Acts 9:13
Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(13) Lord, I have heard by many of this man.—The words are of interest as showing both the duration and the character of the persecution in which Saul had been the leader. The report of it had spread far and wide. The refugees at Damascus told of the sufferings of the brethren at Jerusalem.

Thy saints at Jerusalem.—This is noticeable as the first application of the term “saints” to the disciples. The primary idea of the word was that of men who consecrated themselves, and led, in the strictest sense of the word, a devout life. A term of like import had been taken by the more religious Jews in the time of the Maccabeans. The Chasidim, or Saints (the word occurs in Psalm 16:3), were those who banded themselves together to resist the inroads of heathenism under Autiochus Epiphanes. They appear in the books of Maccabees under the title of Assideans (1 Maccabees 2:42; 1 Maccabees 7:13; 2 Maccabees 14:6). The more distinctive name of Pharisees (Separatists), which came to be attached to the more zealous Chasidim, practically superseded this; and either by the disciples themselves, or by friendly outsiders, the Greek equivalent of the old Hebrew word—and probably, therefore, in Palestine, the Aramaic form of the word itself—was revived to describe the devout members of the new society. The fact that their Master had been conspicuously “the Holy One of God” (the same adjective is used of Him in the quotations from Psalm 16:10, in Acts 2:27; Acts 13:35), made it natural that the term should be extended to His followers, just as He had been spoken of as the “Just One” (Acts 3:14; Acts 7:52); and yet that name was applied, in its Greek form, to James the brother of the Lord, and, in its Latin form of Justus, to the three so named in Acts 1:23; Acts 18:7; Colossians 4:11. It is significant that its first appearance in the New Testament should be as used by the man who was sent to be St. Paul’s instructor, and that it should afterwards have been employed so frequently by the Apostle himself (Romans 1:7; Romans 15:25; 1Corinthians 1:2; 1Corinthians 6:1-2; 2Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1, et al.). The “devout man according to the Law,” may well have been among the Chasidim even prior to his conversion to the faith of Christ. The term appears in inscriptions from the Catacombs in the Museum of the Collegio Romano at Rome—“N. or M. resteth here with the Saints”; but probably in the later sense, as attached to martyrs and others of distinguished holiness.

Acts 9:13-14. Then Ananias — Astonished to hear such a name mentioned in such a connection; answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man — What a malicious enemy he is to thy gospel: all those who were scattered upon the late persecution, many of whom are come to Damascus, tell how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem — That he was the most virulent, violent persecutor of all the rest; what havoc he has made of the church: nay, and his errand to Damascus at this time is to persecute us Christians; for here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name — To treat thy disciples as the worst of criminals. Now, why doth Ananias thus object? Does he say, Therefore I do not owe him so much service? Why should I do him a kindness, who has designed and done us so much unkindness? No, Christ had taught him another lesson, namely, to render good for evil, blessing for cursing, and to pray for persecutors. But if he be such a persecutor of Christians, 1st, Will it be safe for Ananias to go to him? Will he not by so doing throw himself like a lamb into the mouth of a lion? And if he thus bring himself into trouble, will he not be justly blamed for his indiscretion?

2d, Will it be to any purpose to go to him? Can such a hard heart be ever softened? or such an Ethiopian ever change his skin?9:10-22 A good work was begun in Saul, when he was brought to Christ's feet with those words, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And never did Christ leave any who were brought to that. Behold, the proud Pharisee, the unmerciful oppressor, the daring blasphemer, prayeth! And thus it is even now, and with the proud infidel, or the abandoned sinner. What happy tidings are these to all who understand the nature and power of prayer, of such prayer as the humbled sinner presents for the blessings of free salvation! Now he began to pray after another manner than he had done; before, he said his prayers, now, he prayed them. Regenerating grace sets people on praying; you may as well find a living man without breath, as a living Christian without prayer. Yet even eminent disciples, like Ananias, sometimes stagger at the commands of the Lord. But it is the Lord's glory to surpass our scanty expectations, and show that those are vessels of his mercy whom we are apt to consider as objects of his vengeance. The teaching of the Holy Spirit takes away the scales of ignorance and pride from the understanding; then the sinner becomes a new creature, and endeavours to recommend the anointed Saviour, the Son of God, to his former companions.I have heard by many ... - This was in the vision, Acts 9:10. The passage of such a train of thoughts through the mind was perfectly natural at the command to go and search out Saul. There would instantly occur all that had been heard of his fury in persecution; and the expression here may indicate the state of a mind amazed that such a one should need his counsel, and afraid, perhaps, of entrusting himself to one thus bent on persecution. All this evidently passed in the dream or vision of Ananias, and perhaps cannot be considered as any deliberate unwillingness to go to him. It is clear, however, that such thoughts should have been banished, and that he should have gone at once to the praying Saul. When Christ commands, we should suffer no suggestion of our own thoughts, and no apprehension of our own danger, to interfere.

By many - Probably many who had fled from persecution, and had taken refuge in Damascus. It is also evident Acts 9:14 that Ananias had been apprised, perhaps by letters from the Christians at Jerusalem, of the purpose which Saul had in view in now going to Damascus.

To thy saints - Christians; called saints ἅγιοι hagioi because they are holy, or consecrated to God.

13. Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, &c.—"The objections of Ananias, and the removal of them by the Lord, display in a very touching manner the childlike relation of the believing soul to its Redeemer. The Saviour speaks with Ananias as a man does with his friend" [Olshausen].

how much evil he hath done to thy saints—"Thy saints," says Ananias to Christ; therefore Christ is God [Bengel]. So, in Ac 9:14, Ananias describes the disciples as "those that called on Christ's name." See on [1972]Ac 7:59, 60; and compare 1Co 1:2.

I have heard by many of this man; his design and commission could not but be noised abroad.

Thy saints: the disciples of Christ are called saints, because:

1. They are dedicated unto the Lord in their baptism.

2. They are called unto holiness.

3. They did then live holily and exemplarily.

4. And so must all that hope for any benefit by their being disciples of Christ, &c. Then Ananias answered, Lord,.... Though Ananias knew that it was the Lord that spoke, and acknowledged his power and dominion, and expressed his readiness to obey his commands; yet there was a timidity in him, and which was the more inexcusable, that it should appear after the Lord had told him of the vision which Saul had had of him; and yet still he was fearful of putting himself into his hands, who had been so violent a persecutor; and therefore obliquely excuses himself, by observing what Saul had done at Jerusalem, and the powers he came with to Damascus:

I have heard by many of this man; which shows that Ananias had been at Damascus some time, and was not an eyewitness of the havoc Saul made of the church, only had the account of it from others; and these many who fled to Damascus upon the persecution, which Saul was at the head of; and being so, was particularly spoken of, and his name was well known, and was become infamous for his cruelty and barbarity;

how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem; by entering into their houses with violence, haling men and women from thence, committing them to prison, and persecuting them unto death. Believers in Christ are called his "saints", because separated by his grace for his service, and sanctified by his Spirit, and to whom he is made sanctification; and because they live holy lives and conversations; all which is an aggravation of the evil done them, and which will be avenged by Christ in his own time.

Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 9:13-16. Ananias, in ingenuous simplicity of heart, expresses his scruples as to conferring the benefit in question on a man who, according to information received from many (ἀπὸ πολλ.), had hitherto shown himself entirely unworthy of it (Acts 9:13), and from whom even now only evil to the cause of Christ was to be dreaded after his contemplated restoration to sight (Acts 9:14). Whether Ananias had obtained the knowledge of the inquisitorial ἐξουσία which Saul had at Damascus by letters from Jerusalem (Wolf, Rosenmüller), or from the companions of Saul (Kuinoel), or in some other way, remains undetermined.

τοῖς ἁγίοις σου] to the saints belonging to Thee, i.e. to the Christians: for they, through the atonement appropriated by means of faith (comp. on Romans 1:7), having been separated from the κόσμος and dedicated to God, belong to Christ, who has purchased them by His blood (Acts 20:28).

ἐν Ἱερουσ. belongs to κακὰ ἐποίησε.

Acts 9:14. As to the ἐπικαλεῖσθαι of Christ, see on Acts 7:59. It is the distinctive characteristic of Christianity, Acts 9:21; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Romans 10:10 ff.

Acts 9:15. σκεῦος ἐκλογῆς] a chosen vessel (instrument). In this vessel Christ will bear, etc. The genitive of quality emphatically stands in place of the adjective, Herm. ad Vig. p. 890 f.; Winer, p. 222 [E. T. 297]. Comp. σκεῦος ἀνάγκης, Anthol. xi. 27. 6.

τοῦ βαστάσαι κ.τ.λ.] contains the definition of σκ. ἐκλ. μοι ἐστὶν οὗτος: to bear my (Messianic) name (by the preaching of the same) before Gentiles, and kings, and Israelites. Observe how the future work of converting the Gentiles (comp. Galatians 1:16) is presented as the principal work (ἐθνῶν κ. βασιλ.), to which that of converting the Jews is related as a supplemental accessory;[242] hence υἱῶν Ἰσρ. is added with τέ (see Herm. ad Eur. Med. 4 f.; Klotz, ad Devar. p. 743 f.; Winer, p. 404 [E. T. 542].

The γάρ, Acts 9:16, introduces the reason why He has rightly called him σκεῦος ἐκλογῆς κ.τ.λ.; for I shall show him how much he must suffer for my name (for its glorification, see on Acts 5:41). The ἐγώ placed first has the force of the power of disposal in reference to σκεῦος ἐκλ. μοι ἐστίν: I am He, who will place it always before his eyes. On this Bengel rightly remarks: “re ipsa, in toto ejus cursu,”—even to his death. According to de Wette, the reference is to revelation: the apostle will suffer with prophetic foresight (comp. Acts 20:23; Acts 20:25, Acts 21:11). But such revelations are only known from his later ministry, whereas the experimental ὑπόδειξις commenced immediately, and brought practically to the consciousness of the apostle that he was to be that σκεῦος ἐκλογῆς amidst much suffering.

[242] The apostle’s practice of always attempting, first of all, the work of conversion among the Jews is not contrary to this, as his destination to the conversion of the Gentiles is expressly designated without excluding the Jews, and accordingly was to be followed out without abandoning the historical course of salvation: Ἰουδαίῳ τε πρῶτον καὶ Ἕλληνι, Romans 1:16. And what Paul was to attain in this way, entirely corresponds to the expression in our passage.Acts 9:13. Ananias naturally hesitates to go to a man who had undoubtedly inflicted harm upon the Christians, and had come to Damascus with the same intent. But there is nothing inconsistent in the fact that Ananias should not be acquainted with Saul personally, whilst he knew of his persecuting zeal.—τοῖς ἁγίοις σου: used here for the first time as a name for the Christians; cf. Acts 9:32; Acts 9:41, Acts 26:10. Every Israelite was ἅγιος by the mere fact of his membership in the holy Ecclesia of Israel, and Ananias, himself a Jew, does not hesitate to employ the same term of the members of the Christian Ecclesia (see Hort, Ecclesia, pp. 56, 57, and Grimm, sub v., 2). Its use has therefore a deep significance: “Christus habet sanctos, ut suos: ergo est Deus,” says Bengel. The force of the words can be more fully appreciated in connection with the significance of the phrase in Acts 9:14, τοῖς ἐπικ. τὸ ὄνομά σου. In Acts 26:10 it is noticeable that the word occurs on St. Paul’s own lips as he stood before Agrippa “in the bitterness of his self-accusation for his acts of persecution, probably in intentional repetition of Ananias’s language respecting those same acts of his. It was a phrase that was likely to burn itself into his memory on that occasion.” And so we find St. Paul addressing at least six of his Epistles to those who were “called to be Saints,” indicating that every Christian as such had this high calling. If Christians individually had realised it, the prophetic vision of the Psalms of Solomon (17:36) would have been fulfilled in the early Church of Christ: ὅτι πάντες ἅγιοι, καὶ βασιλεὺς ἀυτῶν Χριστὸς Κύριος (see Ryle and James’ edition, p. 141).—ἐν Ἱερ. belongs to ἐποίησε, and so points back to Acts 8:3, and to Saul as the soul of the persecution which broke out in Jerusalem, cf. Paul’s own language before Agrippa, Acts 26:10.13. I have heard by [from] many, &c.] These words seem to point to a longer residence of Ananias in Damascus than he could have made if he had only left Jerusalem after the death of Stephen; and so do the words (Acts 22:12) which speak of his good report among all the Jews that dwelt at Damascus.

how much evil he hath done to thy saints, &c.] The Christian converts were probably called “saints,” i.e. “holy persons,” at a very early period after the death of Christ because of the marvellous outpourings of the Holy Spirit upon the first converts, cp. 1 Peter 1:15. The word is of frequent occurrence in the greetings of St Paul’s Epistles.Acts 9:13. Ἀπὸ πολλῶν, from many) Saul had been a notable persecutor.—τοῖς ἁγίοις σου, to Thy saints) Christians are even already saints. Christ regards the saints as His own: therefore He is GOD.Verse 13. - But for then, A.V.; from many for by many, A.V.; did for hath done, A.V. Ananias's answer shows his profound astonishment, mixed with doubt and misgiving, at the commission given to him. It shows, too, how the news of Saul's commission had preceded him, and caused terror among the disciples at Damascus. Little did Ananias suspect that this dreaded enemy would be the channel of God's richest blessings to his Church throughout all ages until the coming of Christ. How empty our fears often are l how ignorant are we where our chief good lies hid! But God knows. Let us trust him.
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