Acts 9:15
But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
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(15) He if a chosen vessel unto me.—Literally, a vessel of election. The term has nothing directly analogous to it in the Old Testament, but it is Hebrew in its form; the second noun being used as a genitive of the characteristic attribute, and so equivalent to an intensified adjective. So in Isaiah 22:7, we have in the LXX. “valleys of election” for the “choicest valleys” of the English version. The term “vessel” is used in the Old Testament of arms (Genesis 27:3), of garments (Deuteronomy 22:5), of household goods (Genesis 31:36-37). In the New Testament its range of meaning is yet wider, as in Matthew 12:29; Luke 8:16; John 19:29; Romans 9:22; 2Corinthians 4:7. Here our word “instrument” or “implement” comes, perhaps, nearest to its meaning. The persecutor had been chosen by the Lord as the “tool” with which He would work out His gracious will for him and for the Gentiles. In this sense it was used by classical writers of useful and trusty slaves, just as we speak of one man being the “tool” of another. Possibly, however, the words may be interpreted as containing the germ of the parable of the potter’s vessel on which St. Paul dwells in Romans 9:21-23, and implied that the convert was not only chosen, but moulded, for his future work. The word “election,” which occurs here for the first time in the New Testament, and is afterwards so prominent in the teaching of St. Paul (Romans 9:11; Romans 11:5; Romans 11:7-8; 1Thessalonians 1:4), affords yet another instance of the influence exercised on the Apostle by the thoughts and language of the instructor through whom alone he could have learnt what is here recorded.

To bear my name before the Gentiles.—The mission of the Apostle was thus revealed to Ananias in the first instance. He is one who welcomes that expansion of the kingdom on which even the chief of the Apostles would have entered, but for the voice from heaven, with doubt and hesitation (Acts 10:13; Acts 10:28). He is taught to see in the man of whom he had only heard as the persecutor, one who had been trained and chosen as fitter than all others for the work of that expansion.

And kings.—The words find their fulfilment in the speech before Agrippa (Acts 26:12); possibly in one before Nero (2Timothy 1:16).

Acts 9:15-16. But the Lord said, Go thy way — Do not tell me how bad he has been; I know it well; but go with all speed, and execute that message of mercy with which I have charged thee; for — How great and aggravated soever his former transgressions may have been, I assure thee he is a chosen vessel — Or instrument; unto me, to bear my name — That is, to testify of me, and bear witness of my truth; before the Gentiles Ενωπιον εθνων, before nations, namely, heathen nations; and kings — King Agrippa and Cesar himself; and the children of Israel — To thousands of whom, as well in the Gentile countries as in Judea, he shall testify the gospel of my grace. Beza justly observes, that an instrument of building, agriculture, &c., is often, in Greek, called οκευος, here rendered vessel, because in him the gospel treasure was to be lodged, in order to the conveyance of it to many; and a chosen vessel, because he was destined for eminent services, for which, doubtless, some persons are chosen and set apart from their mother’s womb, as Paul says he was, Galatians 1:15. For I will show him how great things he must suffer — He that hath been a persecutor, shall be himself persecuted. Christ’s saying he would show him this, was intended to signify his giving him notice of these sufferings beforehand, that they might be no surprise to him. Observe, reader, those that bear Christ’s name must expect to bear the cross for his name; and those that do most for Christ are often called to suffer most for him. Saul, that was designed for eminent services, was also designed for eminent sufferings.

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.Go thy way - This is often the only answer that we obtain to the suggestion of our doubts and hesitations about duty. God tells us still to do what he requires, with an assurance only that his commands are just, and that there are good reasons for them.

A chosen vessel - The usual meaning of the word "vessel" is well known. It commonly denotes a "cup or basin," such as is used in a house. It then denotes "any instrument which may be used to accomplish a purpose, perhaps particularly with the notion of conveying or communicating." In the Scriptures it is used to denote the "instrument" or "agent" which God employs to convey his favors to mankind, and is thus employed to represent the ministers of the gospel, 2 Corinthians 4:7; 1 Thessalonians 4:4. Compare Isaiah 10:5-7. Paul is called "chosen" because Christ had "selected" him, as he did his other apostles, for this service. See the notes on John 15:16.

To bear my name - To communicate the knowledge of me.

Before the Gentiles - The nations; all who were not Jews. This was the principal employment of Paul. He spent his life in this, and regarded himself as especially called to be the apostle of the Gentiles, Romans 11:13; Romans 15:16; Galatians 2:8.

And kings - This was fulfilled, Acts 25:23, etc.; Acts 26:32; Acts 27:24.

And the children of Israel - The Jews. This was done. He immediately began to preach to them, Acts 9:20-22. Wherever he went, he preached the gospel first to them, and then to the Gentiles, Acts 13:46; Acts 28:17.

15. Go thy way—Do as thou art bidden, without gainsaying.

he is a chosen vessel—a word often used by Paul in illustrating God's sovereignty in election (Ro 9:21-23; 2Co 4:7; 2Ti 2:20, 21 [Alford]. Compare Zec 3:2).

He is a chosen vessel: the whole world is God’s fabric, and the church especially is his house: not only in the whole world, but in the visible church, there are all sorts of utensils, some for higher, others for meaner uses; Saul was to be a vessel unto honour, Romans 9:21, into which the treasures of God’s word were to be put, 2 Corinthians 4:7, though he was but an earthen vessel: Such was indeed chosen by God to preach the gospel, Galatians 1:15,16, to suffer for Christ’s name’s sake, 1 Thessalonians 3:3.

To bear my name before the Gentiles: this mystery of the calling of the Gentiles began now to spread abroad, and to be made more known, which was hid in those promises, Isaiah 49:6 Jeremiah 1:10.

But the Lord said unto him, go thy way,.... The Syriac version reads, "arise, go thy way"; make no delay, nor any excuse, there is no reason for it; nothing is to be feared from him:

for he is a chosen vessel unto me; a choice and excellent one, full of the heavenly treasure of the Gospel, full of the gifts and graces of the Spirit, and so very fit and richly qualified for the use and service of Christ; and was , "a vessel of desire", or a desirable one, as the Jews speak (n): or he was, to render the words literally, "a vessel of election"; both an instrument gathering in the election, or the elect of God, through the preaching of the Gospel; and was himself chosen of God, both to grace and glory, a vessel of mercy, and of honour prepared for glory; and was separated, predestinated, and appointed to the Gospel of God, to preach it among the Gentiles; which sense is confirmed by what follows:

to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel; by "the name" of Christ is meant his Gospel, which is a declaration of his person, perfections, glories, and excellencies, of his offices, grace, righteousness, and salvation; and to "bear" it, is to preach it, to carry it about, spread abroad, and propagate it; in allusion either to the prophets of old, whose prophecies are often called a "burden", which they bore and carried to the several nations to whom they were sent; or to the Levites bearing the tabernacle of the Lord, and its vessels, "be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord", Isaiah 52:11. Upon which Aben Ezra has this note,

"they are the Israelites, , "that bear the law";''

but Saul was a chosen vessel to bear the Gospel; or to the sower of seed, Psalm 126:6 "before the Gentiles", or nations of the world; and he was an apostle, and teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity; the Gospel of the uncircumcision was particularly committed to him: and before "kings", as he did before Agrippa, king of the Jews, and before Nero, emperor of Rome; and his bonds for the Gospel, and so the Gospel through his bonds became manifest in all the palace, or court of Caesar. And before

the children of Israel; the Jews, to whom he first preached it; but when they put it away he turned to the Gentiles, and afterwards, before the Jews, he bore a testimony for it.

(n) T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 6. 1.

But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a {g} chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

(g) To bear my name in.

Acts 9:15. σκεῦος ἐκλογῆς, cf. St. Paul’s own language in Galatians 1:15, genitive of quality; common Hebraistic mode of expression (cf. Acts 8:23) = ἐκλεκτόν, see Blass, Gram., p. 96; cf. Luke 16:8; Luke 18:6, etc. For σκεῦος similarly used see Jeremiah 22:28, Hosea 8:8, and Schöttgen, Horæ Hebraicæ, in loco; and in N.T. Romans 9:22-23, 1 Thessalonians 4:4. Grimm and Blass both compare σκ. de homine in Polyb., xiii., 5, 7; xv., 25, 1. Vas electionis: the words are written over what is said to be St. Paul’s tomb in the church dedicated to him near the city of Rome.—τοῦ βαστάσαι, genitive of purpose; verb as used here continues the metaphor of σκεῦος; may mean simply to bear, to carry, or it may denote to bear as a burden; cf. 2 Kings 18:14, Sir 6:25; cf. Luke 14:27, Acts 15:10, Romans 15:1, etc.—ἐθνῶν καὶ βασιλέωνἐθν., placed first because Saul’s special mission is thus indicated.—βασιλ., cf. Acts 26:12, 2 Timothy 1:16; also before the governors of Cyprus, Achaia, Judæa.—υἱῶν τε Ἰ., see critical notes above, again the closely connecting τε, all three nouns being comprehended under the one article τῶν—the Apostle’s work was to include, not to exclude, his brethren according to the flesh, whilst mission to the Gentiles is always emphasised; cf. Acts 22:15; Acts 22:21, Acts 26:17; cf. Romans 1:13-14.

15. he is a chosen vessel unto me] Literally, “a vessel of election.” This is a Hebrew form of expression, cp. Jeremiah 22:28, where King Coniah is called “a vessel wherein is no pleasure.” So Jeremiah 51:34, “He hath made me [to be] an empty vessel,” literally, “vessel of emptiness.”

to bear my name] i.e. this shall be the load or duty which I will lay upon this my chosen instrument.

before the Gentiles] This was doubtless a revelation to Ananias, who as a devout Jew would not yet have contemplated the inclusion of the whole world in the Church of Christ. The Gentiles are placed first in the enumeration, because among them specially was Saul’s field of labour to be. For the wide spirit in which the Apostle embraced his commission, see Romans 1:13-14, &c.

and kings] As before Agrippa (Acts 26:1; Acts 26:32) and at Rome, in consequence of the appeal to be heard before Cæsar.

Acts 9:15. Ἐκλογῆςπαθεῖν, a vessel of election [a chosen vessel]—suffer) These words are connected. The mention of election dispels every doubt of Ananias. The προορισμὸς, fore-ordination or predestination (Romans 8:29, “Whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate;” with which comp. Acts 9:28), converts things unfavourable unto things favourable.—τοῦ βαστάσαι, that he may bear) An arduous, splendid, and blessed office.—τὸ ὄνομά μου, My name) To this refer, for My name’s sake, Acts 9:16.—ἐνώπιον, before) in public.—ἐθνῶν, Gentiles) The Gentiles are put first; for Paul was an apostle of the Gentiles. Paul bore the name of Christ before the people in narrating his own conversion, ch. 22, and before the Gentiles and kings, ch. 26.

Verse 15. - A chosen vessel (comp. Galatians 2:15; Romans 9:21, 22). To bear my name before the Gentiles (see Acts 22:21; Acts 26:17, 18; Romans 15:16; Galatians 2:7-9, etc.) and kings (Acts 25; Acts 26; 2 Timothy 4:16, 17, with reference to Nero), and the children of Israel. The Gentiles are named before the children of Israel, because St. Paul's special call was to be the apostle of the Gentiles. But we know that even St. Paul's practice was to preach Christ to the Jews first, in every city where there were Jews. Acts 9:15Chosen vessel (σκεῦος ἐκλογῆς)

Lit., an instrument of choice. On vessel, see on Matthew 12:29; and on the figure, compare 2 Corinthians 4:7.

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