Acts 8:3
As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) As for Saul, he made havock of the church.—The tense in the Greek implies continuous action, and so indicates the severity of the persecution. Further details are given by St. Paul himself. He “persecuted this way unto the death” (Acts 22:4). It does not follow, however, that this points to more than the death of Stephen. Both men and women were imprisoned (ibid). The fact that the latter class were included among the sufferers, implies that they had been more or less prominent in the activity of the new society. Such may have been the devout women of Luke 8:2-3. The victims were punished in every synagogue, most probably with the forty stripes save one (2Corinthians 11:24) which was the common penalty for minor offences against religious order. They were compelled to blaspheme the “worthy name” of the Master whom they owned as the Christ (Acts 26:11; Jas. Ii. 7). They were subject to wanton outrages in addition to judicial severity (1Timothy 1:13). There was, as the persecutor himself afterwards confessed (Acts 26:11), a kind of insane ferocity in his violence. Even the very word “haling” implies a brutality which might well have been spared.

Acts 8:3. As for Saul — Who was one of the main instruments in this persecution; he made havoc of the church — Like some furious beast of prey. So the Greek word properly signifies. He did his utmost to ruin it, not caring what mischief he did to the disciples of Christ, and setting no bounds to his rage and cruelty: entering into every house — Where the Christians used to assemble for the worship of God; or every house that had, or was thought to have, any Christians in it; haling men and women — Dragging them along the streets, without any regard to age or sex; committed them to prison — For no crime, real or pretended, but that of having believed in Jesus, and embraced the gospel. Therefore they that were — Greek, οι μεν ουν διασπαρεντες, they, therefore, being scattered abroad, went everywhere — Went through Judea and Samaria, (Acts 8:1,) preaching the word — Wherever they came; scattering the knowledge of Christ and his gospel wherever they were scattered: they went, ευαγγελιζομενοι τον λογον, evangelizing, or, declaring the glad tidings of the word — Those of them that had ability to preach, in their preaching, and others in their common converse. And in many places they were remarkably successful. So that God overruled the cruelty and rage of his people’s enemies to subserve his own wise and gracious purposes. There is no room to inquire where these poor refugees had their orders. Some of them were endowed with miraculous gifts: and, if none of them had been so, the extraordinary call they had to spread the knowledge of Christ wherever they came, among those who were ignorant of him, abundantly justified them in what they did. They were now in a country where many of them were no strangers, for Christ and his disciples had conversed much in the regions of Judea and Samaria, so that a foundation had been laid for them to build upon, and it was requisite to let the people in those parts know what had been the issue of the preaching Christ’s doctrine, and that it was not now left neglected and forgotten, as perhaps they had been made to believe.8:1-4 Though persecution must not drive us from our work, yet it may send us to work elsewhere. Wherever the established believer is driven, he carries the knowledge of the gospel, and makes known the preciousness of Christ in every place. Where a simple desire of doing good influences the heart, it will be found impossible to shut a man out from all opportunities of usefulness.As for Saul - But Saul. He took no interest or part in the pious attentions shown to Stephen, but engaged with zeal in the work of persecution.

He made havoc - ἐλυμαίνετο elumaineto. This word is commonly applied to wild beasts, to lions, wolves, etc., and denotes the "devastations" which they commit. Saul raged against the church like a wild beast - a strong expression, denoting the zeal and fury with which he engaged in persecution.

Entering into every house - To search for those who were suspected of being Christians.

Haling - Dragging, or compelling them.

Committed them to prison - The Sanhedrin had no power to put them to death, John 18:31. But they had power to imprison; and they resolved, it seems, to exercise this power to the utmost. Paul frequently refers to his zeal in persecuting the church, Acts 26:10-11; Galatians 1:13. It may be remarked here that there never was a persecution commenced with more flattering prospects to the persecutors. Saul, the principal agent, was young, zealous, learned, and clothed with power. He showed afterward that he had talents suited for any station, and zeal that tired with no exertion, and that was appalled by no obstacle. With this talent and this zeal he entered on his work. The Christians were few and feeble. They were scattered and unarmed. They were unprotected by any civil power, and exposed, therefore, to the full blaze and rage of persecution. That the church was not destroyed was owing to the protection of God a protection which not only secured its existence, but which extended its influence and power by means of this very persecution far abroad on the earth.

3. Saul … entering into every house—like as inquisitor [Bengel].

haling men and women, &c.—See his own affecting confessions afterwards (Ac 22:4; 26:9, 10; 1Co 15:9; Ga 1:13; Php 3:6; 1Ti 1:13).

He made havoc of the church; Saul was a degree beyond the ordinary sort of persecutors, and was, as he does acknowledge himself, eminently injurious, 1 Timothy 1:13.

Entering into every house; house after house, sparing none.

Haling men and women; as by the hair of their heads.

Committed them to prison; this to be sure the Jews had yet retained power from the Romans to do. All this is but as a foil, to illustrate more the riches of God’s mercy towards Saul. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church,.... Did evil to the saints, destroyed them that called upon the name of Christ, Acts 9:13 and persecuted and wasted the church of God, as he himself says, Galatians 1:13 and now did Benjamin, of which tribe Saul was, ravine as a wolf, Genesis 49:27

Entering into every house; where the saints dwelt:

and haling men and women: in a violent manner, without any regard to age or sex:

committed them to prison; delivered them up into the hands of the chief priests and magistrates, in order to be committed and sent to prison; this he himself confesses, Acts 22:4.

{3} As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.

(3) The dispersion or scattering abroad of the faithful is the gathering together of churches.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 8:3. ἐλυμαίνετο: deponent verb, used in classical Greek of personal outrage (λύμη), of scourging and torturing, of outraging the dead, of the ruin and devastation caused by an army (Wetstein). In the LXX it is found several times, cf. especially Psalms 79(80):13, of a wild boar ravaging a vineyard, and cf. also Sir 28:23. As the word is used only by St. Luke it is possible that it may have been suggested by its frequent employment in medical language, where it is employed not only of injury by wrong treatment, but also of the ravages of disease, Hobart, Medical Language, pp. 211, 212. R.V. renders “laid waste,” A.V. (so Tyndale) “made havoc of,” but the revisers have rendered πορθέω by the latter, cf. Acts 9:21, Galatians 1:3. St. Paul’s description of himself as ὑβριστής, 1 Timothy 1:13, may well refer to the infliction of personal insults and injuries, as expressed here by λυμαίνομαι (cf. Paley, Horæ Paulinæ, xi., 5).—τὴν ἐκκλησίαν, i.e., the Church just mentioned at Jerusalem—Saul’s further persecution, even to Damascus, probably came later (Hort, Ecclesia, p. 53).—κατὰ τοὺς οἴκους εἰσπορ.: the expression may denote “entering into every house,” R. and A.V., or perhaps, more specifically, the houses known as places of Christian assembly, the ἐκκλησίαι κατʼ οἶκον, see on Acts 2:46. In any case the words, as also those which follow, show the thoroughness and relentlessness of Saul’s persecuting zeal.—σύρων: haling, i.e., hauling, dragging (schlappend), cf. Jam 2:6. The word is used by St. Luke three times in Acts (only twice elsewhere in N.T.), and he alone uses κατασύρω, Luke 12:58, in the same sense as the single verb (where St. Matthew has παραδῷ). For its employment in the Comic Poets see Kennedy, Sources of N. T. Greek, p. 76, and also Arrian, Epict., i. 29, 22, and other instances in Wetstein; cf. LXX, 2 Samuel 17:13, 4Ma 6:1, ἔσυραν ἐπὶ τὰ βασανιστήρια τὸν Ἐλ.—γυναῖκας: repeated also in Acts 9:2, and Acts 22:4, as indicating the relentless nature of the persecution. Some of the devout and ministering women may well have been included, Luke 8:2-3, Acts 1:14.3. As for [But] Saul, he made havock of the church] His own words will best describe his action (Acts 22:4), “I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.” The same word is used by the LXX. (Psalm 80:13) of the ravages of wild beasts.

entering into every house] i.e. making his search everywhere that none should escape.

and haling men and women] i.e. dragging them forth. We have the word still in the form “to haul,” and the halyards of a ship.

committed them to prison] Because the number of arrests made it impossible that they should all be brought to trial at once.Acts 8:3. [Τὴν ἐκκλησίαν, the church) at Jerusalem; as many as remained there.—V. g.] Εἰσπορευόμενος, entering) as if an Inquisitor.—καὶ γυναῖκας, and women) who ordinarily are more readily spared than men.Verse 3. - But for as for, A.V.; 'laid waste for he made havoc of,' A.V. From the dispersion of the disciples will flow the narrative in this present chapter. It is therefore mentioned first. From the persecution of Saul will flow the narrative in Acts 9 and to the end of the book. Stephen's burial completes the preceding narrative. Made havoc (ἐλυμαίνετο)

Only here in New Testament. In Septuagint, Psalm 79:13, it is used of the laying waste of a vineyard by the wild boar. Compare Acts 9:21, where the A. V. has destroyed, but where the Greek is πορθήσας, devastated. Canon Farrar observes: "The part which he played at this time in the horrid work of persecution has, I fear, been always underrated. It is only when we collect the separate passages - they are no less than eight in number - in which allusion is made to this sad period, it is only when we weigh the terrible significance of the expressions used that we feel the load of remorse which must have lain upon him, and the taunts to which he was liable from malignant enemies" ("Life and Work of St. Paul"). Note the imperfect, of continued action.

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