Acts 9:18
And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight immediately, and arose, and was baptized.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) There fell from his eyes as it had been scales.—The description suggests the thought that the blindness was caused by an incrustation, caused by acute inflammation, covering the pupil of the eye, or closing up the eye-lids, analogous to the “whiteness,” that peeled (or scaled) off from the eyes of Tobit (Tobit 11:13). Like phenomena are mentioned by Hippocrates, and the care with which St. Luke records the fact in this instance, may be noted, with Acts 3:7; Acts 28:8, as one of the examples of the technical precision of his calling as a physician.

Arose, and was baptised.—It is clear that both Saul and Ananias looked on this as the indispensable condition for admission into the visible society of the kingdom of God. No visions and revelations of the Lord, no intensity of personal conversion, exempted him from it. For him, too, that was the “washing of regeneration” (Titus 3:5), the moment of the new birth, of being buried with Christ (Romans 6:3-4). It may be inferred almost as a matter of certainty that it was at the hands of Ananias that he received baptism. The baptism would probably be administered in one or other of the rivers which the history of Naaman had made famous, and so the waters of “Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus” (2Kings 5:12), were now sanctified no less than those of Jordan for the “mystical washing away of sin.”

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.As it had been scales - ὡσεὶ λεπίδες hōsei lepides. The word ὡσεὶ hōsei, "as it had been," is designed to qualify the following word. It is not said that scales literally fell from his eyes, but that an effect followed as if scales had been suddenly taken off. Evidently, the expression is deigned to mean no more than this. The effect was such as would take place if some dark, imperious substance had been placed before the eyes, and had been suddenly removed. The cure was as sudden, the restoration to sight was as immediate, as if such an interposing substance had been suddenly removed. This is all that the expression fairly implies, and this is all that the nature of the case demands. As the blindness had been caused by the natural effect of the light, probably on the optic nerve (Acts 9:8-9, note), it is manifest that no literal removing of scales would restore the vision. We are therefore to lay aside the idea of literal scales falling to the earth. No such thing is affirmed, and no such thing would have met the case. The word translated "scales" is used nowhere else in the New Testament. It means properly "the small crust or layer which composes a part of the covering of a fish, and also any thin layer or leaf exfoliated or separated, as scales of iron, bone, or a piece of bark, etc." (Webster). An effect similar to this is described in Tobit 11:8, 13. It is evident that there was a miracle in the healing of Saul. The "blindness" was the natural effect of the light. The "cure" was by miraculous power. This is evident:

(1) Because there were no means used that would naturally restore the sight. It may be remarked here that "gutta serena" has been regarded by physicians as one of the most incurable of diseases. Few cases are restored, and few remedies are efficacious (See the Edinburgh Encyclopedia's "Surgery" on Amaurosis.)

(2) Ananias was sent for this very purpose to heal him, Acts 9:17.

(3) the immediate effect shows that this was miraculous. Had it been a slow recovery, it might have been doubtful; but here it was instantaneous, and it was thus put beyond a question that it was a miracle.

And was baptized - In this he followed the example of all the early converts to Christianity. They were baptized immediately. See Acts 2:41; Acts 8:12, Acts 8:36-39.

18. there fell from his eyes as it were scales—"This shows that the blindness as well as the cure was supernatural. Substances like scales would not form naturally in so short a time" [Webster and Wilkinson]. And the medical precision of Luke's language here is to be noted.

was baptized—as directed by Ananias (Ac 22:16).

Scales, as scales of fish: it was no ordinary blindness, nor from any ordinary cause, and could not have been cured by common means. And immediately there fell from his eyes, as it had been scales,.... Which were little thin skins or films, like the scales of fishes, which were formed from the defluxions that fell from his brain, through the excessive light that shone around him, and the surprise he was thrown into by it: these, as soon as Ananias put his hands upon him, dropped off; which were an emblem and representation of the scales of ignorance, of himself, of sin, of righteousness, of the law, of the Gospel, and of Jesus as the Messiah; and of unbelief in him, and of pride, malice, and envy, and of superstition and bigotry, and of error and false doctrine, which, upon his being enlightened by the Spirit of God, fell from him:

and he received sight forthwith; his corporeal sight, which was an emblem of that spiritual sight he had also received: the word "forthwith", or "immediately", is not in the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions, but seems necessary; and indeed, if it was not expressed, it would be understood; for as soon as the scales fell from his eyes, he must receive his sight: the Ethiopic version places it after the word "baptized", in the next clause:

and arose, and was baptized; that is, after Ananias had appointed it to him, as his duty, had pressed him to it, and called upon him to submit to it without delay, Acts 22:16 And this shows that baptism was performed by immersion; for had it been done in any other way, either by pouring or sprinkling a little water, Saul might have kept his seat, and water might have been brought to him, and so the ordinance might have been performed; but he arose and went, either to a bath that might be in Judas's house, fit for such a purpose; for the Jews had their baths to bathe their whole bodies in on certain occasions; or he went to some certain place of water without doors, convenient for the administration of baptism, where it was administered by Ananias unto him. And this also may suggest to us, that only enlightened persons are the proper objects of this ordinance; such as have the scales of darkness, ignorance, and unbelief removed from them, and have a spiritual sight and sense of divine things: hence the ancients used to call baptism by the name of "illumination", and baptized persons "enlightened" ones.

And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 9:18. καὶ εὐθέως: as the immediate result of the laying on of hands the recovery of sight is given, but the baptism follows for the reception of the Holy Ghost, cf. Acts 22:13 ff.—ἀπέπεσονὡσεὶ λ.: the words cannot be taken as merely figurative with Weiss or Zöckler, or with Blass as merely indicating the speediness of the cure—some scaly substance had formed over the eyes, probably as the result of the dazzling brightness which had struck upon them, cf. Tob 3:17; Tob 11:13; Tob 2:10 (cf. Acts 6:8), λευκώματα = white films (see H. and R., sub v., λεύκωμα). St. Chrysostom’s comment is also to be noted: καὶ ἵνα μὴ νομίσῃ φαντασίαν τις εἶναι τὴν πήρωσιν, δια τοῦτο αἱ λεπίδες. Here, as elsewhere, we may see traces of St. Luke’s accuracy as a physician. Both ἀποπίπτειν and λεπίς are used only by St. Luke in N.T. (λεπίς, although found six times in LXX, does not occur in the sense before us), and both words are found conjoined in medical writers, the former for the falling off of scales from the cuticle and particles from the diseased parts of the body or bones, etc., and λεπίς as the regular medical term for the particles or scaly substances thrown off from the body (see instances in Hobart, p. 39, and Felten, in loco), and cf. also Zahn, Einleitung in das N. T., ii., p. 436 (1899).—ἂναστὰς, see above on Acts 8:26; the word may here be taken literally (although not necessarily so), as of Saul rising from a sitting or reclining position (so Weiss).—ἐβαπτίσθη: no doubt by Ananias—there was no reception into the Church without this.—λαβὼν τροφὴν, see on Acts 9:9.—ἐνίσχυσεν: here used intransitively (1Ma 7:25, 3Ma 2:32), if we adopt reading of T.R. which is retained by Weiss. We have the verb, in the N.T. peculiar to St. Luke, used in the transitive sense (cf. Luke 22:43-44, W. H., App., 67, and Plummer, in loco), and in this sense its use outside the LXX is confined to Hippocrates and St. Luke, Hobart, p. 80 (cf. 2 Samuel 22:40, Sir 1:4); but cf. Psalms of Solomon, Acts 16:12. The reading here to which Wendt apparently inclines is ἐνισχύθη (see critical notes), as this would be in accordance with the transitive use of the verb in Luke 22:43, and other instances.18. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales] The word rendered “scales” is used as a technical term for a disease of the eye by Hippocrates, and the verb derived from it is found (Tob 11:13) used of the cure of a disease of similar character. “And the whiteness pilled away from the corners of his eyes.” This “whiteness” is rendered in the margin (Tob 2:10) “white films,” and was clearly something like the “scales” which caused Saul’s blindness, and a process for the cure thereof is called (Acts 3:17) “to scale away the whiteness of Tobit’s eyes.” St Paul (Acts 22:11) ascribes his blindness to the glory of the heavenly light, and it may have been some secretion, caused by the intensity of that vision, which formed over them, and at his cure fell away. Some have thought that his constant employment of an amanuensis, and the mention of the large characters in which he wrote in his Epistle to the Galatians (Acts 6:11) “Ye see in what large letters I have written to you,” are indications that the Apostle suffered permanently in his eyesight from the heavenly vision.

and he received [recovered, and so in 17] sight forthwith] The oldest MSS. omit the last word.

and arose, and was baptized] In the fuller account (Acts 22:16) we learn that the exhortation to be baptized was part of the message with which Ananias was charged, and so was divinely commissioned to receive Saul thus into the Christian Church.Acts 9:18. Εὐθέως, immediately) A miracle.—ἀπέπεσον, there fell from) Saul, after having beheld Christ, does not see by reason of the splendour: upon Ananias, whom He sent, coming, he recovers his sight.—ὡσεὶ λεπίδες, as it were scales) The humour in the eyes having been dried up.—ἐβαπτίσθη, he was baptized) by Ananias; but instructed by the Lord.Verse 18. - Straightway for immediately, A.V.; as it were for as it had been, A.V.; received his sight for received sight forthwith, A.V. and T.R.; he arose for arose, A.V. As it were scales (λεπίδες); scales, or flakes; any thin substance which peals off; a frequent term in Greek medical writers. And was baptized. It is a curious difference between St. Paul and the other apostles that, if they were baptized at all, which is doubtful, they must have been baptized by Christ himself; whereas St. Paul received his baptism at the hands of Ananias. This is one mark of his being "born out of due time." And yet he was not behind the very chiefest apostles. There fell - scales (ἀπέπεσον - λεπίδες)

Both words occur only here in the New Testament. In Paul's own account of his conversion in ch. 26 he does not mention his blindness: in ch. 22 he mentions both the blindness and the recovery of sight, but not the particular circumstances which Luke records. The mention of the scales, or incrustations, such as are incidental to ophthalmia, is characteristic of the physician, and ἀποπίπτειν, to fall off, was used technically by medical writers of the falling of scales from the skin, and of particles from diseased parts of the body. "We may suppose that Luke had often heard Paul relate how he felt at that moment" (Hackett).

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