical injury, stroke or disease, such as polio. In addition the lengthy confinement to bed would result in atrophy of the muscles. Lengthy immobility can result in significant damage to the entire body. Disuse of the muscles leads to atrophy and a loss of muscle strength of 20-30% after one week of bed rest (Effects of Prolonged Bed Rest, Health24, 25 October 2013). Imagine the impact of eight years. The case of Aeneas is not unlike that of "a certain man" with a debilitating condition for 38 years whom Yeshua healed at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:5). The cause of his bodily weakness was sin (John 5:14). The context here hints that Aeneas was a "holy one" who had been afflicted, so that like the healing of the man born blind "the works of God might be revealed in him" (John 9:3).
34 And Peter said to him, "Aeneas, Yeshua the Messiah heals you; arise and prepare yourself." And immediately he arose.
And: Grk. kai, conj. Peter said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 4 above. to him: Grk. autos, masc. personal pronoun. Aeneas: Grk. Aineas, voc. Yeshua: See verse 5 above. the Messiah: See verse 22 above. heals: Grk. iaomai, pres. mid., to effect a physical cure, but occasionally used fig. for emotional or spiritual healing (Luke 4:18; John 12:40; Acts 28:27). The verb occurs 27 times in the Besekh, all in the apostolic narratives, except one (Heb 12:13). you: Grk. su, personal pronoun of the second person. Peter did not employ the usual methods associated with healing, such as prayer (Gen 20:17; Acts 9:40; 28:8), touch (Matt 8:15), laying on of hands (Mark 6:5; Acts 9:12; 28:8), or application of some medium such as spit (Mark 8:23) or oil (Mark 6:13). Peter's method is unusual but not unprecedented. Yeshua healed by pronouncement on a small number of occasions (Matt 8:13; Mark 5:34; John 11:43).
arise: Grk. anistēmi, aor. imp. See verse 6 above. The command to "arise" or "get up" occurs in three healings by Yeshua: a paralytic (Matt 9:6), a child in a coma (Mark 5:41), and an invalid man (John 5:8). and prepare: Grk. strōnnuō, aor. imp., to spread or lay out. The verb is used of the spreading of garments on the ground for Yeshua's entry into Jerusalem (Matt 21:8; Mark 11:8) and the preparation of the upper room for the last supper (Mark 14:15; Luke 22:12). In ancient Greek literature the verb means (1) to spread or strew with these uses, such as spread clothes over a bed, spread out or make a bed ready for sleeping, or spread on the ground; (2) to smooth, to make level; (3) pave a road; (4) spread with a thing, saddle a horse (LSJ).
In the LXX the verb is used of spreading out sackcloth and ashes to lay on or sit on (2Sam 21:10; Esth 4:3) or idiomatically of spreading out bedding (Job 17:13; Prov 15:19; Isa 14:11; Ezek 23:41). Most Bible versions translate the verb as "make your bed" (e.g., CSB, CJB, ESV, GNB, KJV, NASB, NKJV, NRSV, RSV). A few versions have "roll up your mat" (NIV, NLT), "pack up your mat" (TLV) or "pick up your cot (GW). MW has "put your bed in order." However, "roll up" (or "pack up") is the opposite motion to "spread out." Two literal versions translate the verb as "spread" (LITV, YLT). Problematic for translation is that the object for the verb (the bed) is NOT specified in the verse. It is also not clear why the state of the bed should even be a concern to Peter.
yourself: Grk. seautou, reflexive pronoun of the second person. The dative case of the pronoun indicates that it functions as a direct object, not a possessive pronoun "your" as in most versions. HELPS defines the pronoun as "relating to yourself, as you bring the action or attention back to (on) yourself." Rienecker suggests the verbal phrase means to "get ready to eat." In a similar setting, when Yeshua healed the daughter of the synagogue ruler with the command "arise," he then ordered that she be given something to eat (Luke 8:54-55). Saul also took food after he "arose" from his healing (verse 19 above). The interlinear translation of the MPNT has "gird yourself," which offers another likely scenario. Thus, the instruction could intend for Aeneas to prepare garments for himself to be presentable to other people. In any event, the verbal instruction likely had nothing to do with a domestic chore related to the bed.
And: Grk. kai. immediately: Grk. eutheōs, adv. See verse 18 above. he arose: Grk. anistēmi, aor. The instantaneous and dramatic nature of the healing implies an extraordinary work of divine power, a creation miracle. The creation scientist, Dr. Henry Morris, offers the helpful distinction between creation miracles, which he calls Grade A miracles, that require setting aside the laws of science, and providential miracles, or Grade B, that intervene in and manipulate existing natural processes (BBMS 81f). By definition only God can perform creation miracles. Dr. Morris classifies most of the healing miracles Yeshua performed as Grade B, because the normal process of healing was greatly accelerated.
Only a small number of Yeshua's healing miracles could be considered Grade A, such as the four healing signs recorded by John (John 4:46-54; 5:1-9; 9:1-7; 11:38-44). Luke asserts that the apostles performed Grade A miracles (Acts 2:43; 4:30; 5:12; 14:3; 15:12; cf. Rom 15:19; 1Cor 12:12), fulfilling the word of Yeshua that his disciples would perform greater works (John 14:12). The healing of Aeneas clearly exceeds the characteristics of a providential healing. Recovery of muscle function after atrophy caused by immobility can occur with regular exercise, but it takes three times longer than the period of immobility. However, add the fact of paralysis and immobility for eight years and healing becomes impossible unless God removes the cause of the paralysis and infuses life into "dead" muscles.
The implication is that Aeneas complied with the rest of the instruction and got himself ready so that he could receive visitors.
35 And all those inhabiting Ludda and Sharon, whoever saw him, turned to the Lord.
And: Grk. kai, conj. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 14 above. The adjective here has a collective sense and does not imply every single individual. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. inhabiting: Grk. katoikeō, pres. part. See verse 22 above. Ludda: See verse 32 above. and Sharon: Grk. Assarōn, which transliterates Heb. ha-sharon (SH-8289), lit. "flat-land," the name of the coastal plain from Joppa northward to just south of Mount Carmel, about fifty miles. The area had abundant marshes, forests, and sand dunes, but only a small number of settlements besides the main coastal cities of Joppa and Caesarea. Because of its fertility and low risk of flooding, the plain was used more by migrant herdsmen than settled farmers (HBD).
whoever: pl. of Grk. hostis, relative pronoun used as a generalizing reference to the subject of a verb, 'anyone,' or 'whoever.' saw: Grk. horaō, aor. See verse 12 above. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. turned: Grk. epistrephō, aor., may mean (1) go back to a point, (2) turn about within a space, or (3) change a mode of thinking. The third meaning applies here. to: Grk. epi, prep. the Lord: See verse 1 above. The title refers to Yeshua. The creation healing miracle of Aeneas was sufficient for many to accept the power of the name of Yeshua. Turning to Yeshua signified a change in belief about him and resulting in trust in him.
The translation of many versions gives the impression that every person in Ludda and the plain of Sharon saw Aeneas, which would have been unlikely given the high population of Joppa and Caesarea and the towns in between. However, the Greek word order in the verse is clear that only those who physically saw Aeneas turned to the Lord. There is no implication that Aeneas traveled throughout the plain of Sharon, but rather the inhabitants came to Ludda to see him. Bruce suggests that since much of the territory of the Plain of Sharon was semi-Gentile in population, a further widening of the range of the saving message is implied. Actually, there is no hint of the message going to the Gentiles as yet, not until the narrative of the next chapter.
36 Now in Joppa there was a certain disciple, Tabitha by name, which translated is called Dorcas. She was full of good works and alms, which she continually did.
Now: Grk. de, conj. in: Grk. en, prep. Joppa: Grk. Ioppē, a transliteration of Heb. Yafo ("beauty"), a coastal town of Judea; modern Jaffa. The city is mentioned ten times in the Besekh, all in Acts. Located some thirty-five miles northwest of Jerusalem, the city was subject to the Jews from the time of the Maccabees. Originally a Canaanite city, Joppa held a key position on the ancient trade route of the Via Maris that connected Egypt in the south and Syria in the north. See the road map here. Joppa also had the only natural harbor between Egypt and Tyre and was a major port of entry for maritime shipping. Her harbor made her a valuable prize and as a result Joppa was sacked and rebuilt over the centuries many times. The city is mentioned four times in the Tanakh and several times in the Apocrypha (1Macc 10:75 al.; 2Macc 4:21; 12:3-4; 1Esdra 5:55).
When Canaan was conquered, the tribe of Dan received Joppa (Josh 19:46); but it never came firmly into Hebrew hands in the time of the Israelite confederacy. The Philistines took the city, but David recaptured it. Solomon developed it into the major port serving Jerusalem. To Joppa rafts of cedar logs were floated from Lebanon to be transported to Jerusalem for Solomon's splendid Temple (2Chr 2:16), as well as the second temple (Ezra 3:7). Joppa was Jonah's destination when he fled from God's call (Jon 1:3). After Alexander the Great conquered the world the city passed from the Greeks to the Seleucids, then to the Hasmoneans and finally to the Romans who gave it to Herod the Great.
there was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 2 above. a certain: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 33 above. disciple: Grk. mathētēs. See verse 1 above. Tabitha: Grk. Tabētha, which transliterates the Heb. Tavita ("gazelle"). Christian scholars claim the name is Aramaic, but Stern asserts that the name is Hebrew as does Barclay. BAG and Thayer refer to her as a "Christian woman," which seems intended to obscure her Jewish ethnicity. Gilbert notes that Tabitha is the only woman in the Besekh explicitly identified as a disciple (218). by name: Grk. onoma. See verse 10 above. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 5 above. translated: Grk. diermēneuō, aor., to make something clear or intelligible, to interpret or explain. The verb presumptively means translated into Greek. is called: Grk. legō, pres. pass. See verse 4 above. Here the verb means to call by name.
Dorcas: Grk. Dorkas ("antelope"). Luke apparently translated the Hebrew name because it would have been unfamiliar to Theophilus. She: Grk. autos, fem. personal pronoun. was: Grk. eimi, impf. full: Grk. plērēs, adj., in a state or condition of being supplied abundantly with something, filled up, full of. of good: pl. of Grk. agathos, adj., achieving a high standard of excellence in meeting a need or interest, beneficial, useful, helpful or good. works: pl. of Grk. ergon generally means a tangible deed, action or accomplishment that may be observed, whether of men or God. and: Grk. kai, conj. alms: pl. of Grk. eleēmosunē, merciful disposition, regard for the needs of others; benevolence, kindness, charity, specifically gifts of alms. In the LXX eleēmosunē renders two important Hebrew words: (1) Heb. chesed (SH-2617), goodness, favor, kindness, first in Genesis 47:29.
Chesed means proper covenant behavior, what partners in the covenant owe one another. (2) Heb. tsedaqah (SH-6666), righteousness, first in Deuteronomy 6:25. Mercy in the form of charity is righteousness because it conforms to the standards of Torah. Almsgiving for the poor is strongly advocated in the Tanakh, as well as other Jewish literature. Almsgiving was considered the best good work a person could do. In fact, there was a rabbinic saying: "Greater is he who gives alms than he who offers all sacrifices" (Barclay 1:136). Almsgiving is the epitome of loving your neighbor and in so doing loving your God. Some believed that giving alms gained merit in the sight of God, and even gained atonement and forgiveness for past sins (Sirach 3:14; Tobit 12:8-9).
that: Grk. hos. she continually did: Grk. poieō, impf. See verse 6 above. There is no mention of a husband, so she was likely a widow (see verse 41 below). Tabitha's reputation for goodness and generosity was well known.
37 So it happened in those days that having become sick she died; and having washed her, they laid her in an upper room.
So: Grk. de, conj. it happened: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. See verse 3 above. in: Grk. en, prep. those: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun typically used to refer to a noun (person or thing) immediately preceding in the Greek text; that, that one there. days: pl. of Grk. hēmera. See verse 9 above. The time reference alludes to the time Peter spent in Ludda and hints at a providential timing of events. that having become sick: Grk. astheneō, aor. part., may mean (1) experience weakness in body, be sick; or (2) lack capacity for something, be weak, be deficient; or (3) lack necessities, be in need. The first meaning applies here. she: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, fem. died: Grk. apothnēskō, aor., to cease to live, generally used of physical death.
and: Grk. de, conj. having washed her: Grk. louō, aor. part., to cleanse with water; bathe, wash. It was customary for women to take care of women in the matter of preparing a corpse for burial. The mention of washing the body does not preclude other necessary tasks typically done for a corpse, such as anointing with oil and perfume (cf. Shabbat 23:5). With preparation completed the body would be wrapped in a plain linen shroud (cf. Matt 27:59). they laid her: Grk. tithēmi, aor., may mean (1) to arrange for association with a site; lay, place, put or set; or (2) arrange for creation of role or status, make or appoint. The first meaning applies here. in: Grk. en. an upper room: Grk. huperōon, the upper story section of a house. The noun occurs only in Acts (4 times; 1:13; 9:37, 39; 20:8). The upper room would have been accessed by a stairway on the outside wall of the building.
The presence of a dead body is considered a source of ritual impurity. Putting Tabitha in an upper room instead of taking her to a burial site seems unusual, but Marshall points out that Scripture records two other incidents where bodies were placed in an upper room and extraordinary healing took place (1Kgs 17:17-22; 2Kgs 4:20-21). From the point of view of narrative the location anticipates the visitation by Peter, so putting the body in the upper room was coincidental to sending the two messengers to Ludda.
38 And Ludda being near Joppa, the disciples, having heard that Peter was in the same, sent two men to him, summoning him, that he might not delay to come to us."
And: Grk. de, conj. Ludda: See verse 32 above. being: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 2 above. near: Grk. engus, adv., near or close to, here in a spatial sense. Joppa: See verse 36 above. The distance between the two towns was about 10 miles as the vulture flies. the disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. See verse 1 above. The noun may refer to male leaders of the local congregation. having heard: Grk. akouō, aor. part. See verse 4 above. that: Grk. hoti, conj. Peter was: Grk. eimi, pres. in: Grk. en, prep. the same: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The pronoun refers back to Ludda. The Joppa disciples no doubt heard of the healing of Aeneas. sent: Grk. apostellō, aor. See verse 17 above. two: Grk. duo, the cardinal number two. men: Grk. anēr. See verse 2 above. The sending of two messengers is in accord with Near Eastern customs (Metzger 324).
to: Grk. pros, prep. him: Grk. autos. summoning him: Grk. parakaleō, pres. part., (from para, "beside," and kaleō, "to call"), aor., may mean (1) call to be at one's side or summon to one's aid, with a connotation of urgency; invite, entreat, urge; (2) hearten in time of trouble; comfort, console; or (3) to motivate performance; exhort, encourage. The first meaning applies here. that he might not: Grk. mē, adv., negative particle. See verse 9 above. delay: Grk. okneō, aor. subj., to delay, hesitate, or be slow in doing something. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. to come: Grk. dierchomai, aor. inf. See verse 32 above. to: Grk. heōs, conj. us: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. The request implies avoiding detours. Whatever itinerary Peter may have planned the friends of Tabitha asked Peter to set them aside to come to Joppa immediately.
39 And having arisen Peter went with them, who having arrived, brought him into the upper room; and all the widows stood beside him weeping and showing the tunics and how many garments that Dorcas had made while being with them.
And: Grk. de, conj. having arisen: Grk. anistēmi, aor. part. See verse 6 above. The verb may imply that Peter was awakened from sleep by the arrival of the messengers. Peter went with: Grk. sunerchomai, aor., 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 third meaning applies here. them: 3p-pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. who: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. having arrived: Grk. paraginomai, aor. mid. part. See verse 26 above. brought him: Grk. anagō, aor., 3p-pl., to conduct from a lower place to a higher, to lead or bring up. The verb implies the ascent up the outside stairway. into: Grk. eis, prep. the upper room: Grk. huperōon. See verse 37 above.
and: Grk. kai, conj. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. the widows: pl. of Grk. chēra, a woman bereft of her husband. Among Jews widows received special attention as beneficiaries of charity (cf. Acts 6:1). Among the growing congregation of Messiah numbering in the thousands there were apparently many widows. stood beside: Grk. paristēmi, aor., 3p-pl., may mean (1) to place beside; present; or (2) be in a position beside; stand near or stand by. The second meaning applies here. him: Grk. autos, i.e., Peter. weeping: Grk. klaiō, pres. part., express grief or sorrow aloud, to cry, sob or weep. This verb does not express a silent dropping of tears, but a vocal cry, a loud demonstrative form of mourning, a wailing. In the LXX klaiō is used mostly to translate Heb. bakah, weep, cry aloud (DNTT 2:416). The verb bakah expresses deep sorrow in mourning for the dead (Gen 50:1; 1Sam 1:7; Lam 1:16).
and: Grk. kai. showing: Grk. epideiknumi, pres. mid. part., may mean (1) exhibit through visual demonstration, show; or (2) provide proof for a conclusion, prove. The first meaning applies here. Rienecker suggests that the middle voice of the verb indicates the widows owned and were wearing Tabitha's gifts. the tunics: pl. of Grk. chitōn, a garment made of linen and worn next to the skin. and: Grk. kai. how many: Grk. hosos, correlative pronoun. See verse 13 above. garments: pl. of Grk. 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).
Dorcas: See verse 36 above. It's not accidental that Luke as a Hellenized Jew refers to the disciple by her Greek name. had made: Grk. poieō, impf. See verse 6 above. while being: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 2 above. with: Grk. meta, prep. them: pl. of Grk. autos. The phrase "while being with them" is idiomatic of when she was alive. There is a certain poignancy about the narrative. Tabitha had lived her life in Joppa. She had friends among whom she was beloved. She made clothing, no doubt to support herself. This godly woman would have remained unknown except for her death bringing Peter.
40 But Peter, having put everyone outside and having bent his knees, he prayed, and having turned to the body, he said, "Tabitha, arise." And she opened her eyes, and having seen Peter, she sat up.
But: Grk. de, conj. Peter: See verse 32 above. having put: Grk. ekballō, aor. part., to cause to move out from a position, state or condition; to put out, drive out, send out, bring out, cast out. The verb implies a kindly but firm persuasion for the grieving widows to leave him alone in the room. everyone: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. outside: Grk. exō, adv. of place, outside, used of a position that beyond a limit or boundary (e.g., Matt 12:46). The limits of the adverb are the room in which the body lay. The widows could have moved to stand on the stairway or the ground or even moved inside the lower level of the house. Yeshua required the same privacy when he healed the daughter of Jairus, allowing only Peter, John and Jacob to remain in the room (Luke 8:51). Prayer for healing is not for the observation of spectators or unbelievers. There should also be respect for the privacy of the sick.
and: Grk. kai, conj. having bent: Grk. tithēmi, aor. part. See verse 37 above. Here the verb indicates the motion of put down or bend downward. his knees: pl. of Grk. gonu, the anatomical joint of the knee. Kneeling represented humility in the presence of the holy God. he prayed: Grk. proseuchomai, aor. mid. See verse 11 above. Prayer is an important action to take for healing (Mark 9:29; Acts 28:8; Jas 5:14, 16; 3Jn 1:2). In the parallel healings in the Tanakh both Elijah (1Kgs 17:20) and Elisha (2Kgs 4:33) prayed before healing and resurrection was accomplished. Yeshua prayed before he called Lazarus forth from the tomb (John 11:41-42). There is nothing magical about prayer, for it is not the prayer that produces healing. Rather prayer acknowledges that God is the source of everything we need and expresses trust in His sovereign care (Rom 8:28; 1Pet 5:7).
Prayer is a humble petition for the favor of God and a demonstration of willingness to wait for God to act. For more information on prayer see my PowerPoint presentation Principles of Effective Prayer. and: Grk. kai. having turned: Grk. epistrephō, aor. part. See verse 35 above. The verb indicates a physical motion to change position. to: Grk. pros, prep. See verse 2 above. The preposition emphasizes facing toward Tabitha, which means that when Peter first knelt to pray he was not looking directly at her. the body: Grk. sōma, a structured physical unit in contrast to its parts, body of human or animal, whether living or dead, but normally of a human body. he said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 4 above. Peter spoke with the full awareness of a divine appointment.
Tabitha: voc. case. See verse 36 above. Peter, being a traditional Hebraic Jew, calls the woman by her Hebrew name. arise: Grk anistēmi (for Heb. qum), aor. imp. See verse 6 above. This is the third time the command to arise is recorded in this chapter, first to Saul (verse 6) and then to Aeneas (verse 34). Speaking in Hebrew Peter's entreaty would have been "Tabitha qum." Coincidentally, when Yeshua healed the daughter of Jairus, he said in Hebrew, "Talitha qum," "Child, arise" (Mark 5:41). And: Grk. de. she opened: Grk. anoigō, aor. See verse 8 above. her: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. eyes: pl. of Grk. ophthalmos. See verse 8 above. From the Jewish point of view the soul gives light to the person and once life leaves the body there is no longer light in the eyes. So, this simple narrative statement reveals that life had returned to the body.
and: Grk. kai. having seen: Grk. horaō, aor. part. See verse 12 above. Peter: the one who again brought the healing of Yeshua. she sat up: Grk. anakathizō, aor., to raise oneself and sit upright. This verb occurs only twice in the Besekh, the other in Luke's narrative of Yeshua raising the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:15). One can only imagine the wonder on Tabitha's face as she no doubt realized that the terminal ailment she suffered had been eliminated and she was back in her body.
The brevity of time between when Tabitha died and her resurrection raises the question of where did her spirit go in the interim. Saul will later affirm that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2Cor 6:6-8) and in the story of the poor man Lazarus, he went to the "bosom of Abraham" upon his death (Luke 16:23). The Jews believed that the soul hovered over the body for three days from the point of death, intending to re-enter it, and if unsuccessful, it departs (Leviticus Rabbah 18:1). A legal consideration was that establishing the identity of a corpse had to be accomplished within three days of death (Yeb. 16:3).
41 And having given her a hand he raised her; and having summoned the holy ones and the widows, he presented her alive.
And: Grk. de, conj. having given: Grk. didōmi, aor. part., generally to give something to someone, often with the focus on generosity, but may be used to mean bestow, hand over, impart, entrust, yield, put, or sacrifice (BAG). Here the verb has the meaning of "to reach out, extend or present" (Thayer). In the LXX didōmi generally renders Heb. natan (SH-5414, first in Gen 1:29), to give, put or set, with the same range of meaning (DNTT 2:41). her: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. a hand: Grk. cheir. See verse 12 above. A helping hand to assist someone in getting up is featured in some prior healings (Mark 1:31; 5:41; 8:23; 9:27; Acts 3:7).
he raised: Grk. anistēmi, aor. See verse 6 above. her: Grk. autos. The verbal phrase depicts Peter taking the liberty of offering assistance to Tabitha so she could prove to herself that she was fully healed. Ordinarily a Jewish man would not touch a woman to whom he was not married or related, but Yeshua had offered the same courtesy when he healed Peter's mother-in-law (Mark 1:31). The use of the verb also hints at the miracle of resurrection. Indeed, a third of the uses of anistēmi in the Besekh depict being restored to life after death, mostly of Yeshua's own resurrection (Mark 8:31; 9:9-10, 31; 10:34; 16:9; Luke 18:33; 24:7, 46; John 20:9; Acts 2:24, 32; 10:41; 13:33-34; 17:3, 31; 1Th 4:14).
and: Grk. de. having summoned: Grk. phōneō, aor. part., may mean either (1) to utter a sound designed to attracted attention, cry out or proclaim with emphasis; (2) call to oneself; summon, call for, or invite; or (3) to identify in personal address. The second meaning applies here. the holy ones: pl. of Grk. ho hagios. See verse 13 above. The masculine term "holy ones" in this context could refer to male members of the congregation or leaders of the congregation. In Scripture the term "holy" has a particular reference to men consecrated for divine service, such as Aaron (Ps 106:16), the priests (Lev 21:6, 8; Num 16:5; 2Chr 23:6), Levites (2Chr 23:6; 35:3), Nazirites (Num 6:5, 8), prophets (2Kgs 4:9; Luke 1:70; Acts 3:21; Eph 3:5) and apostles (Eph 3:5; 2Pet 3:2).
and: Grk. kai, conj. the widows: pl. of Grk. ho chēra. See verse 39 above. There is no implication that the widows were not holy women. Bruce suggests that the widows may have included women from the community at large who received the charity of Tabitha, but were not disciples. he presented: Grk. paristēmi, aor. See verse 39 above. her: Grk. autos. alive: Grk. zaō, pres. part., be in the state of being alive; living. Being on her feet manifesting health with full use of her limbs was proof of her resurrection from the dead. The Lord had accomplished another creation miracle through one of the apostles, a true sign and wonder. Luke's understated narrative stresses the humility of Peter. The miracle would have had a dramatic effect on Tabitha's fellow widows who had prepared her dead body. Loud exclamations of praise and wonder would now replace the laments of grief.
42 So it became known throughout the whole of Joppa, and many trusted upon the Lord.
So: Grk. de, conj. it became: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. See verse 3 above. known: Grk. gnōstos, adj., (from ginōskō, to know), perceived, understood, known, which may be used to mean (1) known, such as being known to someone; or (2) that which can be known or what can be known about something. The second usage applies here. throughout: Grk. kata, prep. the whole: Grk. holos, adj. See verse 39 above. The adjective probably hints at all classes of people as well as the territory surrounding the city. of Joppa: See verse 36 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. many: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. trusted: Grk. pisteuō, aor. See verse 26 above. Most versions render the verb as "believed," but three versions have "put their trust in" (CJB, MSG, NLV) and two have "put their faith" (CEB, CEV). The Amplified Version offers the helpful interpretive comment: "to adhere to and trust in and rely on."
upon: Grk. epi, prep. See verse 4 above. Most versions translate the preposition as "in," even though that is not its meaning. The preposition as used here depicts the direction of the verb (Thayer). In other words, the preposition graphically depicts the verb pisteuō as a resting upon, which makes "trusted" a better translation than "believed." the Lord: See verse 1 above. The principal evidence for the good news of salvation is resurrection, primarily the resurrection of Yeshua. The signs and wonders performed by the apostles gave added credence to their message and confirmed their authority to speak for Yeshua.
43 And many days came to pass as he remained in Joppa with Simon, a tanner.
And: Grk. de, conj. many: Grk. hikanos, adj. See verse 23 above. days: pl. of Grk. hēmera. See verse 9 above. In verse 23 above the time reference "many days" refers to a period of three years. came to pass: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. See verse 3 above. As in verse 23 above the Greek text has the time reference clause as introducing the verse. The verb ginomai is sometimes used to introduce an event occurring after some interval of time has gone by (e.g., Matt 1:22; 7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1; Mark 1:9; Luke 9:51; 16:22; Acts 5:7; 11:28; 14:1; 19:1; 22:6; 28:9; 1Th 3:4). Bible versions translate the verse to give the time reference as the duration of Peter's lodging with Simon. In my view the purpose of the time reference is to conclude the period of time that began in verse 31, roughly AD 35-38.
as he remained: Grk. menō, aor. inf., to be in a situation for a length of time, to remain or stay. The verb stresses constancy (DNTT 3:224). The infinitive is used to express result rather than purpose. in: Grk. en, prep. Joppa: See verse 36 above. with: Grk. para, prep., or "in the presence of." See verse 2 above. The preposition signifies a close association or physical proximity. Simon: Grk. Simōn, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Shimôn ("Shee-mown"), meaning "he has heard." There are nine men in the Besekh with the name "Simōn," but this spelling does not occur in the LXX at all. In the Tanakh the Heb. name Shimôn is the second son of Jacob and Leah (Gen 29:33). His name is translated in the LXX as Sumeōn and in English "Simeon." Luke notes in the next chapter that Simon's house was close to the sea (Acts 10:6).
a tanner: Grk. burseus (from bursa, "skin stripped off, a hide"), one who converted animal skins into leather and made useful or ornamental items from it, tanner. Gill notes that the Ethiopic version reads "shoemaker." Tanning was widespread in the ancient world. Early Israelite families tanned their own hides. With the growth of cities leather craftsmen arose. Tanning animal skins was an involved process requiring considerable skill. The hides were soaked until all fat, blood and hair was removed. After the leather was tanned, it was used for many purposes, including tents (Ex 26:14), personal articles (Lev 13:48; 2Kgs 1:8; Matt 3:4), and sandals (Ezek 16:10) (NIBD 780). Torah scrolls were made from the skins of lambs.
Marshall and Rienecker assume that Simon's occupation made him unclean and that Peter staying with him signaled his freedom from Pharisaic scruples. However, in the next chapter Peter affirms his traditional scruples in the strongest terms. There is no evidence, either in the Torah or the Talmud, that tanning hides made the worker unclean in any ritual sense. The Torah regulation restricts contact with the carcass of a dead unclean animal (Lev 11:8). The leather products used by Israelites were made from the skins of clean animals. In Torah legislation a carcass is an animal that has died naturally, not one that was slaughtered. In any event, uncleanness contracted from contact with any carcass was removed by washing (Lev 11:25, 39-40). It was not a permanent condition.
The Talmud includes the tanner in a list of occupations considered of low status or dignity, including goldsmiths, barbers and launderers (Kiddushin 82a). One rabbi said, "The world cannot exist without a perfume-maker and without a tanner - happy is he whose craft is that of a perfume-maker, and woe to him who is a tanner by trade" (Kidd. 82b; Baba Bathra 16b). In addition, a woman could divorce her tanner husband if she found his occupation objectionable (Ketubot 7:6). Because of the bad smell associated with the dressing of animal skins Jewish law required that tanning yards be kept at least 50 cubits from a town. The distance was measured from the last hut at the extremity of the town. Also, the tanning yard could only be placed on the east side of the town (Bava Bathra 2:10). The location was due to the fact that prevailing winds blew west to east, and the wind would keep the odor away from the town.
Stern says that Simon stank all the time because of his profession, but Luke does not comment on his personal hygiene. It's hardly likely that people would lodge with Simon if he or his house reeked of foul odor. Simon probably owned the tanning business and the degree of his personal involvement remains unknown. It is perhaps ironic that Peter's ancestor Jonah went to Joppa in order to escape from fulfilling God's call to serve as a missionary to Gentiles (Jon 1:3), whereas for Peter Joppa will be a base from which he will minister to Gentiles.
Ant.: Flavius Josephus (c. 37–100 A.D.), Antiquities of the Jews (Latin Antiquitates Judaicae). trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
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.
Barclay: William Barclay, Daily Bible Studies. Rev. ed. 16 vols. The Westminster Press, 1976.
Barker: William P. Barker, Everyone In the Bible. Fleming H. Revell Co., 1966.
BBMS: Henry Morris, Biblical Basis for Modern Science. Baker Book House, 1984.
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 Acts. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1954.
Clarke: Adam Clarke (1762–1832), Commentary on the Holy Bible. 6 vols. J. Emory and B. Waugh, 1831. 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: Colin Brown, ed., Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 Vols. Zondervan Pub. House, 1975.
Dorotheus: Dorotheus (255-362), Bishop of Tyre, The Choosing of the Seventy Holy Apostles. Online.
Gilbert: Gary Gilbert, Annotations on "The Acts of the Apostles," Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. 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.
Hislop: Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons. Loizeaux Brothers, 1959.
ISBE: James Orr, ed., International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. William. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1939. Website HTML, 2011. 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.
Jerome: Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus, "Jerome of Stridon" (342-420), Lives of Illustrious Men. Online.
JE: Jewish Encyclopedia, Funk and Wagnalls, 1906. 12 vols., gen. ed. Isidore Singer. Website HTML, 2002-2011. Online.
Klausner: Joseph Klausner (1874-1958), From Jesus to Paul. trans. William Stinespring. The Macmillan Company, 1943; First Menorah Pub. Co., 1979.
Longenecker: Richard N. Longenecker, Acts. Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol. 9. Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp., 1989-1999.
LSJ: Henry George Liddell (1811-1898) and Robert Scott (1811-1887), A Greek-English Lexicon. rev. ed. Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online.
Marshall: I. Howard Marshall, Acts. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. InterVarsity Press, 1980.
Metzger: Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. 2nd ed. United Bible Societies, 1994.
Miller: David M. Miller, The Meaning of Ioudaios and its Relationship to Other Group Labels in Ancient 'Judaism.' Currents in Biblical Research 9:98-126, September 2010. Online.
Moseley: Ron Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. Lederer Books, 1996.
Mounce: William D. Mounce, Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. 2011. Online.
MPNT: Alfred Marshall, NASB-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English. Zondervan Pub. House, 1986.
NA28: Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, 28th edition. eds. Barbara and Kurt Aland, John Karavidopoulos, Carlo M. Martini, and Bruce M. Metzger. German Bible Society and American Bible Society, 2012. [NA28 has the same Greek text as UBS-5.]
Owens: John Joseph Owens, Analytical Key to the Old Testament, 4 vols. Baker Book House, 1989.
Rienecker: Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament. 2 Vol. Zondervan Pub. House, 1980.
Santala: Risto Santala, Paul: The Man and the Teacher in the Light of Jewish Sources. Keren Ahvah Meshihit, 1995.
Schurer: Emil Schurer, A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ. 4 vols. trans. Peter Christie. T&T Clark, 1885. Online.
Skarsaune: Oskar Skarsaune, In the Shadow of the Temple: Jewish Influences on Early Christianity. InterVarsity Press, 2002.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
TDSS: The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation. Rev. ed. Trans. Michael Wise, Martin Abegg Jr. and Edward Cook. HarperOne, 2005.
Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Harper Brothers, 1889.
Twain: Mark Twain (1835-1910), The Innocents Abroad (1869). SeaWolf Press, 2018.
TWOT: Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 2 Vols. ed. R. Laird Harris. Moody Bible Institute, 1980.
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